Birthday Ride

I had an amazing birthday this year. It was a beautiful day and we went to one of my all time favorite trails, Cummin’s Creek. It is on Cape Perpetua and has brutal climbs, roots, rocks and great views! We spent about half the time riding and half the time lounging in the sun!

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We also spent a lot of time doing some skills practice. I was able to ride a few things for the first time!

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IMG_1153And then we got to end it all on the beach.

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IMG_1231All of this was followed by coming home to a house covered in personalized birthday banners (thanks Cici!), homemade sushi, salad rolls and the BEST German chocolate cake!

Thanks Guys!

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The cross revolution

As you most likely already know, we love goals. We especially love cycling goals. Last year, was the year of the cross revolution. The cross bike that is. We went from desperately trying to sneak in hours in the forest to easily cranking them out on our cross bikes. We both destroyed our 2014 climbing goal of 365,000 ft. 500,000 ft this year?

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We also destroyed our sunrise watching goals.

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This is all because of the Dimple Commute™. This is probably the best commute in the Corvallis area (second only to the McDimple Commute™). It may not be the most direct route, but it is the most beautiful. It requires a good backpack, a cross bike and a bit of preparation. We spend our Sunday prepping breakfast burritos, muffins, yogurt snacks and lunch for the entire week. It is certainly worth it.

Hey I, oh, I’m still alive

It is time to revive this blog! Hopefully.

I know it has been far too long and I would like to promise that we will regularly upkeep this blog form here on out. Let’s face it, I can’t promise that right now. I will only promise this post and I will try to get my blogging act together.

Updates? There are a lot but I will only give you a few for now. Jim is still crunching away at his degree (1.5 more years?). He is well on his way to being the best ecological engineer this world has ever known. I am now crunching away at a PhD. That means that I have had some time to teach, that I am taking some fun classes and that I am getting my hands dirty in the lab. I will talk about my project a bit later, but for now I will leave you with this cool video about a group of fungi closely related to the group that I work with.

Isn’t that cool?

What else? Well, these babies are still loving life.

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And we are still doing this:

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So, expect a little more science, a little more biking, and a lot of cute puppy pictures.IMG_0035

Fall!

We woke up this morning to a brisk, sunny day with all the typical falling leaves and colors and spiders of autumn. One week ago it was uncomfortably hot, but that was September, and this is October, so…it’s officially fall. You can also tell it’s fall because we’re reluctantly turning down weekend mountain biking trips to the Cascades and have a mostly-empty carton of our favorite football-season ice cream in the freezer.

School has been going for 2 weeks now, and it’s Rheannon’s first school-less term in several  years, and my first term at OSU. I thought I was prepared and built tougher than all the people that told me that taking physics, calculus, chemistry, and an engineering course was stupid, but it turns out that I am human afterall. So after the first week of falling increasingly behind, I dropped physics, felt bad about myself, and then tried to get over it. I might kind of be over it now. Transferring to OSU from a community college, I felt like a country bumpkin in the big city. Surrounded by hundreds of other students in an auditorium classroom, trying to get across campus in five minutes from one class to another while dodging countless unpredictable teenagers on long boards…I miss small town, main street community college with my first-name basis professors and classmates that aren’t 10 years younger than me. But like others before me, I’ll just adopt the role of the hardened non-traditional (old) university student and figure it out.


Rheannon is still in the grad school application process, and we still have no idea where we’ll be in 1-2 years. That being said, we’ve prematurely decided that she’s going to be awarded a prestigious grant that will allow her to study in a lichen lab in Finland for 9 months, while the dogs and I stay home and eat a lot of fast food and watch really terrible action movies. It will be ugly. You probably shouldn’t visit during those 9 months. But since the people that dole out these grants don’t even know they’re awarding her yet, it’s probably too soon to start thinking about how pathetic we’ll be if we have to live apart.


So, it might seem like things have taken a dark turn, transitioning from a summer of recreational bliss to academic stress and the prospect of a carl’s jr./jean-claude van damme future, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad. We’ve both decided to take on ridiculous goals and have drawn up annual training plans that will surely keep us happy and tired throughout the winter. Rheannon decided to train for a 100 mile mountain bike next summer, and after realizing at the 24 hour race that being on my bike at odd hours for long periods of time satisfies some dysfunctional part of me, I decided to do one too.

I picked a course that has a cruel 18,000 feet of climbing, and Rheannon picked one with a slightly more reasonable 12,000 feet of climbing. Either way, we’re looking at up to 15 hours on our bikes, which is probably going to be miserable. You can tell that I still have an unrealistic idea of what that actually means because I use the word probably. Who am I kidding? It’s going to suck. But we’re excited about it, because we’re sick, sick people.

6 Weeks Crammed into a Slideshow

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We spent the last couple months cramming a lot of riding and vacation into the final hours of summer. We spent an amazing 3-day weekend as guides at a local mountain bike festival, time in Bend visiting the grandparents, and Labor Day weekend riding our favorite trail on the coast with a group of friends and hanging out on the beach with our best-friend-turned-medical-student. We also spent a dusty weekend camping in the dirt and riding at odd hours during a 24 hour mountain bike race. That got us hooked on endurance racing, which you’ll probably hear more about later. Finally, we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary (but more importantly our 6th regular anniversary) at a fire lookout in the Cascades. It’s been an incredible summer, and now it’s time to pack up the camping gear and dust off the pocket protector, because school starts in exactly one week.

Summer Adventures

Since we got home from our road trip, we’ve been busy working and playing. My ankle is still sore from my birthday karaoke sprain, so we’ve shifted our focus from mountain biking to road biking. We also managed to get in the first backpacking trip of the season, which it turns out was a bit premature. Every summer we get antsy for some alpine backpacking and end up jumping the gun, finding ourselves hiking through miles of snowfields where there should be wildflower meadows. Someday we may learn that the season really doesn’t start until August, but until then we enjoy our early season adventures and tolerate the wicked sunburns that we get from being on the snow for hours.

Our first big trip was a road ride over beautiful McKenzie Pass to visit the grandparents in Bend. McKenzie Pass is basically a giant lava field surrounded by peaks: Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters. The trip was 70 miles each way and several thousand feet of climbing. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but it turns out that all the time we spend climbing steep trails and forest roads on mountain bikes makes road climbing (even a mountain pass) seem not so bad. We got to stop at two of our favorite ice cream shops on the way: BJ’s in Sisters and Goody’s in Bend. But the best part was hanging out with Rheannon’s grandparents, which is always a treat.

Lava tube break

Summiting the Pass

Riding through the high desert on our way to Bend

Grandma and Grandpa!

Mt. Washington looking sassy.

Rheannon posing with North and Middle Sister

We were so impressed with McKenzie Pass that we went back to the area the following weekend to go backpacking. We left from the appropriately named Obsidian Trailhead, and besides finding a lot of snow, we also found a lot of obsidian. So much so that at times it felt and sounded like we were walking through a field of coins. We were lucky to have Sea Oh and the dogs join us for this trip. We won’t have Sea Oh much longer since she’s starting medical school soon, and it’s an increasingly rare treat to be able to adventure with the dogs since they’ve been getting older and they can’t keep up with us the way they used to.

Hiking through the lava fields

Obsidian!

Snow dogs

If you look close you can see my sunburn forming.

This picture was taken just seconds before Branson fell and got stuck in the well between the snow and that giant boulder. Such is the life of an aging, adventuring pit bull.

Our temporary home.

Sunbathing in the meadow.

Can’t leave home without the hammock.

-Jim

Epic Cross Country Road Trip

We needed some time to process our epic cross country road trip before we could talk about it.  However, we seem to have taken too much time and now it is preventing us from posting about other epic adventures that we have taken.  So, I will try my best to do it justice so that we can more on.  The trip consisted of more family and friends than we ever thought possible. Here is a summary:

The First Very Long Drive:
We waved good bye to our dogs and started driving.  Moving slow at first, we made it to Missoula, MT for our first of many home cooked meals.  Our dear friends we kind enough to make us dinner so that we could stop for a short visit.  It was WAY too short, but it was wonderful to catch up and spend some time in one of the most wonderful backyards in the world.  After calculating the distance to our next stop, we realized that we could only make it there in time for dinner if we drove all night.  This isn’t something that I was interested in doing, but I knew the dinner was going to be good.  That night was full of load music and cans of TJ’s coffee drinks.  By the way, Montana is a very, very big state.
Chicago:
As promised, there was endless good food to be had both at headquarters (Jim’s Aunt Janie’s house) and in the city.  Here I finally got to meet Jim’s Grandmother and Cousin JB, we officially kicked off our Ice Cream Across America Tour, I saw my first firefly (AMAZING!), and Jim, Soso and I took a wonderful tour of downtown Chicago.  Here are some highlights:

Ice Cream Across America Official Kick Off

 

Amazing Storms!

The Bean!

Best Canoe Art Ever

Chicago Ferris Wheel

Davenport:

More wonderful family visits!  This time our headquarters was Jim’s Aunt Gail’s house.  We rocked a blues festival on the great Mississippi with his Uncle Frank, ate more (yes more!) amazing food, sampled more ice cream (this was the famous Whitey’s aka my favorite), had breakfast on a river boat casino and watched fireflies light up the ravine behind Gail’s house.  I really wish that I could have taken some of the fireflies back with me.

More Ice Cream

Winning Big

Oklahoma:

Final destination!  We stopped to visit so many places and family members in Oklahoma that I can’t even list them all.  I got the official family sight seeing tour from Jim and Momo and we even got to visit some of my family!  Although we moved around a lot, our official headquarters was Mema’s Palace.

Center of the Universe with Momo

Turkey Mountain – Jim’s First Mountain Biking Trails

Ice Cream Across America with my family: Uncle Steve, Cousin Megan and Terrence

The Tulsa Driller

The Long Drive Home:

Determined to save ourselves (mainly me) the pain of being in the car that long, we tried to take the drive home much slower.  However, the comfort and dogs of home were calling and even I wanted to drive into as much of the night as possible.  We did make a lot more stops and got to spend some quality time in Denver and Salt Lake.  And don’t worry – we ate more ice cream.

Momo’s Teenage Hangout

Kansas Oasis

Last Ice Cream Stop: Sisters, OR

-Rheannon