Back Again, Thursday, September 21, 2017

It is Thursday morning, and I am back to my familiar haunts at Steelhead Coffee and Fox Coffee House. Trying to re-establish my routines, although after being pretty much restricted to base all summer my schedule is going to be rather fragmented through October. Next Wednesday I will be heading to Las Vegas for Circus Couture stuff and returning on Saturday. Then around the second week of October Kerry will be in town for an event, and the plan then is to drive out to Utah for the Moab 238, a 238 mile ultra marathon that Kerry will be running. I will be along in a support position and will be doing a lot of pickups and drop offs of people and supplies. It will be a gas!

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Apparently Lazy Acres is a highlight on Japanese tours

See how things go with this writing stuff! It is now Friday morning, and the first chance I have had to write since I started this yesterday. Got into a talk with a friend, went to LA Fitness for Yoga and another hour of working out, went to the grocery store, went home and did some chores and lunch, took a six mile walk, made dinner, and headed down to Costa Mesa to see what turned out to be a very interesting dance performance.

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Joey at work. The performance was HIGHLY improvisational

My connection with this event came through my Pilates home, PilatesX in Los Altos. Joey Navarrete is an instructor there, and he is also a dancer who belongs to a company called The Assembly. This is a collective collaboration between dancers, choreographers, musicians, composers, multimedia artists, and just about anyone else who could conceivably add value to the performances.

 

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The venue was extremely interesting. It is called the Westside Museum, and it is a VERY long, large room that you could probably hold track meets in. There is a balcony that runs the length of the room along one side and the other side is bare. There is a stage with a dance floor at one end. There was a very good PA system set up and a sound man working hard. Basically a large multipurpose room that can be configured as desired.

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The down side is the location. It is in a heavily industrial section of Costa Mesa that seems to be a tribute to electronics–the Westside Museum is on Farad St, and I wound up parking on Ohm’s Way. It is dark and seemingly deserted, yet every parking space is seemingly occupied. Carpooling is highly advised and having a driver who doesn’t mind walking a half mile from the parking spot is a definite plus.

The performance last night was a wonderful experience! There were seven dancers in the performance, along with a sound man who was an integral part of the show. The piece itself was highly collaborative, with the structure and feel designed by dancers Megan Guise and Jobel Medina. Once the structure was in place each dancer was tasked with choreographing their own movement. I gather that those individual sections were reviewed and refined by the principals. There was a whole lot of choreography crammed into a 45 minute piece, and it really, really worked!

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The lineup: Hannah Frankel, Megan Guise, Joey Navarrete, Haihua Chiang, Lara Wilson, Lenin Fernandez, and Jobel Medina

The other dancers were Haihua Chiang, Lenin Fernandez, Hannah Frankel, Joey Navarrete, and Lara Wilson. It appears that all of the dancers are products of the Dance program at CSULB, and that program can certainly take pride in the quality of their graduates. Another highlight of the program was the music, which in itself was worth the price of admission. Zaq Kenefick, another CSULB product, was responsible for that facet of the recital.

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The Gearbox, actually more like a differential…

Now back to me. I really didn’t keep up well with my exercise routine while on the road, but that doesn’t seem to have hurt me. The first big test was my session with my body mechanic, Donna Place, on Wednesday morning. She waxed ecstatic at the end of our session and told me that I had made a quantum leap in my development. I have been working for years now on my gait, and I have finally unlocked my gearbox! That is the collection of joints that control the relationship between the various parts of the pelvis, sacrum, and spine. My years of sitting and improper walking technique had left that locus frozen, and it apparently has now finally loosened up. Onward and upward!

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The PilatesX crew supporting Joey. I had wandered off…

Mt. Hood–Not to be!, Monday, September 18, 2017

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It is now Monday afternoon, and I am in a Starbucks in Sandy, OR, awaiting further instructions. I delivered Kerry and his running partner du jour, Dax Hock, to the Timberline Lodge this morning. Their plan was to run the entire Timberline Trail, a 40+ mile trail that circumnavigates Mt. Hood. Since they got a late start this morning (more on that later), they would have been finishing up probably around midnight tonight.

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Doug, Dax, and Kerry gearing up for some extreme conditions

Dax is a professional swing dancer and teacher who is the proprietor of The Lindy Loft in downtown Los Angeles. He is also an aspiring trail runner who this summer passed the litmus test by successfully accompanying Kerry on the Cactus to Clouds trail from Palm Springs to San Jacinto peak. This trail packs over two miles of elevation gain into a 15 mile hike up. With the down that is 30 miles, and at the end the temperature was 105 degrees. Dax came through with flying colors.

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Ready to run!

This excursion was supposed to be Dax’s introduction to running in rain and darkness, but the conditions were a bit too extreme. In the featured picture you can see Mt. Hood in relation to the Lodge, but in the picture from the Lodge there is no sign of the mountain. When they departed from the trailhead it was 34 degrees and snowing heavily with a strong wind. The prediction was precipitation all day, and given the difficulty we had in locating the trail head in the daytime, the prospects for finding their way back here at midnight appeared pretty remote.

About 30 minutes in I got a call from Kerry (luckily there is cell phone reception here, a feature that was absent around Mt. Rainier) letting me know that the part of the trail that overlaps the Pacific Crest Trail was closed and that they were planning of running as far as Ramona Falls and then descending from there to civilization. That would only be about 20 miles and a bit of a disappointment for them, but Dax will still be getting some extreme weather as it is supposed to rain most of the day.

Addendum from the next day–Yes, they did survive their endeavor. About 9 I got a call that they were in a grocery store in Rhododendron and awaiting pickup. They had spent the day running trails on the southeast side of the mountain in the rain. Kerry has a video of the adventure, and if you look from minute 13 on you will see some serious challenges

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Now, about that late start. After I finished up my blog post yesterday I hightailed it back to Box Canyon and started hiking up the Wonderland Trail, I had gone less than a mile when it started to rain. I was not geared up for that, so I turned back and called it a day as far as hiking was concerned.IMG_8624

There was a section along the trail where there were a LOT of trees down. It appeared that they were all silver firs, and it looked like they had fallen recently and all at once. My suspicion is that there was some kind of a wind event that took them down. Many of them had just uprooted and toppled, but there were others that had just snapped off. According to Wikipedia, the wood of this kind of tree is soft and not very strong, so it may be that they are particularly vulnerable to this kind of problem.

I then made my way to Ashford where I hung out at Whittaker’s Bunk House at the Rainier Base Camp where I waited out the rain. Kerry and Wing were ending up at Mowich Lake where they had started on Saturday and were planning on driving down to Buckley in Wing’s car which we had left there. The ETA was 9:30 to 11:30.

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One problem I anticipated was that they would be ravenous when they got back, only to find nothing open on a Sunday night in Buckley. I checked on what was available and made sure I was there by 8:30 so I could get a giant pizza from Westside Pizza before they closed at 9, and a couple of large milk shakes from Wally’s Drive-In. There is something mystical about a milkshake when you have almost worked yourself to death, and they had been very disappointed the night before when they couldn’t get one.

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Then it was time to wait. 11:30 came and went, then 12:30. Around 1 I was starting to look up numbers I would call to report lost hikers when I got a message from Kerry that they were on their way. I was greatly relieved; the weather had been great when they left, but it had started to rain heavily around 1 pm, they had to put in quite a few hours in the cold and dark.

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They came in, grabbed their milkshakes and pizza, and Wing settled in for a couple of hours of sleep in his car before heading back to Vancouver and work this morning. Kerry and I headed down the road for the three hour drive to Gresham, where we spent the rest of the night at the rural estate of another professional swing dancer (and host extraordinaire), Doug Silton. We arrived about 4:15, and got up again at 8 for today’s excursion.

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My lunch, clam chowder in a bread boule

I am now wrapping this up and waiting for further instructions. This adventure is coming to an end, and Kerry will be delivering me to the Portland airport tomorrow morning for my flight back to the south land. He will head up to Vancouver. That is, if he has gotten the necessary i’s dotted and t’s crossed to import that car to Canada! I hope he has much better luck than I had!

Mt. Rainier–Day 2, Sunday, September 17, 2017

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It is now Sunday morning, 10:23, and I am sitting in the Mountain Goat coffee shop and bakery in bustling downtown Packwood. I was here yesterday afternoon, and not only did they know how to make a proper cappuccino (2 shots in an 8 oz cup with copious foam–light as air), but I also saw what looked to be the last of their daily batch of Breakfast Scones. It looked absolutely delicious, but having just had a cheeseburger I decided to pass on that.

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A brilliant idea, and well done

As things worked out I got another shot at it this morning. Once again the lovely Brie made a most excellent beverage, and Patrice brightened up my day with her ever-present smile. I tried to include Brie in the featured image, but like the snow leopard she is an elusive and camera-shy creature.

 

 

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The lads, Kerry and Wing, were delivered this morning to the Box Gap crossing of the Wonderland trail at 8:30. Last night was a late night, and I let them sleep in until 7, and then it was a search for fuel, both for the car and their bodies. Packwood is kind of a sleepy place, and a lot of the places don’t open early. We were saved by Brenda and the Mobil mini-mart who lovingly crafted some outrageously stuffed breakfast burritos.

After I dropped them I came back down to shower, shave, check out of the motel, indulge my Mountain Goat cravings, and update this account.

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View downstream from the bridge

So, what did you miss? I arrived up at Box Canyon, our rendezvous point, about 6:30 pm, and immediately tried to scope out where they would be emerging from. The ETA was 8 – 10 pm, with the acknowledgement that anything close to 8 would not happen. Box Canyon did not appear to be a very good location.

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From Box Canyon the road crosses a rather spectacular gorge and goes through a tunnel. On the other side of the tunnel is a parking area, totally undeveloped, and a connector to the Wonderland trail which passes by just 200 feet from the road. I figured that would be the best place to take them out, as to get to Box Canyon they would have had to descend to the level of the stream and then ascend on a paved, tourist-graded essentially road to regain all of the altitude they had lost. Plus, the whole area was as confusing as hell.

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The sign

So I made a unilateral decision to change the rendezvous spot to Stevens Canyon road. The problem is that there is no cell phone connection, so I wanted to set it up so they would get the message. There was a trail marker at the junction, and I jury-rigged a sign for them. I took a little walk down the trail just for the exercise, but between all the reconnoitering and signage it was already getting dark.

By 8:30 it was totally dark. I set the car up so that I could illuminate the trail junction with the headlights, cut out all internal lights so I could see any light in the woods, and waited. I would flash the headlights every ten minutes, figuring that if they were within a quarter mile or so they might see it. The problem was that they were under-lighted, and only Wing had a light appropriate to night traveling.

 

 

Traffic on the road was very light and finally pretty much dried up. Finally a very bright light came around the corner down the road. It was just one light (almost), moving too slow for a vehicle, and was indeed Wing, lighting the way for Kerry (if you look at the video you see a dot that almost looks like an artifact–that is actually the area illuminated by Kerry’s “light”). The nice thing about this pickup area is that the trail parallels the road and has easy access, so they had rejoined the road a couple of miles back.

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Saved by the Blue Spruce!

Then it was a race for food! There was a restaurant (which shall forever remain unknown) next to our motel that advertised pizza, steak, and burgers, and was supposed to be open until 11. We arrived at 10:30 and were told, rather rudely, to go away. Luckily, right across the street was the Blue Spruce Saloon and Grill, which was not only quite happy to serve us but provide us with entertainment in the form of karaoke!

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One of the reasons these guys do such insane things is so they can eat. They watch their calories, but it is to make sure they keep them up. They split the Big Foot Burger (a full pound) and a rib dinner. Wing, who was allegedly a rock-and-roller in an earlier incarnation, took the stage twice and distinguished himself from the run of the mill karaoke crowd with his air guitar prowess.

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A little Wing Zeppelin to close out the evening

That brings us back to now. I am now going to plan myself a proper trudge, do it, and then start wending my way back to Buckley. I hope to be able to make it across the south side of the park to Ashford, and from there to Buckley. There was a passel of old folks in old cars who came through here heading in that direction yesterday, so there may be something going on there!

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The cars were old, but the drivers were older!

Mt. Rainier–Day 1, Saturday, September 16, 2017

It is now 10:53 am, and I am sitting at a picnic table at the Mowich Lake campground. Kerry showed up at Bonnie’s in Bellingham about 10 last night. We ditched most of the Burning Man gear there, and then we drove down to an Econolodge in Buckley where Kerry, running buddy Wing, and I spent the night.

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Kerry and Wing, about to hit the road

We were up by about 6 to scarf down the free hotel “breakfast”, and were on the road by 7. We drove here and arrived just after 8. There was a wedding photo shoot going on on small spit extending into beautiful, mirror-like Mowich Lake. Kerry and Wing did their last-minute gear checks and they were off on the Wonderland Trail. I will be picking them up tonight at Box Canyon. It’s a far piece by road, but only 50 miles by trail.

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The mirror known as Mowich Lake

I took a short 2 mile (one-way) hike up to the Eagle Cliffs viewpoint. I think that must be the place where they take the postcard pictures from as the view was spectacular today. I also made a couple of friends in Jackie from Forestville and her daughter Christine.

 

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A few minutes ago a party of 5 hikers emerged from the Wonderland trail to pick up a food cache. They had started at Box Canyon, where Kerry and Wing are headed, but it took them five days to get here. They had, of course, seen Kerry and Wing heading the other way and traveling rather light. It looks like the hikers have retrieved their cache, and there were cries of joy when they opened it and found the cold beers they have been craving.

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That beer tastes so good after five days on the trail!

It is now 2:30 pm, and I am in Packwood waiting to check into the Packwood Inn, which will be our bivouac for the night. Check in isn’t until 3, so I am grabbing a burger at the Cliff Dropper, a small family owned burger joint. They said that business this summer has been exceptionally good, despite the fires. In fact they suspect that all the fires down in Oregon may have caused folks to come further north for their wilderness adventures. They came highly recommended locally, and I had a really good burger there.

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The money shot!!

Once I have eaten and checked in I will be heading back up into the park and over to Box Canyon. I will do some light hiking, and then hunker down to wait for Kerry and Wing. They anticipate an arrival time between 8 and 10 pm, which will be well after dark. Could be a cold wait!

Bellingham–Day 3, Friday, September 15, 2017

Getting close to wrapping up my third day stranded in Bellingham. Stranded is, of course, not the correct word; while things didn’t exactly go the way they were planned, being in Bellingham for three days have turned out to be the perfect way to spend my time. Funny how things work out like that! This is a great place to be, and it is currently occupying a very high position on my list of “Cities that I would love to live in.” Local folks don’t like to hear that, though, as they don’t want any floods of California folks turning up here…

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A bizarre scene set on acres of undistured gravel

Today was devoted to putting on some miles on my feet. For the past couple of months I have not been doing the amount of walking that I need to do to get my feet working right. I have been in the process of awakening muscles controlling my feet that had gone dormant from disuse. I have woken them up, but at this point they are the muscles that are last to fire and first to tire.

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On the waterfront

That means that the beginning of walks is kind of sketchy until those guys start to fire, and it is necessary to push through some discomfort. Once all systems are go everything is fine until they tire out. What I need to do at this point is give them the right kind of exercise to strengthen them, and for me that exercise is walking up long, steep hills, something I call trudging. Not quite hiking, but close!

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This is an awesome store!

The problem with Long Beach is that trudging opportunities are not close at hand. Yesterday I did a mini trudge, so today was devoted to a more ambitious test. I started out in downtown Bellingham with a visit to the co-op for food and coffee.

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Heading up High Street

Then it was down to the waterfront alongside the railroad track. Went past an aggregation of 6 or 7 real hobos who had a neat little camp set up in a sheltered place between the sidewalk and the street. From there turned around and then just kept walking until I reached the summit of Sehome Hill, elevation 624 feet, and then back down the other end of the hill to a place where I could catch a bus back downtown.

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On the aptly named Douglas Fir Trail

The walking involved was a bit over 6 miles, and the elevation gain about 600 feet. It’s a start, but not quite up to my proper trudge standards. My ideal kind of exercise walk is 10K and 1000 feet of elevation gain, so this was close, and I have already seen a profound difference in the functioning of my feet from yesterdays climbing.

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Last two miles were on the bus

Back to the bigger picture. My time in Bellingham is coming to an end. The current plan is for Kerry to ride down here with one of his running partners, Wing, arriving about 7:30. The three of us will then head down to a bivouac in the vicinity of Mt. Rainier so Kerry and Wing will be able to make an early start on the first leg of the two-day Wonderland Trail circumnavigating that peak.

 

 

More Hitches, Thursday, September 14, 2017

You may be asking yourself why I am back again entering the US. Well, my second attempt to cross the border into Canada, this time sans the contraband video cameras, did not go any better. This time I was bounced back again, and it turns out that it is quite likely that even Kerry might not be able to get the car across. Basically, what I was doing was smuggling a car that is registered in the US into Canada. Kerry, even though he is a Canadian citizen, will need to have the appropriate documentation, like the title and a bill of sale, in order to import the car.

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The Bad Place

 

The Canadians just did a cursory inspection of the car and turned me around. I think they are tired of seeing me because they gave me some paperwork that I had to present to our border folks. I was shunted aside on the US side and spent a good amount of time waiting first for service, explaining just how I came to be driving a car with South Dakota plates when neither I or the absent owner of the car lives ther, and then while they did a very thorough search of the car. Turned things inside out, and did not do as good a job at repacking the car as the Canadians had. Finally I was on my way out of there.

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As much of the YMCA climbing wall that I can get in my frame!

The day was not a total loss, however. My host, Bonnie Kelly, took me over to the local YMCA this morning, and I am now a card-carrying member of the Bellingham YMCA with all the rights and privileges attached. The Y is a very cool place, and on the way out I noticed their climbing walls. The building is four stories high, and the walls go from the basement to the roof! It is the tallest climbing wall in the state of Washington; when they put it in they deliberately made it one foot taller than the wall at REI in Seattle. On another note, here is a small world mind-blower. It turns out that Bonnie and I lived only about four blocks from each other in Chicago between 1955 and 1957!

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The kitchen in the Common House

I have also had the opportunity to experience CoHousing, and it is a really cool setup. They basically have a condo complex with 33 units organized in 3 clusters around a common house. It is a beautiful setup, and it is inspiring to see how very much cooperatives are a part of the local culture. I love it!

 

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After my border experience I came back to Bellingham and had a very pleasant couple of of hours walking around the campus of Western Washington University, and the adjacent Sehome Hill Arboretum. The weather was perfect, and the only less then optimal part of that was the lack of students as WWU is also (like Oregon) a quarter school and has not yet started.

 

By now Kerry should be in Vancouver, and I am waiting on the next plan. I will be here for the night, and I will be updating tomorrow.

A Hitch in the Plan, Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I am now sitting at what passes for a Starbucks in the farthest northwest corner of the conterminous United States. It is, unfortunately, not a standalone store, but is embedded in the local Haggen market in Ferndale, WA, about 15 miles from the border. Haggen is the more upscale of the local markets, virtually book ending with the local Bargain Mart.

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They advertise 50% off. Off from ?

Fortunately, there is a reasonable seating area where I can finally sit and write, something that was completely nonexistent up in Blaine, where I had been expeditiously returned by the Canadian authorities less than an hour after my entry.

I was more than a little concerned about my prospects for entry anyway. I drove across Canada two summers ago and was shunted aside for special attention on that occasion, and at that time I was driving my own car without terribly much luggage. This time I am driving a car registered to someone else who just brought it up from Mexico, plus it is packed to the gills with mostly Kerry’s Burning Man gear, along with some props for work.

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Nothing to see here, officer!

Sure enough, I was pulled aside and sent inside while they searched the car. I think that I still might have been able to slide through, but the smuggling beef was the breaking point. Yesterday in Seattle we did a Corporate Explorer Training event for Microsoft managers where they had to produce 2 minute videos as the final project. Kerry had brought along eight Olympus Tough video cameras. Those cameras needed to be declared, and would need to be brought through the commercial port of entry.

Up until then things had been going so well! I managed to find a Pilates class to take in Olympia at Pilates at Play on my way up Monday afternoon. Kerry and I made a seamless midnight rendezvous at or about the Rental Car Center at SeaTac airport. The next morning we were able to scarf down a bit of free food at the hotel, before racing from SeaTac up to the Talaris Conference center up near the UW campus for Kerry’s gig for the day.

The event, for Microsoft managers, went exceptionally well. They started out with a very effective Yoga and Mindfulness activity by local teacher Jessica Lindmark, and finished up working in teams of seven or eight to produce those videos. Then it was the rush to the airport. Kerry works on tight schedules, and the event was scheduled to end at 3:30. It ran a bit late, as they always do, and then my job was to get Kerry to the airport in time to catch a 5:30 flight to Minneapolis. Through 19 miles of Seattle rush hour traffic. We made it with seconds to spare, arriving at Departures at 4:45, and Kerry was off.

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Jessica Lindmark

I was pretty tired and opted to spend the night and wait until the morning to head north of the border. I had dinner at Northgate Mall and then got a cheap hotel south of Everett for the night. I also made arrangements to crash an Intermediate/Advanced Pilates class series today at 11 at Pilates from the Center in North Vancouver, and the fact that I couldn’t make that class was the biggest disappointment of the day!

Alternate plans have been made. Now, instead of crashing at Kerry’s mothers place in North Vancouver, I will be crashing at Danielle’s (Kerry’s wife) mothers place in Bellingham. Kerry will be back tomorrow, and then it will be off on the wilderness adventuring. Kerry has four days, and he wants to spend pretty much every hour running. His ultimate plan would be to be able to fit in all three of these runs:

Wonderland Trail – Around Mt. Rainier 93 miles (2 days)
Loowit Trail – Around Mt. St Helens 32 miles (a stellar day)
Timberline Trail – Around Mt. Hood 43 miles (supposed to be amazing)

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So you see how to train for a 238 mile race–run 168 miles in four days. He is currently recruiting any of his tribe who might want to accompany him on all or part of any of those runs. Still a lot of uncertainty, though, as there are a lot of fires burning in the back country and some of those routes may need to be subdivided.

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Morning Glory!!

‘Nuf for now!

On The Road Again, Sunday, September 10, 2017

I am in a Starbucks in Eugene, OR, mere steps away from the University of Oregon campus. I spent a good part of the afternoon touring said campus, and will be posting a slideshow at some point in the near future.

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Sadly, as OU is a quarter school, their Fall Term does not start until 9/22, so the campus was largely empty of its finest feature, college students (*sad face emoji *). Fortunately, this Starbucks seems to be a collection point for the remaining members of the tribe known internally as “lovely young ladies!”

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“How did you get THERE”, you may be thinking? This begins yet another chapter in the continuing “Hanging With Ward” series, and the plot was hatched just this past Wednesday. Kerry Winston-Ward was in LA, having made his way up from Cabo San Lucas, via a week at Burning Man, but had to head out the next day to attend to business. What was going to be problematic was getting his Prius to Vancouver, so I jumped at the chance to get a trip to Vancouver.

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I got his car on Thursday. The plan is to rendezvous in Seattle Monday night, then work one of his events at Microsoft Tuesday morning, after which he will grab a plane for further travels beginning in Minnesota Wednesday, and terminating in Vancouver on Thursday where we will have a second rendezvous.

To get here I departed Long Beach at 11:15 Saturday and overnighted in Sacramento. Left there at about 7 am and had a pretty easy 468 mile drive to Eugene. I even got in early enough to do some actual walking and see the campus.

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When Kerry gets back to Vancouver the real fun starts! Kerry is training for the Moab 200 Ultra Marathon, which is actually 238 miles this year and is in mid-October. He has four days to get in some serious training, and is currently selecting from a menu of endurance runs around places like Mount Baker, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Hood. Just the kind of thing that Full Tilt Ward likes to do when he has a little time to spare.

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My role will be to be the driver to get Kerry (and friends, hopefully) to starting points and pick them up at the ends of their runs. Of course, one of the items on my bucket list is to be able to actually pace Kerry on a segment of up to 20 miles, but that day is still in the future!

It is now Monday morning, and this Starbucks once again is rather heavenly. I took a census a few moments ago, and of 9 individuals sitting and working, 7 were very lovely ladies! My day is shaping up. I need to be at Sea-Tac airport around 9, and it is only 4 hours away, so I am searching for a mid-day group Pilates or Gyrokinesis class in Portland, or post-working hours classes in the Seattle area. Any help is appreciated!

Injuries and Insults, Friday, September 1, 2017

It’s Friday morning and I am at Steelhead Coffee. Just finished my breakfast and trying to get in a little bit of writing before I head across town to my Power Pilates class at Pilates X.  It has been almost a week since I have been here, and it is good to be back.

Last Sunday morning I was feeling extremely constipated and bloated, to such an extent that I canceled my spot in that morning’s Pilates class. I was very low on energy and running a slight fever, so I napped a  bit. Checked my temperature again, and it was 101.5 degrees, so I decided that a trip to the MemorialCare Urgent Care facility in Los Altos was a good idea.

One of the benefits of getting sick on a Sunday is that care facilities are not crowded, so I was able to get in promptly. The doctor palpated my lower abdomen, a process that generated some pain, and recommended that I get to an ER so I could get a CT scan. He suspected that I might be experiencing appendicitis. I made my way to Community Hospital Long Beach, and was once again lucky. There was no one else in the ER waiting room, so it wasn’t long before I was able to get my scan done.

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Community Hospital Long Beach

In short order I was informed by lovely Physician’s Assistant Kimber that it was not my appendix that was the problem, but a case of diverticulitis. Luckily it involved a relatively minor perforation and was contained within the bowel, so while it was a serious problem it might not require surgery. They hooked me up to an IV and started pumping antibiotics into me, and within an hour of my arrival I was firmly ensconced in a bed in my very own room.

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Yummy!  Not!

That was the good news. The bad news was that I was NPO, for “nil per os”, Latin for nothing by mouth, so when they started delivering meals to the rest of the rooms I was bypassed. The standard treatment in cases like this is to aggressively treat with antibiotics while at the same time resting the bowel, resting it by not letting anything into it. Thus the NPO designation.

I spent a very restless night, and by the morning most of the pain was gone, but I was also very hungry. My agony was compounded when someone from Nutrition was in the room across the hall from me getting menu selections from the patient there, a process which involved reading aloud every item on the menu for every meal. Alas, there would be none for me😢!

Being in the hospital, tethered to an IV line, is a pretty boring endeavor. I was NPO from Sunday afternoon until Wednesday morning, when I was switched over to clear liquids. On Thursday I was finally given solid food for breakfast and lunch, and then released that afternoon.

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Oh Happy Day!!!

I was in the hospital for a total of 96 hours, and they were very long hours indeed! Rather than bore you with all of the details, I will just summarize the pluses and minuses of this experience.

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IV’s suck!!

  • Negatives
    • Boring as hell
    • Damn, I am hungry!
    • People keep sticking me with needles. I had a total of ten needle sticks of varying quality. The best was a young phlebotomy student, Natalie, from Long Beach Community College, who managed to insert a needle into my vein for a blood draw with zero pain. On the other side of that spectrum was the nurse who took a couple of stabs at starting an IV in my left forearm before giving up and succeeding on the back of my right wrist, my least favorite location.
    • I do not sleep well in hospitals, especially when I have a stinking IV feed to deal with as I toss and turn.
  • Positives
    • I met a lot of nice people. I love nurses, and nurses love me. They would much rather deal with me than with folks like the very cranky (an understatement for sure) man who checked in the room next to me Wednesday night who kept yelling things like “Get away from me, you motherfuckers” when they wouldn’t give him the morphine that he wanted, and had to be pinned down to his bed when they needed to start IV’s and do blood draws.
    • I was able fill in some holes in my knowledge of popular culture by watching almost the entire first season of “That 70’s Show”, so now I finally know what the heck Topher Grace’s claim to fame is. I also saw the last half of season two and the first half of season three of “Scrubs” and a dozen or so episodes of  “South Park”. My favorites were the episodes where we found out that those ubiquitous Peruvian Pan Flute bands are the only thing standing between our destruction by the giant guinea pigs, rats rabbits…, et. al. from the lost Valley of the Giant Guinea Critters.
Giant Guinea Pig

Thank God for Peruvian (actually Ecuadorian) Pan Flute bands

So yet another I/I (Injury/Insult) has been absorbed, but I am still in the process of dealing with it. I still have another six days of oral antibiotics to take, I am restricted to a very low fiber diet for the time being (goodbye “Toast and …” menu items from Steelhead), I need to get another CT scan in a couple of weeks, and then in 6-8 weeks I am supposed to get another colonoscopy (my others were at 50 and 60 years of age).

Photo Jul 30, 8 53 07 AM

Not for me, not now😢😢😢

My big concern at the moment is that one of my antibiotics, Cipro, apparently triples or quadruples the risk of Achilles tendon ruptures in patients over 60. Given that information I have decided to forego my ballet classes for the immediate future 😢. Those classes were already pushing me to the limit Achilles tendon-wise, so I have decided to exercise a bit of caution in that respect.

Okay, enough of this blather. Time to wrap it up!