This morning was the first of the Odyssey that required an alarm. The extra sleep was perhaps beckoned by my calves, which are still absolutely burning from yesterday’s adventure for some reason. Or maybe I did ballet lifts in my sleep last night. Either one is plausible.
I set out this morning for my longest drive yet: the trek from Seaside to Mt. Hood. My morning began by dropping over $40 on snow-ready equipment (namely tire chains and “get-out-of-the-snow-salt-stuff”) that I didn’t end up using at all. I’m definitely in the “better safe than sorry” camp, though, so no regrets were had.
Most of the drive was beautiful and there was literally no traffic – not that there would be in the middle on March on a Wednesday in western Oregon, but still. Being from Southern California, this is a serious point of culture shock to me.
The below photos are terrible, but I don’t feel like I’ve posted enough dangerously taken photographs of my distractingly beautiful drives while here, ya know?
But remember what I said yesterday about it taking forever to get places here because you’ll eventually have to stop for something beautiful/funky/interesting? Well, I thought this morning that I would be able to satisfy my craving for kangaroo jerky. The minute I woke up, I knew I needed some and I secretly hoped I would find a kangaroo jerky peddler on my way to the Mountain. My hopes were dashed when I found a store that not only sold kangaroo jerky, but my other favorite, alligator jerky – but was CLOSED! Needless to say, I’m still recovering from the devastation.
The drive up the mountain on Highway 26 gradually introduces snow into the landscape beautifully. I was bummed that Mirror Lake was closed (no luck from November till end of April, sadly), but continued on up and was still wowed, particularly when I passed this mini-valley of snow that opened up on each side of the road. Again, picture’s terrible, but I’m still alive:
The one downfall of traveling alone is not having a personal photo-taker who a) can do this for you while driving and b) is generally a far superior photographer to you.
After reaching the Main Parking lot of Mt. Hood Meadows, I got situated with my rental gear (extremely easy process, by the way – I have to give a special shout-out to the Meadows staff for being awesome) and began my ski activities like any safety-conscious, risk-aware adult who skis once, maybe twice a year would: by starting out on the Blue Lower Face lift. FYI, this serves mostly-black diamond skiiers with hints of blue squares and a charity green circle towards the end. I felt pretty confident for the first 2 minutes until while mid-pizza down Ridge Run, a ski went bye-bye. The ski then decided to go off about 20 feet downhill from me. Fabulous. Mind you, it was snowing and visibility was getting poorer by the minute. At my first attempt to single-ski my way over, I ended up falling more downhill. At this point, I looked great and felt even better. “Come on, I can do this”, I thought. After reuniting with the ski, I converted the hill into my own private sledding party and made my way down the hill to flatter ground. It only took about 10 minutes for me to get my other ski on, much to other skiier/snowboarder amusement. I finally got it on and proceeded to find my way into off-limits ski areas galore (what IS it with me and getting into random areas?!), before finally making it back onto Beaver Tail. The rest of the run went smoothly, if you can call it that. Let’s just say I packed the equivalent of 200+ squats into my thighs with that first one thanks to my continuous “pizzaing” down 80% of the run.
Ego interlude: I mean, honestly guys, I’m NOT a terrible skiier. I skiied when I was little, took a break for snowboarding from 10-23, quit snowboarding because falling hurts, and then went back to skiing this year. The last time I went skiing, I was doing blues and occasionally diamonds by the end of the day. Key word: END of the day. I’m capable, it just happens slowly, dang it. Ego interlude complete.
Amazingly enough, after sticking to the Daisy and Easy Rider lifts, I found myself snapping right back to my “warmed up” level and enjoyed myself immensely. It finally became freezing around 3:00, so I did my last run and headed out to my hotel.
It took me about 30 minutes to land at my Welches, OR stopping point for the night, The Resort at the Mountain. I had book it pretty unassumingly, as I just needed a decent (and decently-priced) crash pad for the evening after a day in the snow. My, was I surprised! This place has a cute, refurbished mid-century modern/rustic northwest look and is a neat little spot.
I spent a couple of hours touring the nearby grounds, including the empty golf courses. The Foxglove course was particularly nice, and even offered a giant, random rock to climb on, which I totally did.
What was so cool about this place was that everywhere I went led to another mini-adventure in its own. While I started with the golf courses, the courses led to a creek.
The creek led to trails.
The trails led to more tree-lined streets with gorgeous homes of lucky people. But first, I found deer!
I ended my journey by stopping at another nearby golf course to swing on the swing set while listening to music. As I looked out, I could see the vast green of the courses, the massive wall of green and white that was the mountains, and the lush forestry in between. The air smelled like a mixture between grass and a campfire. I could feel how fresh the air was on my skin. I was honestly the only human being out there at that moment, and I truly felt like I owned the world.
I returned to my room refreshed and ready for an early night.
If we’re giving themes to these days, I’d have to say that today taught me about tranquility. Whether it was during my mid-storm mountain debacle or my smooth-running bound through the forest, a tranquil state of mind is what made me feel the best. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a whole lot of beauty today, and I’ll never discount that. My eyes are smiling and thankful for what they’ve been given, and the world is all the more gorgeous to me now.
So, what does tomorrow bring? It’s a weird one. Oddly enough, tomorrow is the only night that I have no set plans and no lodging prepared. But I still have two full days here in Oregon that are in my hands, and I intend to make the most of them. What tomorrow brings may be a mystery, but I know the outcome will be amazing regarless.
Man, I’ve pretty much spoiled the thought of the day, haven’t I? Oh well, here it goes anyway…
Thought of the day: Despite everything that’s happening at any given moment, it’s a beautiful world out there. The beauty you seek could be right around the corner, so don’t be afraid to explore for it.