Mom’s visit to Portland


Friday through Monday, 27-Oct-2017 to 30-Oct-2017

My Mom does a fair bit of traveling for work; bouncing out to conferences and company meetings and such keeps her pretty mobile.  A nice thing about this is that a fair number of her conferences are on the West Coast… and she’s able to redirect her flights home to go through Portland!


This time, We had a fair bit of adventure planned for her – since both Sarah and I were unemployed, and were fully living in Portland, we were able to do a few adventures that we hadn’t while we were in Hood River… a nice change from the normally hectic visits, right?  We obviously got up to a lot of adventure and excitement, but a few of the standouts are:

Hiking Forest Park, Rose garden, and Bunnies in Baskets!

One of the first things we did, since it’s awesome to get to stroll and chat, and also awesome to watch Ollie run around like a jet fighter with full afterburners on.  It was a perfect day, thankfully, so we took an easy stroll through a loop hike that we’ve done a few times – starting into the Leif Erikson trail, and then finishing out on the Wildwood.

Not much to say aside from that, but it was really awesome to get to chat and walk, and the day was absolutely perfect weather for us to be cozy… but still need to keep moving to stay warm and cozy.

Afterward, we headed to the Portland International Rose Test Garden – a fairly famous rose garden where various florists test their rose hybrids.  It’s glorious, and a great place to wander around when the light is good.  The light was definitely great that afternoon.

To cap off the evening, we had some cozy relaxing time with bunnies!  Sarah and I had found a charity group called Bunnies in Baskets, which trains and cares for therapy rabbits.  They’re primarily sent to hospitals and clinics, but they do a weekly fundraiser where the public is invited in for “Hoppy Hour”, where a small cover charge gets you a drink and some quality time petting bunnies.

Bunnies are fluffy.

Bunnies are cozy.

Bunnies make us happy 🙂


Exploring the Art Museum!

Somehow, I’d never been to any of the major Portland museums.  I know, I know, it’s horrible to admit.  But it’s a thing, and our lives have been crazy and busy, and I make no excuses.

Having never been, this was a perfect reason to head out and explore the museum.

We had a blast – The main exhibit was for Laika, a studio south of Portland that makes stop-motion films, where they had tons of props and set pieces from the last few films that they’ve made.  I’d only seen one of theirs before, but seeing the craftsmanship and detail of all the pieces was really cool – especially when compared with the sheer number of pieces that are needed to make a complete stop-motion show.


Dinner by the fire!

Something that my Mom and Sarah have in common is their enjoyment of quiet relaxation.  I have trouble forcing myself to slow down and enjoy it, so I appreciate the push to just sit and rest sometimes.  Since this was her relaxation after a big conference, we made a point to schedule a few evenings of downtime.

They were glorious.

An excellent part of the house in Portland is our fireplace.  I’d bought a super comfy couch when I first moved to Oregon, and Sarah is a fan of fluffy blankets.  Those combined with the warm fire make for a dangerous combination… a combination that regularly leads to us passing out on the couch after a day of adventure.

My Mom’s visit was no exception – though with the subtle shift that it was her and Ollie asleep on the couch, instead of Sarah and I 🙂

Hiking the Wildwood trail, forest park


Throughout the summer and fall, 2017


Something that I love about Portland is the amount of green space in and around the city.  Boston has this too, of course, but it’s not quite as pervasive… and while the Blue Hills reservation and the Fells are both beautiful, they’re not quite as large as some of the parks here in Portland.

Because of that, I’d taken a fair bit of time to explore the Wildwood Trail in Portland’s Forest Park.  The trail itself is almost exactly 30 miles; hiking it all in one go is one of my big goals for my knee recovery, though for now we’ve been hiking short spurts of it with Ollie.


It’s a great time; Ollie loves it, and I enjoy just how quiet and removed from the rest of the city it seems to be… while it’s not actually that far away, the density of the trees really insulate you from the noise of the masses.

The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

The Battle for Bolts – A rock climbing endurance epic

Saturday into Sunday, 30-Sept-2017 & 01-Oct-2017


Summary: Sarah and I climbed for 12 hours straight, climbing 63 routes total and earning ourselves a solid second place overall in the competition.  That’s right – 7 months post injury, Ben placed 2nd place in a climbing competition.  With Sarah, since it was a team comp.  Where Sarah won most of the points.  But still!  Ben was on the team that came in second!


Today, we battle. 

We battle not for ourselves, but for climbers everywhere.  

Not for climbers everywhere, per se, but climbers in the Northwest.  In Oregon.  At three crags in Oregon, specifically.  We battle for climbers there!  Sport climbers.  Not trad, since trad doesn’t need bolts.

Today, we battle for a very select group of climbers!  Huzzah!


A few weeks ago, Sarah and I heard about a climbing competition coming up, and got really excited.

We got excited because it was pretty far removed from the ridiculous chaos of the previous competitions we’d been to.  It hit all the nice things we’d been hoping that a competition would hit: a cap on the people allowed to compete, It was held when my knee wasn’t broken, and it was roped climbing instead of bouldering.  Basically the perfect comp.  It wasn’t free, unfortunately, but the proceeds went to a climbing access fund that replaces worn bolts at crags in our area (see the opening poem thing), so that was pretty cool.

We planned the competition out, and arrived with our heads full of schemes and our packs full of gear.

This wasn’t a straight-up, who can climb the hardest route, competition – instead, this was an endurance comp.  Which meant that we’d be climbing for 12 hours straight, and that the number of routes we put up was going to be more important than just how hard those routes were.

Because of that, we had plans.  We’d packed a full meal (spaghetti and chicken), as well as a few thousand calories worth of snacks, bars, cookies, and coffee.  We also had a rough timeline for ourselves – how long we’d climb, when we’d nap, and how long we’d nap for.

We expected the napping to be critical – you can’t crush climbing routes if you can’t think, so we aimed to take at least two naps throughout the night.  The food we’d eat about halfway through, right before a napping cycle, and the snacks & coffee we’d spread out throughout the night.

For routes, we planned on starting easy, then quickly going toward the harder routes.  Then we’d taper off toward more moderate routes for most of the evening, before finishing strong with some of the hardest climbs of the evening in the last hour – since the last hour gained us 2x score on any routes climbed.




We arrived right before the start at 8:00 in the evening on Saturday; just in time to sign in, stash our gear, and hang out for a bit before the staff went through the rules and discussed the timetable with us.   That part was pretty entertaining… mostly because the staff wasn’t much better informed than we were – this comp was run quite loosely, which worked perfectly with the small group of people that were competing.  In total there were 6 teams, 12 people total… a bit less than the cap of 100, but still enough for some pretty stiff competition for top spot.

Then we climbed!

We stuck to our plan pretty closely, not pushing ourselves too hard and climbing routes that worked best to our skillsets.  Sarah climbed strong crimpy routes, and I danced up delicate slab routes.  We took breaks, snacked, and even played some of the games that the staff put on – Crate stacking and donut eating were the  best, though playing Ninja was definitely a good time as well.

Napping was definitely helpful too… but a bit frustrating since people kept stealing the beds that we’d made.  See… when you combine Sarah’s skill at making nests from her time on Grimm with my not-caring-about-stuff, we came out with some really nice beds.  I’d grabbed 10+ bolsters from the yoga room, which we then combined with a few blankets and some yoga mats, into glorious full double beds.

First nap, we made one and napped luxuriously.  Then when we went to our second nap, someone had stolen our first bed.  So we made a new one.  When the same thing happened the third time (both our previous beds were occupied), we did get a bit cranky, and may have made a little extra noise while making our new bed.


Anyways, we did well.

When the time came to tally our score, we’d come in cleanly in 2nd place!  We’d won with 4,200 points, roughly, where the next team had just over 3,900 points – so about two of our hardest climbs worth of points.  We did a grand total of 63 routes, with Sarah earning the lions share of our score.  But hey – for a guy with a recently broken leg, I think I did pretty dang well!