Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In Comes the Reserve

Lifelong friends Mike and Ted set out on Day 13

Mike gears up on Day 13

Just when you think you’ve had enough, enough shuttling Ted back and forth, enough dropping off his lunch, enough being continuously “on call” in comes the reserve. And the reserve came in the form of Mike Hubbard, college buddy and lifelong friend of Ted’s and best man in our wedding. And for the next three days, Mike was certainly my “best man” relieving me to do such fun tasks as washing clothes and running errands. I even found time to putting a few more entries on the blog! By taking two cars out each day, Mike’s little green car along with the WAO Sag Wagon, I was set free.

Ted at the half-way point of the walk
Though I can’t tell of Days 13, 14 and 15 firsthand, I do know that Mike provided tremendous support for Ted and as they walked every mile together for a grand total of 50 miles. They reached the halfway point of the trip on Day 14. Together they climbed the Ochoco Divide while walking through a snow flurry. Mike even walked the entire final day with a bad blister, cutting out the end of an old tennis shoe to give his toe relief, thus enabling him to make that final day’s trek.

Other than their walk through Prineville early on the first day, the remainder of the trek was though the countryside, by the beautiful Ochoco Reservoir, along a meandering stream and green valley and then into the Ochoco National Forest with more of the beautiful, proud Ponderosa pines. And the stories they must have told, remembering and reliving past adventures and exploits, embellishing and making them grander than the first time around as they walked along.

These three days were a “sentimental journey” for Ted in other ways as well. His introduction to central Oregon came as a child when he would visit his aunt and uncle who lived by the Ochoco Reservoir. Compared to the Willamette valley, he found the countryside surreal and through his childlike eyes thought it looked “prehistoric.” When he first started teaching he would spend his summers working for the forest service out of the Big Summit and Rager Ranger Districts. He loved the contrasting quite of the forest compared to the frantic frenzy of teaching elementary PE. The forest refreshed and rejuvenated him. This is the area where Ted first fell in love with central Oregon, those many years ago.

Ted with Ramona McCalister
And on one last note, a big shout out goes to Ramona McCalister of the Central Oregonian for the great article you wrote when Ted passed your way. This too was sentimental as the Central Oregonian was the first newspaper Ted had his name in when he played baseball on a Forest Service team, back all those many years ago.

Mike orders ribs at Toni's

And always remember, you can’t make a trip through Prineville without stopping at Toni’s for ribs So tender they drop off the bone.

Once again, thanks Mike, you’ll always be our “best man”.

Ted celebrates the end of Day 13

Lookin' Good on the Road

Ted greets Natalie upon arriving at the salon

As Day 12’s route took Ted through downtown Redmond, he decided to stop in at Shear Madness for a haircut. Our friend Natalie Roberts graciously opened her salon on her day off to keep Ted “lookin’ good on the road”. After this brief repose, Ted was back on the road, headed to Prineville.

Ted saw our friend Ben Mallery while in route to Prineville. Ben pulled over for a visit and this gave Ted another break. We decided to once again try the “lunch drop”. Later that afternoon when I went to pick up Ted I first stopped at the “lunch drop” site to pick up the cooler and chair and they were gone! The Starbucks bag with a water and half a PowerAde were still there.

We were disappointed that this happened, and especially disappointed that it happened so close to home. While not giving up on the idea, we will be more cautious about putting the cooler and chair out of sight. My only hope is that whoever took it was in need, not just mischievous. So here’s to being more careful on the road on Day 12 of the Walk Across Oregon.

Where's My Rock?

A worried Ted retreives his WOA Rock

Jim Cornelius with Ted in Sisters
At the start of Day 11 we got to do something very unusual. We got to sleep in! The reason, you ask? Ted had an interview in Sisters with Jim Cornelius of The Nugget at 10:00 AM. Also, it was in Sisters where we found out that The Oregonian, Portland’s daily had picked up Jennifer Moody’s story of Ted’s Walk Across Oregon. Nothing like a little publicity to put spring in your step!

After the interview we headed to the intersection of Hwys 20 and 126 where we had placed the WOA rock the evening before. But it wasn’t there. “Those kids”, Ted stormed, “Why couldn’t they just leave my rock alone?” He looked up and down the road and into the woods, but all to no avail. This went on for 10 minutes or so and then I happened to glance across the street, and there was the rock! It hadn’t been taken, only moved!

The "official" WAO Rock marks the spot

It’s just a rock, spray painted orange, with the letters W.A.O. written in with a felt tip pen. But to Ted it is far more than a rock. The rock marks the end of each day’s journey and I know it has symbolic meaning to him as well. Painting the rock kept him busy all spring as he lovingly put on coat after coat of bright orange paint. If I ever needed him out of the house, all I’d have to say is, “Don’t you need to go put another coat of paint on that rock?” And off he’d go, dutifully, to paint the rock.

Ted takes a break during our first "lunch drop"
Day 11 was also the day we came up with the “lunch drop” idea. We’d hoped this would be a time saver for me. Here’s how the “lunch drop” works......I would drop Ted off at the day’s starting point, we would then calculate how far he would be by lunch time, I would drop off a cooler with his lunch and a lawn chair at that point. Simple, yes, timesaving, we hoped.

The horse heads for the barn, Ted enroute to Redmond

This was the day that I personallly felt like “a horse headed for the barn”. You see, we were now in central Oregon, we were home! For the next six nights I would sleep in my on bed. It would be wonderful. So after our first “lunch drop” I was gone. Just like that horse headed for the barn.

At 3:00 P.M. I picked Ted up. He was almost to Redmond. This had been a difficult day. He was tired, his feet were swollen. No mountain passes to climb, but nothing had been easy. I’m sure the effort that it took to climb the passes earlier this week had caught up with him. So when I picked Ted up that afternoon, he too was like a “horse headed for the barn”. Take me home was his urgent request. That night he slept over 10 hours. But the next day he was up, ready to go again for Day 12 of the Walk Across Oregon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Central Oregon Margaritaville

Cheeers! Here's to new friendships!

When one thinks of Central Oregon one doesn’t usually think of it as Margaritaville, but I certainly enjoyed a good one today with our new friend Wanda Sobiegraj.

Ted met Wanda on the road to Sisters on Day 10, and if her name sounds familiar, it’s because she’s Ange’s Sister. Wanda recently moved to Bend from Detroit where she worked for many years. Her hobbies include hiking and snowshoeing and we certainly think she has landed in the right place!

Sharing the road with cyclists on Day 10
Ted and Wanda’s walk took them through the great ponderosa pine forests outside of Sisters. And although Wanda swears she couldn’t have walked this far, we clocked her section of the day’s journey at 9.5 miles. A lunch break brought us into Sisters where we enjoyed a great lunch at El Rancho Grande, which is my kind of restaurant. When Wanda and I said we really preferred that our enchiladas be made with corn tortillas instead of flour, their answer, “No problem.” And though we limited ourselves to one margarita because, after all, we were walking/driving the WOA Sag Wagon that day, I’ll be back for another, one of these days.

Beatuiful ponderosa pine bark
It was in this area that I first fell in love with central Oregon, when Ted brought me here over 15 years ago. The majestic, proud, ponderosa’s still fascinate me with their beautiful, rust colored bark. I love the dry climate, the bright blue skies and the wonderful smells that arise from the forest floor.

After placing the WAO rock at the end of the day, we retreated to the Black Butte Resort in Camp Sherman, which is nestled deep in the ponderosa pines. While Ted rested I took a short hike to the head of the Metolius River. The Metolius has been described as a “magical river” as it emerges a fully grown, spring fed river from the base of Black Butte. My day ended with this beautiful sight. A great day, a new friend, a good night’s rest. What more could you ask.

Ted and Wanda in Sisters

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Takin' a Break at Clear Lake

Clear Lake through the trees

Ted’s day, on Day 9, began with a nice long descent as he came down off of Tombstone Pass. But when you’re in the Cascades, what goes down will then again go up again. His afternoon would be spent climbing the Santiam Pass. But before that we decided to take a break at Clear Lake.

Clear Lake is a special place that holds many memories for us both. It was at Clear Lake that Ted was first allowed to camp alone with a buddy during his high school years. Clear Lake is where I first camped with Ted back when he and I were dating. On this trip I met Ted’s sister Patty and my soon to be nephews and niece Jason, Jeff, and Heather. If I remember correctly they were six, seven and eight at the time. Michael, the youngest, was a toddler and had to stay at home with his grandmother.

Beautiful Clear Lake
The lake was beautiful with pristine, clear water. We spent lots of time rowing the kids around the lake. If I remember correctly, Ted was a bit disappointed with the weather and that someone stole our wine, which we had cooling in the lake. But other than that, it was a good trip. One memory that stands out in my mind is of the little guys chopping wood. I held my breath every time they swung the axe. I guess Patty and Ted knew better than me, that this was an age-appropriate activity for them and they were proud that they could help prepare our fire by chopping the wood.

Today they are all grown up and are wonderful young adults. When I ask them if they remember our trip to Clear Lake their memories of it are vague at best. And while they may not remember this trip so well, what we have with them, instead of specific early memories, is a special relationship formed from the culmination of all the times we have spent together. And to me this is priceless. Jason will join his uncle for the last two days of the WAO, Jeff will visit in August, Heather, along with her husband Ben and new baby Isabel, have asked us to visit Kiev where they are now stationed, and Michael has been a great supporter of the WAO since its inception.

Ted greats the gentlemen that offered him a ride the day before

I have since returned to Clear Lake for more leisurely visits. I have hiked its perimeter, explored the lave flows that come down to its western shores, and shown its beauty to many of my friends. And on this day, Ted and I took a break at Clear Lake and enjoyed a great lunch at the seasonal cafe. And if you like homemade pie well this is the place.

This gave Ted the energy he would need that afternoon as he walked up and over the Santiam Pass. With the intersection of Hwy 22 and Hwy 126, Hwy 20 became a much busier road. And Ted was facing the oncoming traffic coming out of the Bend/Sisters area. He was climbing, the road was curvy, and he didn’t have much shoulder to work with. As WAO Sag Wagon driver, with the exception of Day 2, the construction day, this was my most anxious time. Even though I spent some time hiking around Suttle Lake that afternoon, I couldn’t really relax. And it goes without saying that I was glad to pull him off that mountain that afternoon soon after he was on the downside of the Santiam Pass. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Ted with Mt. Washington in the background after crossing the Santiam Pass

Our Backyard, the South Santiam

Our backyard, the South Santiam

Ted at the cottages after a long day
Back in the winter when we were scouting a bit of the route, we became a bit perplexed. Where would we stay between Sweet Home and Camp Sherman, a distance of over 50 miles? There are no towns, only the tiny village of Cascadia. About that time we looked up and saw a sign for South Santiam Cottages. Ted put on the brakes, whipped the car around and we stopped to take a look. When we saw the cottages, we knew they would be perfect. A small kitchenette, Wi-Fi, but the best thing, your backyard was the South Santiam River. Just beyond the balcony was this magnificent river, flowing past you as it makes its way to the Willamette.

Even the WAO Sag Wagon takes a break!
The cottages provided just the reprieve we needed. I have described myself as the WAO Sag Wagon driver but another description that is certainly applicable is “porter”. Packing up the car, driving to the next location, and unloading. So for three days, Days 7, 8, and 9, this description didn’t fit. Yahoo for a reprieve at the South Santiam Cottages and a big thanks to our hosts, Sam and Claire Henthorne.

A beautiful covered bridge near the cottages

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Luck of the Irish

On Day 8, while taking a side hike on Rooster Rock Trail, I discovered a most amazing sight. As the trail curved, just around the bend was a bed of clover by a crystal clear mountain stream. It was so beautiful, so green, so intense. What to do, should I continue the hike or stop and look for that elusive four-leaf clover, the symbol of good luck? Well, I figured this Irish girl had been very lucky already just seeing this beautiful sight and who knows what might lie ahead just around the next bend. With limited time, I trekked on a bit further curious as to what I would see before turning back to pick up Ted. And I knew the luck of the Irish was with us both, as at about the same moment I had spotted the clover he was crossing Tombstone Pass. And I thought of this Irish Blessing so appropriate for Ted everyday of his journey on his Walk Across Oregon:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

The sight that awaited me just around the bend

A bed of clover

A clear mountain stream