Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Quoted in the News

Today's Oregonian newspaper ran a front-page article about the new graduation requirements in Oregon, which will require that kids pass reading, writing, and math tests, along with passing their required number of classes, in order to graduate.

Oregon City High School is ahead of the state averages in getting to those goals, and the reporter interviewed me yesterday about our progress.

You can read the article here. I'm actually named and quoted in the last paragraph! More important than having my name in the paper, I'm really proud of the work we do at OCHS to help all kids read, write, and do math better than they used to.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bye, bye Summer...

We snuck in a last-minute getaway this weekend, before we go back to work on Monday. We were headed out to the coast for a ward beach party on Saturday anyway, so we just left a little early and made it into an overnighter on our way to the coast.

We found a sweet little walk-in campsite at Keenig Creek, on Highway 6 (on the way to Tillamook).

Just enough room for 2 tents (Julia came along with us). We cooked foil dinners over briquettes and made baked apples.

Here's Keenig Creek - some great swimming holes, shallow areas where kids could play, good fishing places. We want to come back again!

Loved these interesting rock formations along the creek - so fun to rock-hop and look for pollywogs.

Out at the beach this morning, we checked out the local tide pools.

We were at Cape Kiwanda, next to Pacific City. These are two of the fishing dories famous at Pacific City. They launch through the surf. These two had just come in on the beach, after their morning of fishing.

We had a good turnout at the ward picnic - nearly 80 people came! Yummy lunch. We didn't stay for the games - it was cold and windy, and we wanted to get back home to get ready for Sunday, and then we'll need to be ready for work on Monday morning.

Bye, bye, Summer!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Technology Girl?

Fun times with Maddy today. She loved using her mom's cell phone to call her Daddy.

After she finished the phone call, she noticed my camera, and I gave it to her to hold. She didn't try to take a photo with it...she held it like a phone and used her texting fingers to push the buttons on the side of the camera. Wonder what message she was sending? Then she held it up to her ear and said, "Hello?"

Love you, sweet girl!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tips for Climbing Mount St. Helens

Mark and I accomplished one of our major summer goals yesterday...

We climbed to the summit of Mount St. Helens, an active volcano here in the Pacific Northwest!

Here are some photos of our climb, along with some tips for others who want to undertake this challenging goal.

7:10 A.M.
Started hiking. We used  Trail 216A, with the trailhead at Climbers Bivouac. The first two miles wind through forest, and gain only 900 feet of elevation.

Easy-peasy. We hiked that part in 1 hour.

Trail 216-A is pretty similar to most hikes we've been on, except for the occasional views of volcano-type geology through the trees.

After the first two miles, the trail changes abruptly. No more trees (see the timberline below me in the photo to the left).

No more trail. Now we're on climbing route 216H, right up Monitor Ridge, one of the many basalt spines radiating down the volcano. Note the pole behind me.

What a handsome guy! If you click on the photo, you can see three more poles going up the ridge behind Mark. We literally climbed over all those rocks for MILES and HOURS on our way to the top of the volcano. No designated trail--climbers use their common sense to find the best way from one pole to the next.

Tip: Note that Mark is wearing some utility gloves. I had my gardening gloves in my pack. They really saved our hands on the rough rocks.

Another photo of my hunk.

Just one of MANY steep areas we had to work our way up and over, one rock at a time.

Not my best hair day! Mark took this photo on a rest stop. We stopped for at least 5 minutes every 30 minutes on our way up, to eat a few bites of Power Bar and stay hydrated. (We each carried 5 pints of water for the climb.)

The gusty wind felt great and helped us keep from overheating on the climb.

Mt. Hood in the background, looking south.

About 2/3 of the way up the boulders on Monitor Ridge, we passed this solar-powered GPS station. It's monitoring tiny changes in position, to track movement of the plates that make up the earth's crust. Fascinating.

Some distance above the GPS station, we took another rest break at this small cairn, where I added another rock to the pile.

Tip: In addition to a sun hat, consider some kind of ear protection if your ears are bothered by wind.

After 3 hours and 2+ miles of climbing over the rocks, we made it to the top part of the ascent. This part is kind of like a monster sand dune that is made out of pumice instead of sand.

Every step sinks back a little, just like going up a sand dune.

We started this part--about a mile of climbing yet to the top--at 11:30. Lots of rest and water breaks. The wind had died down by now, and the sun became more punishing.

Yes, it really is that steep.

Even when you're climbing up the pumice fields, there are still plenty of rocks to navigate.

This part of the climb can get discouraging. You can see the top, but it feels like you'll never get there! It took us 1 1/2 hours of trudging--toiling--up through the pumice to finally reach the summit of Mount St. Helens.

From timberline to summit, we gained 3600 feet of elevation in 3 miles. I have to say that it was the steepest, most punishing 3 miles I have ever hiked/climbed.

But we did it!!

Here's a view looking north from the summit. That's Mount Rainier, near Seattle, in the distance. This view shows the blown-out crater, and Spirit Lake below us.

The crater rim is scary - a very steep drop-off. I sat with my boots near the edge, but not too close.

Another view of the crater rim, on the west side of the crater. In this photo and the previous one, you can see the big hump of lava, the dome, that formed in the last few years down in the crater.

Mark and me at the crater rim. We rested for a good half hour, ate lunch, then started back down again at 1:30 P.M.

Tip: bring an extra pair of hiking socks, and change out socks before starting downhill. Your toes will thank you!

Another shot of the striking scene, looking into the crater. It's difficult to get a sense of scale, because everything is so huge.

We made good time on the descent, as long as we were trudging down through the sand dune-like part. Once we got back to the rocks, it was very slow and cautious going for a while.

The rocks were radiating lots of afternoon sunlight, and Mark got overheated and nauseous at one point. We rested for 20 minutes, he changed into a cooler shirt and zipped off the bottom of his pant legs to make shorts, drank water, and felt better.

In spite of being above timberline, and on a volcano, we were surprised to notice lots of living things (besides us and the other 98 hikers).

A butterfly banged into me, flies and a yellowjacket pestered Mark, we could hear a cricket click-click-clicking, and honeybees were pollinating tiny flowers.

We saw several holes that looked like chipmunk holes, but maybe they were just holes in the ash--hard to imagine a chipmunk surviving in that environment. I did see one spider web. By the time we reached this beautiful bank of flowers, we were getting closer to the bottom of the boulders.

We took lots more photos of the ascent, probably because we were glad for an excuse to stop and rest!

Near the bottom of the boulders, here's a photo of me navigating the rocks near one of the poles.

At last - just a couple more poles, and we could see the forest trail beckoning us back into the trees.

By this time (about 5:00 P.M.) our knees were getting shaky and we wished we could wave a wand to land us magically back at the trailhead!

A welcome sight - they have added a composting toilet at the trail junction two miles above the trailhead. There are no "facilities" once you get into the volcanic rock part of the climb.

Lupine meadows greeted us as we pushed to get back to the car. We paused--briefly--a couple of times to snatch ripe huckleberries to refresh us.

We reached the trailhead at 6:00 P.M., eleven hours after we began, exhausted but so proud of ourselves for accomplishing this challenging climb.

We saw lots of climbers in their 20s and 30s, but not many 50-somethings like us!

Waiting for us in the car: an ice chest with cold drinks and sandwiches! Genius!!

Also some soap and water in the car to wash the sweat and grime off our faces and necks before climbing in and heading home.

Note: if you want to climb Mount St. Helens, you have to have a permit. They are available on-line for $22. There are only 100 permits per day, and they go quickly. We bought our August 24 permits back in early June.

Here are a couple of good websites if you are interested in learning more about climbing Mount St. Helens:

US Forest Service official site on Mount St. Helens - click here.

Mount St. Helens Institute - good info and the site to buy a pass - click here.

Note: If you buy permits, you pay for them online, and then you pick them up at the Lone Fir Resort in Cougar, WA. You have to sign-in and sign-out in the Climber's Register at Lone Fir Resort. More info available here.

You can pick up your permits and sign in the day before, and then camp that night at the trailhead. There are several campsites at Climbers Bivouac, allowing for a good early start up the mountain.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Thesis Update: Week 11

Nada. Zip. Nothing.

Thesis didn't happen this week.

I alternate between feeling guilty and feeling pleased with myself to take a break.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My Honey - My Hero

Happy Birthday, Mark!

If you already know Mark, you know what a kind, patient, steady person he is.

He turned 56 today, and we are committed to finding more joy, and being healthier, now in middle age than ever before.

This afternoon he said he'd like to spend some time at the beach, so we drove 2 hours out to Pacific City, and then down to Mo's in Lincoln City for clam chowder.

It was a gray day at the Oregon coast, but after 90+ degree weather for the last few days at home, we didn't mind a bit!

We walked on the beach and enjoyed the peacefulness of quiet time together.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Two Funny Guys

Today is the day I come clean...I have owed Chris Lewis a prize for playing "Pay it Forward" on my blog waaaaay back on April 9, 2009.

It took me nearly a year to get the prizes to the other two winners, Kendra and Dorothy.

I've felt guilty all this time that I hadn't sent the prize to Chris. After all, I try to be honest in my dealings with my fellow man and all that. But I just didn't know what to send him. He is funny and cool and he's the brother of my son-in-law and he lives far away, so I've only actually met him a couple of times. I didn't want to send him a dorky prize, you know?

So I've just been hemming and hawing and stewing in my own guilt all this time, whenever I think about it, which is maybe a couple of times a month, if that. (Sorry, Chris!)

But finally--ta da!!--I know what to send him, and the package is going into the mail today, as soon as I finish writing this post. (Well, maybe I'll eat lunch before I head to the P.O., but it will be soon, I promise!)

Is the suspense killing you? Are you curious about his prize?

Well, I'll get to that in a minute, but first I have to introduce you to:

Two Funny Guys

They are the Lewis brothers, Bryan and Chris.

Bryan is married to my beautiful daughter, Katie (which already shows you that he's smart and wonderful). Bryan is a college student, who will be graduating (yay!) in April 2011. In the meantime, along with being a great husband and dad, and a diligent college student, he set a goal to write a daily post on his blog, The Daily Post. Which is a happy thing for the blogging world, because Bryan writes really interesting (usually) and funny (sometimes) posts. I almost always learn something new from reading his blog, and I will be sad, sad, sad, when his year of daily posts is up.

And then there's Chris. Like I already said, I don't know Chris all that well. But every time I've been around him, and whenever I read his blog (brilliantly titled "Chris"), he always cracks me up. He's a funny guy. (So is his darling wife, Anna, who doesn't blog nearly as often as I want her too. She is also very funny. I keep trying to convince them to move to Portland, but no luck yet. Maybe I need to send them more cool prizes.)

So what to send Chris? Well, he's been blogging a little more often lately. And after he wrote about how much he wished he could win the prize from the book-reading contest at the library (here), and also about running a marathon all by himself--he made up the course himself and then just got up and ran the other day (here) and (here)--I finally knew what he would really, really love for his prize from me.

So if you're bored...check out those links! They'll make you smile.

And in the meantime...ta da!!...here is Chris's prize.

Chris will be checking his mailbox this week to find a lovely, handmade, reversible, personalized....


Wow--look at the running theme (fabric with all kinds of traffic signs)...

...and the wonderful reversable book theme (fabric with alphabet)...

This honey will be perfect for carting books home from the library...

...or toting running shoes down to the track...

...or maybe even off to the grocery store to fill it up with Oreos!

Now, if you didn't click on those links to Chris' blog, you won't be able to fully appreciate why he will be so excited to receive this tote bag in the mail. I highly recommend that you go back and read them. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Have fun with your tote bag, Chris!

PS - Curious about what I sent to Dorothy and Kendra? They got some of these cool vegie storage bags. Do I give out amazing prizes, or what?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thesis Update: Week 10

Sad to say, this will be the last one of these scintillating little posts for now. I know you will miss reading these. Hahaha--not!

Week 10 stats:
Number of words this week: about 6,500
Number of pages this week: 19
Number of total pages this summer: 203

I made it to my goal!

Which just goes to show the value of public ummm...humiliation? embarrassment? Not sure exactly what the right word is here, but in any case, if you have a big goal you're trying to reach, it sure does help to break it down into small chunks and then make yourself accountable in some way.

Proof of that for both Katie and me over at The Skinny weight-loss blog. And right here on this blog, I have to tell you that these little weekly posts have been an excellent motivator. I highly recommend this kind of accountability. Many a Friday night this summer, I would want to just be lazy and sit around, but then I would think, "Oh, no, I have to get ___ more pages written before the Sunday post!" And I'd haul out the computer and get after it again.

What's next with the thesis? It's currently sitting in all it's extremely-rough-draft glory in a notebook in my file cabinet. I think it's curing or simmering or something. In a few more days I'll pull it out and read everything I've written so far, with a bright pink highlighter in hand. I fully expect to highlight no more than one paragraph--if that--per page. Then I'll pull those parts together, and then I'll see where to go from there.

Darling Annemarie (friend, writer, former colleague who has moved away--sad for me) has offered to read for me when I get nerve enough to send her something--not sure yet if that will be before or after the pink highlighter phase--and then...I don't know! I've never tried to write something like this before. 

I'm not going to promise any more weekly updates  Actually, on second thought, I think I will promise to continue the weekly updates. So just ignore what I said back at the very beginning of this post. You can look forward to more of these dandy little Sunday posts. That way I can't get away with just giving up on this project. 

Or if I do, I'll be mightily ashamed.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Devils Rest

Mark and I hiked to Devils Rest today in the Columbia River Gorge.

(My first time on this hike, although we hiked to nearby Angels Rest in June.)

It was a great training hike for our planned assault of Mount St. Helens - coming soon on August 24!

Today's hike was 6.5 miles round trip, with 2300 feet of elevation gain. (Almost 1000 feet higher than Angels Rest.) We were hiking in steep, but beautiful country.

When we climb/hike Mount St. Helens, we will be hiking 10.5 miles round trip, with 4,565 feet of elevation gain. Ugh. That will be a longer and steeper hike than what we did today. Can we do it? I guess we'll find out...

To get to Devils Rest, you hike up the Wahkeena Falls trail.

The trail follows along Wahkeena Creek for quite a ways above the falls.

It is such a pretty creek, and there is a nice breeze that comes down the narrow canyon, so it is lovely and cool.

A trail junction just above this beautiful waterfall sends you hiking up a further ridge behind Wahkeena Creek.

The trail junction to Devils Rest - still steep, still 1.6 miles to hike to the top.

Along the way, occasional views of Mt. Adams and the Columbia River Gorge.

Another view of Mt. Adams. We saw Mount St. Helens, too, but there weren't any good photo ops of that mountain - too many trees in the way in that direction.

At the top - Devils Rest is wooded, with limited views from the very top. Just the satisfaction of a good climb and lunch waiting in the pack.

Then the descent - back past the beautiful rushing streams again.

The last mile or so is paved, with beautiful rock retaining walls built into the talus slope.

Back home now, had a nap and headed for a shower, I got to wondering about whether or not "Devils Rest" uses an apostrophe or not. You know, is it making a statement--devils get tired, so they rest--so it would be "Devils Rest." Or is it naming a place where the devil rests, in which case it would belong to him, and it would be "Devil's Rest."

The hiking map I use calls it "Devils Rest." So they get tired sometimes. Ditto with "Angels Rest." But several websites I looked at use the apostrophe. Now I'm all confused--hahaha!! Mark and I thought it was a fun hike, and worth repeating when we want a good challenge, whatever its name means.