Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The international kite festival was really fun!  There were kites of all shapes, sizes and colors.  Competitions included ballet, hot tricks, mass accessions, and kite fighting.  It was cool just to be by the ocean.  The Meyer family campout is always enjoyable as well.  We saw a lot of familiar faces and met some new relatives too.  There were 2 babies that Eric and I got to meet for the first time.  They are incredibly adorable and have their own unique personalities.  It makes you want to have kids of your own.  We ate very well during this portion of our trip.  I got to try some new things, which I am always a little hesitant to do including clams and crab.  Both are delicious!  We also had some old favorites like salmon and halibut.  As you can see we had a lot of seafood, which was mostly caught and brought by fellow family members.  We took a bike ride out on the beach, which was a bit difficult in the sand, but still pretty fun.  Mostly we just enjoyed everyone’s company and the festival down the road.  Eric and I left on Monday to head back to Portland so that I could catch a flight to New York City.  I forgot to bring any clothes that would be appropriate for my presentation, so we went to the mall where Eric and Josh helped me find a new outfit.  Tuesday morning (early morning (4:30ish!!!)) I caught my flight (direct, luckily) across the country.  It was a bit of a shocker stepping off the plane into the world’s most hectic city.  I had a car service to take me to the meeting, which was at Cold Spring Harbor, but it was much like taking a taxi.  The driver laid on the horn for 30 seconds at a time and spoke insults loudly to the drivers around us.  I have been so relaxed for so long, this was almost enough to send me running.

I won’t bore you with the details of the meeting.  Let’s just say that I met a lot of new people and got to hang out with some of my favorite people from CO.  My poster was well received and I actually thought that the time spent presenting flew by at record pace.  There were many interesting talks presented about cutting edge research and it felt like a chance to refocus my mind on science.  Baby fever is absolutely out of my system.  The lab is calling to me and I am excited to get projects rolling.

During the time I was absent, Eric spent his days visiting friends in Portland.  He helped someone move, helped someone tile their fireplace mantel, went jet-boating and  squeezed in a ride at the Tillamook State Forest.  After some minor delays at the airport resulting from Tropical storm Danny, my flight departed and crossed the country back to Portland.  I got in a little late (11:30pm, which felt like 2:30AM!!) and was happy to be back on vacation.  Eric and I are both feeling the end is near.  Although I am excited to get started, I am also a little hesitant knowing that this may be the last time for a long time that I will be able to take as much time off from work. 

Sunday, we got up bright and early, excited to see what the Mt. Hood area has to offer.  After restocking our fridge and cupboards, we drove the short distance to the Gunsight trail.  The weather is back to sunny and perfect.  During the time we were apart, Eric and I both suffered clouds, cool temps with the occasional rain shower.  Apparently our combined powers to control the weather is synergistic.  We started riding just after noon, which began with a long, steady climb on a mix of paved and gravel roads.  At the end of the road, we came to an awesome view of Mt. Hood and someone very lucky’s campsite.  There were millions of plump and sun sweetened huckleberries ready for consumption.  I took full advantage while Eric made some critical phone calls.  We finally hit the single track and continued climbing on the nicest surface ever.  This trail had a mixture of smooth forest trail and rocky technical, even super rock shale landslides.  At the very top, there was a lovely view of the mountain, which was best appreciated by scrambling up some giant boulders, much like the tops of the peaks just out of Boulder, CO.  The trail reached Gumjuac Saddle and headed down a long decent back to the car.  It had long, fast sections followed by switchbacks.  It was a lot of fun the whole way and the views were spectacular.  We camped near the start of the next day’s ride and enjoyed steak, zucchini from Ben and Tiffany’s garden, and rice.  Tummies full, we headed to bed.

Today, we got up early.  Didn’t feel that early.  At the conference we stayed up late every night and had to get up fairly early to get to the talks resulting in 5-6 hours of sleep max.  I thought we got up this morning around 9 because I had been in and out of sleep for so long.  Turns out, we were eating breakfast at 7:30.  Geez!  Today the plan was to ride 2 loops that were rated very highly by our map’s description note.  We started with a really fun, not too steep, decent that was just great and long on the trail called 8-mile creek trail.  After a long decent, we obviously had some vertical to make up.  It was really nice though, curving up the mountain with moderate effort.  We finished with a small decent before hitting the second loop, Knebal Spring Trail.  Again, the decent was super long, not too steep, fun, curvy, but a little dustier.  It is always a little disappointing to get to the bottom of a long decent and know that you only have climbing left, that there is no more fun downhill ahead.  It was another long climb, but we both were feeling pretty strong.  I didn’t think we had reached the top when we did and was surprised to be cranking through the forest in my middle ring and finishing with an addition mile of downhill.  Eric knew that I would be pretty tired after this ride.  My meeting in NYC didn’t exactly keep my fitness primed.  I pretty much sat with my heart beating around 57 bpm for five days straight.  The only time it might have been above 60 bpm was when I had to walk through the buffet line.  Eric wanted to ride a short section of mostly downhill trail that we could ride tomorrow, but decided against.  He said that it was pretty dusty, but still fun, just not a good trail to ride up.  I navigated correctly to the bottom trailhead and Eric arrived shortly thereafter.  We drove into the small town of Parkdale, where we managed to get some laundry and internet tasks done.  Tonight, we are again parked near tomorrow’s trailhead, although we aren’t exactly sure where that is.  We had a delicious supper and are only a little concerned by the weird trucks driving by with people in full camo and guns in the back.  Is it hunting season already?

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