Sunday, June 30, 2013

Low Tide

Another catch-up post (I promise one of these days I'll actually publish something that isn't a month old!) 

In search of starfish

Late in May, I used one of my precious Fridays off to get the carpets cleaned.  Not wanting to waste the entire day, I requested an early morning appointment.  The carpet guy was great - he arrived sooner than expected, which meant an earlier than anticipated finish.  Wanting to keep the dog away from the still-wet carpet, there was but one thing to do.  Head to the coast!  And since the carpet man was so speedy, I could still catch low tide.

Rock peek-a-boo

Low tide on the Oregon Coast is awesome.  The retreating sea uncovers small pockets of marine life.  Hidden on the rocks below high water line are some amazing creatures.

Bear runs on ahead

Anywhere on the Oregon Coast is wonderful, but I especially like the area near Cannon Beach.  Today's plan was to visit Humbug Point at Acadia Wayside and, if time permitted, Hug Point.

Lovely purple seastar

Bear and I arrived at our first stop a half hour before low tide.  Once on the beach, I unleashed my dog and let him run.  There's nothing Bear loves more than romping along the sandy plain.

This tidepool was full of life

Close to the parking lot, a large group of rocks were emerging from the water.  Walking among them though, I didn't spot any colorful sea creatures.  I was really hoping to see some starfish - my very favorite.

Shy seastar

But up ahead I spied a large rock, with a few smaller boulders behind.  With Bear leading the way, I made a beeline for these stony outcroppings.


It was here I hit the jackpot.  The retreating seas had uncovered a slew of bright orange and purple starfish, clinging to the barnacle-encrusted rock.

Peaceful beach view

In addition to the seastars, huge clusters of gooey, one-eyed anemones dangled from the rocky surface.  Where still underwater, small spiky tentacles lined their openings.  But once uncovered, these creatures suck in their tentacles and turn into slimy aliens.

Hairy anemones

Naturally, the best tidepools were just out of reach from dry land.  In my excitement to get on the beach, I'd neglected to change into my sandals.  No matter, I wanted photos bad enough that I waded, shoes and all, into the water.  It wasn't super-cold, and once wet, I didn't really care.

Birds congregate on the rock

I ran into a man climbing among the rocks, photographing birds.  He and I had a brief discussion about all things camera-related (it's always fun to run into people who enjoy the same hobby!)

Loved the colors of these anemones

The man mentioned he'd seen a bunch of starfish on the other side of the rock that were much more accessible.  Although now getting used to wading for my shots, my preference is to stay on dry land.  I decided to check it out. 

Cool beach rocks

Reaching this area required climbing through a field of small, slippery rocks.  It wasn't as easy as it looked.  Bear whined, but finally gingerly followed me into the stony maze.

Bright orange starfish

My new photography friend was right!  The concentration of sea creatures was much greater here.  Dozens of starfish clustered in large groups, brightening up the barnacles.  And between the rocks, tidepools were everywhere.

Waves splashing the rocks

I had a blast discovering sea creatures amongst the rocks.  Who knew that anemones came in such a wide variety of colors? 

Very weird, colorful anemones

Yep, I practically filled my memory card wandering around this place.  But finally tiring of scrambling over sharp rocks, I decided to head back to my car and drive to Hug Point.

Lots of rocks visible at low tide

The shoreline south of Cannon Beach was used as a wagon route back in the early 1900's.  The most dangerous place was Hug Point, where drivers had to "hug" the rocky headland to pass by, even at low tide.

Approaching Hug Point

Around 1920, frustrated locals blasted a narrow shelf into the rocky cliffs of Hug Point, making the road accessible even in high tides.

Pioneers blasted a rock ledge above the sea

I'd never explored this area, and was delighted to discover not only the historic roadbed ledge, but also numerous sea caves and a small waterfall nearby.  By now the tide was starting to come in, so Bear and I definitely had to use the old wagon route to stay dry.

This tidepool was chock-full of creatures

On the other side of Hug Point was a pretty cove with a nice beach and a couple small caves.  But there was also a few really great tidepools.  One was so full of anemones that I had to be careful where I stepped.  It didn't help they blended in with the rocks.  These anemones were different from the ones I'd seen at my first stop.  They were a light brown color with delicate pink tentacles.

Blue reflection on the sand

A great day for the beach!  I saw tons of cool sea creatures, wore out my dog, and filled my memory card.  And came home to a house with clean, dry carpet. 

Linking to:  I Heart Macro and Weekly Top Shot and Share Your Cup Thursday.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Okay time for more blog catch-up.  So let's set the wayback machine to mid-May and the Portland Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon.

Rock on!

Last year was the inaugural running of Portland R 'n R half.  Almost all the runners I know signed up for this race.  I was one of the few in my running circles that didn't participate.  After hearing glowing reports from everyone, I instantly regretted not being part of it.  So when registration rolled around this year, I immediately sent in my name.

Interesting fitting rooms...

My friend Cami was equally fired up to participate.  The day before the big race we migrated to the expo to pick up our bibs and t-shirts. After procuring our stuff, we wandered into a large exhibition hall chock-full of vendor booths.  Emerging three hours later, bags stuffed with tons of free samples, we voted it the best race expo ever.

Race day morning

The next day found my friend and I depositing our jackets at the bag drop and trying to stay warm in the chilly spring morning.  But we did take time to pose for some goofy shots.  Gotta get in the rock 'n roll vibe! 

In our corral - ready to go!

Although I did some half-hearted training for this race, my main goal for today was to simply have fun.  Cami and I found our designated corral and passed the time people watching.  Lots of people dressed up for the event.  We even had an Elvis sighting!  At the expo, I'd purchased some psychedelic colored arm warmers especially for the occasion and I fit right in with the other wacky outfits.

The shuffle to the starting line

After a moment of silence for the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, the announcer began to release each corral in order.  Being in corral 7, our wait wasn't very long.  Loud rock music boomed from speakers.  The crowd cheered.  One had to be a total grouch not to be fired up.

Approaching the Hawthorne Bridge

And then the countdown .... and we were off!  Cami and I sped down Naito Parkway, dodging and weaving through the pack of runners.  The mood was lighthearted.  It wasn't long before the cool temperatures we'd shivered in that morning felt just right.

Scene on the Hawthorne Bridge

Cami had been battling a bum knee all winter.  Knowing she wouldn't be 100 percent for this race, she had the knee bolstered with K-T tape at the expo.  Sadly, all this work was for naught.  Shortly after mile one, the wheels began to come off, and Cami pulled over to the side of the road, rubbing her knee.  She was in pain and knew if there was any chance of her finishing she'd have to do a slow walk/run.  Not wanting to hold me up, Cami told me to go on without her.

A banana sighting!

I thought about it for a minute.  Feeling strong, I knew I was capable of running a fast time.  But  I wasn't gunning for a PR today.  And the R 'n R was a fun race - the type of race meant to be shared with a friend.  It wouldn't be the same covering the distance by myself.  So I told Cami, no I'd planned to have a good time and wanted to run with her.  Like it or not, she was stuck with me!

Enthusiastic cheerleaders high-five Cami

So my running buddy and I made our way through downtown Portland, running a short distance until Cami's knee began to throb, and then stopping to walk.  We saw a man running in a banana suit, and we caught up to him again and again.

Hawaiian running man

About mile four, the route crossed over the Hawthorne Bridge into southeast Portland.  Races are usually run on the west side of the river, so it was nice to have a different course leading through a new part of town.

Struggling up the Hawthorne hill

One of the things the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon series promises is entertainment, in the form of rock bands along the course.  On  the east side of the river, I encountered several bands pumping out loud raucous music.  The only problem was you didn't really get to hear much of the song.  It was a race after all, which didn't afford any time to linger.

One of the many lovely neighborhoods we ran through

After winding through the inner eastside industrial district, Cami and I popped out on Hawthorne Blvd, one of the main drags through SE Portland.  And I discovered this street has a hill.  Yep, a long steep hill.  That didn't help poor Cami and her knee at all.

Fired up Alaska airlines volunteer

We'd been following the costumed "banana man" for about six miles.  It was fun to see the crowd's reaction to the guy.  Everyone cheered and lots of folks yelled greetings.  One lady at an aid station waved a banana at him.  All these antics kept us entertained and I think helped keep Cami's mind off her knee.  But once we hit that cursed Hawthorne hill, it slowed Cami enough that we lost Mr. banana guy.

Time for a water stop

Finally, the hill leveled out, and we turned off the main drag into some lovely residential neighborhoods.  I kept Cami's mind off her knee by pointing out all the beautiful older homes all with perfectly landscaped yards.  Everything was in bloom, adding splashes of color to the already great scenery.  At a port-a-potty stop, I chatted with a lady from Virginia who'd traveled here specifically to run this race.  She was very impressed by all the green vegetation and colorful flowers.

Heading towards the Steel Bridge

Not only did this race offer entertainment in the form of musical acts, they also recruited a bunch of local cheerleading squads.  These perky young ladies were stationed at strategic points along the course, jumping, shouting, waving pom-poms, and high-fiving the runners.  Their happy energy gave Cami and I some much-needed boosts when we needed them most.

Finish line in sight

Cami is one tough lady.  I know she was hurting, but she didn't once consider dropping out of the race.  I tried to set a slower pace, hoping it would be better for her knee.  But by mile 10, we both realized there wasn't much more either of us could do.  Cami would just have to gut it out to the finish.

Almost there!

Finally the mile 12 marker came into view.  Almost there!  All that was left was a jaunt across the Steel Bridge and a short stride along Naito Parkway.  I urged my friend on, telling her the end was very near.

You can tell the race participants

As the finish line drew close, the crowds lining the course became thicker.  But they were totally non-responsive.  No cheering whatsoever.  What the heck?  We'd just run a long race - and Cami with a bum knee.  We deserved some encouragement.  So "obnoxious Linda" kicked into gear and I started yelling at the crowd "C'mon!  Ring your cowbell!  Give us a cheer!  We just ran 13 miles!"  That got most of the folks going.  Their loud applause carried my friend and I through those final steps to the finish line.

Another half in the bag!

Finishing a race - no matter how fast or how slow - is always a huge accomplishment.  And double if you've battled an injury the entire way.  Cami was elated on her finish and so relieved to be done.  After a visit to the medical tent to get an ice bag for Cami's knee, we both decided a hot beverage at Starbucks was in order.

Even though we took it slow, I still had a great time running this race.  I loved the course, the entertainment was top-notch, and the participants all gave off a relaxed, happy vibe.  Will I be back next year?  Oh yeah.

Rock on!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Happy Graduate

Another family milestone was celebrated this past Saturday when my daughter graduated from Oregon State University.

She received the actual diploma!

After many years of study, Denise earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry.  My son Cody and my parents traveled to Oregon to help celebrate the occasion.

Loved Denise's cap decorations!

Oregon State is a huge university.  This year's graduating class was a record 5,221 students.  In order to help spectators find their graduate in the mob, many grads affix elaborate decorations to the top of their caps.  In keeping with her major, Denise stuck a test tube, molecule model, and painted her initials as periodic table elements.  Very creative!

Social media is everywhere - even graduations!

With such a large number of graduates and family, commencement was held in Reeser Stadium.  It's the only place on campus big enough to hold a huge crowd.

Hamming it up for mom's camera

Early that morning, my hubby and folks left to snag a seat in the stadium, while I hung out with Denise at the campus quad.  The quad was the designated graduate assembly area.  Denise found the correct line and took her place among the mass of smiling students.

A happy young lady, ready to walk

It was great fun to be amongst a large group of happy young people, all ready to celebrate their accomplishments.  I checked out some of the cap decorations, and chuckled to see many of the gowns still bearing fold creases.  I'm sure a lot of them were only taken out of their packages that very morning.

Watching the grads approach on the jumbo-tron

I finally bid Denise goodbye and located my family in the stadium bleachers.  I was surprised to see that the concession stands were open for business.  I've never been to a graduation where spectators were eating popcorn and hot dogs!

While waiting for the ceremony to begin, the jumbo-tron flashed footage of the graduates marching through campus, and gave periodic updates of their whereabouts.

The graduates enter the stadium

Finally, with a roar, the mass of black-gowned students stormed into the stadium.  The band struck up "Pomp and Circumstance."  That song always get me misty-eyed, and I admit I shed a few tears.  My baby girl was going to be a college graduate!

It was a huge crowd

The program allocated a full half hour for all the graduates to enter the stadium and be seated.  I couldn't believe it would take that long, but oh it did!  When all 4000 plus of them took their seats, it was a sight to behold!  I was able to capture this panoramic shot of black-capped students covering the stadium floor.

It was fun to see the different cap decor

It was interesting to look out into the sea of graduates at the different things affixed to caps.  Seated in sections by colleges, the College of Liberal Arts had the largest amount of colorful caps, while the College of Engineering had barely any.

The moment we've all been waiting for

The actual ceremony itself was pretty dull.  There was the usual speeches about going into the world and making a difference.  Living your life, etc, etc...  It was a hot, sunny day, and although we spectators were shaded by the stadium roof, the poor graduates sat out in the middle of the field with no shade.  Full sunshine beat down and heated them up in their black robes.  Denise texted us that she was sweating through her clothes.  Some of the graduates even removed their gowns. 

Can this girl be any happier?

After nearly an hour and a half of speeches and songs, the moment we'd been waiting for finally arrived.  The mood on the field became jubilant, with cheers, waves and several beach balls bouncing through the crowd.  The graduates were divided into four lines, all directed to different places on the field, to receive their diplomas.  Due to the large volume of students, no names were announced.  But I watched and waited for my daughter's turn.  Since our last name is near the end of the alphabet, it took awhile.

Yeah - I did it!

But finally I spied Denise moving towards the front of the seating area.  Training my zoom lens on her, I fired away.  I've never seen my daughter so happy.  I love the above photo the very best.  A moment of unbridled joy!

Earlier this year, Denise was unsure whether she'd participate in commencement.  She thought it would be too many people, and too long of a ceremony.  When she finally decided to walk, I told her we'd be there.  After watching my daughter get handed her diploma (she received the actual document) and raise it up in triumph, I was glad she decided to participate.

Family photo - brother, parents and grandparents

After locating Denise outside the stadium, she took us to the Chemistry Building, where the department sponsored a lunch for the graduates and their families.  We got to meet some of her professors and personally thank the man that tutored our daughter through two quarters of P-Chem (a horribly hard chemistry class).

My fabulous kids

But the best news of all - a week before she graduated, Denise was offered a job in a local chemistry lab.  So not only is my daughter a college graduate, she will also be employed, working in her dream job.

I'm one proud mama!

I'm so proud of Denise I could burst.  She's worked so hard to make it to this day.  She did not pick an easy course of study.  It entailed many, many hours and nights of studying.  Having to decline her friend's offers to go out on the weekends.  Taking impossibly hard chemistry tests.  Spending hour upon hour in the lab, finishing experiments. Working two jobs to pay rent, food, and car payments.

Way to go, Denise!  Enjoy this moment.  You've earned every bit of it.