Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Months earlier, Glenda had suggested we find a mid-way meeting point for Labor Day.  I'll admit, I wasn't very imaginative in thinking of places to explore, but thankfully, Glenda had a plan as she usually does, and discovered this tiny place.  I had never even heard of Sumpter, an 1890's mining boom town, but she took it upon herself to arrange for a place for us to stay, researched things to do and see, and was ultimately responsible for the great time we all had.  

We stayed on the bottom/ground floor of this beautiful home.

This was the view we enjoyed from the front room.  The kind of view that included bald eagles sitting in the tops of the pine trees.  It was beautiful.

And this is Sumpter.  There was a flea market going on, a good number of visitors (considering the location and size of the town), and not much else.  But it still had its' charms.

The old general store was one of those charms.  I don't even remember if there was anything inside, but there is something about old store fronts that I find charming.

There was also the old bank.  It succumbed to fire a hundred years ago, and the vault is the only thing still standing.  

I am a sucker for old signs and advertisements.  

The biggest event planned was the ride on the steam train.  We bought tickets at our destination in McEwan.  The view was quite lovely.

Then we headed back to Sumpter to catch our ride on this beast.

The engineer let me take some pictures of the actual engine prior to our departure.  It was really warm in there, with a blazing fire raging inside of the smokebox and the boiler close by.  I found all the gauges and levers and pipes amazing.  The engineer said it took him 8 years to be able run the train on his own.  Bryant was granted permission to spend the entire ride up there with the engineer.

The conductor seemed pretty respectable, but it looked like a mountain man took a day job as his assistant on the train as well.

Henry thought the train's horn was quite loud.

Claire enjoyed discussing the scenery with Grandma.

Henry just relaxed with Daddy.

After about an hour, our ride was done.

The engineer and the mountain man restocked the train with wood to keep the steam engine running.

Henry found train travel to be quite exhausting.  So did Adam.  They found an obliging picnic table to take a rest.

Sumpter was small and in the middle of nowhere.  We attended a (overly lengthy) fiddle show and panned for gold.  We walked around town looking for amusement, and drove 45 minutes to Baker when we realized there wasn't any place to eat past 7 pm.  And it was a great time.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Oregon Trail

As I'm sure is common to many people my age, The Oregon Trail was the first computer game I ever played, using an 8-inch floppy disk on a green and white-screened Apple II computer.  I would anxiously await my once-a-week opportunity to play on the single computer we had in the back corner of my 5th grade classroom.  I'll admit, I romanticized the idea of pioneer life as a 10 year old, influenced largely by my video game experience of filling my wagon, hunting for food, and crossing the Missouri River.

Of course since that time, my illusions of what pioneer life would have been like have long since evaporated.  Over Labor Day weekend, we met up with Grandma and Grandpa Belnap and Andrew in eastern Oregon.  Our first stop:  meeting at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City.   Claire got a more hands-on experience that I only got in a video game, packing a wagon with wooden blocks representing items that the pioneers would have needed to decide between when preparing to head west.  She did it over and over.

Outside the museum, there were reenactors, ready to tell us about the trail experience.

There were some mountain men, who offered samples of dried fruit, grains and seeds, and other foods that would have been packed, prepared and eaten by trappers and people on the trail.  I think I just may have starved.

Henry liked feeling all the furs.

I had no idea that oxen were so massive.

There were more samples of food...a soup/stew, biscuits, and cobbler.  Okay, maybe I wouldn't have starved.

Then Claire came upon a wagon with a little girl close to her age.  She was fascinated.  She was excited to learn about all the toys and games that the pioneer children played.

Claire just might be romanticizing the pioneer experience herself.  

Monday, October 14, 2013

Portland to Coast

I had a goal this past summer to run my first-ever 5K.  I began training in the spring.  I started really slow.  Adam was awesome and ran with me, even though he could do so much more than me.  I was excited to attain my goal.  And then the knee pain started.  A sharp, stabbing pain behind my right knee cap.  And then swelling followed.  That wasn't a good sign.  Patello-femoral syndrome was the diagnosis in my right knee, and tendinitis in my left knee.  Physical therapy soon followed.  My running was brought to an abrupt halt.

Thankfully, I was asked to participate in in the Portland to Coast, which is a sister-race to the Hood to Coast relay, one of the longest and largest relays in the world.  The Ragnar Relay series is based on the Hood to Coast.  So the Portland to Coast, which I was asked to participate in, is a walking relay.  I was asked to participate before my injury, and I was a little...skeptical?  I mean, it's walking.  I thought that it was kind of silly, and wouldn't be that challenging.  And then I couldn't run any more, and was thankful that I still had something to work towards.

I really didn't know the women I would be competing with (I was acquainted with many of them from church, but the ones who I'd be sharing a van with were mostly unknown to me, from different wards, etc.)  I wasn't able to go to the planning meeting due to my brother's wedding and didn't find out what legs of the race I would be walking until about a week and a half before the race, so I wasn't as trained as I should have been - I didn't know what I was training for.  I figured since I was a newbie, and a late-comer at that, that I would be given legs in the 4-5 mile range.  Then I found out I had the longest and most difficult legs of the walking race.  So then skepticism turned in to nerves.

I met all the women on the team for the first time the night before when we met to decorate the vans (though it rained overnight, and we had to hastily re-do everything that morning because most of it had been washed off).  I was luckily assigned to this massive thing.  I could stand up straight inside of it without touching my head to the ceiling.  It was awesome.  I ended up loving all these women.  From L-R is Deanna, Marie, Janae, Julie, Me, and Jana.

The start of the PTC was at Oaks Amusement Park, which is about 3-4 miles south of downtown Portland.

A new batch of people was started every 15 minutes.  Our start time was 9:30, which was LATE.  We got there early, of course, so we had a while to wait.  Here's Janae, Marie, and Jana (Jana is Janae's mom).

Julie was our starter.

She got to cross bridges, walk along the Willamette, and head through downtown.

But by the time of the first hand-off, we were already getting to the industrial part of Portland, heading out of the city.

Everyone decorates their vans, and not surprisingly, there were a lot of Walking Dead-themed decorations.  I loved this sign.

The next 4 walkers (including myself) basically walked along Hwy 30 heading west.  Not too scenic since it was along highway.  Here is Janae.

I loved Marie.  She was so tough and was the fastest by far in our van.  Her second leg, somewhere in the middle of the night and in the coastal mountains, she clocked like 11.58 minute miles.  She could really book it!

Next in the lineup was Deanna.  (She is also the Relief Society president in my ward.)  

Then I was up.  My first leg was 7.68 miles.  It was flat but trying to walk fast for that long was so tiring.  I walked from Scappoose to Saint Helens.  

I was sooooo tired.  As in like walking up a curb was strenuous by the end.  I timed in at 14 minutes/mile that leg.  Not great, but after that long of a walk, I was glad it wasn't slower.  After I was done I got to eat something - pancakes, scrambled eggs and sausage, and it was AWESOME - and got a 10 minute massage at Saint Helens High School.  That was so nice.

Next in the lineup (and last in our van) was Jana.  Here she is handing off to Ashley (from van #2) at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.  Then we got to rest.  

We spend the night in Mist, OR at the exchange where Julie would begin again.  There was quite the sea of vehicles.  At this point, we were meeting up with the runners, so there were a lot of people there.  We got there at about 8 pm.  

That big van was awesome when it came to sleeping.  I got a whole bench to myself, as did Janae.  Deanna slept in the back, and there was so much floor room that there was enough room for both Marie and Jana to sleep on mats on the floor.  Julie could lay her seat all the way back and got some shut-eye too.  

It was kind of chilly, it had started to rain, and we could hear noise from the race all night long, so it's not like we had some sound sleep.  Plus, we had to be up and ready to go by 12:30, so we didn't get a lot of rest either, but it all turned out okay.  My biggest regret is that this next round of legs for our van took place from about 1 am to 8-ish, so I have no pictures because it was pitch black outside.  But this was the most beautiful part of our van's participation.  We were up in the wooded mountains, and it is beautiful.  

My second leg was 6.11 miles and the first 3.5 or so of it was uphill.  This was the hard one because it had the highest peak of the walking race.  And of course the second 2.5 miles was downhill.  Despite wearing the pairs of double layer, $14 a pair blister-preventing socks, I had developed some serious blisters on my pinkie toes from my first walk.  They literally took over the entire surface of my little toes, and they had become kind of painful to walk on.  I went to the first-aid stand in Jewell before my last leg, and all they did was wrap my toes in gauze and tape, so I really had no relief.  I was worried that the up- and especially downhill walking would be painful and slow me down.  Luckily, after a few prayers I did okay.  It was definitely a tiring walk, and once I crested the hill, it became really hard to see the runners zipping past me and not be able to break into a run.  Let me tell you, it is difficult to walk fast downhill and not be able to run.  But I was blessed to be able to be walking as the sun rose, while in the middle of the woods after a rain.  It was so refreshing.  The air smelled so fresh, the woods were beautiful, and I knew that I might never have another opportunity to walk that road at 6:30 in the morning in those conditions ever again.  I clocked 13.72 minutes/mile for this second leg, which I was happy about.

Here is the next van exchange.  There were literally a sea of bodies and sleeping bags and vehicles.

And here is Jana, finishing up her last leg, and the last for our van. 

We went to a well-deserved breakfast in Warrenton (just over the river from Astoria).  

After breakfast we headed to Seaside.  Some headed down to the beach right away, but some of us hung out for a while and napped in the van.  I was one of the nappers.  Man, was I tired.  

What a great place to end a race.  It was a glorious day.

We had plenty of time to hang out at the beach, check out all the booths with free stuff, and just relax.

Then we got word that our last walker was on her way.  So then it was another waiting game at the finish line.  Julie is in the blue - our final walker.  And the rest of us in pink, crossing the finish line with her.  (I was hobbling, and I probably hobbled around for the better part of the next week.  My blisters were really killing me!)

And here we are, crossing through the tunnel after receiving our participation medals.

And then we headed to the beach for a full-team picture.  

L-R  Jana Fuston, me, Deanna Barfuss, Marie Fernstrom, Janae Garcia, Julie Hess, Ashley Piggs, Karen Riggs, Sharon Painter, Sarah Smith, Anita Daines, and Julie Cox.  We're standing in order of our legs by van from the center out.

The final results were thus:  we came in 79 out of 400 teams overall, and in our division of Women's Walking, we came in 27 out of 145 teams.  So we ended in the top 25%.  Not too shabby!  

It was a lot of work, but it was fun and I hope to be able to participate again in the future!

Harper Turns 3!

We sure love this little girl, and we were excited to wish her a happy birthday.  But, of course, this little sassafrass decided to have so...