Sunday, August 19, 2012

Celebrity Sightings

What a week! I had TWO celebrity sightings!!

If you know me at all, you are shaking your head right now. I hardly ever watch TV...I could walk right past some star on the street, and never even know. You're right...haha!...these were not the faces that show up on the cover of People magazine. But to me, they were celebrities for sure, and meeting them was a treat that I am savoring over and over...

The first sighting was actually three celebrities all at once. Do you recognize them? They're the woman on the left, the man next to her, and the man on the far right. (The three children in the middle are my granddaughters Sarah, Katie, and Kat. Yes, it's true--I was a shameless grandma posing a photo of my grandchildren with the celebs.)

Hmmm...still don't know who they are? Maybe this sign will give you a clue...

Do you know about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)? Of course you do. It's the trail that follows the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains in California and the Cascades in Oregon and Washington, running all the way from Mexico to Canada. It is 2600 miles long.

I hike bits of pieces of the PCT whenever I can. (A year ago Mark and I even helped with a PCT maintenance crew.) When I hike on the PCT in the summer, I often wonder if I'll meet a through-hiker. Last Tuesday we spent about 20 minutes and 1/2 mile on the PCT, as as we crossed a bridge over a little stream, I saw three backpackers sitting by the stream, taking a break. 

"Where are you hiking to and  from?" I asked them. 
"Well, we started in Mexico and we're headed to Canada," one of them replied. 

PCT through-hikers! That is, they started hiking at the Mexico-California border back in April, and they are hiking all the way to the Washington-Canada border in one l-o-n-g hike. Should arrive in September. We spent a lovely trail snack-break with them, learning about their hike and admiring their determination. Call me silly, but I reveled in our meeting for the next few days. I know I won't be following in their footsteps, but the glory of such a hike inspires awe and wonder in me. Can you even imagine what that would be like? 

Whew! By the time we met up with them on the way to Ramona Falls this week, they had hiked over 2,000 miles on their journey, with about 500 or so left. By now they are so fit and tuned that they regularly hike 30 miles per day.

I love the whole idea of the PCT. There is something so inspiring to me to think that it is possible to walk all that way. Of course our pioneer ancestors walked that far as a matter of course, but there is something amazing about places like this in our modern world, places where it is possible to test yourself against a journey of over 2500 miles.

Speaking of 2nd celebrity sighting involved a woman who traveled over 7500 miles to be in Oregon.

Just today I got to meet Bridget in person. I've been reading her blog for a couple of years, following her adventures as an American expat living in the United Arab Emirates. You know, she writes about all the normal things a young mom does...interviewing an Arab policeman for a class assignment, going to an Arabian wake (kind of like a 12-hour viewing before a funeral) where you don't know the customs, haggling at the market for household furnishings, going to church on Friday instead of Sunday... Sheesh! Her blog is fascinating reading. It's a whole new window to culture. To Arab culture, yes, but even more to my own culture. As I read about life overseas through her American eyes, I find myself reflecting on my life here. 

I first met Bridget online through her former college roommate, Anna, who is my daughter Katie's sister-in-law. After I had been reading Bridget's blog for a while, I emailed her and asked if she would be willing to read my thesis and give me feedback. Bridget is a voracious reader, and she regularly posts her book reviews on her blog. She kindly offered to read/respond to the thesis, even when it was still--ahem--pretty rough. Her feedback and encouragement have been a gift to me.

What a lovely circumstance that Bridget grew up in the Portland metro area, and her parents still live here. And what fun to get to meet her today during her summer visit home to the U.S. 

I have to tell you a little about what it was like to meet an online friend in real life. Mark went with me, of course. After all, Bridget is a famous celebrity in our house. As in, "Honey, Bridget has a good story about camping in a lightning storm in the desert on her blog today." Or, "Bridget says _____ is a good book. We should read it." Etc. 

Bridget and I had decided to meet at the visitor's center at the Portland Mormon temple. On the 20-minute drive from our house, I told Mark I was feeling a little nervous. What would we talk about? Would we say, "Hey, nice to meet you," and then shuffle our feet with an awkward silence? Mark reminded me that we would be talking about our families, her travels, lots of things. He was right, but I still wished I had planned ahead to have a little something to give her girls. Sigh. All I had to offer up 

We arrived first. As different families approached the visitor's center, Mark would ask, "Is that her?" 

No. I know what she looks like. I know what her daughters look like. I've seen photos of her husband. A little creepy? Just a 21st century reality. 

Not them, not that one. No, not her. 

And then, walking across the parking lot as easy and natural as someone I've known for years, here came Bridget and her husband and girls and (bonus!) her parents, too! Bridget and I greeted one another and hugged, and Bridget said, "I hope you don't mind I brought my whole family." I patted Mark's arm and said, "I brought my whole family, too." 

We had a lovely time together. We never ran out of things to say. I had as much fun talking with her mom as I did with Bridget herself. Mark chatted with Bridget's husband and dad and the little girls played. Just as normal as...friends. Easy-peasy. 

So there you have it: my celebrity sightings. I know you're jealous, but you're just going to have to get over it. Even if you can't meet Bridget, you can still read her fascinating blog. And even if you can't meet a PCT through-hiker this week, you can get outdoors and go for a walk or a hike. 

And while I assure you that my next few posts won't be bragging about celebrities, I can't promise that they won't contain some (grandma) bragging. August has been a busy month for the Haynies! Look forward to these posts as I catch up on all the fun we've been having:
  • A visit from Kendra and family (all the way from Kansas!)
  • Backpacking with granddaughters Sarah, Kat, and Katie
  • Camping at Ensign Ranch with Polly and family
  • Backpacking with grandson Josh and his friend
  • Backpacking with our friends, the Klines
Whew! Busy times with no internet access for days at a time. I'll write more soon...but first I need to finish loading my pack for tomorrow's backpack hike with Josh and his friend. See you soon.


Bridget said...

Aaaaaah you beat me to it! So funny to read your half of the encounter...and see how similar it was to my own impressions. I, too, got home and thought, hmm, maybe I should have had some kind of gift ready for you! I am still glowing from how much fun it was to meet you and your husband in person. Thanks for being willing to meet the whole crowd today. You'll have to wait for tomorrow for my account...

Dorothy said...

Awesome. Those through hikers don't look too worse for wear. It would be fun to know some of their trail tips. :)

Anna said...

This is Chris, not Anna.

That is so cool that you got to meet Bridget and Jeremy. We are trying to get them to come meet us in Germany on one of their trips.

Also, I knew you liked hiking but I didn't realize you did sections of the PCT. I have been saving my dollars and getting cool backpacking gear because Anna and I would like to do more hiking and backpacking. I think a through hike would be so much fun, but I have to get a lot better at walking first.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I am jealous that you got to meet Bridget, and all the hiking. I know I said this last year, but next year I really want to go backpacking!