Tag Archives: Portland

Gardening in Portland – a summer’s worth of beauty!


Summer, 2018


I enjoy gardens, but Sarah loves gardening.  While I like appreciating them, and maybe growing a few small plants indoors, Sarah builds amazing outlines, creating beautiful views and spending hours pruning and weeding and cultivating her creations.

Really, there’s not much more to be said… look at the pictures below, and enjoy the fruits of Sarah’s (and mine, to a much lesser extent) labor!


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!

Exploring Portland – Roses and Bunnies.


Thursday and Friday, 07 & 08-Sept-2017


Thanks to the Columbia River fires, we couldn’t really take Daniel around to the wilderness hikes that we’d planned on.  We went to a few spots West of the city (see previous posts), but we still wanted to do some exploring… so why not explore the city itself?  We spent both days exploring, but a few of the more unique bits are below…


The Rose Garden

Sarah and I have been to the International Test Rose Garden a few times, even once to watch the sunrise recently, but it’s always an extra treat to take friends there.  Daniel loved it, as far as I could tell… the flowers, the photography, the story about two high school girls commandeering Ollie for their graduation photos, and the Shakespeare garden.

I think he less enjoyed my impromptu dance recital on the amphitheater stage, and I’m quite certain that Sarah wasn’t super stoked (at the time) about my awesome waltz skillz.

For my side though, I was disappointed that Daniel didn’t do a soliloquy.  So we all came out disappointed.


Hoppy Hour

Daniel had asked us about going on a “catio tour” of Portland.

Turns out, some people have special patios that they’ve made for their cats.  Cat Patios.  Catios.

Needless to say, we absolutely did not do that.  I mean, partially because Sarah is allergic to cats.  Like, super allergic.  But also because that’s silly talk.  Why would we go see cat patios?

Why would we see cat patios… WHEN WE COULD GO PET BUNNIES AND DRINK BEER?!?

Yep.  Heard right.  Pettin’ buns.  Drinkin’ beers.  Hoppy Hour.  Hops in beers, hops from bunnies.  Perfect.  Combo.

Down the street from our house is a Rabbit Rescue operation.  They take in stray bunnies, and bunnies that families can’t keep anymore, and give them homes.  Some of those bunnies actually go through a special training / certification program to become therapy bunnies.  One of the bunnies is even part of a meditation group that uses her as a “physic focus to the mountains of Nepal”, since she’s a Himalayan bunny.

And on Fridays, for a donation of $5, you can come in and pet the bunnies while being served beers.

We went with that option.  It was just as awesome as one would hope.