Since I went to the mountain the day before, clearly I would be going to the coast today, right?
Right. Clearly, the only option!
The day started out deliciously – meeting a friend for brunch at Pine State Biscuits. I’d be starting a series of early-morning hikes soon enough, so I was absolutely relishing the chance to sit down and have a nice slow social morning… the excellent biscuits and fried chicken were just icing on the cake!
After brunch we headed West, toward the land of infinite sand.
Just like a hike, there isn’t really much to talk about for a beach walk. I mean… we walked. On the beach. At one point we stopped to make sandwiches, and at a point a little bit later we turned around and started walking back. We watched the sunset, got ice cream, and then headed back to the car.
The story, as they say, is in the pictures.
(Ed Note: Do they really say that? I don’t know… I think Ben’s making things up again. But that’s fine, because pictures.)
The day wasn’t over though, and didn’t finish with the setting Sun.
While driving home, a question was asked. “Have you stargazed recently?”
We thought, and I realized something. It’s been ages since I’ve stargazed, and… as loath as I am to admit it… I’ve never laid out on the hood of a car and stared into the cosmos.
Clearly, an unacceptable state of affair. And thankfully, one easily remedied by a quick exit from the main road followed by a quick search of the car’s maps for a spot by a river, and finished up with a blanket on the cooling hood of the car.
I started this post out by just creating a list of all the adventures that I went on in 2021. But… I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t particularly interesting – While it was informative, it was pretty dry, and the list didn’t really capture the feeling of the year.
Instead, I think I’ll just post my favorite pictures, along with a quick summary of the sort of the major adventures of the year:
The winter brought lots of backpacking and snow hiking – It’s still strange to me how much I’ve grown to know Oregon in the last year and a half… or, more accurately, how little of Oregon I really met in the preceding four years.
I visited friends in Sacramento in the spring; had amazing catch-up time, and saw some stunning views of Lake Tahoe
In the late spring, I visited one of the most photographed lakes in the Pacific North West – Colchuck Lake! I even summitted Asgard’s Pass with a friend… though the blood-price for that trip was steep. I injured my knee again, which put me out of hiking condition for nearly two months afterward.
The summer saw the death of my Grandmother, a blow to the entire family that we’ll never truly move on from. I was brought unexpectedly face-to-face with just how much of my personality came from her. Her passing brought an unexpected gift, though, in the form of nearly two weeks visiting family and friends back in New England.
The early fall brought my first dedicated rock climbing trip in quite some time – along with summitting what is probably the most iconic climbing route I’ve ever done. Devil’s Tower, in the bag!
The late fall brought friendship and comradery in amounts I haven’t seen in years. A backpacking trip with friends, and a huge event in my friend group – My friend Dillon’s bachelor party, and my role as best man in his wedding!
The winter is still coming in to Oregon, but the end of 2021 brought the return of beautifully snowy conditions up on Mt. Hood, and a reminder of just how glorious the Oregon Coast really can be…
**As always, if anyone would like a copy of any of these photos, please let me know. I have many of them already printed, but can always re-print anything that anyone would like.
I finally got to visit my Dad and Stepmom in Arizona!
Now, first things first – I spent just about a week in Arizona. Usually, I’d break that amount of time up into three or five blog posts… but that honestly don’t quite fit the theme of the trip.
A lot of my trips are targeted trips – trips with a few very specific destinations or goals in mind. Like my Devil’s Tower trip, where I sectioned it off into days, drives, and climbing destinations.
But this time the goal was a bit different. Similarly to how I can’t quite craft a blog story around a hike, I don’t want to craft a long saga around this trip. The trip wasn’t about a saga, or a destination, or an activity. Instead, this trip was visiting family, relaxing, and getting to catch up on quality time and relaxation.
I needed it – I needed a chance to unplug a bit, and to spend quality social time without any specific goals or agendas.
So instead of reading a long diatribe about what we did each day… I welcome you, dear reader, to sit back and enjoy a few quick stories from the trip. A few lovely photos that were taken. And hopefully a bit of Thanksgiving (and early Christmas) cheer!
I flew in a tiny private jet!
I helped cut apart a tree that was blocking a trail!
I walked around at high elevation!
Okay, for real though. We did a lot of awesome things, and I’m really thankful that we got to spend so much time just relaxing and visiting. It was amazing, and was absolutely what I needed as an escape from work. To start:
My Dad and Stepmom live out in the boonies. I don’t know if I can assert this enough – it’s a tiny town, with maybe a few hundred people, at exceptionally high elevation, and quite a few miles from the nearest major airport.
They love it, and I’m quite happy for them – but it did mean that getting to them wasn’t the simplest of challenges. I mean… okay, it really was actually. I went online, booked flights, and then everything else was simple. But what type of flight could I book to somewhere out in the boonies? Well… a private plane, it turns out.
There’s a small airline that flies specialty flights, on small 8-seater plane called a PC-12. Basically a small rich-person private airplane; not quite on the level of a Gulfstream… but sorta close? When I found out that’s what I’d be flying on… I got a little excited. Profile picture time!
Ohh, I also got some amazing views of the Cascades on the flight out. So… bonus!
Once I got up there, We leisurely set about relaxing and enjoying ourselves.
There were tons of 4-wheeler trails around the cabin, and while they’re pretty well traveled by both locals and out-of-town hunters… something they get a bit blocked up by fallen trees or the like. Thankfully, my Dad’s got all the gear needed to chop the tree into manageable chunks and clear the trail out!
It was my first time driving a 4-wheeler, as far as I can remember… though I do have some vague memories of driving a quad sometime when I was really young? Maybe? Ehh, either way. I had a blast! We cruised the trails, cleared the tree, and then cruised the rest of the trail to make sure nothing else new had fallen. A bit of rain dropped down to check in on us… but overarchingly the weather was absolutely stellar. Cold and clear – just like us New Englanders like!
We didn’t just take to the logging trails on the 4-wheeler, though. While it’s lovely and quick, I did miss the quiet of a normal hike… so we heeded Gandalf’s warning about stepping out your back door, and kept our wits about us as we hiked around the hills and mountains behind the cabin.
We didn’t go too far, of course, since we were at ~8,500ft elevation and on un-cleared trails, but where we did go was gloriously wild. I saw Elk bones, and even brought some antlers home to bring back to Oregon with me. I found a pelt, we saw the remnants of a fire from years back, and enjoyed some quality father & son time on the trail.
This was Thanksgiving, though, so obviously the meal needs to make an appearance!
That morning I learned how to cook biscuits and sausage gravy from Denise, and then… honestly, just mostly stayed out of the way. We helped out with a few errands, and with bringing things in and out as needed, but the chef was in her element and didn’t need any major assistance from anyone.
Cooking big meals like that is absolutely something I love doing, so being able to sit back and watch someone else twirl around the kitchen like a dervish is definitely something I appreciate – I have my own systems and procedures, so being able to compare them to someone else’s is absolutely a treat.
Ohh, and the meal?
Well, check out the pictures for yourself.
The only thing I’ll say is that the photos don’t do the taste justice… and the photos look pretty dang good, if I may say so myself.
We had Turkey. We had ham. We had all the sides and all the accompaniments that anyone could hope or ask for.
We had an amazing meal, with amazing people, and passed out amazed afterward.
As is tradition, after the meal we did some decorating.
And by “we did some”, I mean “My Dad and I carried boxes while Denise arranged, organized, and set up a simply staggering array of gorgeous ornaments and angels”. It was… honestly just impressive to see how quickly and how completely the house transformed.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my apartment, and I appreciated the house in Portland. But… I’ve never quite been able to replicate such a complete transformation, and it’s definitely something that I’m looking forward to doing once I have a house of my own. Seasonal decorating is awesome, and just such a sight to walk into the house to see.
For the rest… It was a lovely trip. We chatted, relaxed, slept in, watched movies, and even went out for some absolutely amazing pizza! An exceptional escape, for an exceptional Thanksgiving 🙂