Tag Archives: Driving

A weekend of kicking it – climbing, shooting, and exploring

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First weekend of June
05 & 06-June-2021


Brian’s been staying with me!

It’s been quite a while since I’ve had someone stay over at my place… Not 100% sure, but it’s been at least a year since I’ve never hosted someone at my current apartment.

Regardless of how long it’s been since I’ve had a houseguest, I was super excited to have someone over. The first week he was here was nicely relaxing, with our days spent with him working from home and me heading into the office, and then the evenings with cooking interesting dinners, hitting the gym, catching up, and finally getting up to speed on all the new movies that’ve been coming out recently.

The weekend though, we had some more time to really get into the party time, stretch out, and have some fun!

Saturday, 05-June-2021



On Saturday, we aimed for a bit of city energy – Bouldering, and Shooting range. The bouldering isn’t particularly out of character for me (Ed Note: If Ben had a Character Sheet, it would literally be one of the first lines), but the shooting range isn’t something particularly common… So yay for stretching out my activities!



The morning started, obviously, with Bacon Pancakes. Because that’s how all most of the best mornings start!

From there, the bouldering was lovely – we climbed, we crushed, we ate protein bars. It was good, but not really something to write too much about.

The shooting range was… I mean, I don’t really know what to write about here. We rented a pistol, shot a bit, and felt confident that we knew how it worked. Then we rented a rifle and did the same thing. It was fun, and we both shot quite well if I may say so.

If aliens invade, I am supremely confident that we can in fact climb up a cliff, and then hit our targets roughly in their invading center of mass, quite successfully. We are 100% the ideal defense force for Earth now. You’re welcome.



That evening, we cleaned off the… gunpowder? Is that a thing we have to do? I’m not 100% sure if it was truly necessary, but we did anyways. It’s probably important.

Anyways.

Brian cooked Chicken Parmesan, and it was awesome. I freely admit that it was quite possibly nearly the close equivalent of my previously made Bacon Pancakes. Maybe even a teensy tiny bit better.

The post-dinner conversation was also something not to be missed – especially when it started veering into the slightly crazy tin-foil-hat consipracy theory, regarding which political party may in fact be secretly in cahoots with evil forces, trying to pull the strings on every single action ever taken in the world! To give you, dear reader, a quick hint – it’s both parties. They’re in cahoots! All hooting together! Tin Foil Hats!

Ehemm.

Then we went to bed.




Sunday, 06-June-2021


On Sunday, we met up with my friend Laurel!

She was down in my neck of the woods already, something to do with a previous horse show that she’d been to, so she stopped by for a quick breakfast before we headed out with her and her pup to get some time on the Oregon coast. Brian’s been to the Pacific before, of course, but the previous week had been hot… and I mean HOT… so the chance to get into the salty mist wasn’t something that any of us was going to turn down.

The drive was, as always, a little bit longer than it felt like it should be. It went quickly though – It’d been a while since I’d seen Laurel, and Brian had never met her, so we all enjoyed the chance to chat and hang out, catching up and learning about new people.

I love getting to go on group trips… it’s something that I really miss about living in Boston. Here in Oregon my friend groups never really felt inclined to mix, no matter how hard I tried to set up group activities. Saying that three people counts as a group seems pretty strange, in retrospect, but… I feel like that speaks to how isolated I’d been feeling throughout the course of the pandemic, and the last year or two before I moved to Wilsonville.

Regardless, it was lovely. We drove through the sun and into the mist, parked, realized I’d directed us to the wrong spot, drove to the right spot, realized that it was still the wrong spot, and then repeated that process a few times until we finally decided on a new spot that wasn’t a wrong spot.

Lunch was made (French sandwiches, as per tradition), and a beach walk was commenced.



I love the Oregon Coast… Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of fond memories of the rocky New England seaside – I love jumping from rock to rock, and scrambling around looking for cool tide pools and washed up treasure. But the wide open sand beached of Oregon are… they’re just something else. They’re gorgeous, and I love the sense that they could go on forever… just fading into the mist in the distance.

Someday, I’m absolutely going to figure out somewhere I can go backpacking on the coast… but until I can finally unravel that web of not-information, I’ll content myself with beautiful strolls along the sand.

Ideally with friends, watching a dog frolic alongside us.

Interestingly, that’s exactly what I did.

We walked, we frolicked, Biscuit ran and barked and was happy, and all was well in the world.


No hyperbole, point of fact. All really was well in the world – it was a really great day, and I was really thankful for the chance to just unwind and relax with friends.

We kept the good-times train rolling even after the sky opened up and it started pouring rain – instead of worrying or getting unhappy, we found a small ice cream shop near the beach, and scarfed down some delicious treats – not just ice cream, but blueberry lattes and chocolate treats too!

And then!

And then, we kept it going with a winery! I mean, it wasn’t really a full winery tour or anything, but it was really interesting! Laurel had a nice flight of wines, as a way of helping us pick out a bottle for dinner of course, and I got to learn a bit more about barrels – specifically some of the more common places that they’re from, and what effect the vintiers have been noticing from the various regions. In short – French and US casks are kinda overrated, and definitely overpriced, but they do give a nice finish that some others can’t quite match

Minutia aside, it was lovely. While the winery was pretty cool, I personally really enjoyed a really tangential bonus to the visit – they had a really nice tin roof in the barrel room, which combined with the pouring rain made for the absolutely most relaxing sound, surrounded by the excellent smell of aged wood and wine.

It was nice, and I appreciated being able to rest for a little while in the room while Brian and Laurel chatted with one of the vintners. My knee had been kind of painful since my hike down from Colchuck, and the rain hadn’t helped… so just sitting and appreciating the natural music was absolutely just what the doctor was ordering.

As we finished up, we mobilized and moved on. Threw our gear in the truck, and headed back toward the city.



I can confidently tell you, the drive back to Wilsonville was one of the happiest moments that I’ve had in… quite a while.

Laurel had started up a rather mixed playlist of 90s songs, before pretty quickly passing out with Biscuit in the back seat. Brian soon followed, leaving me alone with my thoughts, the rain, and the highway. It was blissful – seeing the happily tired out friends surrounding me, listening to the rain pattering against the truck, and watching the highway grind by underneath our wheels.

I’ve learned, in recent years, that my personal form of meditation is long drives. Driving fugue is absolutely a thing, and for me it’s a beautiful way for my brain to turn inward and re-organize itself. My body has its task which keeps me from getting too distracted and lets my mind start really wandering on its own.

Combining that with knowing that I’m surrounded by people I like, and who enjoy my company as well, and…

Well, I was very thankful that the drive seemed to last forever.




The rest of the night was nearly as excellent as the drive itself. We ate, we drank, and we had relaxed conversations. I made jambylaya, which paired beautifully with the wine Laurel had picked out and the chocolates that we’d all picked for ourselves. Then we settled into the couch and watched a very fun, if a little strange, movie that we tracked down on Disney.

It was a very good weekend.




A spring adventure – The Drives

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Spring Break, 2021

I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…

With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!

It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.


Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday again – 01, 04, 05, and 08-May-2021

This trip involved quite a bit of driving – not only the long drives from Oregon to California and back, but also the drive from Sacramento out to Tahoe and back. This was absolutely perfect for me, since I’ve recently realized that long drives are one of the major ways that I recharge myself… Having my hands and subconscious mind occupied by the road ahead really helps me center myself, and listening to the music and the road noises is one of my favorite forms of meditation.

Back in New England, I’d get this regenerating experience fairly regularly, as I’d drive up to New Hampshire, or out to New York, but in recent years in Oregon I’d lost that opportunity. Now, I’m making more of a point to seek it out, and give myself the time that I need to reflect, relax, and center myself.


Saturday, 01-May-2021

Instead of driving directly down to Sacramento, I took a coworkers advice and took a slight detour through central Oregon. I5 is definitely the fastest route down, but I wasn’t in a huge rush… I wanted to see Mike and Michelle, of course, but I was very okay with taking 10 hours instead of 9, if it meant that I got some extra scenery and enjoyable driving.

I drove, and the miles flew by under the car’s wheels. I passed beautiful mountain passes, such as Diamond Peak, and found new places that I’m very much looking forward to going back to, to hike and backpack. I passed a controlled burn, then a dust storm, then an uncontrolled burn by the highway.

I saw sights, and listened to music.

I’d even downloaded my first audiobook, and listened to that for quite a bit of the drive. Nothing particularly fancy, I’ll admit, but a lovely and fun fiction book that kept me entertained and positive with its over-the-top ridiculousness.

I didn’t drive non-stop, of course… I took a few breaks along the road, stopping to look at a few lakes, to appreciate Shasta, and do some calisthenics, as I felt restless and my legs had the need to move around a bit.

Mostly though, I drove. I drove and drove, listened and listened.

It was lovely, and soon enough I was back in civilization, pulling into the driveway…



Tuesday, 04-May-2021

The drive out to Lake Tahoe was gorgeous.

Similar to my drive to Sacramento itself, we didn’t take the most direct route… or, we sort of did, but our destination was on the far end of Lake Tahoe, so our route didn’t follow the major highways. Which sort of still hits the goal of staying off the main grinding roads, so I was quite happy with it.

We left in two cars – since we were bringing all of our bikes, a single car wasn’t really a viable option unfortunately… but that did mean that I was able to crank up the tunes and crank down the top, which I definitely wasn’t against. I was really enjoying the California vibe that I had going – long hair flapping in the breeze as I drove down the highways in my convertible…

You know, my life isn’t that bad, is it?

No, no it is not.



Wednesday, 05-May-2021

For the drive back to Sacramento, I took a different route than Mike and Michelle.

We’d spent the day hiking and skiing (I hiked, they skied) at Squaw Valley, which put us near the Northern end of Lake Tahoe itself… which meant that the closest highway was the main road leading directly back to Sacramento. Instead of following them down that route, though, I wanted to drive back the same way that we’d driven in – down the back roads, South of the lake itself.

Not that I didn’t want to get back to the house… but more I was looking forward to enjoying the lake a little bit more, and hopefully getting a short hike in as I drove through the mountains… Driving to Tahoe, I’d seen a ton of beautiful trailheads, and I wanted to explore every single one of them.

(Ed Note: Please see Ben’s post titled “A spring adventure – The Hikes” for Ben’s hike in toward Pyramid Creek)

The drive back was exactly as beautiful as I’d hoped that it would be. I enjoyed the lake views, stopped a few times to explore, and simply enjoyed myself immensely, being completely free and unfettered by any kind of timeline or need to be any specific place at any specific time.


The main drive back, after the sun had set and the temperatures had cooled off, was… interesting.

Something I’d noted in Sacramento was that it’s very aptly named “The City of Trees”… It’s beautiful, tons of shade, and I’m sure they help keep clean air and a lovely regular temperature. There is a downside though – Pollen. I don’t normally get allergies in the spring, but whoooo boy, were my eyes stinging and was my nose running. It was rough, and the drive back from the clear mountain air into the dusty pollen-filled city air was super noticeable.

I don’t want to think of what Mike and Michelle must have made of me, when I walked back into the house after parking outside their apartment… my eyes were stinging like I’d dropped hot sauce into them, and my nose wasn’t feeling much better. The first thing I did after getting inside was took out my contacts and rinsed my eyes for a solid 5min straight… just splashing and sloshing water at them, trying to dislodge as much of the demon-dust as I could…

Saturday, 08-May-2021

Driving back to the land of Oregon was just as lovely as the drive down to the city of trees… thought it was definitely a little bit more melancholy than the drive down had been.

That didn’t stop me from enjoying my audiobook, of course, and I appreciated a change of pace brought on by driving straight up the main highway, taking the direct route for the first time on the whole trip. It was just as beautiful as the alternate option, I was surprised to find, as I-5 took a beautifully winding route through the Northern California mountains before joining into the rolling Southern Oregon hills.

I tried to get a few pictures… but I mostly just appreciated the scenery as appreciated the last chance I had to sit back and meditate on the rolling miles. It was beautiful, and I greatly enjoyed watching the landscape change as the sun arced across the sky as it set down in the West…

Then, I continued driving through the evening, ’till I finally made it back to my own apartment and my own bed… which, as anyone who takes long trips can remind you, is always a welcome comfort at the end of a trip.

A Scotland Adventure – Part 5, The Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye

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Hello, and welcome back to your annual story time of Ben and Sarah’s international adventures! Keeping with the tradition of the last few years, Sarah and I visited with her family, this year going back to Scotland.

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Saturday, 28-Dec-2019

 

On our first full day in Skye we went searching for The Old Man of Storr.

The old man is old – I don’t know how old rock pillars are, but they’re probably extremely old, right?  Millions of years?  Yeah, that seems right… and Wikipedia confirms it – something around 2.8 billion years old.  Which kind of seems too old to me… but then again, I’m not a geologist, so I don’t really know.

The Old Man of Storr is old, let’s just roll with that.

The Old Man of Storr is also rainy, we learned.

 

As all piled out of the van at the parking lot, and immediately grabbed all the rain gear we could find before heading into the mist and rain.

As we climbed higher, the rain kept getting worse – to the point that Bill and Henry had to turn around to protect their camera equipment.  Sarah, Leah, Greta and I powered onward and upward though, continuing on as the rain turned from “rain” to “Bleak”, and then went through “Dreak” and even into “Lashing” at one point.  It was impressive… but thanks to the waterproof phone, I was able to get some pretty excellent pictures!

We sort of saw the Storr, but only barely.  Still, absolutely worth the adventure, in my book.

 

After turning around and coming back to the warm van, we moseyed onward toward Kilt Rock for a quick peak at the waterfalls, before heading back into town to dry off and warm up!