Saturday, September 29, 2012


Due to the nature of my unorthodox work hours, I am often off doing something by myself.  Looking to explore new territory,  this week I thought I would seek out some mountain bike trails near Mt. Bachelor that I have never been on before.  What a great decision this turned out to be.  Not only was it enjoyable to see new country, but I was able to experience one of the best mountain bike rides of my life.  Elevation: 5512.

In the winter, this is a hopping family place for sledding.  
On the other side of the park, there are dog friendly trails for nordic skiing and snowshoeing.  
On this day, I had the playground to myself.
(Click on images for larger view)

Apparently the elk like this place too.  There were hooveprints everywhere.

There are miles of trails that look like this.

Not today

Opted for the challenge.  
Farther down the trail I ran into someone...Mr. Lactic Acid!

Growing up on the sand dunes, my husband often refers to these as..."yum yums".

Whoever built this trail obviously had a sense of humor.

I call these the "huevos rides".  
These are for those that have far more "huevos" than I do.

Multi-tiered huevos ride

Yet another

Because I am out on my own quite a bit, here is some typical gear I might take on a daily outing. 
I take just enough with me in case I have to spend an unexpected night out. 

(TOP row):  Camelbak L.U.X.E. backpack with a 100 oz water bladder (filled full for every trip)

(2nd row, L to R):  Garmin eTrex GPS with two extra batteries and carry case, Gerber Gator knife, Glock Model 27 .40 cal, fleece gloves and beanie hat (these are with me all year - in this climate, the weather can change on an instant).

(3rd row, L to R):   A very lightweight 5 x 7 tarp (another weather precaution), Maxpedition E.D.C pocket organizer (see post "Just In Case" from 29 July for content details), R.E.I. wallet purse.

In my mountain bike seat bag:
Extra bike tube, patch kit, Topeak bike multi-tool, and grease rag
Reflective foil emergency blanket
Coghlan's Survival kit-in-a-can

Tips when heading out:
  Take into consideration where you are going, what activity you will be participating in, what the weather has in store, what gear is appropriate, and always bring more water than what you think you will need.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS let someone know where you are going and when they should expect you back.

"It is only alone, truly alone that one bursts apart, springs forth."  --Maria Isabel Barreno

Saturday, September 22, 2012


Fire.  It has been around for thousands of years.  It has hundreds of uses.  One of my favorite ways to cook, is over the fire pit.  After starting many, many fires in my lifetime, I have found an almost fool proof way of getting a fire started quickly and keep it burning efficiently.  Keep in mind, there are many factors that may or may not affect your fire.  Wind, dryness of available wood, weather conditions, etc.  A fire needs two things to survive: fuel and oxygen.

This is our fire pit in the backyard.  We use it a lot!


Start by placing two somewhat larger pieces of wood parallel to each other on the bottom.

Loosely crumple 3-4 pieces of newspaper between the two pieces of wood.

On top of the two pieces of wood and the crumpled newspaper, 
make a tic-tac-toe pattern with four kindling-like pieces.

Add another layer of the tic-tac-toe pattern on top of the first one but turn it slightly as shown.

Now, on top of the two layers of the tic-tac-toe patterns, 
place two more larger pieces of wood...just like you did on the bottom, 
only set them in the opposite direction as seen above.

Light the newspaper on one end where it is exposed.

Light the newspaper on the opposite exposed end.

Let the fire work on its own.  The construction of the wood will easily start consuming itself.

Your fire should look like this only after a few minutes of first lighting the paper.

After all of the wood has developed a substantial amount of hot embers, 
prop the top two pieces of wood off to one side as shown.

Gradually add more wood as needed by propping it on its end against the hot logs.  Propping them up like this will ensure that they are getting an ample supply of oxygen.

"To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world."
~Charles Dudley Warner

Saturday, September 15, 2012


Every once in awhile, life has a way of passing out little surprises.  This week, one of those surprises surfaced. While returning from a grouse hunting trip on the west side of the Cascades, my husband and I decided to take the McKenzie Highway scenic route, which we both had never been over before.  At the top of the pass and located 15 miles west of Sisters at the 5,325' elevation marker in the Willamette National Forest, stands the Dee Wright Observatory.  Here we made a pit stop and took in the beautiful views.  

While making the trek up to the observatory from the truck, I stopped to take a few pictures along the way while my husband continued to follow the stairs to the top.  After a few minutes, I continued up to the top as well.  Now one thing you should know about my husband, is his natural knack for being able to talk to just about anyone.  Most of which seem to be colorful characters.  When I reached the top, he was quick to inform me that we were going to give "that gal" a ride to Bend as he pointed toward "that gal".  After being informed of the news, I asked him of course who she was.  He said that she was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and had just been forced to evacuate by the Forest Service due to the fire.  Another thing you should also know about my husband, is that he will do just about anything to make sure someone gets what they need...this sometimes includes strangers.  After introducing ourselves and talking for several minutes, I walked her down toward the truck. 

When we arrived at the truck, we offered her what we had in our cooler.  A fresh peach, carrots from mom and dad's garden, fresh cantaloupe, and fresh blackberries that we had just picked an hour ago.  I don't think I have ever seen anyone so appreciative of fresh food!

On the drive to Bend, Ron and I of course asked her a million questions about her journey.  I will always be thankful for that inspirational day and life's little surprises.

Mia.  A 61 year old woman that is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from the border of Mexico to the Cascade Locks in Washington....alone.  Yes, alone!  She has been on the trail since April and expects to finish this month.  Just 20 miles shy of the 2000 mile marker on the PCT, Mia was evacuated by the Forest Service due to the Pole Creek Fire at the base of North Sister.  She opted to take a few days off and enjoy what Bend had to offer.  With that, we introduced her to several of the good things in our area.  Thanks for the visit Mia and safe travels to you on the completion of your journey!

Beyond the miles of lava fields is the northwest side of North Sister.  
The Pole Creek Fire is burning on the east side.

Staircase to the observatory

The entire observatory is made from lava rock.

The happy, jovial Mia!
What an inspiration!

Treated Mia to the infamous "D & D" bloody mary.   
Her favorite drink after she gets off the trail.

For those that dare to tread.

Mia loved the local Bend beer!

We invited Mia over for some fresh tuna tacos on the firepit.
"No one saves us but ourselves. 
No one can and no one may. 
We ourselves must walk the path."

To follow Mia, here is the link to her blog on her PCT journey.