Thursday, November 18, 2010

Panties in my pocket…

November 2010 in Shanghai China.
After a few long days of work I arranged for a spa evening. I had considered getting a spa treatment at the hotel however the pricing was equal to an elite US spa. A coworker had researched more affordable options and found what turned out to be the Chinese version of Massage Envy.

I reviewed the website though I had to enlist a local comrade to help me find which location was closest. He was kind enough to also make the appointment for me. It was perfect… this was the one thing I wanted and needed before leaving Shanghai.

Before leaving the hotel I obtained a Chinese hotel card to ensure I could get back. I actually departed for the spa experience from our local business office. I entered the cab with little hesitation and much excitement. My comrade instructed the driver where to take me and I also showed him the address in Chinese on my iPhone. We were off!

After some time we arrived at Dragonfly. The building looked classy and I was relieved that I arrived without incident. I lingered outside while checking in on Foursquare. There was a door attendant to welcome me and many ladies huddled around the front desk in satin Asian dress. The color theme was a goldish/brown and very calming. There was soft music and just as the stress should have begun to melt away I panicked!

All at once it struck me that I did not know the proper massage etiquette in this far away country. The question was ‘naked or not’? I was led up the stairs to my room. On the way I saw that this was a large establishment, dimly lit, very calming with many people at my service. I was taken into a room with a massage table and little room on either side. There was a satin robe hanging on the wall but I still didn’t know ‘naked or not’?

My masseur set up the room and laid a pair of satin pajamas on the table. It wasn’t until then I figure out that it was ‘not naked’. He left the room though I could sense he was lingering outside the door. I stripped down, put my panties in the pocket of my coat and hung my clothes on the few available hooks. Then in this narrow area between the wall and the table I attempted to put on the satin attire that had been left for me.

I picked the items up off the table and there was the panic once again. There was a golden brown crushed satin 2 piece jacket and short pants that looked like something my grandma Irene used to wear. The top was a wrap around v-neck type jacket that had three ties. This was not your normal wrap around, after many attempts to tie it I surrendered and decided to move on to the pants. The pants looked to be a size 6 and I am a size 16! The fabric was soft but other than the elastic waist this outfit had no stretch. I tugged the pants on but realized that I would not even be able to maneuver onto the table. Every second I had them on was a second that I was risking bursting out of them.

I didn’t want my masseur to come back in while I was figuring this out so I whipped those pants off and pulled my yoga pants back on. Then I tried to tie the jacket. No luck I could not figure it out. There I was standing in a room that did not have much space, with a jacket on that was not tied and my yoga pants that obviously were not part of the outfit. I was not feeling quite as relaxed as I was expecting. I knew my masseur was standing outside the door so I just held the top closed, cracked the door and asked him to help me. I then giggled and pointed at the pants and told him they were too small. He helped me tie the top and he quickly got rid of those too little pants!

Getting dressed for my experience maxed out my stress level but from the time I hit the table my massage experience was wonderful. I never had a ‘not naked’ massage before. I had a perfect pressure point massage that included stretching and a little inner thigh work that was respectful but for a moment made me nervous that there may be more that I did not know. After the one hour massage I dressed and was led to another level for a one hour foot soak/rub.

I was sat in a chair that was reclined, my feet were placed in a hot soak and I was given a neck and shoulder massage. Hot packs were laid over my core and my hand placed on top. I was covered with a blanket and he proceeded to work pressure points in my feet and legs. I was awake but so relaxed I had to fight snoring! I was not fighting sleep rather just an awake snore.

Before my manicure I asked to use the washroom. I was led upstairs and I was sure he was waiting outside the door for me. I know I did not have to tip but at this point I would have given this man my life savings (which in RMB might be impressive). I dug out 100 RMB from my purse and planned to give it to him but to my surprise when the door opened there was a woman standing there waiting to lead me into the nail salon. Where did he go? Ninja!

I went into the well lit salon. It was beautifully decorated in flowers sprayed with sparkling snow and exquisite chandeliers. There was one other woman in there, and older Chinese woman that looked to have money and power. She also had a cell phone that chimed regularly with an obnoxious chime! I was not going to let this bother me. Between the chimes she would hack and conjure up a loogy from deep in her chest. I didn’t dare look up but after the third fur ball I looked up to see her swallow. Despite the other patron my manicure was great.

After two hours of massage service and a manicure I paid just shy of 390 RMB ($75). I hailed a cab and showed the driver my Chinese hotel card. The driver had questions, questions in Chinese! After a bit of time and a couple of phone calls to my comrade we were on our way. I was looking for my phone when I stuck my hand in my pocket and realized my panties were still in there. This my friend is how I ended up in a cab in Shanghai with my panties in my pocket!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Cycle Oregon Weekend 2010

An awful lot of fuss and went into preparing for Cycle Oregon Weekend, how did I overlook what city it was going to be in! Really – somehow I got it in my mind that it was in Molalla however the whole hoopla was taking place in Monmouth. It is a good thing that the Molalla exit came before the Monmouth exit and that I didn’t get to far off the beaten path. I usually see lots of cars with bikes on them headed towards any organized ride. This wasn’t the case even though this is one of the more popular rides in Oregon with about 1700 riders.

Arriving before sundown was a great relief since I was going to have to pitch a tent. Those who know me know that I am not much of a camper but I have learned a few things over the years. 1) a tent needs stakes (though this tent needs new stakes) 2) being close to the honey buckets may be convenient but those doors slam all night long 3) get that tent up before dark. I used all of my past lessons and pitched that tent like a pro, all except those tent stakes. In my flurry of preparation I meant to buy a mallet but that didn’t happen. Not perfect but good enough!

I set out to survey the grounds. Nossa Familia coffee had a full blown coffee stand, there was an acupuncture tent, bike repair stand, secured bike parking, information booth, directions to the gym where from 6 am to 11 pm you can both shower and flush, a medic tent, and in the dining hall you could get meals! Everything a small bike community could need. After checking it out I ate dinner and headed to my tent. Since I had also forgotten a chair I climbed inside, organized the unorganizable and pulled out my book. With my earplugs securely inserted I was into slumber but only for two hours at a time. I knew I should have stopped at Costco and grabbed that air mattress!

Morning came upon us and the stir of riders began. The longer the route the earlier you want to get out of camp. It was supposed to be a pretty warm but the morning was telling a different story. I calculated the appropriate clothing and headed for chow.

I rolled out by 8:00 am which is a fairly late start for me. I had planned to take it easy all weekend and do as much hanging out as riding. Since I didn’t have a chair to hang out in and the weather being so nice I opted for the 73 mile ride instead of a shorter route. It was a pretty cold start and I was wondering if I was underdressed since most riders had many more layers on then I did. As soon as we hit those first hills I was warmed up! Those other riders were warmed up too, stopping on the side of the rode to shed clothing.

We were riding through farm-county, the fields were pristinely manicured and if I were to name the ride for the day it would be called ‘The Mojito Ride’. Twisting through the mint fields was refreshing as long as the wind was blowing in the right direction. The right direction for mint smelling is not always right direction for riding. If that wind is hitting you head-on, which much of the time it was, the work required to move forward exponentially increases. Working hard increases one’s appetite so it was a good thing that the lunch stop was coming up.

When I arrived at the stop I saw a bunch of people under a tree in the shade. They were sitting in a circle so I knew something was going on over there. I grabbed my lunch and headed over. There were three men playing what I would call ‘mountain music’. They were telling stories about hard times, jilted lovers, and had even worked in their own made up stories about stolen bikes, flat tires etc which in this instance was quite funny. The man on the fiddle looked like he lived the ‘back-country’ life. He looked up as he was singing and had the most piercing blue eyes I had ever seen. He played from the heart and enjoyed what he was doing. It was a great break from the hot sun. This would have been a really good time to apply my sunscreen here.

Animal life is always present on these country rides, leaving the lunch stop I saw the strangest goat. This goat looked as if it had manmade horns atop its head! I stopped to take a picture and I could hear other riders saying ‘did you see that goat? What the heck was on his head?’ My guess is that this little guy was naughty and that by duct taping this stick across his head he could not escape or get into trouble. This may have been a way to solve a problem but it just seemed wrong.

The covered bridges were nice and spoke to the history of the area. There was one spot where there was no bridge and I have to admit I was a little worried when I realized we were going to have to cross the river by ferry. I am not afraid to ride the ferry and I don’t mind the lines of bikers waiting to get on the ferry. I was anxious about the drop and rise from the ferry landing, not so much the drop but any time I have taken a ferry the climb after the departure has been brutal.

While waiting for the ferry I saw some large nests on top of posts. I heard a bird screaming and I looked up to see what I thought was a bald eagle! I could also see a baby bird sticking its head out of the nest screaming just like mama. I was so surprised I told some other people ‘See that eagle up there? Isn’t that amazing?’ Just about the time I had about 15 people looking up a gentleman said ‘Ummm that’s an Osprey.’ Well I looked it up and they are also known as a Fish Eagle so I was kind-of right.

The climb out of the river bank was nowhere near what I imagined. One last rest stop and down the home stretch. I finished my ride of 73.5 miles in 7 hours and 30 minutes; 5 hours and 45 miles on the bike and another hour and 45 minutes off the bike. I averaged 13 mph though I topped out at 42 miles an hour which is pretty fast. After returning to camp I showered and took in a yoga class, grabbed dinner, a glass of wine in the beer garden then tucked in for the night.

Day 2 came to my tent much quicker than Day 1 did so I must have gotten a better night’s sleep. There were a few ride options and while I thought I was going to ride the mid-level ride I ended up on the shorter route. This is much better then unintentionally ending up on the long route! When I first realized it I was disappointed then it occurred to me that I loved the ride I was on and I should just enjoy it!

There were less ‘working fields’ on this route and more open land. I saw a tree house that in any urban neighborhood would be the envy of others though way out here I am not sure there are too many people to come play in it. The tree was set a long ways from the house and actually closer to the road. I guess if you are going to build a cool tree house you need to build it where the tree is.

We pulled into Falls City, founded in 1891. The lunch stop was here but it was only 10:00 am and I wasn’t hungry yet. I quickly got out of the rest stop and headed into town. There was a small ‘art festival’ set up so I stopped there. I meandered around the eight outdoor booths and even had a garden mint truffle that could put Peppermint Patty out of business. Just outside of town there was a sign that said ‘falls 100 yards’. About ½ the riders went for the adventure while the others forged on. The sight was amazing and looked like a spot where some very daring teenagers may jump into the river. I saw a couple fishermen that had climbed down into the cliff to fish though I am not sure what they would be fishing for in a waterfall. On the way back to my bike I listened to a father talk to his son about wooden pipes from years gone by, there was one that was in fairly good shape coming out of the ground.

As I mentioned wildlife is plentiful on these country rides. Saw something poke its head out of the bushes and try to run across the road. Slowing as to not be part of a bad incident I saw that she was trying to get some babies to follow her. I pulled over to quietly wait and she did not seem to mind my presence though the oncoming bikes were upsetting. Finally out of the bushes she darted, she was making a run for it though when she got to the other side she realized her babies had turned back at the sight of the oncoming bike. She took off in a low flight back to the other side crossing that biker’s path on the way. After the Osprey incident I did not want to misname this bird but I have looked it up and believe it was a quail. No animals or bikers were hurt in this incident.

I dropped down into the last rest stop and proudly climbed back out. I spotted one last strange looking bird on the way back to town but even google can’t help me identify it. If I had to guess it would be some sort of fishing bird local to the area. I ended my day with another 35 miles under my belt and an experience that I am blessed to have had. I didn’t miss the mallet or the chair though I have to admit I did miss the air mattress and thinking back I should have applied the sunscreen on Day 1 at the lunch stop – OUCH! A wonderful time spent looking through polarized lenses.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Petal to Pedal - Silverton Oregon

a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport, exercise, or game requiring physical skill.

Gretchen the athlete - sport/exercise of choice - bicycling.

Every cycling season I look for organized rides which here in Oregon are not only plentiful but usually well organized. The Petal to Pedal is my second large ride of the season. I signed up for 60 miles that included some modest hills (modest: limited or moderate in amount) and a trip past Silver Falls.

The night before the ride I took some time to figure out where I was going, when I needed to be there and what I had actually signed up for. Much to my surprise the detailed description of the ride was 68 miles with the first 25 miles including some wicked climbing! I panicked! Being a bottom heavy girl, climbing is just not for me. After falling apart I decided to take the challenge. What’s the worst that could happen? I have never not finished and after the summit it is all downhill and flat - right?

I arrived just after 8:00 and found my weekend riding team gathering ready to hit the road. The strongest gal had already taken off to tackle the 100 mile route, she was out of the park before any of us even arrived. We all rolled out together but I had no plans in trying to keep pace with these strong climbers. I knew I needed to ride my own ride or risk injury, mental defeat, or just plain misery.

After winding our way out of town the fist thing I noticed was a old house that had a 1903 sign on it. This was not the address rather the year it was built. I love this era in Oregon and am planning to take some Oregon history classes. Most of the farms proudly displayed old farm equipment near the road. It was very interesting and I even snapped a picture. The farms were all working farms and the crops seemed to be doing well despite the rain and lack of sunshine. The wheat fields were plush and looking at them made me think of America the Beautiful lyrics “O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain” The gardens near the houses were another story. They did not look much better then the city gardens.

Then it was time to climb! I didn’t attack the hill since a 25 mile hill seemed to be more then I could attack rather I snuck up on it. I kept my head down and tried to find a comfortable pace. My eyes watched my speed reduce slower and slower and while I tried to keep a pace that would get me to the end before sundown I found my breathing became violent! This is the only way to describe trying to force air in at the same time as you are forcing air out. My muscles were tense from head to toe and I was starting to get hot. After coming to terms with a 6 mph pace I started to relax and my breathing adjusted to sucking in through the nose with the suction of a carwash vacuum and blowing out through the mouth with the force of a fire hose.
I knew I was in my last 10 miles of the climb when I looked to the right to see the most beautiful valley. So green and deep, I am not sure if there was a river at the bottom but I had heard fast running water in the distance during the climb. The trees were so tall they appeared to be large Christmas trees atop the longest bare stilts you have ever seen. I took my camera out to take a picture only to find that my battery must had fallen out the bottom while shooting an alpaca while riding past. I was shook up and didn’t think to use my iPhone but I did imprint the scene in memory though I really did want to share it.

Near the summit there was a rest stop where I met an interesting gal. She was sitting in a chair talking to a group about how she rides RAGBRAI in Iowa. That it was much harder then this due to the sweltering heat and humidity. I wondered if she had just rode the last 15+ miles of hills that I had. I mentioned enthusiastically that I LOVED RAGBRAI and that I had ridden in 2008. I asked her what her tie to Iowa was and she looked at me with a straight face and said “I grew up in Idaho”. She then did not say another word. I was waiting for her to say “…and that’s my final answer” to which I would have responded “BZZZZZ I am sorry but the only tie to Iowa and Idaho is that people get them confused.” I know my Iowa friends are laughing right now!

There were a couple more view points before I reached the summit. I arrived without much left. A little wobbly getting off the bike, no camera and if you have ever tried to take your own pic with an iPhone drunk then you can imagine what I looked like up there. I was soaked with sweat but I was happy that I had made it to the summit! Now the fun begins! Screaming down the hills after climbing them is like a sweet dessert after dinner. I expected to encounter nothing but down and flat but there were still quite a few hills. They looks so insignificant on the map next to that killer climb but these small hills were taxing.

I arrived back at the Oregon Gardens to find most of the crew has already come in. I grabbed my wild salmon dinner and we swapped stories. I ended up riding 62.5 miles at an average of 12 mph. My fastest speed was 36 mph, 5 hours and 15 minutes on the bike with another hour off the bike. Someone clocked 27000 ft in gained elevation with the greatest grade of 14%.

I wonder if looking at life through rose colored glasses is as wonderful as looking at it through polarized lenses.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dufur Oregon May 2010

I woke up Saturday morning with a day of rest, relaxation, and adventure on my mind. Over a year ago I had attended a charity auction where I waved my paddle for the first time. I scored a wine tasting for a group of friends and museum tickets (which I have already used) a night at a hotel (that didn't work out) and a night at a historic hotel in Dufur Oregon (which had expired).

About a month ago I called the Historic Balch Hotel in Dufur Oregon and asked if they would honor this overlooked expired certificate, I figured it couldn't hurt to ask. Much to my surprise they cheerfully said they would accept it and looked forward to my arrival! I wanted outdoor activity, relaxation and a private bathroom so I opted for the $20 upgrade and booked a room.

I hadn't packed the night before. What could I need, I was only going to be gone for one night. The rain had moved in about a week ago and decided to stay for awhile. I had planned on cycling but decided with the weather this may interfere with the relaxation part of my trip. I loaded up a change of clothes, hike boots, reading materials, invitations that needed filled out, nail polish, iPOD, a couple of geocache locations and my GPS. By the time I was walking out the door I was all stressed out about forgetting things that would make this a relaxing weekend! I made a few stops, promised myself to not use any communication devices and hit the highway.

I recently discovered I can download books from the library onto my iPOD. Knowing I would have some windshield time I had loaded Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood". I am usually one who pushes the speed limit only to jump out of my skin, hit the brakes and cuss when I see the troopers. This trip I inched up to the speed limit and kicked it into cruise. I actually thought the trooper that was backed into the weeds, just past Hood River, looked at me strangely. While I did jump when I saw him I didn't hit my brakes and I cruised by with a smile on my face. I imagined he thought I was a drug runner following the rules so precisely and I thought for a moment that he may just pull me over to see what my smug look was all about. After checking my rear view mirror a couple of times I realized my imagination was as big as the book I was listening to; except the book was actually true.

I pulled into town, it was a good thing I had slowed down or I may have missed it. I saw a grocery, a pub, a museum, and the only public office in sight was a post office. I pulled up to the hotel and parked right in front. I went to the desk which was fashioned in a historic manner. Since there wasn't anyone around I looked in the sitting room, the lobby, and the dinning room. If the upstairs were in the same decor and as clean I knew this was going to be a nice stay.

It wasn't long before the hustle of other guests began. There was a wedding party that had rented out a number of the other rooms with the bride & groom staying in the suite above me. This couple was getting married in the park just down the road later in the afternoon. While there were sprinkles I hadn't seen any real rain in some time but I had noticed the wind. I was gleefully greeted and escorted to my room. It proved to be as nice as the entry and very clean. I am always suspect of hotel entries. I have stayed many places that have wonderful entries and awful accommodations. With the hustle and bustle of the wedding party I knew I did the right thing by reserving the room with the private bath.

I laid out all of my items in a relaxing order. Magazines in one pile, book next to the bed, invitations, notebook and new pen in another pile. I was all set. I looked out the window over what looked to be where retired trucks, and equipment had been left and thought it looked, well, interesting. I realize now that that same piece of property may be viewed by some as an eyesore though that is not what I thought I really found it interesting. I took a deep breath and reflected on the drive and the book I had been listening to and decided it was time to switch gears and seek out some adventure.

I put my GPS up to the window and clumsily input the coordinates for the first geocache location. Less then 3 miles, this would indeed be a 'walker'. I deciphered the clue, something I always forget to do until I could have used it long before. I also remember that someone had noted there was no pen at the cache so I thought to bring the pen along. I headed out of the hotel and took a right. That was not the way the GPS told me to go but rather the working museum was that way and I hoped it would be open. I longed for the rich history that this town was trying to tell. The museum was not open but I walked around back and caught a glimpse of what is probably a pretty corny (but good) working museum. I turned back around and started towards the cache.

Shortly after leaving town which in itself did not take that long. I looked back and snapped a picture of Dufur Oregon. The sky was blue with white puffy clouds and winds that made me wish I had a hat to keep my hair out of my face. I followed the road that led back out to the hwy. There was no shoulder and every time a car or truck, mostly trucks, would pass I would just step to the side since there wasn't room for both of us. At first I wished I had brought my iPOD so I could listen to more of "In Cold Blood" then I cherished the quiet and clarity. Just as I was becoming euphoric a white pick up was turning around behind me. I thought "what the heck, why did he just pull over there?" This road either led you in or out of town and if you were leaving town there were not a whole lot of reasons to go back. I actually got anxious and blamed it on listening to the scary book on the way up. I then was glad I did not have my iPOD with me as it was apparent I had listened to enough of that book for one day.

The clue for the cache was 'broke down'. Looking ahead I thought this was going to be easy! I could see a spot where if you were broke down you would pull over. I headed in this direction and my GPS confirmed I was on the right track! I went behind a hill and found what may have been the skeletal remains of a dog, a fox, or maybe a wolf. I ventured further to a barb wired fence, walked along that fence where I found a man made opening. If I went through the fence I would end up under a bridge on some rocks that embanked a small stream. Rocks are a real common place to find a cache so I was sure I was close. I went through the fence and lost my GPS signal under the bridge. I was disappointed. I have previously cached with friends and I am seldom the one to actually find the goods. I didn't want to go home not finding the treasure. I was overwhelmed with which rock to start looking under when I spotted the carcass of a dead hawk, half skeleton and half feathered. A little freaked out I came out from under the bridge and checked my GPS. Though I am directionally and distance challenged I used the GPS and the sun and hoped that I was in the wrong place. I headed back up to the hwy and continued on.

Thank goodness I was in the wrong place. The more I walked the closer my GPS told me I was. I almost skipped when I saw something that could be 'broke down' and realized I had misinterpreted the clue. I hustled on to the location not making eye contact with any drivers on the hwy. I didn't want anyone to ask me if I needed help or a ride. I was on an adventure and didn't need anything except to find that cache.

I circled the large 'broke down' object and wondered how many places could an Altoids's can be hidden. Answer, at least a couple hundred! I looked in the openings that did not require me to touch this large piece of farm equipment, nothing. I lifted a rear panel and stuck my entire head in there, nothing. I hoped I was not going to have to climb onto it. I lifted a small side flap and instantly recognized that items were arranged to hide an item just the size of an Altoids's can! I had found it! I was so excited I thought about taking a picture and updating my facebook status except that I had sworn off all communication devices. I did take a picture of my find and realized that I couldn't sign the book cause I had forgotten my pen in the room.

Before going back to my room I considered stopping at the pub for dinner. Instead I went to the market, grabbed a nice bottle of wine, hummus, a red pepper, and some cheese. I opened the wine in the hotel kitchen and headed for my room. I read magazines, filled out graduation invitations, and after going down for some tea started my hand held book "The Liar's Club". I read until all the wedding guests stopped talking and settled down for the night. You would never want to tell any secrets or work out any personal issues in a hotel like this unless you were willing to share the details with anyone within earshot.

I slept a little restless but laid around until it was time to dress for the 9 am breakfast. I thought the strawberry rhubarb crisp was the breakfast so I finished the entire parfait cup. I found it strange that they served what I consider to be a desert for breakfast. Then I decided 'why not' we should have more desert for breakfast! The rhubarb had been freshly picked out back of the hotel. Not long after finishing my desert came apple/pear coffee cake and a sun dried tomato frittata that was so good I finished both. Stuffed, I went upstairs, packed my bags, input the coordinates for my next geocache and checked out. I could see myself staying here again.

I got directions from the locals before departing. I was looking for a graveyard where I would find my next clue. I found the graveyard but did not pull in. I left my car in the entrance where I was pretty certain it would not be in the way since I was the only one out there. This place was amazing! It was very small and limited to a few families. You could see where family plots were sectioned off. Not all the graves were formally marked but most of the departed did so in the late 1800's through the early 1900's. A lot of children died during that time. Children of all ages and Mother's. I was so engrossed by the history that went untold that I had forgotten what I had gone up there for. I even found a grave of a man that was born in Bosnia buried in 1899, he was 56 years old. What was his story? I did get my focus back and found the headstone that I was looking for. I did the math which gave me my next location. Back in the car with Truman Capote. I traveled on.

The next location told me to go through Friend. I thought the clue had a typo since he had talked about his friend. This entire geocache was based around the man's friend who's gravestone held the next clue and who had shown him the final site. I then approached a road called Friend Rd. which took me through Friend Oregon. Now you see why I am not the first one to find the treasures when we are out as a group. From pavement to gravel, turning around a few times, a close encounter with a wild turkey, I finally had come within feet of the final cache. I climbed up a steep hill where I spotted some animal tracks. I could hear strange noises down by the fast flowing creek. These were animals of the large type but they were on the other side of the road so I felt safe that they would avoid me and not cross the road to cause me any harm.

I scouted around awhile and had some trouble loosing my signal in the trees. I was elated when I spotted what looked to be a hiding place. It just looked a little out of place the way the branches and the rocks were twisted together. I had found it, the final cache! I had brought a pen which I didn't need and could not remember what the date was when I signed the log. I headed back to the car, I tried to figure out more about the the railroad trestle that was in the area while climbing down the steep hill I had headed up so eagerly. I gingerly descended and when reaching the bottom of the hill the noises on the other side of the road got much louder. Louder and friendlier, not the sounds of wild animals but the sounds of campers! What a cool place to pitch a tent.

I had achieved my goals, relaxed enough to not know what the date was, had no electronics on me to tell me what it was, and found both geocaches I had set out to find. Success had been achieved now it was time to go home.

On the way home I pulled off the road at The Dalles and stopped into the most amazing landmark, Old St. Peter's. The church was built in 1897 as the 4th Catholic church in The Dalles. This building was saved from demolition in 1971. Along with the rich history inside it's many stained glass windows, it has a 176 foot steeple with a weather vane on top. The entire building is made of red brick which is throughout the basement where the bathrooms were. I had also intended to grab a bite to eat at the Baldwin Saloon that was established in 1876 and used to have a brothel out back but it was closed.

I headed west grabbing a bite in Hood River which brought back memories from a Girls Weekend spent with some wonderful gals. Grabbed a latte to go and meandered with Truman Capote all the way back home. The sights and sounds are embedded in my memory. The story and the pictures have been shared with you.