Friday, June 28, 2013

The Heartland Beats On

In Minnesota, a woman asked where we were headed as she wrapped our sandwiches in butcher paper. "Oregon," we replied. "We live there." She then asked if she could come too, said she would lay quietly on the roof. Later in Sioux Falls, we asked what there was to see as we checked into our room. "Nothing really," said the woman at the front desk. "There's nothing here to see. Maybe the falls at sunset." Meanwhile, the same winds that blew us east across the prairie in March dared us to travel against them today. Meanwhile, a mother deer ran out from the grass in front of us. I remembered yesterday and hit the brakes. A long-legged fawn soon followed. Meanwhile, the Amish raised a barn in Wisconsin as we whizzed past. Life goes on, doesn't it? A mile a minute if you let it.

"There's nothing here to see," said the woman at the front desk, but still, after 9 hours in the car, we went out looking. Wouldn't you?

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Great Lake Michigan

Not every lake dreams to be an ocean. Blessed are the ones who are happy with whom they are. -Mehmet Murat ildan

The best part about long days on the asphalt is the gifts the road gives. Today a mother deer and her fawn darted across the road in front of us. A summer storm roared across Lake Michigan as we watched from the beach in our car, and Mo slept until 8:15 this morning. The road brims with magic.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Roadside Meanderings

Another awesome day on the Canadian highways... eagles, the Amish, one Great Lake (Huron), deer, a good laugh (see video below), and a picnic lunch on Lake Huron's shores. We're back in the United States tonight in America's 3rd oldest city- Sault (pronounced Soo) Ste. Marie where we watched a ship go through the Soo Locks, a pair of Locks that allows boats to travel between Lake Superior and the Lower Great Lakes. After that, we finished the day overlooking the water eating "whitefish from the Lake" and peanut butter fudge. And to think, we only went in for appetizers!

Lake Huron, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Me and my favorite 16 year old at Lake Huron 

Check out the video of Mo's visit to Huron today. She snuck under the guardrail when I wasn't looking, and I had to get her back before she fell down the 50 foot bank behind us. If you know Mo, or chocolate labs in general, you'll love this! 

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Bonjour from Canada! What a great first day- first and foremost, we got Mo across the border. ;-) Then, just outside of Montreal, we made a big left turn towards the west, our major direction for the next 3800 miles. We drove about three hours before hitting a storm so severe that we saw sparks fly as lightning bolts struck the ground around us. Our route, a beautiful road through the remote regions of Ontario, took us into North Bay where we ended the day with dinner on Trout Lake. Right before paying the bill, we saw a muskrat swimming for the docks. The locals said she lives under them. The sun turned the lake pink. Although my car points west, my mind drifts east for a moment towards Cambridge, and I think how awesome it is to take a chance on something because you never know where it may lead.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

It Ain't Maine Without A Lighthouse Picture

I've rolled out to sea on a downwind roar,
many a time to wash up on the same broken-down shore. 
 The lighthouse marks entry to a harbor of protection,
but this time I'm sailing in a different direction.

Yesterday I biked almost 25 miles along the Maine coastline stopping only for lighthouses, ice cream, and a lobster roll. I made up that little stanza above for fun during some of the long miles, but the truth is, if I had the chance in Maine, I'd drop sails and stay awhile. It seemed to me the kind of place you could find yourself anchored at the heart. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013


I was only here a week when the bombs exploded. I had traveled, cross country, to take a temporary job with Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts. Cambridge would be a halfway point between Vermont and New York, and it had been a long time since I had family in two directions. When I moved to Oregon in the late 90s, everyone I cared about lived in one direction and one direction only - east.

The Friday before the bombs, five days into my new job, a welcoming and friendly colleague asked if I wanted to meet her at the marathon to watch the runners. Typically, watching something like the Boston Marathon would have suited me perfectly, but that second week of April was spring break for Cambridge Public Schools and I already had plans to drive to Vermont to visit my aunts and uncle. "I can't," I said, "but have fun."

Less than 72 hours later, Boston exploded. Within the week, Boston, Cambridge, and the surrounding towns, including Waltham, where I now lived, were locked down. People had lost limbs; others life. All of Boston suffered. Not having TV where I was in Vermont, I tuned in by texts and online media. I pictured my dark, empty apartment that I hardly knew. I wondered if the neighborhood was awake with police sirens. Were my neighbors scared? I considered returning to Oregon.

The night before I was to go back to Waltham, my aunt asked, "How are you?" She knew I'd gone to work only five times; had barely a friend in the Boston area. "That whole place is hurting," I said. "How will I talk to anyone?" I couldn't imagine trying to relate to people I'd only met a handful of times about the terror they experienced in their city, and the pain associated with it. See, Boston wasn't mine to talk about - not to the people who lived there anyway. What did I know about their suffering? 

I called my partner. "Please come," I said.

The following day, the day after one suspect was killed and the other captured, my partner flew in from Oregon and I drove from Vermont. I think it's fair to say the trip was a bit surreal, but also inspiring. A city that faced horror for a week remained true to its 18th century roots and stood united and proud before the world. Boston Strong signs hung on bridges and in people's windows. MassDOT changed their road signs from "Please Drive Slowly" and "Don't Text While Driving" to "Thank You Watertown" and "Thank you Boston." I came to understand that if my home town were attacked while I were away, I would want to return immediately. I would be proud to stand strong with my fellow Portlanders and claim our city, but to return to a grieving town where I'd lived for less than a week felt voyeuristic. 

I picked my partner up at the airport. We ordered Thai and drank wine at home. Talked about the bombings. Watertown is only a mile away; Copley Square just a few more. What happened to our neighborhood hung in the air like thick wet towels that you want to put away, but can't because they're dank and heavy, and still require attention. After awhile, we simply went to bed to escape the heaviness that hung over all of Greater Boston.

Not one to be plagued by clouds for long, I woke the next day with renewed spirit. I lived here now, and would for the next three months. My partner would be here off and on during that time as well. We knew we hurt differently than our neighbors, but still, we grieved with them and for them, as did the country. We're in this together, we realized. We're all Boston Strong. 

Later that day, we went to the wildlife refuge for balance. The air still hung heavy, but had the promise of drying in time.

At the refuge, we were reminded to take it slowly, 

that hiding in the reeds feels good sometimes,

but so does coming out from behind one's covering

to reveal a truer self

and soar.