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!

Italian Cauliflower Bake

I’m making lunches for work tomorrow. I guess the buzz phrase is “meal prepping.” I have found if I don’t plan ahead and bring food, I’m likely to eat things that aren’t on my diet. Shocking!

I work 12-hour shifts plus intermittent fasting, so I need two meals. My lunch is usually easy to get, but that last break is terribly difficult! So I need something easy to reheat and eat. One recipe I like is an Italian cauliflower bake.

For this one (they are probably all different, in small ways), I used a head of cauliflower along with some frozen kale and butternut squash. I added some sliced andouille sausage because I’m a rebel.

I piled a jar of Rao’s marinara on top and tossed it in the oven to bake, covered in foil. Can I just say how much I love Rao’s sauces?? They don’t put sugar in them, which is absolutely wonderful!

It baked up nicely – I think I put it in at 350° for around an hour.

Finally, I added cheese. I’m a pretty big fan of cheese. This was a blend of five or six Italian cheeses that will give it a fantastic added umami flavor.

Since it’s mostly veggies, I really don’t mind chowing down on this! It’s so tasty, I’m not tempted to get something deep fried at work, so that’s nice, too. Yum yum!

Bunless burgers

I’ve been working with my doctor on my weight loss, and I asked her which diet was best. I’m at the point where I know what has worked for me in the past, and I know what I enjoy, but nothing seems to work anymore. I’ve tried calorie restriction, low carb, primal/paleo, Noom, Weight Watchers, working with a personal trainer… I’m much more active than I was a year ago.

But my weight hasn’t budged. My doctor says it’s partially because of my age, but likely that it’s mostly because with my very high stress-level job, I set my cortisol and insulin levels very high. I gave them a new normal.

She suggested intermittent fasting, which I am doing. But I wasn’t sure which way to eat. She told me, “The best diet is the one you’ll stick to.” So low carb it is!

I decided to make bunless burgers- sliders, really. I got good quality beef and other ingredients and went to work.

Yes, they were delicious! But DANG! This is one of the messiest things to eat, ever! I tried with my hands- messy. I used a fork and knife- not easy and still messy. I ended up going back to just hands.

I did something similar with fajitas recently. I put the filling in a half-cooked bell pepper. It was very tasty, but the filling just slid right out.

I probably won’t do either of those two options again. I don’t mind eating with my hands, but perhaps not if the juice is traveling up my arms to my elbows. I’ll keep looking for good options… the search certainly is entertaining and, best of all, yummy!

Clearwater Ride 04May2022

I’ve been waiting. Waiting for another day like today. We had an okay day yesterday – it didn’t get cold, but it also didn’t get warm. It didn’t rain, but there wasn’t much sun. NOT TODAY, MY FRIENDS.

With a day like this, I decided to go on another bike ride. This one would be a bit more in the urban areas, but we have some pretty good bike paths here. I took a bike path near my home to a local park to start it off.

This is a wonderful park with a lot of space to do whatever. Look at ducks, sunbathe, ride a bike or walk, picnic… the list goes on. As desperate as us Oregonians are for sun, I definitely saw some sunbathers in bathing suits, shorts and tanks, and long-sleeved attire. The shades of pale were astounding. To be honest, I probably could be considered a reflective safety device at this point. (I’m talking to you, NASA. Hit me up!)

The bike paths vary from smooth to bumpy, asphalt and concrete. There are a lot of people sharing them, and my favorites are the less populated ones. On a day like today, though, there were quite a few people out and about.

When I used to bike to work (before 12-hour shifts), this was part of my commute, and one of my favorite parts. The sun would be coming up just to the left and the field would glow, sun shining through the dew. I don’t know how many pictures I took of the same thing, each time looking different and new.

It was right about here, taking this picture, when I saw that I had a text from Christine. She and our friend Jim were going on a ride, and I was invited. I thought, “Well, yeah. Why not?” So I changed my course ever so slightly and headed to where they were.

We decided to go to the Clearwater path, with runs through Springfield (home of the Simpsons, it’s true!). There weren’t many people on this path, making it a fan favorite immediately.

TURTLES!!

There were places to rest or fish, depending on where you were. This is a path I’ll have to come back to, for sure!

There’s also a lumber mill, which you would think would be loud and stinky. I was surprised at how quiet it was… and how good it smelled! The wood was almost sweet smelling! I didn’t mind passing by here at all.

After the Clearwater and Jasper areas, we headed back. I split off at a certain point because it made more sense for where I lived. Back toward Eugene I go!

This is actually part of Pre’s Trail, a path dedicated to Steve Prefontaine, the famed runner. There are a lot of bark trails for running, and bike paths for just about everything – biking, walking, running, etc.

The path goes directly under the interstate, which is quite loud.

The path also goes right behind the University of Oregon (go Ducks!), before heading back to the park and downtown, or wherever you want to go. This was a pretty flat ride, and a lot of fun today. I’m slow, but I’m doing it. I want to start doing hills, but… oh, my legs! I’m afraid! I’m proud of how far I went today, understanding that I still have a lot of work to do. I need to do hills and distance. But it’ll come.

Distance: 28.34 miles; Elevation: 274 feet

Biking Around Coburg 24Apr2022

I got invited to ride bikes with my friend Christina this weekend, and we picked an amazing day for it! It started out in the 50s, I think, but warmed up as we rode. We were pretty comfortable the entire time – I think it was in the mid-60s by the time we finished.

Her sweet pooch wanted to come along, so in the basket she went! She clearly enjoyed the entire ride, too. Such a good dog.

We chose back roads when we could. I think this one was a dead end, but we didn’t mind. It was fun anyway!

There’s a lot of grass out here, and it was a pretty flat ride. We saw some cows, but I didn’t think to snap a pic, darn it. There were some really cute ones!

Christina and I caught up on life and chatted about whatever struck our fancy. It was nice on the back roads – very few cars. This was our first ride together, and it was a dream of a day.

I know I can go riding with Christina any time I want, and I have another riding friend, Christine, who I also hike with. We’re hoping to go on a biking event in June, with one more friend. I can’t wait!

I wasn’t expecting to ride this far… I haven’t been on my bike in some time. I was afraid I wouldn’t have enough stamina. Christine was easy to ride with, though, and the flat ride helped build my confidence. It sure is nice to have people build you up and encourage you to do good things, right?

Distance: 22.5 miles; Elevation Gain: 122 feet

Deep Dish Pizza… in a Crockpot?!

Hooooooboy, are you in for a treat! Well, to be more precise, WE were in for a treat last night.

My sweetheart and I were looking for recipes to make something in the crockpot this weekend. My go-to is kalua pork, but we wanted something different this time. I’ve heard you can make a decent brisket in the crockpot… but what else?

Then, while looking up the Pioneer Woman’s (https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/) favorite crockpot recipes, we found one for deep dish pizza. What in the world!? Is it on anybody’s diet? NO. But you only live once, blah blah blah, so let’s do it!

Sausage and onion

The recipe called for sausage, and I’m a sucker for hot Italian sausage instead of the sweet. I broke it apart and started cooking, then added the diced onions. After that was cooked, it was time for garlic powder and pizza sauce.

I will admit I strayed a little from the recipe here. It actually called for tomato puree, but I got some Rao’s pizza sauce instead. I like their sauces a lot, a large part because they don’t put sugar in them! Most sauces (and everything else, it seems) have sugar in them. Even mayonnaise! Ick.

I put the dough on the parchment paper and plopped it in. It was somewhere around this time that I realized the recipe was using a 6-quart crockpot and I was using a 9-quart crockpot. Hmm.

I added mozzarella on the bottom, and then the sauce. I forgot to get a picture of the sauce, bu you can see it peeking through the second layer of cheese. I sliced some olives up and threw them on too.

Finally, the pepperoni. Now, *somebody* in this house likes pepperoni just fine, and the other LOVES it. So half was double (or triple) pepperoni, and my half was normal. Haha!

The pizza was supposed to cook on high for two and a half hours, so we went on a little garden walk with the cats to shave off some of the time. Burt had to show us how strong he is and climbed up a tree. The other pictures I got were either of his butt or he was very far up, so this was the best I could do this time.

But let’s fast forward, shall we? I checked on it a few times, knowing it would cook faster with a thinner crust (with the difference of the crockpot sizes), and it did indeed cook a lot faster.

Oh my, this was a tasty adventure! It was delicious! I think I’d like to try it in the cast iron skillet, too, but this was very good. I would DEFINITELY make this again.

If you’d like the recipe, this is where you can get it: https://spicysouthernkitchen.com/slow-cooker-deep-dish-pizza/

And if you do make it, let me know how it goes in the comments!