Recently in The Wilds Category


When I was living in the Pacific Northwest, if I needed to clear my head—to get some relief from whatever ailed me—I would just go for a hike or a climb. Getting outside—especially way outside, where the air is clearer, the trees are really tall, and there's a vista around most corners—was really good for me.

South Florida isn't really known for great hiking. I haven't found anything to replace it yet, either.

I used to go to this gym in Miami that isn't bad at all. But it's a long way (an hour each direction really cuts into an evening, if you know what I mean) and there isn't a strong community of climbers there.

Once, when we first got here a few years ago, Amy and I went for a walk in a park in Coral Springs. It was a boardwalk (to protect the marshy landscape) and only like a quarter of a mile long. But something about the tree cover, the thickness of it all, reminded me a bit of being home. It felt right. But at that length, it would get old fast.

We've been in the Everglades, but yech, it's beautiful but not much to look at after a while. Once you've seen a few miles of it, it all starts to look the same. Worth the trip, but it wouldn't renew me like landscape does.

I've got to find something, or we've got to get out of here. Especially now that Zoe is here. I'm desperate to take her hiking!

Yesterday, Matt and I accidentally

Yesterday, Matt and I accidentally ended up running through Forest Park during lunch. Usually, we run by the river, under the Broadway Bridge, by Union Station, and back up through Northwest Portland to our office.

But yesterday, the road along the river was closed to pedestrians. So we turned around and headed straight for Montgomery Park. We felt better than we thought, so we found our way to Macleay Park, along a beautiful creek into heavily forested Forest Park, and home again.

About halfway, on our way down Cornell, we stopped at the top of Northrup Street (at that point, the street is just a staircase) for a quick look at the city and the mountain.

It's been a good while since I climbed Mt. Hood. When I think of it now, I'm not sure whether I'll ever climb a mountain again. Part of me clearly hopes so.

The rest of me is hard to understand.

So after all of my

So after all of my moaning about not getting outside enough, Amy and I spent four hours climbing up (and then back down) Dog Mountain.

I've climbed this particular mountain before.

Like last time, I'm sore. Unlike last time, the day was absolutely beautiful. It was the clearest day in months. When Amy and I reached the summit, we could see the peak of Mt. Hood over the hills on the Oregon side of the gorge.

That was Saturday. Yesterday, Amy and I ran 10 miles. We're training for the Portland Marathon. But there's something wrong with my right knee. So I ended up walking (read: limping) a lot more than I liked.

Regardless, it was one of the most athletic weekends I've had in a long time, and though I'm aching from head to toe, I loved it.

my problem

I'm feeling kind of cooped up. I need to get out to get some fresh air. I know I've said it countless times since Spring first began, but that's what I really need: not travel per se (though travel is always good) but just a simple weekend at the coast, or in the mountains.

I'm just too busy to spend a weekend camping these days. And something really must be done about that. I'm choosing my priorities, and I'm choosing the wrong ones.

Just some everyday thoughts

Portland is warm and filled with sunlight.

I am a bit crabby, but generally well.

I'm thinking a lot about who I am, what life is made of, what the future promises and what it will actually give.

Family, love, art, life.

The sun is waning now, drifting swiftly toward the West Hills, preparing to plunge toward Asia. It fades and blooms, like someone is playing with the brightness knob on an old television.

It is also peeking at me from a window across the street, reflecting directly into my face. If I sit up straight, it lands on my chest and chin.

Something I haven't told you all about Ryan and Heather's wedding is that it was amazing to meet their families. (I suppose it's "family" now.)

They were so kind and gracious, and tremendously pleased to meet Ryan and Heather's friends. So in one very mystical way, we all were invited in, welcomed with open arms, and celebrated quietly. It was a good feeling.

(Thanks, you all, for emailing me with good comments about the wedding pictures and journal entries. I put them together as much for you who are related to them or close to them as for me.)

For the rest of you, I hope you enjoyed them. The interface is simple, I know. Nothing spectacular. But the pictures (which I did not take) are wonderful, and I didn't want to detract from them by spending too much time messing around in Photoshop.

The leaves are dancing a bit, but not quite like the Aspens do in Colorado.

I'm also seriously thinking of graduate school, looking closely at Montana State and CU Boulder. What do you all think? Any suggestions for a great English program?

Colorado, and the wedding, part the fifth

Here is the last entry in the wedding series. You might want to read the first four entries in this series: here, here , here, and here.

I went to Colorado this weekend, to visit my girlfriend and the mountains.

I was in Buena Vista last winter, when the lakes were frozen over. I skated on one, at the foot one gargantuan peak.

The city was peppered with snow, and the mountains were covered in it.

This last weekend, it was 80 degrees.

Amy and I hiked to Ptarmigan Lake (the upper lake, not the lower ones, though we feared we still had one more lake to find, following the advice of friends, and ended up climbing a couple hundred extra feet for an incredible view from a 12,000 foot saddle) on Saturday. We were supposed to go rock climbing, too, but we didn't get the opportunity.

We did get to cast dry flies for a while, which was great, though neither of us caught anything. I think I scared the buggers away by casting so poorly.

Saturday night, Amy hosted a poetry reading (it was a little on the silly side for her, but she was sensitive and gracious about the "camp" atmosphere, and allowed for the silliness) and semi-talent-show. I sang a couple of songs, for good measure.

On Sunday, we attended camp church, hiked to Cottonwood Lake, ate a couple of barrios from Pancho's, and drove straight to the Colorado Springs airport, where I caught a plane to Salt Lake City (which was a madhouse, and drove me half out of my mind) and then to Portland.

It was a wonderful weekend, all in all, and I am tremendously glad I went. I had an incredible time.

On Sunday, the 5th of July, Dan and I woke up early to drive Joe to the airport. We said our goodbyes to the remnants of Ryan's bachelor party crowd and one girl who managed to tag along for the evening after the wedding.

Then we drove to Heather's mother's house for a brunch. We ate well, laughed a little, enjoyed each other's company, dropped off the tuxedos, and Dan and I left for the train station.

And I rode the train home from Olympia, and then walked home (it's only a mile or so) from the train station.

It was a simple day, a slow one by the time I had finished with it, and though work the next day was difficult after five days of rest, I felt better about it just because I had been in Olympia and in a cabin on the sound for those days.

And today, one week later, I feel the joy of being there a little less intensely, but I am settling into a peace that only comes after important times. There is great potential in this life. I feel it.

Sailing again, and the wedding, part the second

Yesterday evening, I went sailing with Lars, Anne, and Paul.

Anne and Lars--Anne the championship sailor, Lars the president of the sailing club--sailed together.

Paul and I--Paul a two or three-time sailor, and me with one summer class under my belt--took the other boat.

The wind was strong and gusty.

Needless to say, Paul fell on our tiller as we were tacking toward downtown Portland, and I cut my foot while attempting to steer us home with no leverage on the rudder, which was coming up anyway, because the crimp where you secure the rope that keeps it deep in the water was on the part of the tiller that was no longer attached to the boat.

But the last two tacks before our boat was injured were amazing. Paul was a good skipper with me pulling the jib tight and barking at him to watch his tell-tales. I was hanging over the edge of the boat and Paul was pulling the main as tight as he could.

So that was yesterday.

Last Thursday, the preparations for Ryan and Heather's wedding continued.

The six of us--Ryan and I, Joe, Jeremy, Dan, and Tim--woke up early to the bright sun beaming through the windows.

Outside, the sound was scratching slowly against the rocky beach.

Joe fixed scrambled egg breakfasts to order. Dan cooked hash browns using fresh potatoes, garlic, and onions.

Somewhere in the middle of the day, we sauntered into Olympia so Jeremy, Dan, Joe, and Ryan could try on tuxedos. After a few adjustments, everything was okay.

Then we drove to the Olympic National Park. We drove for a good amount of time down a one-lane road with "turnouts" for oncoming traffic. When we stopped, we were parked next to a bridge that looked down several hundred feet to an incredible waterfall.

Then we began hiking up the trail (I think it is affectionately called the "ladder" trail, because it is literally like climbing a ladder in some places). We eventually reached the top of the ridge.

I really only have this to say: go to the Olympics. Just go.

That evening, Steve arrived. Dan and I steamed the clams we'd collected the day before, sauteed them in garlic and butter, and threw them in a pot of pasta and a fresh alfredo sauce Dan cooked up from scratch.

We barbecued corn in the husks, and a couple of oysters for good measure.

We topped off the evening with cigars and port.

And the tide went out, and we went to sleep with thoughts of the weekend fast approaching.

We all knew our time with Ryan was coming to a close--that it was time to prepare for the celebration, that there was plenty to do.

And we were blessed by the days we shared, and excited for the time to come.

The wedding, part the first

Suddenly, Ryan and Heather are married, which is new, and I am back at work, which is old--or maybe normal.

I feel different, partly because another of my friends is married now, and partly because I had an emotionally, spiritually, and mentally restful week.

It was not physically restful.

On Wednesday, Tim picked Lars and me up at 6am. We were on I-5 before we knew it, rushing toward Seattle. Somewhere along the way we stopped and picked up a dozen doughnuts and a gallon of oj.

In Seattle, we dropped Lars off at a bus stop. He was on his way to visit with Armin to talk about Lars' thesis, which is coming due soon.

Tim and I continued on to Ryan's apartment, where we met Ryan, Joe, and Jeremy. Soon enough, Dan arrived, and we were all present.

We were late leaving, so we decided to head straight to the cabin instead of trying to hike into the Olympic National Forest late in the evening. We would take a day hike sometime later in the week.

When we arrived at the cabin, we were amazed at the view.

The back yard sits above the sound, a beach spread out below it, an empty island across the water. Joe took the Sea Kayak out. The rest of us dug clams.

In the evening, we threw the clams in salt water, barbecued steaks from the grocery and oysters from the beach. Joe made a salad. We baked potatoes. We ate like kings.

Ryan and I watched the sun go down over the sound and the part of the island that curls left around the water.

We sat on the lower deck and smoked our pipes.

And drifting off to sleep, I thought, "this is just the beginning."


Our connection has been fixed, so I'm back, with today and yesterday's journal entries to post.

Today has been a glorious day. I'm off to the Olympics to finish the week in a tent and cabin, with stinky cigars hanging from my teeth and bachelors all around.

Then on Saturday, we celebrate Independence Day by watching a good friend tie the knot.

I wandered down to the photo shop to pick up some photographs. In the set was one picture of a "Benson Bubbler," a traditional Portland fountain, bubbling with super-delicious Bull Run water.

Then I was off to the cigar shop to pick up a few cigars for the festivities.

And on the way home, Roy was playing guitar in the park.

I am amazed again and again by this rough, bearded veteran and his guitar. Today, I met him, and maybe someday in the future I'll ask if he would play a few tunes with me.

Another man in the park looked at me and nodded his head in Roy's direction. "He's really good, isn't he?" he asked me with a serious look. I smiled at him and nodded once.

An average weekend

My connection to the net is broken this morning.

But what can you expect from a struggling, bureaucratic urban university with political in-fighting that would make Kenneth Starr blush?

Last Saturday, I threw on my new inline skates and bladed down to Waterfront Park, which runs the length of the West side of the Willamette River throughout downtown Portland. It is a great park to blade in, because there is a wide sidewalk just up against the rail that looks over into the river.

So I stopped by Saturday Market--which is worth the time if you've got it and you're in Portland--for a bite to eat. That done, I skated to the other side of the park, threw down a blanket, and continued to read The Brothers Karamazov.

Yesterday was very quiet, and I spend most of the day alone in a very quiet place.

Today is the first of the two days I am working this week. We get Friday off, but I have a friend who is getting married on Saturday in Seattle, so I'm headed up to the Emerald City (hah! not so green when compared with Portland) to celebrate the wedding.

I leave on Wednesday morning for the Olympic National Forest, where we will spend the rest of the week in tents or a cabin.

Saturday, Ryan and Heather tie the knot, and Sunday, I ride the train home.

The one thing especially nice about weddings is the good number of old friends involved. I know I'll see my share of them, and I'm excited about it.

Guitars, cigars, tents, tuxedos, and old friends.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the The Wilds category.

Querida Zoe is the previous category.

Travel is the next category.

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