The smoke in the sky had been relentless for weeks by the time I decided to try to run away from it; at least for the day. 

If
you’ve been paying the slightest bit of attention, you know that a huge portion
of the PNW is on fire. The atmosphere is oppressive, the heat punishing, and
leaving the house a chore.

In
an attempt to escape the smoke, and find some clear air to breathe, I decided
to pack up the puppy and head to the coast. There’s usually a steady breeze,
and the forecast was for 20 degrees cooler than here in town, so I was
optimistic I might find respite there.

When
trying to decide which part of the coast to visit, I decided on Astoria. My
logic wasn’t so great, because Astoria is a good bit north of us, and the smoke
was coming from British Columbia which is – as it happens – also north.

Head away from the smoke, not toward

By
the time we arrived, the smoke in Astoria was markedly heavier than inland. I
knew we’d have to go further south to try and find a place the smoke might have
dissipated. Cannon Beach is always a favorite, but nothing compares to my
favorite spot on the Oregon coast; Hug Point

Just us and the rocks

A
popular spot, the park was sparsely populated on a weekday. The breeze was
strong, and though there was smoke in the air, it was thin, mixed with a heavy
mist, and overall much easier to breathe.

Secret Cove Selfie

Though
the tide was coming in, I thought we could risk sneaking around the rocks to
the waterfall cove. The water was up to my ankles, but Enzo hates getting wet,
so I carried him.

We
explored the cove and scampered over rocks. Coaxing him into posing in front of
the waterfall – at this time of year, more a trickle – was a bit of a
challenge, but eventually captured a good shot.

Glamour Shot Doggo

Digging
in the sand featured heavily in the remainder of the beach time. Nothing quite
like letting the puppy wear himself out.

I know China is down there somewhere!!

We
continued south on the coast until we reached Tillamook. I kept hoping to
encounter clear blue smokeless skies, but to no avail. We came inland and had
burgers at Skyline Restaurant to console ourselves.

Being fond of urban hiking, I’ve wandered through a wide variety of parks, nature preserves, wildlife refuges, and riverside paths. 

Pet ownership is full of delights and complications. I discovered one of these when I tried to plan a Ladydate with Auntie Tata. I thought I was terribly clever to pick a trail on her side of town; one that would allow me to run a pesky errand all at once. Tualatin Hills Nature Park was a nice option, and I was pleased with my choice.

Luckily, I took the time to double check before I drove all the way across town; no dogs. Mert. Running a search with a filter for dog friendly options, Hoyt Arboretum popped up at the top. Though I had hiked around the park once before, it had been a long time, and wasn’t one I’d spent a lot of time exploring. 

Mr. Sassy Pants Takes The Stairs

I loaded up the doggo and headed over the river. Once I reached the park it became apparent a wedding was underway, and the weather, which had been hot, hazy, and oppressive all week, was partly cloudy and pleasant. 

The First of Many Acts of Puppy Protest

I hoped the dog was keen for a long walk, but he seemed much more interested in meeting people and other dogs. Watching a well-behaved golden puppy walking the opposite direction, heeding his owner’s instructions “to me” made it clear, my degree of influence over Enzo leaves much to be desired.

Can You Buy Me A Dog House, Way Up In The West Hills?

While he seemed initially keen for a trek, he quickly lost interest. His less-than-thrilling-but-reasonably-effective response to this is to just plop down wherever he is and refuse to walk. While I’m perfectly capable of yarding him along, it’s – pun intended – kind of a drag.

The Final Laydown

We only managed to cover about a mile before I admitted defeat and carried him most of the way back to the car. In the meantime it was a beautiful day, which allowed him to refuse to walk in front of a grand variety of trees.

Wacky Flower Tree (Scientific Name)

While perhaps not the most exotic or dramatic locale, it was still good practice for the puppy, and taught me a valuable lesson about vetting my destination before we set out. That, and some more formal leash training is definitely in order.  

Having
grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I am more accustomed to a cooler range of
temperatures. Where other people may be hothouse flowers, I am a forest fern.

Lots
of people seem to prefer the weather here under the impact of climate change.
It is undeniably the case there are fewer gray and rainy days on average than
there used to be. Personally I miss them. Not only for their favorable impact
on the flora, but the – forgive the pun
dampening
effect on migration. But, before this devolves into a diatribe
about how much I do not love what Portland has become, I will merely say that
lately, it has been hot and miserable unto the likes of Hades.

The
only upside, to my mind, is that this affords an opportunity to scamper down to
the local waterway and plash about.

Riverside park on the Clackamas is an easy option for that very thing. Enzo and Hodie came along.

A rare sighting of the Tree-Dwelling Hodie

We
found a nice shady spot close to the water, which would have been perfect,
apart from the yellowjackets. They seem to be everywhere this summer…

Enzo
isn’t too fond of water, but whenever Hodie went in, his concern for her
overrode his fear and he waded in to “save” her.

I stand on dis rock and SABE you!

We
had a nice time by the river, and on our way back to the car, we ran into our
first ever other Shiba! They played a little bit – each with the signature
Shiba vigor. It was nice to meet another Shiba owner who would understand they
like to play really rough.

Sheebs Meets!

This
was a nice relaxing week. The heat sucks the adventurelark right out of me. I
think we’ll be doing something a little further afield for next Wednesday.

Having switched my schedule to only work four days a week has drawbacks and advantages to be sure. While those 10 hour days can get to a girl, I love having Wednesday off. Anywhere I might go is less crowded than it would be otherwise, and the day usually remains uncluttered by chores that can’t be avoided on the weekend. For every time the car goes to the mechanic for routine maintenance, there are trips to the beach, days at the river, and hikes in the forest.

Enzo’s First Beach Trip!

Whenever I’m evaluating a hike, I do an effort-to-reward ratio analysis. How hard is it to get to the payoff compared to how good the payoff is? This calculation will decide whether I think a particular hike is worthwhile on a given day.Horsetail falls is a perfect example of a low effort/high reward hike. You literally drive right up to it. You can get a completely clear view of the falls from inside of your car. Personally, that usually feels a little too  easy, for my taste.

Conversely, Dog Mountain remains the benchmark for me with high effort/low reward for me. Admittedly the day I went had unfavorable weather, which colors my evaluation. Thinking no hike of only 3 miles could defeat me, I had no idea those miles were more or less all vertical. Then approaching the top, coming into knee deep snow and cloud cover that obscured any view whatsoever. Even when I have seen photos of the vista at the top, it was no more spectacular than lots of other spots in the gorge where the only effort required is to pull over to the side of the road. Couple that with the Black Toenail of Doom I sustained on the descent, and this one gets no love from me.

This was the view

I recently downloaded the AllTrails  app and was looking for a likely jaunt. Living on the doorstep of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest means I’m spoilt for choice, but that it can be hard to narrow it down. I needed a trail that would be dog-friendly, as it would be Enzo’s first real hike, and one that wasn’t too long to expect him to keep up.

Falls Creek Falls popped up and is a perennial favorite. I’ve probably done it no less than a dozen times, but I have loved it each and every one. It has excellent effort/reward, so off we went.

I always seems to underestimate the amount of time it takes to get to the trailhead. North of Carson, the turnoff isn’t too far out of town. However, since the last mile or so of the journey is an unpaved – and DEEPLY rutted – gravel road, that last bit can be painstakingly slow.

The trail follows Falls Creek pretty closely right from the start. At no point on this hike do you lose the sound of water, which is lovely. Near the beginning of the hike, there is a small shore off trail to dip your toes, if so inclined. The footbridge is a little bouncy, so I thought Enzo might balk, but he scampered across without a pause.

Falls Creek

A gentle but steady ascent, the trail is well-maintained and compacted dirt. A second footbridge near the top is there to cross a small water flow that, at the height of summer, happened to be dry. Other times, I have seen a fairly substantial waterfall in this spot, so seasonal differences are definitely to be considered.

April 2017

Beyond the second crossing, in a few places, there has been rock fall that requires a brief scramble. These are easily navigable even to those with some mobility challenges; just take it slow.

Coming around the last corner where the falls come into view it always a delight. Walking through a shaded canopy for some time, barely able to see the sky overhead, you suddnely encounter a glorious double cascade quite unlike many others found in the area.

It is not only the size and formation of the falls, but the proximity that astonishes; close enough to feel the spray, one needs to crane the neck a bit to take in the full view.

The Eponymous Falls

Should one be so inclined, it is a steep, but fairly easy scramble to get down from the viewpoint to the shore of the basin pool. I didn’t make the effort myself, but Hodie said it was quite refreshing. Negative ions everywhere.

Enzo made it the entire 2.5 miles uphill, but was reluctant to walk on the way down. Hodie’s friendboy Nono volunteered to carry the puppy for a while. This worked out great, and when he started squirming to be let out of the backpack, we knew he was ready to walk the rest of the way down. Considering this is the same dog who will frequently just give up and lie down mid-neighborhood stroll, I was happy he was so cooperative.

Nono and Enzo

We booked it downhill since we were all starving and got back to the car in good time to make it to Backwoods Brewing for pizza. The patio was accommodating for the puppy under the table, and the pizza was top notch. As I always do, I eyeballed the “Real Women Drink Beer” t-shirt and considered it for inclusion in my closet. Didn’t pull the trigger, but maybe on the next trip to Falls Creek Falls, I’ll make it happen.

noun: an instance of something becoming popular, active, or important again.

Not entirely sure how important exactly… Nor due to lack of developments – meaningful and mundane – there has been a considerable gap between last post and this. 

Indeed, one might argue the last 3 years have been downright action packed! In said time I have:

  1. Finally been correctly diagnosed – not with Crohn’s – but with Endometriosis of the small bowel. What’s that you say? You didn’t think a condition typically associated with the uterus could OCCUR in the small bowel? You and me both. This also led to my having an Ileostomy for three months. Doo doo bags are a drag. I’ll just leave it at that.
  2. Undergone a complete hysterectomy – who needs estrogen when all it’s gonna do is poison you anyway?
  3. Moved away to Vancouver and discovered it is no further afield than any other suburb of Portland. 
  4. Discovered the joys of sales tax wherein the price isn’t really the price.
  5. Reconnected with my best friend from my first job whom I’d lost some 18 years earlier. 
  6. Built a house. Well, not myself, but I was definitely in charge of picking the paint colors.
  7. Witnessed the successful launch of my offspring into adulthood.
  8. Gotten engaged! This list is chronological, not in order of importance, okay?
  9. Orchestrated the transition of the employees in my job function to working remotely. This was a considerable personal triumph, and my reward is working in my jam jams.
  10. Gotten a puppy! 

More than 10 things have happened between now and then, but these are the highlights, anyway. A lot of these things are sagas in themselves; maybe if I run out of material, I’ll hit the bullet list…

In the meantime, I expect this to be yet another venue for puppy photos and updates. 

Could be worse…

IMG_20151004_213339

This week started out with such promise, then came the descent.

Oscar went rogue in a way that required a more-than-customary degree of medical intervention. 3 days into this hospital stay, I still have no definitive plan for the immediate future. It’s clear I’ll need surgery, but not precisely when, where, or to what extent the procedure will reach.

IMG_20151003_160855

Double Dose of Dahlias

As ever, there are several considerations at play which impact my course of treatment; my recurring flares have not responded to the biologic intervention and are currently only quelled with steroids. This is problematic because apart from making me feel awful in a whole host of ways, steroids have a raft of nasty side effects [high blood pressure, bone loss, impaired endocrine function] rendering them untenable as a long term treatment. Moreover due to their tendency to cause excessive bleeding problems and delay healing substantially they are troublesome in terms of surgical intercession.

There’s a lot of uncertainty around how to proceed, and coupled with the fact that I Am Not A Patient Man, I also find it difficult to maintain my emotional equilibrium in the face of ongoing ambiguity. Plus, I might have to get a doo doo bag. For THREE MONTHS.

I feel very fortunate to have a supportive group of people taking as much care of me as I will let them. I’ve had well-wishers, and foot rubbers. Clothes-bringers and entertainment providers. Flowers and conversation have arrived at beneficial intervals, and I am moved again at the generosity of my selected family and friends.

I have also had a compassionate troop of caregivers here at Providence who have only reinforced my admiration for this health system where I am fortunate enough to work; to underscore that it is well-founded and grows by degrees. Their obvious interest in my physical well-being is complemented by an equally apparent desire to comfort me emotionally. Lastly there is a manifest willingness to patiently communicate with me about my concerns and questions that lacks any hint of exasperation or condescension that stays in O(ther) (H)ospitals (S)adly (U)pheld*

I’m trying to keep busy and positive, and to rest as much as I can. I am hoping that though this week took a dive, I’ll rebound like the little rubber bouncy ball I really am inside. A swirly purple glitter one.

 

*That was a stretch, but I am on morphine, so it’ll have to do.

 

noun

kän(t)-stər-ˈnā-shən

a feeling of surprise, confusion or disappointment

Say what?

Say what?

I am perfectly accustomed to the notion that things will not always go as I plan. If nothing in life is certain but death and taxes, I will make the claim that disappointment is the death of expectation; the taxation of hope.

I find myself generally able to take this phenomenon in stride. I am familiar with it, as are most folk, and lamenting the fact has never once alleviated its effects. For how we make God laugh when we plan…

Yet at certain times I am especially confused by the way things unfold counter to my expectation. Instances where all indications point to a particular course that simply never manifests.

And I am full-well aware there is no ready answer nor effective tonic. To strive is to risk, to hope is to hazard. These are the toll of possibility, and though the price may seem high at times, still better it is to yield the cost than lay stake instead to complacence.

So, I’ll sip my tea and feel puzzled. When it is gone, I will put my aimless wondering away.

A couple of months ago now I tried to ride the KRT with limited success. The trail surface was much more suited to a mountain bike than the hybrid Trek I was riding.

At the time I remembered thinking it might be a better spot for running than riding, and yesterday I set out to test that theory.

When I got to the trailhead, I noticed immediately how WINDY it was. No surprise in the gorge, I was delighted to see a group of kiteboarders out on the river. I scrambled down through the beach brambles and took a few shots of the action.

Let's Go Fly A Kite

Let’s Go Fly A Kite

I knew I wanted to get a 10 mile round trip in. My recent acquisition of a fitbit has me even more conscious than usual of making sure I get in a long haul over the weekends. I strapped on my daypack and camera and headed out the dusty trail.

IMG_0815

Not that it was really dusty. Mostly the trail is well maintained gravel, until it becomes rougher, rockier terrain. The weather was outstanding; mild, sunny, and just a tiny bit crisp. Perfect fall conditions.IMG_0848

And there were nice colors just starting to peek through here and there as well. The view back toward Hood was quite nice, once I got turned around that way.

The trail was only busy in areas where people were fishing and once a pair of cyclists; otherwise I had the place all to myself.

I moved slow on the way in, pausing frequently to take photos – most of which did not turn out that well due to the harsh light conditions – and listening to Catch-22 on audiobook. Once I’d gotten to my turnaround point, I was hungry enough my primary concern was getting back to the car quickly and feeding myself something tasty for all my efforts.IMG_0838

While it had taken about 2 hours to get the 5 miles in at a loping pace with frequent photo breaks, the return trip took just about an hour at a brisk cross-country jogging pace. I felt a little beat up pounding over the uneven surface, and nearly tripped a few times over particularly recalcitrant rocks, but kept my pace and my feet till the end.

 

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