Pacific Northwest

Camping at Detroit Lake

It was the first of times.

The first time going camping with each other as a married couple! This called for a radler.

I’m unsurprised by the fact that Oregon has this really pretty lake sitting on the Santiam River and decides to name it after Detroit. Still a really pretty lake.

Spent the weekend just a few yards away from the edge of this lake, and a good weekend it was.

I loved the choice by REI to stay shut for Black Friday this year, and here’s hoping more companies can embrace values worth having and stay true to them. Refusing to put profits above people and family gets a big like from me, and it looks good too.

I knew we made a good decision registering for our wedding there. Love being a co-op member there on top of that.

We had the chance to break in some of our shiny new wedding presents on this camping trip.

Our camping hammock is one of our favorites! Thank you, Raquel!

Here’s some thoughts I brought along to our camping trip:

I’ve been amused for a long time about the layers there are to marketing. You might sell magazines but you’re really offering people a lifestyle. You make a luxury car but you’re really selling people status and validation. As much as we love to hate on businesses, the ones that succeed are the ones that help us have the life we want. The world is fueled by helping.

I realize that in these early stages of my career, I’ve been asking myself questions about what I want— travel, a flexible schedule, a livable income, and building around those priorities, instead of asking what people want and how could I help. I realize now that I’ve been missing the element of service and help.

So now I’ve been asking myself and trusted friends, what do I have that can help people live the lives they want? What are things I am in a good position to do for you? What’s the sort of thing I can help with? (Seriously, feel free to let me know, even here on Instagram) it’s the question of the hour.

I have a few leads… I think I have a unique perspective on adventure that isn’t always an overseas voyage (though it sometimes is.) Most people oscillate between busy and bored and could use that. I also insist on being positive, something that can be refreshing when the world seems nasty. Plus I put a lot of hours into writing, so I hope I’ve developed some skill in that department.

This is a thought quest I’ll be on for the next few months, maybe the rest of the year. Feel free to join the journey. I think I’ve ran into one of those questions worth asking and taking your time with. I even feel like this is one of those dangerous questions, where the process of asking might call me into action. We shall see.

I went to bed with those thoughts and woke up the next morning to a campfire prepared breakfast and some coffee to go with it.

Deanna’s bowl: Warm oatmeal with blueberries and crushed walnuts, garnished with flakes of shredded coconut on top for a hint of sweetness.

My bowl: Warm oatmeal with leftovers from yesterday’s dessert– crushed graham cracker, melted marshmallow crême, and pocketknife cut chocolate bar flakes.

Pick a bowl and I’ll make a vaguely informed prediction about your current state of health and overall life expectancy.

After breakfast, we went on to Stahlman Trail. We read that this would be a simple trail. It turned out to be simple, but a whole lot longer that the description implied. After miles, though, we got to an incredible view, and let’s be real, it felt earned.

We don’t have a good word for the opposite of instinct, but if we did, I’d use it to describe how foreign and unnatural for us to accept that having to work hard and wait long for a moment makes it that much better. It makes sense on paper; less so in the moment.

Good adventures… In the middle of one they kind of just feel weird and you wonder why you’ve gone so far out of your way to inconvenience yourself. Then you hit success… Figuring out a bus route in a foreign country, finding the right trail before it gets too dark, solving a problem creatively. Then you get a sweet reminder of what it feels like to actually make those stories you’ll want to retell over and over again.

From September 2012 to June 2015, I tried to take on 101 different adventures. In 1,001 days. When you divide it up into more conventional measures of time, then it becomes more awkward– two years, eight months, and twenty-nine days. In that amount of time, I’ve managed to donate blood, catch a fish, learn a little bit of Hindi, visit the Jelly Belly factory, make crêpes, go a full year without paying rent, and go on a safari in Botswana, and accomplish dozens of other adventures.

Now we do our adventures together. We have another new list to do with each other over the next 1,000 days of our marriage.

I started sneaking in some early thoughts about the next year and the places we’ll be able to go visit. Deanna asks me if I can ever just think about one trip at a time, and the answer is that that’s legitimately a hard thing for me to do but I try.

It’s always that back and forth struggle between the excitement of looking ahead and the importance of being present, isn’t it? Or what about the challenge of wanting to see new places but remain connected to old friends? That’s a good one too.

Speaking of new places… I love discovering stuff like this— a neat mom and pop BBQ stand that pretty much consisted of a wood shed and a smoker in the middle of a parking lot for a feed and supply warehouse in Pleasant Hill- population 6,000ish.

I was hoping to perhaps find the best obscurely hidden BBQ joint ever, with such amazing food it would have to remain secret for the safety of the people of Pleasant Hill. I hoped the discovery would make me some sort of hybrid between Guy Fieri and Indiana Jones. Of course that’s an impossible hybrid, and the BBQ wasn’t so amazing I had to keep it a secret. But I did enjoy my brisket, so if you ever find yourself in Pleasant Hill, you know where to eat

Mariners Game and Seattle Visit

Some of these recent days have been so full… getting loads of work done in the day and having a nice dinner and spending quality time with Deanna would make them colorful enough, but we’ve also seen so much change this summer, so many good things and several terrible things, that it can be just a bit overwhelming at times. It’s like biting into a really, really rich chocolate cake and wanting some milk. So many things happened this year that we thought would never happen in a million years.

I heard an interesting interview recently with a hip-hop and graffiti artist known for taking on a lot of ambitious projects. He was asked how he does it all, and his off-the-cuff answer was “Inhale, exhale.” It took me back to when I discovered how powerful breathing is, as a reminder of the life inside of us, as the most simple exercise that actually keeps us alive. Every single one of us takes breath for granted every single day. But every now and then we might remember how cool it is to have the gift of breathing in and breathing out. Inhaling grace, exhaling prayers.

Sometimes the smallest, simplest things can make the enormity of life’s happenings seem small by comparison.

Prior to this weekend, Deanna had never been to a Major League Baseball game. Clearly this was one husbandly duty I had to fulfill.

So, we booked tickets to see the Mariners take on Texas and drove up to Seattle for the weekend. Such. A. Blast. We got a couple extra innings for our money, though the M’s lost big time in the end.

Gamedays are always fun, and Deanna loved it, which is good cause that means there’ll be plenty more of these to come. And who knows, the Mariners just might win one of them.

Baseball season is coming to an end, which is sad, but I guess this also puts the Phillies out of their misery. A few good things came out of this season though, mostly Maikel Franco and the fact that we got to go to Seattle for Deanna’s first Major League game. Not sure how it took dating me for three years before this happened, but either way, I’m glad it did.

Say what you will about baseball’s declining popularity, it’s my sport. My favorite game to watch. To dissect. To obsess about and make predictions over.

Overheard in the Safeco Field bleachers… “The Mariners were good before cell phones!” Kinda true. 2001 was a long, long time ago.

Plus, this is the inning they let their reliever give up five runs before pulling him for a guy who gave up three. Prince Fielder makes hit home from third, then manages to homer later in the same inning.

That weekend, another tragedy erupted in another city around the world. Famous people tweeted out thoughts and prayers.

I’ll pray for you. “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” Growing up these were perfectly courteous things to say in the wake of tragedy or difficulty. At some point, I realized I said these phrases a lot without actually praying, so I made it an effort to stop saying them. I’d rather pray and not tell, than not pray and say I did.

The phrase “thoughts and prayers” has been under a lot of scrutiny today. “Prayer doesn’t work!” a lot of people say. I disagree, but I feel the frustration. Especially when people have the ability to do something to prevent tragedy but instead offer a clichéd catchphrase. Of course I do that too. I posted#prayforparis a few weeks ago, #prayforiv a year ago.

Jesus himself recommended praying from a closet, instead of from street corners and stages. Perhaps because prayer was never meant to be a spectacle of empty words or PR statements, but something deep and sincere and intense. Some of the most powerful moments in prayer don’t lend themselves to words.

As somebody who prays, I’m learning that if we don’t take our own prayers seriously, we shouldn’t expect anyone else to. What if prayer and action weren’t two binary options? What if the best route to seeing the changes we want to see are the two put together? What if whenever we prayed over major tragedies and brokenness, a call to action was whispered in our hearts? What if whenever we tried to take action to pursue justice, we gave it our all and were driven to our knees at the end of each day? Thoughts and prayers. It can be an empty catchphrase, but they can also be real things when taken seriously enough. All my own experiences have led me to believe that prayer changes things. Most notably, me.

It’s been said many times, summers in the Pacific Northwest are the very best. After having lived it, I can attest. Looks like it’s coming to a close, but man, that was fun.

Here’s to road trips to Seattle, and jumping into swimming holes, hiking a whole lot, setting up tents, breaking in new camping equipment, and trying to hunt down waterfalls, baseball games and very early football games. This was a summer full of beautiful moments in beautiful places.

Edith Macefield was an old lady who lived by herself in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. Developers had made offers on the houses on her street to turn it into an urban shopping center. Her house was worth about $8000, and she was offered a million. She turned it down for sentimental reasons, and continued to do so no matter how much they sweetened the deal. With no other options, the construction firm went ahead and built a towering LA Fitness and Trader Joe’s on the other sides of her house, but she stood her ground until her death in 2008.

Her house remains standing, enveloped by the shopping complexes. Deanna and I went to go visit before leaving Seattle since its future is uncertain. It didn’t remind us at all of a Pixar movie and we probably didn’t keep playing its soundtrack driving to and from the house.

A Eugene Emeralds Game

We went to see the Eugene Emeralds play last week, and it happened to be Portlandia night at PK Park. These were the uniforms of choice- plaid flannel inspired jerseys with skinny jean baseball pants. Plus the jersey numbers modeled after the white stag sign.

You’d think it would be hard to move about and play baseball in these duds, but the Emeralds pulled off the win. And this is why I love the minor leagues.

We went out to Belly for Deanna’s birthday dinner, and to top it off she found her gift after a long, totally emoji based scavenger hunt. Good job hun!

It’s dawning on me that this is very likely my last full year living in Eugene. Once I’m finished with grad school, I’ll be looking for a full-time job, one where I’d hope to work for a while.

We found our first geocache since getting married, and the big fat diamond was an appropriate find. Had to walk through some thick brush to get to this one.

Haven’t had very much time for fun and play the past couple of days, but I’m thinking that ends today.

Today marks one year since Deanna and I loaded up our car and moved into Eugene, not knowing a single person, not having a job for her.

I’d like to mention how far we’ve come, but it actually still feels like we’re just getting started. Moving at this point in our lives has brought its own set of challenges, but it’s been subtly rewarding at the same time. If anything, this will always be the place where we learn how to go from best friends to best friends who are married. And there are some really great views.

Of course, it’s still a year away. But it’s got me thinking and wondering a bit about what’s next… or more specifically where’s next. I find myself making a priority out of things I didn’t really before, like proximity to family, and things like a city’s coffee scene don’t quite matter as much.

It’s been fun to wonder about this, and it’s interesting to see which cities have been popping up on my radar. Just for kicks I decided to write out a little blog post about what I look for in a hometown, and which cities seem to fit each trait best.