Wednesday, April 29, 2009

from the oregonian

portland drivers may face new fee

Driving is expensive.

Portland fee?

I love how the comments on the articles quickly revert to the "why don't they tax the bike riders like they tax us?" argument.

Because people should be given every incentive possible not to rely on their cars so much.

april 28th

yesterday I walked to work in pretty steady rain. again, my jacket kept me completely dry, so it wasn't a bad experience. at the store, I worked on a couple projects in down time, including trying to gain some order in our back stock room, which had fallen into severe disarray. I was rewarded by finding a chest full of hidden treasure buried deep under a pile of clothes. a cooler full of BEER! I hung around for half an hour after closing the doors and celebrated my discovery before heading out. With my newly invigorated beer muscles, and the motivation of getting back to the house in time to catch the second half of the blazers playoff game; I power walked home, and shaved nearly 10 minutes of my previous fastest time. Again, I was rewarded for my efforts, and got to catch their VICTORY.

april 27th

7.2 miles
307.56 miles cumulative
12.3024 total gallons saved

Monday, April 27, 2009

beast of burden

this morning I got up and walked to the pet store to get the cats some litter. I grabbed a 40 pound bag, shouldered it, and walked home. A little later, I walked down to new seasons and grabbed two bags full of groceries to make today's meals.

I spent most of the rest of the day reading/watching/listening to the news about the swine flu.

I'm glad I had the flu last week and not this week. Without health insurance, that could have been unnerving!

april 27th

5.92 miles
300.36 miles cumulative
12.0144 total gallons saved

Saturday, April 25, 2009

dog mountain

Today I went for my first real hike of the year. I walked 2.1 miles to a friends house, and then we went into the Columbia river gorge to hike to the summit of Dog Mountain and back. We started the hike at river level in southern Washington, and immediately began the steep ascent. There were a fair number of people on the trail, but as we climbed to higher elevations, the crowd began to taper off. At the trail head, cold winds were whipping off the Columbia, and although once we got into the trees, the conditions improved, they quickly deteriorated again as we gained some elevation. Over the last mile of the hike before reaching the summit, the trail breaks out of the trees, and without their protection, we experienced some pretty extreme winds, and at times were steadily pelted with hail. The visibility was poor at best. At times, it was difficult to see more than 30 yards or so due to heavy fog/cloud cover. Still, despite not being able to see the far off views of the gorge and the distant mountain peaks, the conditions provided a unique and enjoyable atmosphere to the trail. After reaching the summit, we chose to take a more steep descending trail than the one we took up; which completed a loop to the trail head. The first mile of the descent was similar to the last mile of the climb, in that we weren't sheltered from the elements; leaving us to deal with considerable winds and precipitation. Once we hit the tree line, things improved again, and we had a pretty easy time returning to river level. On the way back, we alternated between walking on flatter or more technical parts of the trail, and running down the steeper portions. My mr790's really got to shine on the trail running portions. It was hard to call the second half of the trip "hiking", as it felt more like controlled falling, but the constant battle against gravity and momentum proved to be quite a strain none the less. After we returned to the car, we stopped at the walking man brewery in Stevenson for lunch and beer before returning home.

this is from the first clearing. we started at river level, and by the time we reached the summit, had climbed about twice as high as we were at this vantage point.

the forest was really moist from precipitation, snow melt, and fog. there were a lot of neat mosses and lichens on the trail from start to finish.

these plants all pointed towards the sun and could have been mistaken for dead if it were not for the dense buds that tipped each.

this is just as we climbed out of the trees. the fog immediately enveloped us, and got thicker as we climbed higher.

this is the "view" from the summit. Despite the top mile of the trail being exposed, the summit is protected by a small grouping of trees. It was a nice reward to get out the high winds and hail for a few minutes. If the fog hadn't been so thick, this would have been a great view of the Columbia river gorge, with Oregon and Mt. Hood towering over it in the background. Still, the fog was neat to climb in. Every step was a surprise because you could never see far enough to know what laid ahead.

here is a photo of me at the summit. The trail appears to continue climbing from this vantage point, but the end of the trail was a few yards further from this grouping of trees.

taken just below the summit.

on the decent, a break in the fog allowed a brief view of the gorge.

Friday, April 24, 2009

walking with wood

Yesterday, I walked to get a haircut and back. I was going to walk to the post office to get my passport photos taken, but it turned out that I missed the time cut-off for photo services there. Instead, I walked to home depot to get some supplies I needed for the store. While I was there, I saw that the price on some boards that I needed for the garage was really low. 3.5 miles is quite a way to carry two 8ft pieces of lumber, but I wanted to see how I'd manage, so I took the challenge. I quickly found that the easiest way to do it was to stack the boards, one on top of the other, and balance them on my shoulder, using one hand to steady them and hold them in place. I had to switch shoulders a couple of times because the constant pressure got a little sore on the bone after i used one side for two long; but overall, it wasn't too bad.

april 23rd

10.4 miles
294.44 miles cumulative
11.7776 total gallons saved

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

april 21st

Yesterday I walked to the bank, and post office with my wife on the way in to walking her to work. From there, I walked to the grocery store, and then home. I walked the dog just under a mile in the mid afternoon, and then walked back to the store to walk my wife home again. We stopped at the grocery store again on the way.

I've been sick the last few days, and on the way home I got really light headed. Being sick really impacted my walking over the last couple of days. Normally, when the weather is this nice, I'm inspired to go on long walks. Lately I've been walking everywhere I need to go, but more out of duty than enjoyment. I hope another day or two of rest will snap me out of it.

april 21st

15.2 miles
284.04 miles cumulative
11.3608 total gallons saved

Saturday, April 18, 2009

more walking, plus a good story from the oregonian

Yesterday, I walked to work and on the way back, I made a few extra stops. The weather was nice. It was good to be out in.

I just read this in the Oregonian:


My year without a car

by Trudy Hussmann, guest opinion
Saturday April 18, 2009, 3:21 PM

For 40 years, I took it for granted that I would always own a car. How else would I get to work, shopping, and social events? Over the decades, I moved up the vehicular ranks from a used VW Beetle to a used BMW.

My run of car ownership ended on April 21, 2008, when I wrecked the BMW by accidentally running a red light. Luck was not with me that cold and rainy evening. A car coming through the intersection broadsided the Beemer, sealing its fate. Fortunately, I and the other party came through relatively unscathed.

As I absorbed the full impact of the crash over the next several days, a decision formed in my mind: I would not get another car. The accident, the approach of summer, and the high gas prices created the perfect opportunity to try going carless.

I had already been bicycling the three miles to work sporadically; this just gave me an extra incentive. And since I live within reasonable walking distance of four bus lines and about a mile from the nearest MAX station, I had plenty of other options to fall back on.

I was pretty sure I could bike to work through the summer. The warm, dry weather made it easy. I enjoyed cruising through the back streets of the Irvington neighborhood, my skirt fluttering in the breeze. Often, I noticed things that made me smile -- like the chickens and the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig at Northeast 18th and Tillamook. I arrived at work feeling invigorated and returned home feeling relaxed.

At the end of six months, when the rainy season set in, I dared myself to continue biking over the winter. By then my investments had shrunk like wool in a hot washer, giving me one more reason not to invest in another car.

I discovered that, when outfitted for rain, it really wasn't so bad riding in it. In fact, I found it enlivening to be out in the elements. And I felt a greater appreciation for my warm, dry house after biking home from work in cold, wet darkness.

On the worst days, I took the bus, and when the snowstorms hit and the buses quit running, I simply walked to the office.

A year later, I'm still biking and busing and still not ready to buy a car. I know I can hold out until the economy is solidly in recovery, which might be another year. Meanwhile, I'm saving money I'd otherwise spend on gas, insurance, repairs and parking, not to mention a car payment.

The biggest surprise is how relatively easy it has been to make this transition. I feel fortunate to have so many transportation options close by. I know that's not true for everyone. But even if I bought a car now, I would still drive less and ride more. It makes me feel like a kid again.

Trudy Hussmann lives in Northeast Portland"

I'm certainly not the only one.

april 17th

8 miles
268.82 miles cumulative
10.7528 total gallons saved

Friday, April 17, 2009

false alarm!

Yesterday I planned to hang out around the house and do yard work, so I could be outside, get some sun, but still give my foot a bit of a break; but as the day went on, the pain and stiffness really began to subside. As a result, I took a chance, and decided to go for a short walk at night; and I don't feel any worse for it. The weather was really nice and a warm and still, so I walked down hawthorne, over to division, and then back home, having a drink at two bars along the way with our roommate. I'm going to walk to work the next few days, and then I'll have the beginning of next week off, when the weather is supposed to be pretty nice. I hope to do a more challenging walk then.

april 16th

3.86 miles
260.82 miles cumulative
10.4328 total gallons saved

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

gear review: thorlo vs. darn tough vs. wrightsock

Inspired by my last 32 mile walk in cotton tube socks, and the suffering that it resulted in, I bought a couple pairs of new socks to try on my walks:

Thorlo medium cushioning walking socks

Darn Tough Micro-crew cushion
(charcoal, coolmax)

Wrightsock dual layer walking sock

It's worth noting that I've never paid more than a few dollars for a PACK of socks, so the idea of paying $15 for a single pair was a bit alien to me.

First, I read online reviews of "the best socks for long distance walking" on google, and I found some somewhat biased sounding reviews for Thorlo socks. Still, I set out to find a good deal on a pair.

I ended up at Oregon Mountain Community; which I found did not carry thorlo's. I described my needs to the salesperson, and she recommended the Darn Tough socks to me. I bought them, encouraged by the unconditional lifetime warranty, and have been very pleased with the two times that I wore them. I felt like they did a good job of wicking away sweat and keeping my feet dry, and I was very happy with the extra padding where I needed it most, and the thinner construction where extra material wasn't necessary. Still, I wanted to try the thorlo's after reading so much about them.

I later went to joe's sports, for their going out of business sale. With a little research, I realized that the discounts they were offering in their liquidation only brought their prices down to being comparable with OMC's normal prices, so I only bought socks there. They had thorlo medium cushion walking socks, which I thought sounded about right for my application. I wore these once, on one of my shorter walking days, and found that they not only created more sweat on my feet than the other socks that they promised these would out perform, but they also were way too bulky in places that bulk wasn't required. I later read on the thorlo website that they suggest you wear thorlo socks when you try on new shoes, to ensure the proper fit, but I'm unsatisfied with that order. I buy shoes first. I think a good quality sock should do it's job and still fit in my normal shoe. I shouldn't have to have a special pair of bigger shoes to fit my special socks. Anyway, on the one walk I took these socks on, I felt like my right big toe was very stiff, and not being allowed to move properly inside my shoe with each step. A little stiffness is normal, due to a past injury, but the bulk of the sock made what is usually a barely noticeable stiffness, into something significantly more annoying. When I got home, I felt OK; but later, after I went to sleep, I experienced significant pain and swelling around that toe, which sounds like a possible second metatarsal phalangeal joint fracture. This would be in line with the restriction caused by the extra material in the sock.

I also bought the wrightsock dual layer walking sock while I was at joe's. This was by far the thinnest out of the three socks, and possibly the most comfortable and best wicking out of the three pairs I tried out. I didn't get a chance to take these on too long of a walk to see how the lack of padding would rate these socks over the other two, but in my immediate trial, I was very pleased.

In the end, I'd say I'll probably end up saving my thorlo socks for a future, larger fitting pair of hiking boots or something, due to the extra thickness. I'd also probably save them for cooler weather, since I found them to create extra unneeded warmth around my feet in this spring weather. For everyday walking, under my normal shoes, in spring temps, they were too bulky and warm compared to the other socks.

The darn tough socks were very comfortable, gave me extra padding where I needed it, but didn't feel too bulky due to a good design that eliminated extra fabric where I didn't need it. I will wear these often, and feel good about doing so with the warranty that came with them.

As for the wrightsocks, I think these socks are very promising, and I was impressed with how cool and comfortable they were over the distance I tried them in. I'm also optimistic about the dual layer technology and the blister free promise they offer. We'll see how they do after my foot heals.

second metatarsal phalangeal joint sprain/fracture

I got my first more serious walking related injury yesterday. I walked to work and back, and everything felt fine, except the joint where my right big toe meets the ball of my foot was a bit stiff, which is pretty normal for me, since I think I broke that toe and never received medical attention for it, about 4 years ago.

I actually made it to and from work in my fastest times yet.

After I went to sleep my foot began to swell up, and I woke up in the middle of the night in a considerable amount of pain. I took 600mg of ibuprofen, but it still wasn't enough to let me get back to sleep, so I elevated the foot more and watched TV until sunrise.

Because I'm a small business owner in a shitty economy, I obviously have fantastic insurance and plenty of extra money lying around to blow on medical expenses. Except the exact opposite of that.

So I self diagnosed myself by googling "pain and swelling where big toe meets ball of foot", and found a very informative website that lists sports injuries, how they're caused, and what you should do for them. The basic description of the symptoms were described under second metatarsal phalangeal joint sprain, but the description warned that if I experienced swelling across the top of the foot, and pain on the bottom, (which I do) it may be a stress fracture of the same joint.

Fortunately, treatment is the same for both injuries. Just keep it elevated, ice it or use hot compresses, bind it so it doesn't bend, and take aspirin. Without x-rays, I should find out if it's just bruised (when it stops hurting in a couple of days), sprained (when it stops hurting in a week or two), or fractured (where it will stop hurting in 4-6 weeks).

My fingers are crossed that it's just weird bruising.

As it is, it's very difficult to walk, drive a car, or even put on a shoe without a good deal of difficulty and pain.

I'm eager to get out and walk, especially with all the good weather we have coming up in the forecast.

april 14th

7.2 miles
256.96 miles cumulative
10.2784 total gallons saved

Saturday, April 11, 2009

new gear, less clutter, more miles

I had a pretty busy day on foot today. When I woke up, I was greeted by three hungry cats, and their empty bag of food. I haven't had to go get pet food since I stopped relying on my car, so it was my first try at carrying it back to the house. I walked down to hawthorne pet supply, got a 30 pound bag of food, threw it over my shoulder, and carried it back to the house. I was fresh with energy after the night's rest, and it was a breeze. It was just under a mile each way.

As soon as I returned (and fed the cats), I walked to a friends house, where I met my wife, who was returning the friend's car there. From the house, I walked her to work, and then continued on to Oregon Mountain Community, where I got some new walking gear.

I got a pair of darn tough socks. I was impressed my the feel of the padding, the recommendation of the sales person after I described my needs, and the fact that they come with an unconditional lifetime warranty. That's one pair of socks that I will own for the rest of my life. I'll write a review of the socks when I've had a chance to really put them to work, but I have them on now, and they feel great.

I also got a pair of ex officio boxer briefs. I bought these after reading several reviews online. They sounded exactly like what I wanted. I changed into them when I got home, and they are extremely comfortable, light weight, and they breath and wick as well as promised. They were also on sale, so the it was definitely a great purchase.

Finally, I got the north face paramount surplus shorts that I wanted. They were nearly half price, and they had the color I wanted; so I had to. They're very comfortable, super light, and I imagine they'll be very functional and will perform well on long hikes. Again, I'll write a review when I've had a chance to really test them, but so far, I'm really happy with the buy.

From OMC, I walked to the liquor store to get some vodka for easter brunch tomorrow, and then home. The loop was 8.95 miles.

After I got home and changed into my new gear, I loaded up a couple bags with clutter, and went down hawthorne to sell it off. From there I went to the grocery store and them home. That was another 2.96 miles.

Later in the day I did two real short walks. One with the dog (I haven't been keeping track of those, but I'll start) and one to get some beer. .67 and .5 miles.

april 11th

14.92 miles
249.76 miles cumulative
9.9904 total gallons saved

Friday, April 10, 2009

walking in the rain with a bowling ball

Yesterday I spent the whole day indoors doing accounting and graphic design stuff. Luckily, I had a great excuse to walk in the evening: a friend's engagement party with free bowling. The walk was 3 miles from the house. It was raining a bit, so I got to put my new marmot jacket to good use. Carrying a bowling ball that far isn't too bad (I had it in a bowling bag), but it's still pretty awkward and certainly funny looking. After the party, I dropped the ball off at the store, since it was nearby, and walked home in the rain. It began coming down pretty hard, so I had a chance to try out the hood, and make all the various fit adjustments to get the thing fitting snug.

The Verdict: I love this jacket. I stayed completely dry underneath, both from the rain, and because of the great wicking and breathablility of the gortex paclite shell. Great purchase.

Along the lines of new gear, there are a couple of things I want to get pretty soon for my life on foot.

I definitely want to get a better pair of shorts. I need something lighter that breathes better than the shorts I have now. I like these. For hiking/athletic clothing, they certainly could be uglier, and they get great reviews:

North Face Paramount Surplus Shorts

I'd also really like to get some better socks. I've been using plain cheap tube socks, but they lack a lot of features that I'm coming to find that better socks come with. The worst part about them is they're cotton, which doesn't protect you from blistering very well. These are pretty sweet. I'd like to get a pair or two in the black and white combo:

Thorlo Experia Socks

Also, as much as I love my new balance MR790's, I'd like to get another pair of shoes for hiking. The MR790's are a great, super lightweight, low profile, trail racing shoe, but for hiking, or even long distance walking, I think I need a little more cushion and support. I'm not interested in hiking boots right now, since I need something a little more versatile, and for the summer at least, I really like hiking shoes that look and feel more like running shoes, so I'd like to get a pair of these to meet my needs:

North Face assailant GTX

Back to actual walking, I walked to work today, and will walk home afterword. Between last night and today, I've gone another 14.4 miles. Earlier in the week I walked to the grocery store and back, and failed to remember to keep track of it. That was another 2.2 miles round trip.

april 7th +9th + 10th

16.6 miles
234.84 miles cumulative
9.3936 total gallons saved

Monday, April 6, 2009

pushing the limits

Yesterday I set off in the morning to go on the longest walk I've ever been on. I walked about 32 miles non-stop. Because I had done days before where I had gone about 25, I thought this would be a challenge, but I also thought it would be pretty manageable because some of my previous walks would have prepared me for what was to come. I was wrong.

It was more challenging than I would have thought, both physically and psychologically.

Physically, on all the other marathon length days I've done, the walks were broken up into multiple trips over the course of the day. I had been under the impression that doing those walks over the course of one day would be roughly the same as covering that distance non-stop.

The first lesson I learned yesterday was how quickly your body can restart the clock if you let it. Doing four 6 mile walks, with an hour or so between them, is a lot easier than doing 24 straight, let alone 32. It makes sense, but I was really surprised by how much so. I could have given myself breaks along the way, but because of the distance I was trying to cover, I wanted to do it all at once, so I could return home by nightfall.

Psychologically it was a battle. In the past, because the miles have been more broken up, when my body started to feel the strain, I was comforted by the fact that home was never more than a few miles away. With this trip, I felt the strain and knew that home was 16 miles away. There were moments where I questioned if I was going to be able to make it. I knew no matter how bad things got, I could of course make it; but the challenge wasn't making it physically, it was not giving up first.

Other than the strain, by body held up fairly well. My feet and hands swelled up quite a bit. I had to loosen the lacing on my shoes, and my finger swelled up so tight I couldn't remove my wedding band had I tried. After about half of the walk was over, I began to chafe a little in my upper thighs. I walked through that pain, and got home OK, but upon inspection, two little patches looked like raw hamburger. It was excruciating to wash in the shower.

The absolute worst part wasn't the walk; it was what my body did when I finally stopped. When I got to the house, my muscles started to sieze up. Then this horrible chill came over me, and I started shaking uncontrollably for roughly 15 minutes. When I took my shoes off, my feet swelled more, and the rush of the fresh blood to them throbbed. I took a shower, some advil, and a strong beer, and I relaxed a bit and began to recover.

Meeting the challenge was very rewarding, but it was also very useful. I've learned what some of my limitations are right now, and what I need to do to overcome them next time. I think most of all I have to take a little better care of my feet. I think a cushioned insole, or at the very least, better socks, would have made it possible to extend my range considerably. I also finally want to invest in proper hiking underwear and shorts. There are a lot of great products out there that would do a much better job of wicking away sweat, breathing, and keeping me cool than the normal stuff I've been wearing. Without the chafing, I could have gone a lot further as well. Other than that, it's just a matter of mental conditioning. I think I already have it in me, physically, to walk 50 miles in a day, as long as my feet hold up, and the rest of my body is comfortable.

truth? division street

crossing the hawthorne bridge.

I eat humans. Union Station.

cherry's, bridge, willamette, convention center.

Union Station from the pedestrian bridge over the tracks.

Sauvie Island Bridge from the island side.

view of the island with Mt. Hood in the background.

the day before I walked to work and back. 7.2 miles.

april 4th + 5nd

39.2 miles
218.24 miles cumulative
8.7296 total gallons saved

Saturday, April 4, 2009

april 3rd

just went to work and back again yesterday, nothing interesting to report.

april 3nd

7.2 miles
179.04 miles cumulative
7.1616 total gallons saved

Friday, April 3, 2009


Yesterday I walked my wife to work in the morning, and then walked home. When I got back to the house, I picked up some old junk I didn't want anymore, and decided to walk to a place on belmont to try and sell it. I feel like I have way too much clutter in my life (and not enough cash!) so trading one for the other was a no brainer. Making a couple bucks was nice, but more than anything, it just feels good to come home and know that I've got one less useless thing (to me) sitting around taking up space. I'd really like to tackle the clutter here this summer. I've been compiling a mental list of things I'd like to get rid of (and a list of much more useful and functional things I might like to get with a bit of the money). I'd like to have a big yard sale once the weather gets a little nicer.

After the sale, I walked over to belmont station and picked up a couple beers and walked home.

april 2nd

12.32 miles
171.84 miles cumulative
6.8736 total gallons saved