Dorena Dam Rail Trail 13Jun2022

Christine and I put on our helmets once again to hit the path. This time, we headed down to Cottage Grove, where they have a great path. I believe this used to be a train track and was converted to a bike path (rails to trails)? I want to look at this more, because I think it’s much longer than I realized.

Christine, smiling in the foreground and a covered bridge in the background.

We’ve had so much rain! You can see how swollen and muddy this creek is. I don’t think we’ve had a late spring/early summer like this for over 10 years.

I think this is a second covered bridge…

Another covered bridge!

The path was so green and lush! Also, I love how someone was nice enough to mark all of the dips and bumps that can do a number on the tush if you’re not expecting it.

There’s a nice little potty spot on the trail for those who need it.

You can see the clouds… we were taking a chance with the weather. The forecast called for rain all day, but we really wanted to get a ride in.

Halfway into our ride (we both had time constraints), it started POURING. We quickly sought cover under some large trees and waited for it to subside, or at least slow down.

On our way back, we had to look at the reservoir. It is FULL and at the spilling over point. We wanted to get an even better look…

We went up a little gravel road and out our bikes down to walk the rest of the way.

Wow! The water made so much noise! Also, you can hear a high-pitched whine. I don’t know if that’s just the sound of the water shooting out of the jets, or if it’s the hydro-machinery? Either way, it was quite impressive.

LEAVES OF THREE, LET THEM BE! NO TOUCHY! Poison Oak, my friends.

Our trip back involved just a few sprinkles, but it was mostly clear. What a great ride! If we both had more time, we would’ve gone further. Still, it was very nice.

Distance: 17.25 miles; Elevation Gain: 262 feet

Roast Beef Roll-Ups

It’s time to prep lunches again! This time I decided to do something with roast beef. I saw something similar online, and it looked great… so why not?

This is pretty simple: sliced roast beef, cheddar cheese slices, green chilis, and thinly slice red onion. I really wanted the whole green chilis, but my local grocery store has been out of them for a little while. I had to get large diced chilis, but it does the job.

I spread some of the roast beef slices out, broke up a slice of cheddar, and spread it out evenly. I topped that with onion slices and scoops of the green chilis. I wonder… is it chilis, or is it chillies? Chillis… Nothing looks right anymore.

Online, they used chives to neatly tie the rolls together. I tried it in real life and failed miserably. I ended up getting that kind of string that you can bake with. It worked great!

I took these to work (obviously) and they were a great lunch! With the green chilis, you don’t need mayo or any sauces. I think tomatoes would have been a pretty nice addition as well. Maybe next time.

Lunch Prep: Pizza Zuke Boats

Trying to get back on the diet wagon, I picked out a couple of fun recipes. I actually made some egg, green chili, and cheese burritos with almond flour tortillas, but didn’t take pictures. They were very tasty, but not particularly pretty. And I forgot.

But ANYWAY. I did take pictures of the pizza zucchini boats! These were fun and easy to make, and yummy to boot (see what I did there, Canada? Boat… boot…).

I took an ice cream scoop and scooped out the fleshy seed bit of the zucchini. I put them on aluminum foil because I’m lazy very efficient. I baked them for about 15 minutes, just to cook them a little. I knew they wouldn’t need long once I added the rest of the ingredients.

I added my favorite pizza sauce: Rao’s Homemade Pizza sauce. No sugar here! It’s just savory deliciousness.

I didn’t have sausage crumbles, so I diced up an Aidells Cajun style andouille sausage and hit them with some heat on the skillet. Then I put them on the pizza sauce and added the shredded Italian cheese mix.

These little low-carb treasures are delicious! They’re easy to heat up at work (pop them in the microwave, sans the foil), and just so darn tasty. I will definitely make them again. Maybe a pepperoni and/or veggie version?

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had a student with me at work. She’s such a sweet person! She just ended her term and is graduating on Saturday, and we decided to meet for coffee. I ordered an espresso shot, and the barista asked me if I wanted a little sparkling water on the side as a palate cleanser. I have never heard of such a thing, but it sounded good, so I said yes.

When I tried the sparkling water after a sip of the espresso… Well, first let me tell you a quick story. A few years ago, my husband and I were going to have homemade chicken fettuccini alfredo. I went to the store to get the ingredients. We had recently been to a nice Italian restaurant, and I had *loved* their fresh pasta. My husband said something about getting fresh pasta, but I had never known grocery stores carried that. Sure enough, I found fresh pasta in the refrigerated section. I made the dish and was stunned. WHY DIDN’T SOMEBODY TELL ME I COULD GET FRESH PASTA AT THE STORE! I was furious for the next two years.

Okay, back to the present. I tried the sparkling water after a sip of the espresso and was, once again, stunned. It took away the intense bitterness and I was left with a slight espresso aftertaste in my mouth. It was WONDERFUL!!! Now. Why didn’t I know this before?? People, I am getting close to the fantastic age of half-a-century, and I feel like this is something that should be common knowledge. Is it? Am I the only one who didn’t know??

No matter what, I’ve found a new thing in life to thoroughly enjoy, and that makes me happy. This time, I will not be angry about it for two years, I promise.

Old McKenzie Pass Hwy 242 West Side (oof!) 01June2022

Christine and I are back on Hwy 242, but coming up the west side this time. The west side is steeper and has many narrow hairpin corners. It’s quite the trek! The road is still closed to motorized vehicles, so we hopped on our bikes to enjoy the safety and beauty that is this highway.

We were actually able to park pretty far up, which is nice. We did see an Oregon Dept. of Transportation (ODOT) truck go through… and saw him again later.

So, this is something new for me. Christine heard me wheezing and coughing the last time we went up Hwy 242 and said she thought I may have exercise-induced asthma. I relayed that information on to my primary doctor. She sent in a prescription for an inhaler and told me to try it before I exercise. I waited for this trip, because I knew if anything did it, it would be this climb! So I took a puff. A ways up the hill, I took another puff.

Now, I don’t know if it was because I was actually paying attention to my breathing or what, but I swear I actually could breathe easier! And at the end of it, I wasn’t wheezing or coughing. We’ll call this a successful trial!

Off we went! This side of the pass looks quite different. It’s more of the mountain scenery I’m used to. Very green and twisty, it’s gorgeous to drive or ride through. It certainly didn’t take long before we had to peel a layer off.

Even with the snow around us, we were warm. The snow was pretty shallow here, melting everywhere. There were still piles where the snowplow had dumped a large amount to get it off the road. The road was, for the most part, dry and in good shape.

Here’s a picture of Christine taking a picture of me. Aren’t we silly? We did stop to put our hands in the snow (shockingly cold) and then put our hands on the back of our necks. It was wonderful!

After a lot of climbing (and I do mean a lot), there’s a nice stretch like this that makes you think and feel everything will be okay. Then it climbs again. We were really enjoying this! After the climbing, flat spots felt as if we were going downhill!

At the end of that video, you can see the ODOT truck coming straight at us. He actually got into our lane and stopped. He really wanted to talk to us! He nicely let us know the road was closed about a mile farther on, and then stared at us. We told him we’d go see it, and it would be nice to start going downhill again after all that climbing, and then we went on our merry way.

Oh, naughty girls! We kept going.

This sweet little guy rode on my arm for so long! I couldn’t help but wonder if he was eating the salt on my skin? I mean, what else is it doing? Just tired, so it’s taking a ride? No matter the reason, I was glad to catch up with Christine so she could get a picture.

That little butterfly really liked us! It hung around for quite a while, taking turns landing on the both of us.

We climbed far enough to hear plows and heavy machinery, so we turned around before we could cause problems or get into danger. Here’s a nice shot of the South Sister, I believe!

Fields of snow…

We stopped here for a quick snack. You can see the water is running under all the snow.

It’s not terribly easy to see, but you can see all three Sisters here.

Some of the burned out areas (from rampant wildfires in 2020) are quite beautiful with the snow. So stark and pretty. It’s sadder when the snow is gone and things are supposed to be green, but are dead. We liked the snow much more.

We weren’t sure where all this snow came from – it definitely wasn’t there on our way up! We carefully traversed through and finished our ride soon after. It was just before this section that we met Scott and Sarah. They’re riding a tandem bike from Astoria, OR to Virginia! VIRGINIA!! Wow.

I really regret not getting their picture. I didn’t even think about it until I got down the hill. But you can follow them on their journey and give them encouragement here: https://www.tempertandem.com/ I hope you do – they were such nice people! I admire their fortitude and adventurous spirit! Scott and Sarah, I hope Snocap was open for you to get a burger and a shake, and I wish you all the safety and happiness!

Distance: 14.8 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,476 feet

McKenzie Pass (Hwy 242) from Sisters 22May2022

Oh, Christine.

My good friend Christine decided to challenge herself. She, like myself, has not had the chance to do too many bike rides yet this year, and we’re both planning on doing some biking events soon. So, she decided it’s time for a challenge to help her get ready for some hills. She chose to bike up Highway 242 from Sisters, OR. This is also known as the old McKenzie Pass Highway, which closes every year for the winter.

Hwy 242 is a phenomenal drive or ride. The peak is not what people expect to see, and it’s just a marvel. It’s at a higher altitude than I’m accustomed to, even at Sisters, so there was definitely an adjustment when we first started pedaling.

Mt Washington

On the way up, we stopped to take a picture (and try to breathe) of Mt Washington. Mt Washington is a volcano and was climbed for the first time in August of 1923 by some fellas from Bend, apparently. I think I’ll stick to hiking and biking…

The flashing bike sign made us laugh. It’s the only one on the trip to the top, as far as I can remember. So random! But I appreciate that we’re being thought of. The road doesn’t open to car traffic until around the third Monday in June, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy the road with just other bikers and a few hikers.

Folks, I was SO GLAD to make it to the top! The last mile or so seemed to take forever! But here we are at the top!

On the right is the Dee Wright Observatory. It’s a cool, castle-like shelter made out of the lava and rock in the area. Inside, there are small windows that face particular mountains, and have them labeled so you know what you’re looking at. On the top, there’s a bronze peak finder. It’s pretty cool! Check this out for more information and pictures: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/willamette/recarea/?recid=4403

At the top, we were looking at the North Sister, and you can see the Middle Sister just behind it, to our right a little.

At the top, we enjoyed salami, cheese, and cracker sandwiches, and some fruit bars. Simple and good.

On our way down, we had to start slow because the snow was melting on the road and forming thick sheets of ice in parts, and in other areas the road was kind of torn up. While we were going slow, Christine got a fun video so you can see how tall the snow was by the road near the top.

Well, Christine wanted a challenge, and it was a challenge we got! It was pretty much uphill the entire way to the top, with a few moments of downhill. On the way back down, we got up to around 33 mph, but couldn’t really go faster because we didn’t want to die. Loose rock and gravel, divots in the pavement, etc. kept us at a decent speed. My hands were absolutely cramped by the time we made it down. I think it took a little over an hour and a half going up, and probably 20 minutes coming down. It was AWESOME!!! I’m so glad Christine invited me.

Distance: 13.36 miles; Elevation: 1,398 feet

Drift Creek Falls Trail #1378 20May2022

A few work friends wanted to go hiking with me, and I got to pick the venue. I decided on a trail that’s not too long or difficult, but with good bang for the buck. This is one I’ve wanted to do for a little while.

On the day of the hike, it ended up being me and one other person (you know how life just gets in the way sometimes), but we were both still game. We hopped in Matilde and started the journey. We may have gotten a little lost once, but we quickly found the right way and continued on.

This is a popular trail, but we were early enough that there weren’t many people there yet. By the time we left, the parking lot was almost full!

A very traveled trail greeted us and we started our decent. This trail goes down, down, down until you reach the prize and then you turn around and come back up. That’s not generally my favorite way to hike, but sometimes it’s well worth it.

Redwood Sorrel (Oxalis organa) aka Sour Grass

I gave my friend, Jess, some sour grass to nibble on and I ate a little bit as well. I’m not sure she was terribly impressed, but it sure brought me back to my childhood.

We crossed a cute little bridge over a wonderful creek. I wonder if it’s loaded with crawdads in the summer…

There were some very muddy spots, super squishy. I think they were only four or five of those areas. Most of the trail looked something like the above picture.

Well we were hoping for some sunshine, most of our hike was either under a hazy sky or under the canopy of trees. it was starting to clear up, but very slowly.

We reached the bridge without warning, like a fantastic surprise!

Here’s the story & info about the bridge: https://www.sahale.com/drift.htm

This bridge has a bit of pucker factor. Two people could walk side-by-side, uncomfortably. It’s really best for one person at a time. And then there is the view!

Safely on the other side, we had another great view of the bridge itself.

On the rocks to the right, you can see a couple of guys standing there. I think it gives a little idea of how tall the waterfall is.

There was even a place to sit and have a picnic if you were so inclined!

Here

After the hike, we decided to take a loop home and we headed west.

We ended up in Newport, at Nye Beach. This is my favorite beach! We ate at Nana‘s Irish pub and scooted on home. It was a great hike all in all. A big thank you to Jess for making it a fun trip!

Distance: 3.57 miles; Elevation: 527 feet

Spencer In the Rain 18May2022

It has been raining in Western Oregon. Surprising, I know. Seriously, there’s usually a bit of sun in May, mixed with the rain. This year, however, has had a wet start. I’ve gone to the gym, listlessly trudging away on the elliptical machine. I’ve even gone as far as to use the stand-up tanning booths in the gym for a few minutes of “sun,” albeit fake sun. I would rather be outside, but it seems like the few sunny days we had, I was working a 12-hour shift.

I looked at the ever-changing weather forecast and saw rain coming today, starting around 8am (30% chance), and really picking up by 9am. However, I thought maybe I could beat the rainclouds. I went to bed early and got up early… only to find the forecast had changed once again. Rain was imminent by the time I got up around 5am.

I had a choice. Go to the gym and mindlessly walk the elliptical machine like a drone or go get rained on. I chose the latter. I’m tired of being inside! Rain is rain, and I’m a native Oregonian. I can take it. I took off with Matilde on a dry road. After about two miles, Oregon’s liquid sunshine came down with gusto.

At just before 7am, you can see how busy the main trail is. I came across two people on my way up (one passed me), and three on the way down. The one who belongs to that truck, the first one on the trail, was a fantastic woman. We greeted each other, and I said, “Oh, so YOU’RE the other vehicle in the parking lot!” She laughed and said, “Yeah! It’s great!” I told her to have a great day, and she replied with, “Namaste!” It was the best interaction I’ve had with a stranger in forever.

I haven’t been here in a little bit, and I can see they’ve finished the new port-a-potty stalls. This is much nicer than the two naked port-a-potties that sat out in the open. I don’t know why it seems nicer… Maybe for the sound buffer?

The trail, when I was last here, was dormant and bleak. Spring has sprung, my friends! There’s a whole lot of different shades of green, along with some beautiful flowers.

Even the trees have fun, furry looking growth on them, making them look a little more like a Jim Henson creation than a plain ol’ tree.

A tiny stream was flowing with the rain that was definitely coming down. It wasn’t too bad though, especially under the shelter of the trees.

Friends. Birds are hard to catch on camera!! This sweet American Robin is a bit blurry because I had to be sneaky and zoom in. Sorry about the bad quality, but those dang things are quick!

The rain was lighter as I climbed, and I appreciated it. I mean, I’m going to get rained on, but I don’t need to be miserable! Especially when I am a fool and forgot my raincoat. Oooops.

Stinging Nettle
Candy Flower (Claytonia sibirica)
Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)
Pacific Bleeding Heart (Dicentra formosa)
Giant White Wakerobin (Trillium albidum)
Wild Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)
Star-flowered Lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum stellatum)
Sticky Cinquefoil (Drymocallis glandulosa)

This picture does not, in any capacity, reflect how cool this tree looks in person. I added the picture anyway, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Ha!

The stairs are always a welcome sight… and often I emit an inward groan when I see them. I’m excited to be close to the top, but there’s a very good reason why I avoid the stair-stepper at the gym.

When I saw the fog coming up, I tried to go faster to beat it to the top. I want good pictures! I don’t think I actually went faster, but the intent was there.

Watching the fog move was like watching magic.

It’s me! Taking a selfie!

Pretty decent view from the top. I DID beat the fog! Or the fog wasn’t going to climb this high. Either way… I was also blessed to have NO RAIN! While I was up on the top, it didn’t rain!

Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Hooker’s Fairybells (Prosartes hookeri)

I think this picture (above) can really sum up the feel of the hike. Green, fresh, and alive. You can bet it smelled great. Kind of a spicy freshness.

Dutch Iris, I believe

As reluctant as I was to go in the rain, this was a great hike for me to do. It cleared the head and put me in a great mood. I’ve been struggling with keeping a good attitude recently, because I found out I have sleep apnea. The test was insane (many, many wires), and the process has been tedious (a lot of waiting for the doctor’s office). Even now, I am waiting for them to set me up with my first CPAP.

This has put me in a funk because I’m trying very hard to improve my health, just to have something else tell me how fat I am – at least, that’s how my head wants to perceive it. But as my friend Christine said, “Don’t be upset at self-care! You’re taking care of yourself by finding out if you have sleep apnea.” The whole point is to get facts (do I have OSA? Yes, yes, I do), and then do something about it.

The test showed I’m getting very little REM sleep. When I’m in REM sleep, my airway is obstructed about 66 times per hour. Not good. Also, my oxygen dropped to 77%. Really not good. So, I have the facts, and it’s time to do something about it. Yeah, it’s hard to face this stuff. But it’s better than denying it and letting the problem get worse and worse.

I am hoping that others may read this and decide it’s time for them to check their cholesterol, blood pressure, get tested for sleep apnea, get a mole checked, or whatever. As Schoolhouse Rock taught us, “Knowledge is Power!”

Distance: 2.58 miles; Elevation: 771 feet

Acorn Squash Stuffed with Sautéed Spinach and Truffle Goat Cheese

My previous post involved meal prepping my work lunches. One of the meals was an Italian cauliflower bake. The other meal is this one. It’s vegetarian and deeelicious!

I cut my acorn squashes in half and scrape out the seeds and guts. I like to also put a nice coat of olive oil on mine, inside and out, followed by a bit of salt.

We have black Hawaiian sea salt, so it looks different but tastes just fine! Once they’re cooked, I take them out to cool off while I make the tasty goodness stuffing part.

After cooking a little minced garlic in butter, I added a large bag of spinach, AKA the biggest liar of all vegetables. It looks like a ton of spinach! Until you cook it.

Yup. Not NEARLY as much as we started out with, in volume at least.

After the spinach is all cooked down, I add the goat cheese. I’m pretty partial to this one – I do love truffles! Truffles in goat cheese? I’m sold.

Once it’s all cooked down and evenly incorporated, it’s time to put it into our sweet little acorn bowls!

I highly recommend giving this recipe a try, especially if you like those ingredients. This is just so delicious! I usually eat the entire acorn bowl, with the exception of the stem of course. I’m not sure if most people eat the rind or skin of the acorn squash, but once it’s cooked, it’s soft!

I hope everybody has a great work week, and eats something wonderful and good for them! And eat your vegetables!