Tucson, Work and Pleasure

During the first week of February for the past four years, I've made a trip to Tucson for my job.  The trip has usually made for a nice break from Portland winter weather, it has always filled with long days of fun but dirty work,  and it's a guaranteed good time with my boss/friend.  This year was no different except that this year I was sick as a dog for the entire trip.  My apologies to my boss/friend who put up with my sneezing, sniffling, coughing, and groaning all week long, and then suffered through all of those symptoms herself when we got back to Portland.  That mess aside, we had a successful trip work-wise, ate great food, and stayed in a a very cool (and probably haunted) old building.



In my "back in the blogging saddle" post from several months back, I mentioned that I won't spend another birthday alone if I have anything to say about it.  The thing is, I pretty much always have something to say about it, as I did on my birthday in 2017 that ended up being lonelier than I anticipated.  I planned a day full of good things on my own and encouraged Barry to go on a fun work-related trip that couldn't be scheduled for any other time.  When I realized on the day of my birthday that I would have preferred company to being by myself, I could have reached out to friends and asked them to tag along with me to all the fun stops I made that day.  I could have, but I didn't.  I rarely (okay, never) reach out to friends for impromptu hang outs.  But the memory of how lonely I felt that birthday along with a conversation that I had with Elizabeth, my friend for over thirty years, about reaching out (or failing to do so) to friends to connect in person have me thinking a lot about the time I spend alone and the habits I've developed that result in me being alone more often that I want to be.

Don't get me wrong - I do love spending time on my own.  I've gone on and on about that in the past, and I had one of the absolute best weekends ever a few months ago, completely solo.  But sometimes I'd like a companion with me when I do those things that I often do on my own.  Like when I go shopping for plants.  Or when I stop by a craft show.  Or when I go to the park on a hot, sunny day.  Not big plan-ahead things, just regular hanging out type stuff.  And sometimes I'd like a companion when I want do the things that, partially for safety's sake, I'm not always comfortable doing by myself.  While I've contemplated doing it many times, I've never gone backpacking alone.  I won't go on long hikes alone where the chances are good that I might not run into other hikers.  And I'd often prefer to have a friend with me when I go mountain biking instead of going alone.  Those are the things that I often do with Barry, or that Barry and I do with other friends.  But they're not things that I typically do without Barry.  And to be honest, I feel pretty lame about that.

I have lots of excuses for why I haven't reached out to friends for impromptu get-togethers or for more plan-ahead activities:

I don't have a cell phone, so calling or texting someone to arrange something on the fly isn't possible.  I often can't easily get in touch with someone to say, "What are you doing right now?  Want to meet me somewhere soon?"  I also can't be part of group texts which (I gather from my friends) keep people connected in ways that I just can't be a part of.

I have non-traditional weekends, so planning a weekend camping or backpacking trip with most of my friends isn't possible unless somebody takes a day off of work.

I think that because I do like to be alone a lot, I've given the impression to some of my friends that I only like to do things on my own.  I don't reach out to them, they don't reach out to me, and so goes the cycle.

So that's where I'm at.  Trying to figure out how to make the leap into doing fewer things alone.  Suggestions?  Experiences to share?  I'm all ears.


Three Months Later (This is Becoming a Habit)

I'll be bummed when, in a year or two or ten, I look back at my blog to check what I was up to at this particular time in my life and find that I hadn't been posting here consistently.  I blame it on the fact that I don't like to take my camera with me when I'm out having fun because I think it will be in the way, and no photos = no posts.  I don't want future Suzy to be bummed, so I'm going to catch up a bit now just like I did several months ago.  And then maybe I'll get back on track with posting here regularly again, or maybe I won't.  But at least I'll be able to remind myself of these past few months, which have been pretty damn good.

Back in October, while Barry was out of town with his coworkers, I spent a ridiculously fabulous weekend on my own: mountain biking at Sandy Ridge, getting a massage in Hood River, having a Black Irish at Double Mountain and a burger at Sixth Street, staying at my favorite hotel on the Columbia River, making jewelry for hours in the hotel room while looking out over the river, soaking in the hotel hot tub, and mountain biking again at Eightmile Loop, one of my favorite of the 44 Trails.  The weather was perfect, it was wonderfully self-indulgent to do what I wanted when I wanted, and it was a huge confidence booster to strike out on my own on my bike for a couple days.

Several weeks later, Barry took me on my first ride on Surveyor's Ridge, which proved to me that my mountain bike climbing skills have improved since I started biking a couple year ago... and that they still have a ways to go.  The weather was great and the views were phenomenal.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, Barry and I bolted out of work on Wednesday for a quick drive trip to Hood River, dinner and beers at Pfreim, a night at our go-to getaway, and a quick, icy, Thanksgiving Day ride on Eightmile.  Back in Portland less than 24 hours later, we had a meal of sardines, anchovies, radicchio salad, cheese, olives, and bread for our Thanksgiving dinner, inspired by a fantastic meal at Sardine Head (thanks for the recommendation, Anna and Brian).  We made the best of our one-day holiday, but I was and am troubled about how hard it is for us to take time off and get away to see our families at holiday time.  It feels like forever since we've been able to do that, and that weighs heavily on me.

In early December, we had our first days of the season of skiing (Barry) and snowboarding (me) out on Mount Hood.  (Side note: I wish there was a phrase like "snow riding" that could be used for both sports.)  It's my second season on the board and I was just starting to feel comfortable being back at it when I had a pretty bad crash.  I was taken down the mountain strapped onto a sled by ski patrol after Barry called me out for for being stubborn while attempting to get down the mountain on my own with a badly hurt leg (stubborn and stupid, I admit it).  I thought my ego might be hurt more than my body, but it turned out that I'd injured my knee pretty badly.  While my knee is still not quite right several weeks later, I have been able to get back on the board.  I had serious anxiety/upset stomach/a few tears in anticipation of snowboarding again after my crash, but after few days back at it I think I'm good again.

We took our annual walk on New Year's Day, over the Broadway Bridge, around NE Portland, and to Broder Nord for a wonderful breakfast.  That long, cold walk is the only thing I have serious photographic evidence of, so I'll leave you with that.  And by you I mean myself.  Hey, future Suzy!


Weekend Ride

I never take a camera with me when I go mountain biking, so I asked Barry if I could borrow his phone to snap a quick photo of the view of the Columbia River Gorge that we had while biking this weekend.  There'd been blah weather in Portland, so we headed east and to the side of the Gorge that always seems sunny.  I had an awesome time on a trail I'd never been on before (a trail that was more my speed than Barry's, but with such good views that I think he didn't mind).  Lunch at Everybody's Brewing, a drive home through the Gorge with non-stop stunning sights, and a perfectly relaxing evening at home capped off the mellow weekend that I needed.


The View from 42: Around South Sister, Day Three

On the morning of our third and final day of making our way around South Sister, I woke up feeling satisfied with the prior day's long hike and feeling high on what a great birthday I'd had.  We quickly packed up camp and got out on the trail early since we had 15 miles ahead of us... and birthday presents waiting to be opened back at home.  There wasn't a ton of elevation gain to deal with so the hike wasn't too strenuous.  But it did go on and on, through more beautiful fields, past the Green Lakes, over idyllic streams, and finally through a dramatic burn zone.  There were big high fives when we found our way back to the trailhead and there were quickly-devoured burgers in the town of Sisters.  How happy we were that we didn't turn back after our wrong turn on day one.

up and at 'em

such a pretty trail along a beautiful stream

making our way to green lakes

miles through burned forest


The View from 42: Around South Sister, Day Two

As we thought (and really hoped) would be the case, Barry and I woke up refreshed and excited to continue on our hike around South Sister even though we'd been set back a bit the day prior.  Plus, it was my birthday!  Pushing on to see more of what we knew would be fantastic sights just seemed to be the right thing to do, even if we had to make up for lost ground.  We hung out at Camp Lake for a bit, I opened a sweet birthday card from Barry (I like a thoughtfully written card more than any other gift), and then we started off with a couple miles of backcountry hiking followed by miles upon miles of trail with varied scenery.  Brace yourself if you intend to scroll through photos below... we saw a LOT on day two of our hike.  Barry's favorite part was the uncharted scrambles we did through rock fields.  My favorites were the high open meadows full of fall color and peaks all around.  Over the course of the day, Barry worked on his plan of wishing me a happy 42nd birthday forty-two times.  We were giddy with the solitude and beauty that surrounded us, and eventually we were beat.  Another long day of hiking had us limping a bit as we finally arrived at Moraine Lake.  It was such a relief to reach that destination: to be back on track and to arrive at the spot at which we'd intended to camp on the second night of our trip, to be able to soak our tired, aching feet in cold water, and to toast my birthday with a beer that Barry had stashed in his pack before we left.  It turned out to be the best birthday I've had in a long time.

birthday morning at camp lake

from the lake to a backcountry hike through rocky terrain

back on the trail

meadows lined with obsidian piles

finally!  moraine lake comes into sight