Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Ted at the summit of Tombstone Pass

Day 8 for Ted was, for the most part, an uphill climb and the highlight of his day was summiting Tombstone Pass at 4,235 feet at 1:45 in the afternoon. Then a treat, the rest of the day was downhill. I felt the desire to experience the beauty of the area in a more intense way, not just from behind the wheel of the car. With many trails in the area, I did several side hikes as Ted made his way up and over Tombstone Pass.

Words are inadequate to describe the beauty that we saw that day, both in our own ways. The intensity of the green, the clearness of the streams, the warmth and the coolness of the air that hit you almost simultaneously, the clean fresh smells, almost sensory overload. Instead I choose to let my pictures do the talking. As you scroll below, I hope you enjoy the beauty of the South Santiam and our Willamette National Forest.

Problem Solving 101

Ted and Ange ready to start Day 7

Day 7 of the walk brought us back to the Willamette Valley where Ange Sobiegraj once again joined Ted for another day of walking. We met Ange at the Point Restaurant where we had coffee and shared a piece of pie, perfect fuel for walkers and Sag Wagon drivers.

Ange and Ted were off. I headed to the South Santiam Cabins, which would be our reprieve for the next three days. I unpacked the car and got things set up. Ted and Agne arrived at the cabins for a break at around 11:00. Ted then remembered something in the car that he wanted to show Ange. I handed him the keys. We enjoyed a treat from the New Morning Bakery in Corvallis that Ange brought and then they were off.

About thirty minutes before it was time for me head out to pick up Ange, I realized Ted had the keys, our one and only set of keys. And why, you wonder, would they go on a trip of this magnitude with only one set of keys? About 10 days before our trip we noticed a set was missing. We looked everywhere, in jackets, it golf bags, all to no avail. We kept thinking they would turn up in some strange place, but it didn’t happen. So we left for our trip with only one set of keys in hand.

So we had to be very careful with the keys. As driver of the WAO Sag Wagon, I had a system, a certain pocket in a certain vest. But things happened quickly that morning and the keys were "walking” before I realized it.

Luckily we were in cell phone range. I called Ted, we decided Ange would head back to the cabins. I expected her there in about 40 minutes. I would take her to her car, then come back to pick up Ted before his interview with Sean Morgan of The New Era back at the cabin. Phew. It was going to be down to the wire now. When he saw that she was about to take off, the last thing Ted said to Ange as she turned to leave was “Ange you don’t have to run.”

Before I knew it I heard a car door slam and Ange was back at the cabin. How did she get back so quickly? Did she run all that way? No, she was resourceful. When Ange saw a lady in her yard near Cascadia, Ange asked if she could take her back to the cabin. Certainly, the woman said. It turned out that the lady was 90 and had had surgery the day before. But she was interested in Ted’s walk and glad to help. So Ange’s quick thinking and the kindness of a stranger saved the day.

One of the buzz words in education these days is that we want to teach our kids to be “problem solvers”. Well, we had several ways to solve this problem. Option #2 would have been to ask the owner of the cabins to take me to Ted and Angie. Option #3 would have been to wait until Sean arrived and then go to Ted and Ange. He could have interviewed Ted on the road and then I would take Ange to her car.

But in the end it was Option #1, Ange’s quick thinking combined with the kindness of a stranger that helped make our problem go away. So here’s to problem solving on the road on Day 7 of the Walk Across Oregon.
The beautiful South Santiam

Resting at 55 M.P.H.

After Day 6 we returned to Crooked River for two rest days. But for Ted there are never really any days of rest. Early Monday morning he raced to the golf course to play with his senior group, raced home from golf to have an interview with Lars Larson, northwest radio personality, raced to Portland to pick up his mom at the airport, then raced back to Crooked River the next day to go to Lions. And not to worry, all of the racing (resting) was done at 55 m.p.h.!

Oh Happy Day

Ted finishing Day 6 at Foster Reservoir

When Ted set out at 7:30 on the morning of Day 6, he indeed thought that it was a happy day. The sky was blue, the temperature mild, the birds were singing. But when he walked into Sweet Home, he momentarily thought his fate was about to change. A policeman pulled over in front of him, parked, and then got out of his car. Ted thought to himself, “Oh no, he’s going to tell me I can’t walk on the highway.” Instead the policeman said, “Hey, saw the newspaper article about you. Great job on your walk and I agree with your cause.”

Ted’s gait picked up instantly as he headed to the nearest Thriftway to find a paper. Jennifer Moody’s article was on the front page of the Local Section of the Albany Democrat- Herald, complete with a color picture of Ted and picture of the WAO rock as well. Ted was so excited that he read the article in its entirety right there in the middle of the Thriftway.

We enjoyed a great brunch at Lorene’s in Sweet Home. And it was there that I heard muted whispers, “That’s him, that’s the guy that’s walking across Oregon.” Ted’s 15 minutes of fame had begun. Later a bike rider whizzed by Ted as he made his way thought Sweet Home and said, “Saw your article. Way to go.” And finally a young couple stopped and gave Ted two bananas. They had seen him reading the article in the Thriftway. They wished Ted good luck and told him the “bananas will help.”

For a small town, Sweet Home is a long town, stretching out for over five miles. Today, most of the stretch was lined with iris, just bursting into bloom. Ted’s walk ended at the beautiful Foster Reservoir, just outside of Sweet Home. Thanks for the great welcome Sweet Home.

On this day we thought of our mothers and the depth of a mother’s love. We originally intended to be in Portland with Ted’s mother Barbara. Instead she decided to make the trip to D.C. to meet her brand new great granddaughter, Isobel. We were so pleased she made the trip. Four generations together on Mother’s Day. What could be better? Happy day. Happy Mother’s Day

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's a Take

Ted with Jesse and AnneMarie from the Mid-Valley Newspapers

Things got exciting mid-afternoon in Lebanon on Day 5 when Jesse Skoubo and AnneMarie Knepper, staff photographer and week-end reporter for the Mid-Valley Newspapers, arrived on the scene. It was Ted’s first photo shoot. I enjoyed watching a professional photographer in action. Jesse took pictures not only of Ted walking, but of his feet and the WAO rock as well. These pictures were to accompany Jennifer Moody’s interview from the previous day.

Photo Shoot in Lebanon

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Walk a Mile in My Shoes

Ted with Ann on the road to Lebanon

Ann and Phyllis waiting to cross the I-5 access road

The next day, Day 5 of the walk, Ann and I joined Ted at the start. I walked a mile and then turned back to get the WAO Sag Wagon. Ann walked a few miles further with Ted. I wish we could have had a nicer place to start the walk that day. The overpass over I-5 is not my idea of pretty. But once we got over I-5 traffic on Hwy 34 subsided and before us lie the fertile fields of the Willamette Valley.

After Ann left, Ted was on his own headed toward Lebanon. Lebanon, a town of around 15,000, is home of the world’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake. The giant shortcake a part of the town’s yearly Strawberry Festival, which began in 1909. Unfortunately we came about a month too early and missed the festival. Lebanon has a nice downtown with many local businesses, which always make me happy.

Ted ended his day between Lebanon and Sweet Home. We had a great dinner at the Point Restaurant across from the beautiful Foster Reservoir. A great ending to a nice day.

Beautiful Foster Resivour, our dinner view

Mi Casa Su Casa

Phyllis and Ted with Steve at the Albany Country Club

Throughout our lives we meet special people. And if we are lucky enough, one day we have the privilege of calling them our friends. This process goes on all our lives, but there is something very special about the friends that we refer to as our “old friends.” Not meaning that they are old, literally, but that we have known them for a very long time. They’ve seen us at our best and our worst, our highest and lowest and accept and love us all the same. Such is the case of Steve and Ann Wulff, college and lifelong friends of Ted’s.

After we returned from our honeymoon Ted wanted to go to Albany so I could meet Steve and Ann. On that visit, still being in the honeymoon stage, Ann brought us breakfast in bed, homemade cinnamon rolls. This memory remains like a snapshot in my mind. At the time, Steve and Ann’s children were small. They’re grown now.

Colin, the youngest has been a long-time golfing buddy of Ted’s. I remember playing golf with Colin when he was about 10, a redheaded freckle-faced boy already hitting shots quite well at that early age. Another snapshot memory. I asked Ted at what point Colin started beating him. Ted thinks it was during his mid-high school years. Now Colin, a sophomore at the University of Puget Sound, plays on his college’s golf team and Ted has no chance. Still, when he’s home, a golf game with Colin is always top order of the day.

Throughout the years Ted has appeared on Steve and Ann’s doorstep, sometimes announced, sometimes not. Steve and Ann love to tell the story of finding Ted asleep, early one morning, on the rugs in their back house. Steve said it almost scared him to death until he realized it was “just Ted”. Ted had rang their doorbell late the night before to no answer, then found his way to their back house which had no bed, only rugs on the floor. And there Ted spent the night. So the phrase, “Mi Casa Su Casa” or “my home is your home too” is certainly apropos.

This time our arrival at the end of Day 4 was announced. But of course, with Ted there is always a surprise. So the day before we rolled into town, Ted called Steve and asked if a reporter from the Albany newspaper could interview him at their home. The answer was of course. “Mi Casa Su Casa”, my friend.

With Jennifer Moody of the Albany Democrat-Herald

Friday, May 14, 2010

An Evening of Reunion(s)

Bob and Dianna in their beautiful Corvallis home

After the “Beaver Tour” we arrived at the home of Bob and Dianna Nance, where we would spend the evening. Bob and Dianna were friends from Heidelberg, Germany, where we all worked together for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools, Bob at the elementary, Dianna at the District Superintendent’s Office, me at the high school, and Ted at the middle school in the neighboring town. While we did reminisce about our time overseas, more often our conversation turned to the excitement of being home and anticipation of good times in the years to come.

Ted with Squirrel
After a shower and rest, Bob and Dianna took us to dinner at Squirrels. We were thrilled when they suggested this restaurant; as a matter of fact we had planned to have lunch there the following day. You see, 30 years ago Ted worked as a bartender at Squirrels. Ted asked if the owner, Greg Little, a.k.a Squirrel, was still there. Bob said yes he was. After ordering drinks Ted said, “I want to go say hello to Squirrel, I wonder if he will remember me?” When Squirrel saw Ted he reached out his hand and said, “How are you Ted?”, as if the years had never passed.

Fueling up at the Nance's
So it was an evening of reunion, one planned and one a surprise. That night I had the best sleep of the trip and awoke totally refreshed. Then next morning Dianna prepared what I describe as a wonderful Oregon breakfast, omelets with fresh herbs from the garden, hazelnut* cinnamon toast, Marion berry scones, lattes and more. We were fueled up and ready to go for Day 4. Thanks for your hospitality Bob and Dianna, we had a wonderful time.

* Oregon is the third largest grower of hazelnuts, behind Turkey and Italy.

He's a "Beaver Believer"

Ted at Oregon State University

After Day 3’s walk ended in Philomath, we hopped in the car and headed for Corvallis. As we neared Corvallis, Ted’s excitement became palatable. You see, Corvallis is the home of Oregon State University, Ted’s alma mater. The first thing we had to do, upon arrival, was to head to campus for what I describe as, the “Beaver Tour.” “Now this was my dorm my first year, and here’s where I took math in the old Armory at 7:30 A.M. my freshman year, here’s my fraternity house, and here’s ..…………”

If it’s any consolation, I’ve done the same to Ted when touring the University of Texas. “Now here’s where I lived my first two years, here’s Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium where I ran 10 laps every night instead of studying, here’s my sorority house, and here’s………………” But now that I think about it, this is my third “Beaver Tour” to Ted’s one and only “Longhorn Tour”. Perhaps a trip to Austin in order.

There’s something about a college town, be it Corvallis, Oregon or Austin, Texas, with all the energy and excitement that thousands of college age kids bring. And upon our return, we briefly relive our youth, the fleeting yet formative time that we refer to as the “college years”. Those years, a brief moment, a slight predictor of things to come, we remember, we smile, we move on.

The house Ted lived in during his latter college years

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends

Ted and Ange on Day 3

The start of Day 3 was not so great. Every bone in Ted’s body hurt. In addition, he had the misfortune of pulling a calf muscle at the end of Day 2 when he stepped down an incline to take a picture. Doubts had started to creep in and the proverbial question, Why and I doing this?” popped into his mind.

But soon his luck would change. Just after mile two, the WAO Sag Wagon pulled off the road and out jumped Ange Sobiegraj. Ange was a college friend of Ted’s who he hadn’t seen in five years. In addition, Ange is an endurance athlete herself with over 21 marathons under her belt. She was just the shot in the arm that Ted needed at this point in the walk.

With an understanding that endurance activities become as much mental as they are physical, and at times you just have to work through the pain, Ange gave Ted the encouragement and advice he needed to be able to “keep on keepin’ on”. She walked 14 miles with him that day, he walked 20. And I’m quite sure for Ted, now, there is no turning back.

Thanks Ange. It was great meeting you on the road from Burnt Woods on Day 3.

“I get by with a little help from my friends
I’m gonna try with a little help from my friends
With a little help from my friends, with a little help from my friends…”
Written by Lennon and McCartney for their friend Ringo Starr

Approaching Blodgett

At the Blodgett Country Store

Mid-way on Day 3

Monday, May 10, 2010

Holy Toledo

Downtown Toledo

Our Base Camp for the first and second evening of the walk was the Yaquina Bay Hotel in Toledo. The hotel was built in 1920 and is very quaint. A beautiful old piano graces the lobby. We received a warm reception by the hotel managers, Kenneth and Polly Erickson, who couldn’t have been more accommodating.

Just seven miles from Newport, Toledo is six degrees warmer, on the average, and has a lot less fog. Toledo has a vibrant main street and a thriving art community. During World War I the U.S. Army Signal Corps built a huge mill to produce spruce lumber for airplane construction. Today Toledo is home to the Georgia-Pacific Pulp and Paper Mill.

One evening we found ourselves at Pig Feathers BBQ, where I truly thought we found the best barbecue west of the Mississippi. The ribs were to die for. Then I found out that Proprietor, Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Stu Miller is a former Oregon State Grand Champion of Barbecue. That may explain why the barbecue is so good. His wife Becky is a member of the local art community. You can see her work at Pig Feathers. The next morning we fueled up with a great breakfast at the Timbers Restaurant. You will not lack for a good meal while in Toledo.

Thanks for the warm welcome Toledo. There’s something about a small town, be it Wellington, Texas (my hometown) or Toledo, Oregon. No one’s a stranger in a small town. Toledo, off the beaten path, and well worth the visit.

Working a Split Shift

Ted with Alan Searle of the Yaquina Wavelength at the Yaquina Bay Hotel

In Ted’s “Ramblings from the Rambler” Daily Diary he states on Day1 that “Walking is his new job.” And if walking is his new job, then on Day 2 he worked a split shift. And for good reason.

When we arrived in Toledo, we were welcomed by Kenneth and Polly Erickson, managers of the Yaquina Bay Hotel. News travels quickly in a small town. Kenneth called Alan Searle, publisher of the Yaquina Wavelength, and soon Ted’s first interview was arranged for 11:00 A.M. the following day. We were very excited about the interview and appreciated the interest. So Day 2 went like this, a morning walk (work), a mid-day interview (fun), an afternoon walk (work), a split shift.

After the interview we had a quick lunch and then Ted was on the road again, finishing the second day at Burnt Woods. Day Two was a day of highs and lows. The excitement of the first interview, a high. An unfortunate muscle pull at the end of the day, a low. We’ll see what Day Three brings.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

On Being a Morning Person for My Man

Ted by the Chitwood Bridge on Day 2
They say opposites attract. So it has been with Ted and me all our married life. An idea person, a doer, one who likes structure, the other quite flexible, and most notably a morning person and a night owl.

After scouting the route upon our arrival in Newport, I was not happy with the condition of the road on what would be Day 2 of Ted’s walk. Construction, minimal or no shoulders, and lots of curves. On his first day’s trek, Ted was able to ascertain that the traffic was heaviest between 8:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M. So I said, “Why don’t we get up early and get started so you can get in several hours in before the traffic gets heavy. We could start at 5:30 A. M. when it gets light.”

Needless to say, my Morning Man was all over that. A heavy rain prevented our 5:30 A.M. departure, but he was on the road by 6:30 when it cleared. So the Night Owl becomes a Morning Person for the one she loves.

And now I’ve got to put the lap top away, put the car in drive and go find him. It’s 7:52 A. M., Day # 2. Over and out from the WAO Sag Wagon.

Blogging by the bridge

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Steppin' Out

Stepping out with Mary Emma and Maryann

At 7:00 A.M. on Day 1 it was raining. At 8:00 A.M. the clouds parted and the sun came through. Our day was made even brighter when we met Maryann Brown and Mary Emma Parks from the Yachats Costal Gems Volkssport Club. Maryann is vice president of the Oregon Trail Volkssport Association (OTSVA) and Mary Emma is the club secretary for the Coastal Gems. They welcomed us to the area and escorted Ted on the first two and a half miles of his journey. Along the way they discussed volksmarching and walk organization. At about mile two Maryann saw a dime, reached down, picked it up, and gave it to Ted. This dime is now his good luck charm for the walk. Thanks Maryann and Mary Emma for the warm welcome. We hope to volksmarch with you soon.

On the road

Saying goodbye to new friends

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"My Toe Just Touched the Water, My Toe Just..."

Toe in the Pacific

Not knowing how hectic the first day of the walk would be, we decided to conduct the “toe in the water” ceremony a day early. So at 2:30 P.M. on May 3, 2010, Ted touched the frigidly cold water of the Pacific Ocean. In her song Toe, Norah Jones croons, “My toe just touched the water, my toe just touched the water….” Well, Ted did better than that. He got in up to his ankles and then made the short walk back to our hotel. So the journey has begun. “Go Ted Go.”

"Go Ted Go"

Ted's mom Barbara wishes him Godspeed

The short trek up the hill to the hotel

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Welcome to Newport

the Yaquina Bay Bridge
We rolled into Newport at about 11:30 A.M. May 3rd and, upon arrival, checked into the Whaler, where we were given a very warm reception. The first order of business was to drive the route, estimating where Ted would end his walk the second day. After that, a late lunch of wonderful fresh fish. Our second order of business was the official “Toe in the Water” Ceremony (more about that in a separate post).
Checking in at the Whaler,
Tammy can't believe Ted's going to WAO

In 1915 Newport was described as a “year-round health and pleasure resort at the entrance to the famous Yaquina Bay.” At that time the town was accessible by steamship and rail. Tourism increased in 1932 with the opening of the Oregon Coast Highway and the Yaquina Bay Bridge. Today the economy of Newport is centered on tourism, commercial fishing, some logging. It is from this beautiful port city that Ted’s walk will begin his walk tomorrow at 8:00 A.M.

fishing boats on the beautiful Yaquina Bay

Monday, May 3, 2010

Old Friends, New Friends, Friends Along the Way

With dear friend and long-time hiking buddy Laura at Gray Butte
Laura will join us near Prarie City

In less than 24 hours Ted will begin his 456 mile trek across Oregon by putting his toe in the water at Newport. As Ted makes his way across the state, he is looking forward to all that he will see and experience on the journey. He is especially excited about being joined by friends for a mile or two (or five or 15). He will renew old friendships and meet new friends along the way.

We are especially honored to be welcomed to Newport by members of the Waldport and Yahats Volksmarch Clubs who will accompany Ted on the first few miles of the trek.

Several of Ted’s college friends plan on walking with him or hosting us for an evening's reprieve. Friends we taught with overseas, new friends from Crooked River Ranch, and family will join as we make our way.