Part XXIV: Terrebonne, OR – Climbing the Zoo
Sunday morning, Cousin and I packed up from my parent’s friends’ house in Bend, and made our way to Terrebonne, the town adjacent to Smith Rock. There, we met up with one of Cousin’s Outward Bound instructors and another OB instructor to go climbing in a less used part of the park a little way from the main Smith Rock. These rocks have been routed recently and are called “The Zoo”. We took some dirt roads, grabbed our gear, and took about a half hour hike to our first rock “Tasmanian Devil”. That climb turned out to be a little disappointing according to the two instructors. Shorter than we expected it to be, but rock face was interesting. Not a ton of obvious hold choices. I enjoyed it.
We hiked a little further, after taking our gear down, and hooked up another climb which was longer, interesting, but pretty easy – lots of obvious holds – and it was just beautiful to look at. Really interesting erosion patterns making a honeycomb look. I played LCD Soundsystem’s The Long Goodbye from my phone while we played outside. It was an awesome middle of the day. I could definitely get into climbing more – assuming time and space availability, haha.
After climbing, Cousin and I swung by a grocery store to get some fruit to make a fruit salad to share with the OB staff for group dinner while everyone hung out on their little field and played games. We drove to the site, and I really enjoyed watching Cousin reminisce and remember as we got closer to the base camp and then walked around it. We went for a swim in the river – very refreshingly cool, but not totally freezing. Like, it just took your breath a little. It felt GREAT after a hot dusty day rock climbing. Then, we cleaned ourselves up and got to chopping fruit, and, just as I thought, outdoor instructors were PUMPED to have two big ol’ bowls of fresh fruit in front of them. On the lawn, along a beautiful dinner also including chocolate chip banana bread, leftovers, and salads, there were many games to be played. I ended up spending a bunch of the time practicing my Thai massage, which was great. I got some practice in, the instructors got some muscles relaxed, win-win situation. The games and food wound down as it got dark out, and the mosquitos (giant mosquitos) came out in more force than before. Cousin and I pitched our tent and settled down to sleep for the night so we could get an early start for a long drive the next day.
Part XXV: Portland, OR – Should we stop yet? No.
Our first aim for Monday was a stop in Portland for food and some sightseeing based on suggestions from some OB instructors. Driving through Oregon… I mean really driving through so much of the western United States, well, even the whole United States, is just beautiful!
On the way to Portland, we stopped in Salem, OR to pick some blueberries. Delicious, delicious, fresh blueberries. Only one $1 per pound! Yummy!
We got into Portland a little on the early side of lunch, which turned out to be great. We went to a place well-loved for its biscuits called Pine State Biscuits. The line was already way out of the door, so we knew we had a good suggestion. To be honest, in my opinion, the biscuits themselves that we got were chewy and not buttery enough for a biscuit, I mean, especially after the Greenhouse on Porter biscuit I got several weeks ago. Chewy means they’re definitely over mixed, and probably old. Maybe if we’d gotten there for breakfast they’d have been more better, but hey, that was my experience. It had a solid vibe to it. I got my biscuit with shiitake gravy (which was absolutely bomb), a fried egg, and some braised collard greens, which were probably the best part of my meal. Also, to be fair, that Purrito was still fresh in my mind.
We then tried to see some part of the city to enjoy. But DAMN. It was the middle of the day on Monday and everywhere was crowded. What the heck?! Don’t you people work? So, on suggestion, we tried to visit the International Test Rose Garden, but there was nowhere to park after trying for a few minutes, so we just gave up and drove on, north and west back to the coast.
Our next goal was Cape Disappointment in Washington. The drive was sunny and kind of boring… One of my favorite things driving through Oregon, though, was seeing so many smooth, flat bodies of water! Made me want to row ALL OF THE TIME. Beautiful water always makes me want to get back at it. After the drive, Cape Disappointment was… well… disappointing. So does that make it not disappointing? Was it supposed to be disappointing? It was damp and foggy, mostly. Saw some eagles, neat flowers, old WWII structures, and a light house. Not bad, but people kind of built it up for me.
After Cape Disappointment, we continued north, originally planning to spend the night in or near Olympic Park, but deciding to turn east earlier due to the time. We wanted to stop a different park about half way between the coast and Seattle. After driving east for a bit, we suddenly found ourselves in Tacoma already! We knew that was much closer to Seattle than we expected to be, and decided to call my friend from Wooster who moved there recently and said she would be able to give us a place to sleep. Fortunately, she said we could join a night earlier than previously expected, so it worked out! We rolled in kind of late, sat around her fire pit for a minute, and then got ourselves to bed.
Part XXVI: Seattle, WA – Cloudy in the Morning, Sunny in the Afternoon
Summer in Seattle is pretty great. Yes, every morning started cloudy and gray, but the afternoons cleared up to be absolutely GORGEOUS. I hear it’s not always like that, but it put on a nice show for us.
Each morning, I went down to the City Center for a yoga practice at Troy Lucero’s Acme Yoga Project, an Ashtanga based practice shala which strongly emphasizes the independent study part of the practice. Doing just the right thing for each individual. I am totally sold on Troy and his teaching method. It is exactly how I would like to teach. He had me work on a whole heck of a lot of handstand stuff – adding presses into the primary series and having me work on some wacky hand positions on parallettes, canes, and more. Crazy challenging stuff. Cousin joined me for two of the mornings. I think that yoga could really benefit him, like it could benefit everyone, because he experiences a lot of anger around things and people he can’t control – pretty much everything that isn’t him. Most noticeable in traffic. Let’s hope he finds a way!
Tuesday after practice, we returned to the house and made blueberry muffins with the blueberries we picked in Salem. They turned out delicious. I mean, fresh blueberries make everything great, and blueberry muffins rule. To top it all off, we topped it with a brown sugar oat walnut crumble. So bomb. Also, I’ve been finding that using almond meal as a partial flour substitute is freaking brilliant. Highly recommend.
After muffins, Cousin and I walked around Ballard, the neighborhood we were staying in. First, lunch at a Mediterranean place, then a walk to the locks and along the river to various parks. Lot of cool stuff going on around Ballard. So many restaurants. Really. So many! It’s a beautiful river, especially once the sun came out. After several hours of walking, we made our way back up to the house and enjoyed muffins and blueberries.
In the late evening, I went with “A”, the Wooster friend who was letting us stay at her place, to an Acro Jam at a studio in Fremont. We stopped by the Fremont Troll on the way. The Jam was fun, but I didn’t feel as invited as I had been at other jams. I still had a lot of fun playing with a new friend – trying to figure out the Barrelroll and Catherine’s Wheel, among other things.
After practice Wednesday morning, I gave Cousin a Thai Massage to try to help lessen some of his fairly chronic hip and back pain. Lots of tightness in the hips. So much! It was good practice for me, working with someone larger than me and not loose like a yogi. After massage, we got some tasty seafood in Ballard for lunch – I would highly recommend Port Chatham Smoked Seafood. In addition to carrying smoked and frozen salmon and other seafood, they offer sandwiches and wraps for very reasonable prices. Could definitely eat there frequently.
After food, we walked down to Fremont to see the troll and check out Theo’s Chocolate Shop, who makes their own chocolate. Their own really good chocolate. (And a not-so-secret secret I found out about Theo’s on Thursday night, was that they do in fact dump scrap chocolate into their compost dumpster late at night. And if you’re willing to reach in and take it, there is much for the taking. I found a whole lot of sea salt and almond dark chocolate. And it was totally delicious.) Then we walked back home.
A and I went to a Stand-up Paddleboard Yoga class in through Surf Ballard. SUP Yoga is definitely cool, and it has a whole lot of potential, but for me the class set up just doesn’t work well. The additional challenge of SUP Yoga makes just about anyone like a beginner yogi again. So, for those who are beginner yogis in addition to beginner SUP Yogis, a very basic class is needed, making it a little boring for those who aren’t. But, that is just me speaking from a single class, so, many grains of salt included. On the plus side, it was great to be out on the water and two harbor seals hung around and watched us while we practiced!
Thursday morning after practice, I returned to the house, I made some blueberry pancakes (also delicious, like the muffins). Used more of that almond meal, along with some oats and white flour, to make them and was very satisfied with the results! Then, Cousin, A, and I went to hike Rattlesnake Ledges. It was cloudy until we finished the hike, but it was still very cool. The first ledge that everyone goes to is super crowded and not very interesting. Fortunately, it turns out that there is another little ledge another tenth of a mile up the trail that is tiny and much less known, and therefore much less occupied. Beautiful views!
We returned to Seattle to start to get our things in order to leave on Friday and so I could meet with some friends from grade school for dinner at Uneeda Burger. I probably haven’t seen D and M in eight years! D was one of the first people I met when I got to Friends and I met M in day care when we were both very little. It was great to see them again and catch up on eight years’ worth of information. Plus, dinner was tasty – solid burger combinations and very tasty milkshakes. After eating, we walked down to Fremont center and then split up to go to our homes.
Late in the evening, I took Cousin to the airport so he could fly himself home. On the way back, I swung by Gas Works Park for a stunning view of downtown Seattle lit up at night, and Theo’s dumpster for chocolate. Tasty dumpster chocolate.
Friday morning, I got ample food to travel – lots of fruit and some bread – and started on certainly my longest personal drive I’ve done on this trip. Covered about 700 miles to make it almost all of the way to Yellowstone National Park!
Part XXVII: Yellowstone National Park – Shoshone is Better
I spent the night in Ennis, about an hour’s drive from Yellowstone’s West Entrance and started very early the next morning to make my way into the park. I saw the sun rise over Earthquake lake and probably rolled into the park before seven.
The geothermal activity in that place is just amazing. It was definitely what I saw the most of and makes the landscape look like a wild, alien planet. Bubbling, sulfurous mud alongside steam vents and exploding, spurting water. Just incredible. Saw Old Faithful go off, and the eruption lasted way longer than I thought it would! Like, two whole minutes! Wow.
From there I started seeing animals – pika, squirrels, chipmunks, mule deer, elk, and bison! The bison didn’t start to show up until I was north of the Yellowstone lake, but once they started showing, boy did a lot show up! I mean, surely not as many as there used to be, but I was surprised by the size of the herds. And, wow, those are some big freaking animals. They would do some serious damage if you angered one.
I continued north through some great views at Tower Fall, but the real beauty, in my opinion, started when I started east and got into the Shoshone National Forest. Of all of the places I have been on this trip so far, I definitely felt the most power here. Wyoming has continued to be incredibly beautiful. It may have helped that I was listening to a powerful episode of the Invisibilia podcast about how the world does treat people with mental illnesses and how we should. Seriously, check it out. But I got smiles and tears just driving through the country, gazing at the incredible geological formations. Huge huge HUGE rocks and cliffs. Just stunning.
I came out of that into the rolling hills of Wyoming and Cody, where I spent the night. Today, I drove from Cody to Spearfish, South Dakota, cruising across the country. I stopped at Devil’s Tower National Monument, which is definitely a damn incredible rock. So tall! And it just shoots right up. Lots and lots of tourists there. There was a big line to get in, but I was happy I did. No aliens played music. No mashed potatoes were consumed.
On to the Black Hills, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore tomorrow. I’ll be back in Ohio in a week! Wow.