Tag: Mt. Hood

Same Friend, Different Weekend

Some things are worth a 500-mile drive in a weekend (and I’m not a fan of road trips). In this case, it was the same friend for another weekend.

My best friend from high school had to drive a similar distance and it didn’t make her bat an eyelash. She’s one of those people who loves to drive, and I’m happy to let her when we’re together.

A couple years ago, we went to Richland, Washington. That year, we had another high school friend with us. I blogged about it here.

We’ve since been to Seattle and Leavenworth.

I’m sensing a theme here: the state of Washington. As it happens, Washington is “middle ground” for us. She lives in Idaho and I’m in Oregon. Check your map and you’ll see what I mean by “middle ground.”

Why Her?

Unbreakable bonds are forged on cinder tracks. Okay, that didn’t sound as prophetic and epic as I hoped. It’s safe to say, Laurel and I became friends after a hurdle tried to take me out at the knees.

For many years, we were inseparable. But people grow up. At times, I feared we might be growing apart, but that’s not what happened at all.

Each time we saw each other, time fell away and we took up right where we left off. Except we were older and wiser (more gray-haired and wrinkled anyway).

When she went through an ugly divorce (yes, there are other kinds, but ugly seems to be the norm), I was a concerned yet distant ear. Most of the communiques came through email, but the weekend the divorce became final, we started our tradition.

Girlfriends’ Weekend.

And it started with hiking on Mt. Hood. Then it headed to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco.

It hasn’t happened every year, and what started as an autumnal tradition has migrated to springtime.

It involves late nights, good food and lots of laughter. In fact, we’ve considered trademarking the hysterical laughter method of ab-tightening.

Why There?

The original point of these getaways was to offer a retreat from regular life with someone who accepted you at face value. It might be a time of therapy-by-venting or relaxation through escapism.

As for destinations, there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to the selection. Not even in the beginning.

In recent years, we’ve chose destinations centrally located that we could drive to. This keeps the cost down, although I’d wager we could find another discounted airfare to a city further afield…if we wanted to be flexible and let it happen more spur-of-the-moment.

Richland, Washington is no tourist destination. Not one I’d pay money to attend anyway.

But it happens to be nearly halfway between the two cities of our residence. And it has pretty decent weather most of the year.

The hope for sunshine is what made me reject her suggestion we relocate this year’s meeting to a place much closer to me. A place in the once-scenic (and now burn victimized) Columbia River Gorge.
She’s bringing her brochures and planning to convince me it’s a decent location for the next meet-up. And since I’ve never “bathed” in natural hot springs, she can probably talk me into it without too much trouble.

Same friend next year, who knows where? Same time? Possibly. We tend to be creatures of habit.

Have you ever had a girls’ getaway (or a guys’ getaway)? What did you do? What was its purpose?

Two hours makes a difference in a morning run

AM Walk 7182013 017

Summer wanes. One sure sign is the later appearance of the sun each morning.

One of the things I enjoy about summer is the early morning runs. I’ll be outside at 6am, inhaling the sweet peace of a slumbering world.

Unless I want to blunder around in the dark, which defeats half the enjoyment, it is a 7am run come October. Some mornings, when things are especially lazy, I might not make it outside until 8am.

What a difference in the world that awaits me. Two hours and most of the peacefulness is overtaken by wakefulness. So little time yielding so many changes.

What I love about early morning

I’ve been asked many times, “What do you listen to when you’re writing? Or what’s your favorite thing to listen to?” My answer: the sound of silence.

AM Walk 7182013 008At 6am on a July morning, that is the prevailing voice on the wind: silence. It underscores the hum of traffic on the highway, twittering of birds in the trees and occasional barking of a dog.

In my mind, this silence is a major part of the peacefulness of my surroundings.

Watching the sun peek its head over Mount Hood and the Columbia River has an enormous appeal, as well. Summer sun seems to rise and set slowly.

A freshness permeates the air. Not many automobiles have sputtered their caustic fumes. Any wind refreshes the wandering soul.

It’s not that I don’t like people, but they tend to make so much noise. Did I mention that my favorite sound is silence? At 6am, not many people are out and about on the streets and walking path of my town.

How an 8am run is different

The first thing I noticed during an autumn run is the chill breeze. Not so much refreshing as invigorating. Can’t really complain about that.

Traffic noise is tripled. Vehicles zoom past on the highway. Even two streets and a tree break can’t dampen them.

Where there are automobiles, there is stench. Those carbon monoxide emissions appeal to some people (isn’t that why they run their car in a closed garage?) Me? I’d choose naturally scented air, thank you very much.

Because it isn’t unscented. You can smell the blackberries, flowers and fruit when the potent fumes aren’t overpowering everything. Nature’s fragrance.

I have to be watchful for cars backing out of driveways as I run past. They aren’t expecting me, so I must be vigilant of my surroundings. During the 8am run inspiring this post – only three vehicles tried to run me down. I gladly yielded the throughway to them.

Another thing never encountered on the 6am run: a county work crew. On the 8am run, the van from the corrections department drove down my running path like it was a highway. I’m sure the park along the trail will be better for the attention, but dodging trucks on a path not intended for motorized vehicles didn’t improve my outing.

Certain bits of wisdom come to you during an early morning run.

For example, a flatbed truck delivered shingles and other roofing material to a house as I jogged by. I marvel at the conveyer belt transporting the unwieldy stacks onto the roof (I remember my dad carrying them up a ladder on his shoulder).

The wisdom: I want to be the guy at the bottom of the conveyor. He gets to set the pace. The guy on the roof, aided by the gentle slope beneath his feet, must keep up or be swallowed by the influx of materials.

In my town, there aren’t very many morning people. Regardless of the time, I never pass more than four or five individuals. I’m grateful for this because it means I’m not required to share my morning peace with anyone else.

What sorts of things have you noticed are quite different depending on the time of day? Do my readers who live in larger cities find the same sort of emptiness on early morning streets?