Tuesday, June 30, 2009

this week

pat by the fire

pat causing trouble

flat top beer cans near our camp

my foot by the summit marker of Mt. Bachelor

the view from the summit. from left to right: south sister, middle sister, north sister, jefferson, broken top, and then just barely visible peaking out from the right side of broken top, Mt. Hood.

pat sliding down bachelor on his butt after we began our descent

since I've been back, I've stalled from posting my recent walking activities until I was caught up on the stuff that happened while I was away. now that I'm caught up on the trip, I'll finish getting caught up, and bring this blog to the present.

The first two days that I was back, I worked. I went sans car both times. 14.4 miles.

On Saturday, I went down to Bend to go to the 21st anniversary of the Deschute's brewery with my friend. We had 07 abyss, black butte XXI, and a couple dissidents. To get there, I rode with my hiking pack to my friends house, and then we drove down together. After the Deschutes event, we drove out into the woods in search of a suitable place to camp. Everywhere we went we were swarmed by mosquitos. Finally, (counter-intuitively enough) we found a reasonably mosquito free camp sight near the "swampy lakes" trailhead. Once we set up camp, we sat around and drank too much, like we usually do. The next morning, I rose early, feeling pretty good. I walked around the area we camped, scoping everything out, and took pictures of some old beer cans we found near by. The cans were of the "flat top" variety, which required a church key to open. Flat tops were the first design ever used to can beer, and were in use from 1933 until 1970. These cans were too rusted to determine the manufacturer or age, but knowing they were between 76 and 39 years old made them a pretty neat find. I felt like a descendant in a long line of beer drinking campers to use that sight. It felt good to know that at least in some parts of the world, not much had changed.

After we broke down camp and left, we decided to go for a little hike; and by "a little" I mean summitting Mt. Bachelor off-trail. We spent several hours climbing the mountain. For the most part, the terrain was pretty easy to navigate. It was pretty steep for climbing with an empty stomach, a hangover, and shoes that had the tread worn smooth, but we made it none the less. After reaching the summit, we ran/glisaded/slid on our butts down the resort side, and then hied back around to the car. All and all, a lot of fun, and certainly a good work out.

After returning to town, I got back on my bike and rode home.

For the purpose of my mileage data, I'm only including the bike riding towards fuel savings, as it was the only part where I saved myself from driving.

18.8 miles
622.82 miles cumulative
24.9128 total gallons saved

playing catch-up EUROPE part 3

The train station in Koln

I think this roughly translates to "ass fart"

german party people

Santa in the back is backup on spoons!

river surfing in the english garden

"work will set you free" Dachau

The Munich 6

The last leg of our trip was Munich Germany. It took a looong time to get there. Although I knew rail was a better option environmentally, all other aspects of the trip would have been nicer in a plane. First, we backtracked in a train to Kortrijk, and then continued on to Brussels. In Brussels, we booked the next leg of our trip. We were traveling on a dime, so we went with the cheapest option, which was good for two reasons: 1) the trip itself cost the least of the presented options, and 2) it was an overnight train in a sleeper car, so we saved ourselves from paying an extra night in a hotel. We had to switch trains once we arrived in Koln Germany. The wait for the first train to Koln was over 4 hours. In that time we found an adapter to charge my phone, and hung out in various fast food places, poaching their electricity, and trying to avoid getting pick pocketed. The train ride was fine, and about 2 hours. In Koln, we had another 2 hour layover. The sleeper car was interesting to say the least. Our tickets were printed in Belgium in Dutch, so we didn't understand that we had assigned bunks. The German attendant was pretty impatient with us, which made this leg of the trip a little stressful. At first, we found a sleeper car that was completely vacant, this was after eveyone else boarded and found their rooms, so we thought we had scored big time. Then the attendant came, looked at our tickets and said "can't you read?!?", she walked us down to our assigned room, forced the door open, kicked two smelly half naked guys out of our bunks, telling them they were supposed to be up top, and forced us into the recently vacated spots. The car was very cramped, smelled of farts, and an empty beer bottle rolled around all night, smacking into things and keeping me awake a good portion of the evening, until I was able to locate it in the dark and arrest its movement.

When we arrived in Munich, we walked about half a mile with all of our things to Hotel Uhland, wedged on a quiet road between Marienplatz and the grounds where they hold Oktoberfest each year. It was 8am, and the earliest we could check in was noon, so we walked for the next 4 hours, exploring Munich for the first time. We checked out the grounds of Oktoberfest, and I picked up a bunch of old bottle caps to keep as souveniers. Then we walked into Marienplatz, and saw a few of the breweries, including the Hofbrauhaus. Since it was Sunday, most of the businesses were closed in town, so we didn't see or do very much interesting. The highlight of our morning stroll was when two young guys came walking up to us, shouting first in German, then in English, for us to take pictures of them. They were shirtless and barefoot, and wanted us to have a picture of them to take home with us, saying "take a picture of some german party people!" in a perfect hanz and franz accent. I of course, obliged them.

We rested the remainder of the afternoon, and then at 6:00, met up with a bunch of other tourist to take the "beer challenge" tour of Munich. We started at the Hofbrau beer garden in the english gardens, and learned the famous German drinking song "Ein Prosit!". Beers were served in mas glasses, which are a liter each. The details of the rest of the evening are cloudy.

The next day was spent touring the city a bit more with my wife's brother and his wife. We walked a good portion of the day, and then rented bikes for the rest. It was dumping rain the entire time, but we still had a good time.

The following day we did a lot less walking. We took trains and a bus to Dachau, the first and longest operating concentration camp in Germany. We watched a film about the camp when we arrived, and then took a 3 hour guided tour around the grounds. After we finished up, soaked to the bone, we returned to Munich, dried our clothes, and went back out to Marienplatz for drinks and diner. We walked a bit from restaurant to bar, and finally arrived back at the hotel later that night, in time to start packing and getting ready for the trip home the next morning.

In Munich, we drank in the following breweries: Spaten, Lowenbrau, Hofbrauhaus, Augustiner, Ayinger, and perhaps one or two others I dont recall from the "beer challenge"...

Total Munich mileage that I have a clear recollection of: 16.52

16.52 miles
604.02 miles cumulative
24.1608 total gallons saved

Monday, June 29, 2009

playing catch up EUROPE part 2

on the walk from poperinge to the westvleteren brewery

entering westvleteren

westvleteren 12 and hommelpaptart

on the road to helleketel

cafe helleketel - "the witches cauldron"

the sign outside Noel Cuvilier

wally singing elvis tunes at Wally's Farm

an antique horse drawn hop sprayer on wally's farm

The next part of our trip to Europe was one that I had arranged, since we were going to be nearby in France anyway.

I think my wife and I concur, that it turned out to be a great experience, and possible the best part of the trip.

From our hotel in Paris, we hopped on a bus with all of our luggage and went to the train station. From the train station we took high speed rail (200mph!) to Lille France, where we booked the next leg of the trip, on another train, to Kortrijk Belgium. From Kortrijk, we hopped one last train into the tiny town of Poperinge, our final destination.

One thing I was really impressed with while traveling was how much Europe seems to have embraced green technology compared to us in the US, even places like Portland, which has US street cred for sustainability. First, the intricate web of rail (including high speed) all over europe makes long distance mass transit a normal part of everyday life, and it's vastly superior to traveling by air; in most cases for the traveler, but in all cases when it comes to sustainability. Also, I noticed from the train that the parts of Europe I traveled in had lots of windfarms, a solar all over everything. Much more than I've seen here. I don't know if the routes the trains took showed me an exagerated view, but what I did see was impressive.

Anyway, once we arrived in Poperinge, we walked with all of our stuff to our hotel and checked in. From the hotel, we immediately hiked north to In de Vrede and the westvleteren brewery, the cause for our trip to such a remote part of Belgium. The walk was great, we walked through the edge of town, and then out into agricultural land, mostly used for growing hops! Eventually, we made our way out to In De Vrede, to drink the highest rated beer of all time. And it was that good. We also tried some delicious foods, including a hommelpaptart; a delicious piece of dessert, flavored with hops, and served with ice cream and whipped cream. Amazing! From In De Vrede, we returned to Poperinge the way we had come. The rest of the evening was spent near the hotel, trying more beers and eating the local foods. Great day. 8.9 miles.

The next day we checked out of our hotel and into another one down the street. After we were situated, we checked out a farmers market in the town square, had another beer or two and some food in a cafe there, and then headed west into the countryside once again. The first stop we made was Cafe Helleketel. A small pub in the middle of agricultural land. As far as the eye could see in all directions were hops and barley. We weren't sure if it was open, but the top portion of the heavy wooden door opened, and an older women beckoned us to come in. We did, and she closed (and locked!) the door behind us. The interior was old, and of stained wood and decades old portrayals of witches! We learned the Helleketel means the witch cauldron, and that our host was "the witch". Regardless, she was quite jolly, and took pride in serving us her house beers. From Helleketel, we made our way to the St. Bernardus brewery. The brewery was closed, as was the bed and breakfast they own next door, but the front door was unlocked, so we let ourselves in and helped ourselves to a free mini tour. The grounds were very beautiful, and I'd definitely consider staying there if we were to visit west flanders again. From St. Bernardus, we then walked to another bar, whose name I can't recall, then south over the border into France (a short cut!) and then east back into Belgium to Noel Cuvillier, a bottle shop I had read about online. What I didn't know was that the "bottle shop" was literally a barn on an active farm, that just happened to be full of beer. It was pretty surreal! We loaded up about 40 pounds of beer into my bag, and then hiked back out of the farm, into france and then back into belgium once again, before making our next stop; one that would prove to be the most interesting of the trip; Wally's Farm!

As with almost everything else we saw in the region, Wally's was surrounded by farmland, and infact, his own property was mostly agricultural (hops and barley). We walked down the driveway to his farmhouse, and were first greeted by rows of towering hops and a 15 foot tall replica of the statue of liberty. We walked down the hop rows, and over to the entrance to a large farm house. Every square inch of the inside was devoted to Elvis Presley! We ordered some beer and food and eventually Wally himself came out to work the crowd. Later, he took the stage and sang us 50's rock tunes. We tried to leave since we were still several miles from the hotel, it was getting dark, and we had all that beer to carry, but Wally insisted we stay and "let" him buy us beer so he could take us on a private tour of his hop museum later. As enticing as that was, we were still hesitant, but he promised to drive us home as well, so we couldn't refuse. I'm so glad we didn't. He bought us beers for the rest of the night, then showed us an amazing collection of hop growing artifacts that had been passed down through his family for over 100 years, and then as promised, drove us back to our hotel, safe and sound. What a great guy!

The next morning we were off to Munich.

20.75 miles
587.38 miles cumulative
23.4952 total gallons saved

playing catch-up - EUROPE part 1

arc de triomphe

on the grounds of the Louvre

notre dame

the eiffel tower

the columns of the pantheon

the groom with his groomsmen, the reason we were in Europe

I haven't written on this blog in quite some time. I was away in Europe, and didn't have reliable internet access. I'm going to try to catch up a little today.

The first part of the trip was Paris. I could write so much about the trip, but I intend to make a more comprehensive site devoted to it, so I'm going to just stick to the walking stuff here.

Our first full day in Paris, my wife and I saw a lot on foot. From our hotel, we walked to the Arc de Triomphe (built in the 1830's, napolean's body passed under it on the way to his final resting place/hitlers troops marched through it and up champs elyses when they took paris), from there we walked through the grounds of the Louvre (not in, we didn't have a week of spare time), then over to notre dame, which we did tour the inside of, then south to the jardins de luxembourg, and then finally over to the eiffel tower, back through the arc, and then home. Also mised in was a trip to horses tavern, a great beer bar south of notre dame, and Brasserie Lipp, another great beer bar in the same area. 10.73 miles.

The second day we walked in a lot of the same areas, but to see different things. It ended up being a bit shorter, but not by much. We walked over to see the Pantheon, then south to academie de la biere, then back to our place. 9.8 miles.

The rest of the trip in Paris had minimal walking. Not enough to add up really. The best part about the trip was that everywhere we went was either on foot or on public transportation. No rental cars here.

After a few days in Paris, plus a day south of paris for the wedding, we were off to Belgium, which I'll write about next.

20.53 miles
566.63 miles cumulative
22.6652 total gallons saved

Sunday, June 7, 2009

backpacking twin lakes

this weekend I went backpacking on Mt. Hood with my friend. Our initial intention was to hike along the timberline trail and set up camp when we got tired, and then hike back out the next day. Once we were up there we realized that the zig zag river might be flowing too high to comfortably cross because of the snow melt, so we ended up taking a much easier hike up to upper twin lake. My pack was about 30 pounds, but it had little effect on me. This hike made me realize that my pack just isn't big enough though. For anything longer than a day, or anything that would require more gear, there's just not enough space. More on that later.

After finding a suitable space to set up camp that was free from snow, we started the difficult task of starting a fire in a forest soggy with fog and snow. Once the fire was going, we drank a few beers that I had carried with me, and relaxed. It was nice camping around so much snow. We were able to put our beer and food in it to keep everything fresh and cool.

While out looking for wood, I found fresh bear droppings a few yards from camp. It seemed like animals were pretty comfortable in the area right now because no one is camping up there this early.

I also lost my wedding ring. We looked for it for a few hours, but it turns out it had fallen off with one of my gloves, and luckily I found it in the morning light. Losing it would have been crushing.

When we initially set up the tent, we didn't stake it to the ground. It also had a sleeping bag in it, and the wind wasn't strong, so we thought it would be fine. Turns out we were wrong. A sudden gust came through camp, picked up the tent, and it went tumbling towards the fire. Luckily pat sprung into action and caught it a split second before it rolled in. We staked it after that. I was about to take a photo of camp before it happened, so I caught the moment as it was about to happen.

After drinking and eating, and finally retiring to the tent, Pat woke up in the middle of the night to the sound of something rumaging through our camp. He tried to wake me, but I was in a deep slumber, so I can only recount his story second hand. He said he was concerned about it being a bear since we had seen the droppings, and had food in the snow. When he unzipped the tent to look outside he saw two big glowing eyes reflecting the light from the fire. The beast had found our hot dogs and a whole brick of smoked cheddar cheese we left in the snow. It turns out it was a DEER. Pat clapped his hands and the deer walked off a few yards, but afterwards it immediately returned and walked off with our food. We found the empty packages in the morning. I would never had thought a deer would eat hot dogs and cheese, but this one did.

In the morning we put out the fire by piling snow on top of it, then packed up our gear and hiked out. On the way to the truck, I found a newt crossing the path.

After returning to Portland, I sold my truck!

Later I went and got myself a new pack.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

After my last post, I went for an 8.2 mile walk before going to bed that night. The following day I rode to work, then back to a friends house, and finally over to belmont station and back. Today I went bike riding with my wife for her birthday. We rode to breakfast and then to the rose garden in the west hills. After we returned to the east side, I rode to pick up her birthday presents, and met her back at our friends house. From there I rode home.

37.32 miles
546.1 miles cumulative
21.844 total gallons saved