Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Oregon Trail Part 2: Exploring Portland

The rest of the weekend the three of us hung out around Portland, seeing Reuben's home town and having some fun.

On Saturday morning, I further proved that old dude wrong (see previous post) and went for a 10 mile run on the same feet he said I wouldn't be able to walk on and in the same shoes he said would be shot. It was a terrific run on a nice path along the river. Portlanders are huge into fitness and I had plenty of company even early on a Saturday morning.

Later in the day we visited Reuben's school, went to a farmer's market downtown, and then headed to the Oregon coast. The first stop was the famous Cannon Beach where we had a nice little picnic.
Next we went to the small city of Seaside, where Lewis and Clark's expedition ended.
Finally we went to Austoria, the city where the movie Goonies was filmed. They had built what they called "the column." It was 164 steps to the top and a very nice view.
On Saturday night we took a very interesting tour into the Portland underground. This is a very shady part of Portland's past and is referred to as Shanghai Tunnels. From about 1850-1940 these underground tunnels were used to capture men and sell them as slaves on oceangoing ships. The men doing the capturing would steal drunk men from bars or men doing drugs, hold them in cells, and keep them for whenever captains would come in needing a crew. The tunnels were fascinating. Back in the day it was a huge network with trap doors, hidden entrances, and holding cells. Here we are going down a hidden door from the street level.
Here are some bunks that were part of an opium den.

These are the rails to a holding cell. They were made especially strong because they knew the men they were capturing were the roughest and toughest men in Portland.

On Sunday we went to Reuben's church, went to another market,

tooled around downtown,

and went to a mansion with a good viewing point of Portland.
Finally we drove to Mutnomah falls about 30 miles outside Portland. There was a nice hike to the top and some good views of the Columbia river gorge.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Oregon Trail Part 1: Taming the Mountain

Rob, Reuben, and I spent an awesome weekend exploring Reuben's neck of the northwest - Portland. To start the weekend off right, we decided to hike to the top of Mount St. Helens. St. Helens in an active volcano about 60 miles northeast of Portland, just into Washington State. Mount St. Helens is most famous for its catastrophic eruption in 1980. The eruption blew off 1400 feet of mountain, killing 57 people, and causing the largest debris avalanche in recorded history! It completely changed the landscape for hundreds of square miles. That all sounded cool enough for me, so up we went.

The hike was 10 miles round trip with a 4500 ft. elevation gain. We knew ahead of time it would be very challenging and it was estimated as a 7-10 hour hike. Our plan was to leave at about 6:00 am on Friday morning from Reuben's so we could be hiking by 8:00. However, Delta Airlines had a different idea. Our flight on Thursday night was delayed to the point that we were going to miss our connection so Delta put us on an earlier flight. Long story short (I'll elaborate on the now-comical-story someday), we missed checking into that flight by exactly 1 minute, they didn't give us any grace, and we had to wait until Friday to fly out. This took a huge chunk of our day and we didn't start hiking until 2:00 pm.

The hike started mildly as the first two miles were a gradual uphill through the forest.

Suddenly the woods broke away and we were faced with the bare rocky slope of the mountain.

The terrain was a mixture of boulders and loose gravel and rock on a steep incline. From this point on there wasn't really a trail, but just a general direction upward. There were also lots of snow fields that we had to stay away from because they were too slippery to climb up.

At the top of the very first rock hill we met this old dude.

Like the rest of the hikers we saw, he was equipped with a good coat, hiking sticks, hiking boots, gloves, hat, and sun protecting goggles. He took one look at us and started preaching doomsday. He saw we had tennis shoes, no hiking sticks, no gloves, regular sun glasses, t-shirts, and we were just starting the hard part at 3:00. He basically told us to turn around. He said if we went to the top with those shoes on we wouldn't be able to walk the next day. He said the mountain was one punishing hill after another and that the last 1000 feet were so bad that "he wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy." We listened to his warning but within 2 minutes of leaving him Reuben said "lets decide right now that we'll summit, even if it means walking back down in the dark." Basically, we weren't going to let an old dude like that scare us off.

So we pressed on. We alternated between climbing up boulders and clawing our way through the loose gravel. We had excellent views all the way up.
The higher we got, the windier it got and soon we were engulfed in a cloud. With 1500 vertical feet to go our visibility was limited to about 50 feet and it was snowing and blowing at 30 mph.

We pretty much never stopped to take a break the entire way up and went at an extremely fast pace. Most hikers who passed us on our way down said it took them 4-5 hours to reach the top. We made it up in 2:30. It was kind of weird at the top because we couldn't see more than 30 feet in front of us.
Look closely at where we are standing in the above picture. Mount St. Helens has a huge crater in the center that drops down about 1000 feet. We are standing at the dirt rim of that crater and the camera is set up on the glacier that goes down into the crater. I didn't really think of it right away but when I went to set up the camera for this picture I was standing on a glacier with nothing below it for 1000 feet. As Reuben was taking this next picture of me I realized I was not in a very smart position, but of course it was quite a thrill to look down to 1000 feet of nothingness.

Usually the hike back is painful and unpleasant, but the hike down from Mount St. Helens was very unique and really fun at times. The loose gravel was steep enough that you could kind of 'ride it' down in the same way that you can skip down a sand dune. But the best part was a new sport we learned called glissading. This is kind of like sledding except less controlled, much more fun, and more hazardous. You slide down the snow slopes on your butt and try to control your direction and speed. The danger lies in the fact that there are bare rock spots and you might get going a little too fast.

Here is a nice video of me glissading down one of the slopes near the bottom of the mountain.
It was an awesome hike and we made it to the top! It was a lot of fun climbing the rocks, peering into the crater, and glissading back down the mountain. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes adventurous hikes. Our total hike time was 4:40 so we easily made it back down in the light and totally proved that old dude wrong. There can't be too many people who can say they hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens after traveling over 2000 miles to get there that very day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Empty Nesters

The youngest Elenbaas has finally graduated. This weekend we had an open house for Derek so I spent the weekend in Canton helping my parents set up. Saturday was a rare occasion where all 4 kids were home without any in-laws - just like to good ol' days.
Derek's open house was a lot of fun as I could see family and many of my old friends from Dearborn. We had a great turnout and the weather cooperated nicely.
One form of entertainment for the party was putting our portable basketball hoop next to the trampoline.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Late Night Arrest

On the way up to the cottage last Friday Erin, Jason, and I stopped at Plumb's for some groceries at about 10:30 pm. After picking up the food we needed I drove us out of the parking lot to go the rest of the way up to the cottage. I noticed a cop sitting on the edge of the parking lot near where I needed to turn. As I passed him he pulled out behind me. Naturally, I was concerned so my focus was on the cop.

I pulled up to an intersection that was still in the shopping area but not in the parking lot anymore. It was one of those "mall" intersections where traffic coming from the main road doesn't have to stop while the other direction (the way I was going) does. So I came to a stop, took a look in the rear view mirror at the cop, and started pulling out.

As I did, Erin screamed at me to stop and a jeep went screaming in front of me, swerving out of the way to miss our front bumper. Even though I had gotten to the intersection first, I totally pulled out in front of them since they didn't have to stop. The funniest part was the girl in the passenger seat of the jeep who leaned her enter upper body out of the window to scream obscenities at me as they drove by.

I was sure the cop had all he needed to give me a ticket. Sure enough, 2 seconds later the flashers came on and I pulled over.

Cop: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Randy: "Probably because I pulled out in front of that jeep"
Cop: "Yeah, what were you thinking?"
Randy: "I saw you behind me and was nervous so my attention wasn't on the intersection."
Cop: "Why were you nervous?"
Randy: "Uh...well...um...because a police officer was behind me so it is a little nerve-wracking."

The cop then took a good look at Erin in the passenger seat, Jason scrunched up in the back, and the paper bag of plants Jason had brought up.

Cop: "I'll be right back."
Five minutes pass (In the meantime Erin is scolding me for being so stupid and I'm laughing at the situation because of how stupid I was)
Cop comes back to our car: "Did you expect to get a ticket out of this?"
Randy: "Yeah, pretty much."
Cop: "So I don't need to remind you to stay focused on the road and not the fact that there is a cop behind you?"
Randy: "Nope."

And then he handed me back my licence, registration, and insurance and told me to drive carefully. NO TICKET!!! What?? I was blown away. Why wouldn't he give me a ticket? I guess I should be happy but I still can't believe it. He must have appreciated my honesty instead of trying to weasle out of a ticket.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Quiet Cottage

Early June is always the quietest time of the summer at the cottage, so Erin and I had some friends from our church up plus a couple others. Here are some highlights from the weekend.
Erin and I muscled our way around the 3 lakes on a ridiculously old tandem bike. Do they even make these anymore?
Jenny's legs are weak. When she gets up skiing she can't keep her feet together and slowly begins to do the splits...until her painful end.

Paddle boats are only meant for 2.
Tom is good. He caught more pike in 2 hours than I've caught in my lifetime. And all from within a stone's throw of our cottage.
Erin has become a very solid boat driver. So good, in fact, that she drove some tubers while I spotted.