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

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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