Sunday, August 5, 2012

Death Hike Around the Three Sisters

This is going to be quite a long post, but mostly just long in terms of pictures (23), so please bear with me. Last Wednesday David and I started out on what we thought would be a 5-day, 50 mile hike around Oregon's Three Sister mountains, the third, fourth and fifth highest peaks in Oregon. We bought packs, a tent, sleeping mats and bags, a water purifier, etc. When all loaded down my pack weighed in at about 28 lbs, and David carried about 35. Not minimal by any means, but we met a guy on the trail with at least 50 lbs!! Here's David, loaded down:

Unfortunately when we finally caught sight of the first mountain, they weren't quite as big as we expected. David touched the top without even breaking a sweat.

At first I was really worried about running across a bear. Fortunately, that never happened, but we did see quite a few of these in the mud, which looked suspiciously like bear footprints.

After a while we did run into snow. At first it was just cute, little patches. I especially liked where they created little bridges across streams. So cute!

But when the patches started getting bigger - so big the obscured the trail, we were really, REALLY glad we had a GPS. We lost the trail on many occasions, but were always able to find it again with GPS.

On day two we turned a corner and suddenly ran into this spectacular view:

This a series of lakes called Green Lakes. We were curious about the name, since they are so clearly blue, until we got closer. The water was very green, and so clear you could see down to the bottom all the way in the middle of the lake.

At some point on day two I decided there were already plenty of pictures of David, so I mugged with the mountain:

Creeks and waterfalls were very common along the trail. Oregon is supremely breathtaking. I feel incredibly lucky to live here.

On day three we wound around to the west side of the mountains and our trail met up with the PCT for a while. For those of you who aren't familiar with this, the Pacific Crest Trail runs from Mexico to Canada all along the west coast. I recently read a FABULOUS book ("Wild") about a girl who walks most of it.

Halfway through day three we were feeling some pain. When you are carrying that much weight, going up and down over sloshy snow, miles of sand and everything from tiny marble sized rocks to boulders, your muscles can get a little cranky, and your toes get downright mad. By this point, David could barely muster a smile.

We stopped at this scenic spot to filter more water and rest our feet:

We even soaked our feet a bit, but since this was pure snow melt, we couldn't keep them in for more than about 5 seconds at a time.

Day 3 was a long one. We ended up hiking quite a bit further than expected, mostly because we couldn't find a flat enough spot without snow to pitch our tent. By my estimates we hiked 15 miles that day. At the end, when my feet felt like bloody stumps inside my boots, I said, "I don't care where we stop, but we're stopping NOW!" So we pitched our tent right beside the snow. When we weren't hiking we spent all our time in the tent, because as soon as we stopped walking, especially in the evening, we were swarmed by mosquitoes. This next picture shows just how small our tent is. It's amazing we still love each other.

On the fourth day we decided to try and make it back to the car, since there were only about 16 miles left, even though we had originally planned to be out one more day, and even though we had two passes to traverse before we were done. The first pass, called Opie Dilldock Pass (what a name!) was absolutely the toughest part of the trip. We marched up a looooong series of switchbacks over bits and pieces of volcanic rock. Honestly I just looked right down at the ground and trudged until it was over.

But the view from the top made it all worthwhile!

Later we came to a treacherous bit of trail where we were expected to skirt along near the top of this snow bank. Every step brought us closer to sliding, so we did the only rational thing - we sat down and slid on purpose. It was the highlight of our whole trip!!! Here's David starting his slide:

 And here he is again near the bottom. Our butts eventually dried.

I didn't get a lot of pictures after this because I was too busy hurting! I had one thing on my mind and that was getting out early enough to drive to Sisters and eat a burger!

David took this last picture of us with his iphone, right before we reached the car. You can see we're not doing too well. Right now we can't imagine ever doing this again!!! But, we will eventually forget the pain. And we learned some things that we'll do differently next time. One, be in better shape before we go. Two, don't go so fast. Because as hard as it was, it was a great trip, and we hope to go on a death march every year from now on, and maybe, someday, bring Jacob.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cannon Beach

The teensy weensy rock you see to the left of my head (well, the bigger of the two) is the big haystack rock at Cannon Beach, arguably one of the most beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast. Though the rock looks teensy in the picture, up close it's like a mountain!

We had a lovely time, even though it rained off and on. We had a lovely adventure this morning at Cape Lookout. We drove up to a cliff and spent an hour zig-zagging our way down to a pristine, little stretch of beach with gazillions of beautiful, round rocks. Two very curious seals eyed us the whole time we perused, from the safety of the water. Then I had to haul my new rocks back up the cliff. Ugh.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Eugene Half

This past Sunday I ran the Eugene half marathon with my buddy Sarah, along with about 6,000 others! We trained for 3 months ahead of time, and are probably now in the best shape of our lives. Unfortunately there weren't a lot of pictures taken, but here is a kind of silly one while we're running and waving to Sarah's 2-yr-old daughter, Ellie, who's father took the picture:

And here we are after the race, wearing our "finisher" medals. We weren't in it to win - some crazy person ran this (that's 13.1 miles) in just over 1 hour!!! - but we did manage to beat our goal. Sarah left me in the dust halfway through and was still in good spirits at the end - what a trooper! I fell apart a little toward the end with various hurts. But I finished AND managed it under two hours, so I'm happy with that.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Taking a Break

In my efforts to revive my joy for painting I have been pursuing other creative endeavors. These are things I've always wanted to do but could never make time for. Now I realize I HAVE to make time for these other things to retain my sanity.

Of course I am rather practical in what I make, so my first thought was - who can I make what for? So my first project was a stuffed "monster" for my son. This was my second try. The first was awkward. Apparently there is a learning curve for all new things. Duh. This was a good thing for me to realize. It humbled me a bit and refocused me on why I am taking this break.

My stepdaughter, Maddie, found a very cool fabric store here in Eugene (Piece by Piece) with all kinds of to-die-for fabrics. It is generally for quilting, which is something I am looking into. I wanted to practice first with some easier piecing projects, and so for my second project I put together this bag for carrying groceries (or whatever). It is a gift (shhh). I used a very thin kind of foam (made just for this) to stiffen the sides and bottom.

This next one is also a gift (shhh - it's a good thing these 2 don't check my blog). I found a general pattern online for this one that is modeled after a plastic grocery bag.

Next I wanted to practice stitching over my pieced together squares, so I figured potholders would be a good way to go. I am finding the fabrics to be like a kind of palette of colors. And I need so much more. Screw that limited palette!

Meanwhile I am also putting together some earrings.

And in my spare time I made a few pillows.

April Fools! Well, all but the pillows I really made. Thanks for taking the time to look. : )

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring ... Winter Wonderland?

This morning we woke up to 8 inches of snow here in Eugene!! I flew in from Texas just in time (any later and I wouldn't have been able to get home). Below was our view down the street.

It was a good excuse to stay home all day, not that we could help it. We lounged in the hot tub, took a walk around the neighborhood in our Muk boots (fabulous!), saw lots of downed trees and branches, but generally took it easy and laid off of work. What a fabulous day!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Creative Endeavors

After we released ArtBytes on Wednesday I decided to take a little break and do some things I've been dying to do but couldn't justify before. This stuff is just for me. Or rather, will serve as gifts at some point, probably, but for now I am simply having fun and enjoying a nice break.

A couple of nice folks sent me a whole slew of beading stuff after the fire - to help replace all that I lost. There's some great stuff in here - thanks you guys!! To start I made two simple pairs of earrings for myself. Can you see a pattern? Is someone obsessed with green and polka-dots?

Next I made some little monsters from FIMO clay, which can be baked. My son is my primary motivation here. I can see him having a whole collection eventually. I have included a view of the backs, where you can again see my obsession with polka-dots coming out.

I've also made some necklace charms that I'm very happy with, but I am waiting to string them on chord before I photograph them. Thanks for letting me share!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another tripod option

My buddy James Coulter posted today about a still life stand he got recently that is much cheaper than my tripod. He says he spent $80 on it. So if you're looking for a cheaper alternative to what I posted the other night, this could be it. I'll post a link on my other blog too.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Shadow Box & Tripod

I've been meaning and promising to do this for a LONG time. After the fire I had to figure out a replacement for my tripod and shadowbox. I couldn't find the same tripod I had so I researched a new one that was possibly even MORE hefty and stable than the one I had before, but also had the same range of height (I want to be able to look at my stuff from above or straight on - eye level, and anything in between). I found this fabulous, beautiful tripod (below).

I ordered it from Stakemill online, here. It is made in Germany so you know it's well-built. The only downside is - it's expensive! $339, and that doesn't include shipping. But it works like a champ. It's easier to raise and lower than my old one - it has a nifty little crank. Here is all the pertinent info.

Ok, so onto the shadow box. Many have asked if my husband (the mastermind behind the box) is willing to make and sell these. I have asked many times and his answer is always no. Sorry. I figured pictures and instructions were the next best thing, so here ya go!

The idea behind the shadowbox is to control the light on my subject, and mounting it on a tripod gives me the ability to get any angle easily. The first step is to buy the parts. We used mostly PVC because it is lightweight. The diameter of the longer parts is 3/4". You'll want to buy these first corner pieces to fit 3/4". Get 8 of each of these first two pieces - you'll then screw them together to make 8 of what's in the second picture.

The eight assembled corner pieces are shown in this next picture on the left, along with the other two lengths of 3/4" PVC you'll need. Cut eight 20" pieces and four 24" pieces.

Next you'll want to fit all 8 corner pieces to each end of the longer pieces (as shown below). You don't need to use glue. It holds together just fine with friction.

Then fit all the pieces together to form a cube with the 4 longer pieces forming the width of the cube. Then let your 6-yr-old pretend the cube is solid and he is trapped inside (this is a very important step).

This is where my new shadowbox is better than the one I had before. This is a platform that sits under my box, that keeps the thin bottom piece from bending - it basically keeps everything stable without adding a lot of weight. Take my word for it. The bottom part is 1/8" thick and 18" square. The placement of the 10" lengths aren't super important. There are a couple of inches wide. The hole in the middle fits the metal threaded piece that sticks out from the top of my tripod.

So then you sent this whole thing on top of the tripod and screw a big nut on so it stays.

This is what it looks like on top of the tripod.

Next you're going to need four little screws ... what's that, about an inch long?

You're going to use these screws to attach this next piece (1/8") of plywood to the platform you just attached to the top of the tripod. It is 23 7/8" by 20 2/8". The location of the screws isn't terribly important, as long as they go through the 10" lenths. You are going to want to drill two little holes (about 1/4" in diameter) in each corner and one along each side. The exact location doesn't matter.

This is what this piece looks like attached, from below (below).

Next you'll need a bunch of these 8 (or so) inch cable ties, aka quick locks. They don't have to be white.

You'll want to thread a quick lock through each of the little holes on the edges of the plywood, then around the PVC, and lock. It's easier if you get someone to help you with this part since you'll have to hold the PVC cube in mid-air for just a little while until you get enough of the quick locks in. HINT: don't tighten any of them all the way at first. You are going to end up kind of suspending the cube around the wood, and you want all the ties to be evenly tight/loose.

Next comes the back piece, which I suppose isn't entirely necessary. I like it because I often use smaller sheets of paper as backgrounds and I can lean this against the back. This piece is going to be 23 7/8" by 22 7/8" - same 1/8" plywood, with 2 little holes at each corner and one along each side. Do the same routine with the quick locks. You may note I didn't do the quick locks at the bottom, middle of the back piece and back, middle of the bottom piece. I had them before and they got in the way, and I decided I had enough stability with all the others.

I went ahead and cut off all the ends of the quick locks to make it neater.

Lastly, in order to control that light like we talked about, I drape fabric over the whole thing. I like to use white first so my shadows come alive (try black to see what I mean). Then black over that because my overhead light would come right through only white.

I clamp the corners so the fabric stays on. And I pull down the fabric on the front if I need less of my overhead light shining in there.

This is all sturdy enough to clamp a light directly to the PVC, and this is what I've been doing for months. However, I had it attached to a tripod before and I found it was more flexible. I admit I bought an extra long goose neck (from B&H photo) and a special little clamp dealy to attach that to the tripod. I got the lamp head from Wal-Mart.

I'm very happy with this setup. If you have any questions please ask them as a comment to this post. I'm sure I've left some things out and everyone would like to hear the questions. I will leave my answers also as comments. Thanks!