Saturday, September 22, 2012
It seemed like the right thing to do. My colleague Michelle had asked if I could get a couple of posters put up around town. She had been diagnosed with a disease called Freidreich's Ataxia and was involved in a bicycle fundraiser to benefit research for this disease. The literature said that one could organize a team to raise funds for this disease. Perhaps this would be a cause was one that our office would rally around.
The more I thought about it the more it made sense. I believe in bicycles. I believe in taking positive action. I believe in giving support because I have received support in the past. I am constantly reminded of the amazing vessel that carries me through the world. At the same time I am aware of how fragile it is and the many things that can go haywire.
Friedreich's ataxia is a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuromuscular disorder. It is a genetic disease that is diagnosed in one out of 50,000 people in the Untied States. Turns out one of them is someone that I know.
So I started talking people and asking them to join me. Slowly Team Expeditors gained momentum. I was amazed and thankful that people that did not even know Michelle were very willing to support her cause.
The week before the ride the weather had been overcast and it appeared that our ride day would be the same. Reading predictions of areas of drizzle I warned my co-workers to bring a long light raingear to stay warm. That set the stage for the joy that I felt when I woke up to a blue bird sky.
Fifteen people from Team Expeditors showed up on Sauvie Island to ride. One of which had called me last night, asking if he could join. Two thought this was so important that they signed up even though they did not own a bicycle. Most of us completed a 12.5 mile loop once, marveling at the gorgeous countryside. It was a smashing success.
After the ride there was food and fellowship, plus an emotional talk about the research that will be sponsored by the funds raised by this ride. It was meaningful to me to hear this. It was also rewarding to hear my colleagues rave about how they enjoyed getting out and riding their bicycles.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I knew my friend Richard would be the perfect person to invite along for the ride. He is a big fan of Amtrak and appreciates the romance of rail travel. My housemate Karl joined me as well.
The exhibit train consists of two locomotives, a sleeper car, three display cars and a store car. Inside there were a variety of photos, advertisements, uniforms, equipment and dining china that spanned the 40 year history of Amtrak. Also of interest were the booths set up in Union Station from local groups that are involved with trains and rail travel in Oregon.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
After eight days of demanding hiking it was nice to rest, play in the neighborhood pool and goof off with my nephews. Tanya and I also took the commuter rail into downtown Madrid and visited the the Museo Sorolla. This was the home of the painter Joaquin Sorolla and housing many of his paintings. I was impressed by how well he incorporated light in his landscape and beach paintings. The museum did a nice job showing the different phases of his paintings and had a wonderful garden outside.
Tanya also introduced me to the Parque Europa. This is a park across the street from her home that has replicas of many famous European landmarks. In one afternoon I was able to crane my neck looking up the Eiffel Tower, pass through the Brandenburg Gate and cross London's Tower Bridge.
For my final full day in Spain we had a road trip, braving the heat we checked out the ruins of a castle at Zorita de Canes. Before storming the castle I helped my nephews find crawdads at the picnic area. It is very refreshing to see two young boys so excited about the birds and animals in the natural world.
The plunder from storming the castle was cupcakes, mostly to celebrate the birthday of my nephew. The chance to be present so close to his birthday was a gift to me, rarely do I have that chance.
After the cupcakes were digested and the gifts were opened it was time to rest. For the next morning I returned to the airport, checked in my backpack and started back home.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
One of the major draws of hiking in this area was the propsect of spending the nights in high alpine huts, known as rifugios in Italian. Here one could enjoy a beer after a day of hiking, eat a delicious and filling meal and then spend the night without having to leave the alpine environment. All of this was possible without having to carry a sleeping bag, cooking gear and a tent. Before I left I had called ahead and made reservations as I was hiking on the tail end of the high season. Having spent the night in six huts I discovered that each one its own flavor.
I spent my first night in Rufugio Puez. Situated in a tiny little gulley Puez offered good views of the Stella group to the South. The word that best described this hut in my mind is compact. Able to accommodate 94 people, the bunks were three levels high. The low ceilings and archways in the dining area gave the interior a cozy feeling. I spent the afternoon and evening hanging out with a nice couple of Bonn playing cards.
I did not spend my second night at a Rifugio, rather my path dropped down into the resort town of La Villa. Here I spent the night in a pension with a room big enough to dance. Knowing that I had a long day ahead of me I cleaned up and rested. From my porch I had a picturesque view of green pastures and the high peaks.
My next destination was Rifugio Lavarella. Here I was glad that I had made a reservation as this hut was full and turning people away. Located in a flat basin near a pleasant green lake, this hut was modern and positively luxurious. Like uez dinner was ala carte, but unlike my last rifugio I was assigned to a table by myself for dinner.
Located in a unforgettable lunar environment the Rifugio Biella had a more remote, undeveloped feeling. From my bunk room I had an incredible view of the alpine scenery. Downstairs in the dining area I was seated at a table with others. This, along with the smaller dining area, felt more interactive to me which made the evening very pleasant. Biella is located at the base of mountain Croda del Becco, which was well worth the effort to ascend.
After day five I rested my head at Rifugio Vallandro. This hut is at the Southeast end of the wide meadows of Prato Piazza. This hut had a nice wood paneled dining area, comfortable bunks and a little history. It is situated right next to the ruins of an Austrian fort from World War One. From this hut we got up with sunrise and were treated to vivid red colors on the face of the Croda Rossa.
The travel itinerary that I was following suggested spending the next night at Hotel Tre Cime, but we pushed on further to Rifugio Locatelli. What this hut lacked in ambiance it made up in location. It offers an amazming vantage point to appreciate the Tri Cime Lavredo, three distintive peaks that used to be on the border between Italy and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. I had a delightful dinner here, especially since a couple of Corvallis, Oregon were seated right next to me.
Little did I know that the best rifugio would be saved for last. I spent my final night at the Rifugio Pian di Cengia. Located near the impressive Croda dei Toni peak, this tiny little hut is the highest hut in the Tre Cime Natural Park. After eating my Weiner Schnitzel in the intimate dining area I climbed up a ladder and through a trapdoor to access the 15 bunk dorm.
From here I descended for the last time ending up at Hotel Dolomitenhof. There I only had to wait 3 minutes before I boarded the bus that would take me to Sesto. From there a series of trains would take me to Milano for the beginning of the final chapter of my journey.
You can find more of my photos here.
Sunday, September 4, 2011
The seeds of this dream were planted decades ago when our family went hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We spent the nights in an alpine environment, but left our tents and stoves at home thanks tot he lodges operated by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Years later I was at a Mazama slide show when I learned that I could the same thing in the network of Rufugios in the Dolomites of Northern Italy.
I believe life is too short to put off the things that really matter. Having just hit a milestone in my life, I knew the time had come to book my flights and pack my bags. Melissa Jaffee brought to my attention a route that ran from West to East in the Northern half of the mountain range. It was called the Dolomite Rollercoaster, so hold on tight.
It seemed fitting that I would start this trek in Munchen as every time I have crossed the Atlantic I have ended up here. I was disappointed to discover that the Lenbacher Haus was closed and its Blauer Ritter collection was on a world tour. I did find deep satisfaction going to the English Garden, dipping my toes in the Schwabing Bach and enjoying the sunny weather.
After watching the surfers Hang Ten in the English Garden I caught a late afternoon train to Italy. When I arrived in Bolzano it was overcast with occasional drizzle. My plan was to spend two nights here, rest and get situated before starting my trek into the Dolomites. My stay here was almost extended due to a bus strike protesting proposed government cut. Luckly I caught a bus got out of town just 30 mintues before the strike started. The skies were still over cast, but I could tell the clouds were slowly lifting.
Next thing I knew I was Ortisei at the Seceda Ski Lift, ready to embark on my trek......
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Saturday my friend Edgar ventured to Mount Hood National Forest for a hike. He brought his 7 month old puppy along. It has been some time since I have hiked with a dog and I was reminded of many of the pleasures of doing so. I'm certain she covered twice the mileage that Edgar and I did, plus tested out the water in all of the various stream that we crossed.
It was a brilliant day to be in the outdoors. We started by hiking up to Burnt Lake and then ventured higher to the summit of East Zigzag Mountain. From this one time fire lookout site we were treated to views of Mt Hood, Mt Adams, Mount Rainier and Mt St Helens. It was cloudy south of us so Mt Jefferson was hidden.
The highlight of the outing was a dip in Burnt Lake. The water refreshing, perfect for such a hot day. It certain made the early rise from bed worth the effort.