Saturday, June 18, 2011

Newborn + Outdoor Lovers = Backyard Camping Trial

So my wife and I had a discussion the other day about our newborn son, Anson. To say the two of us enjoy the outdoors is an understatement, for sure, so when the topic of Anson's ability to go camping came up, we knew we needed to figure out a plan to get him outdoors for his first overnight camping trip- and soon.

We decided that although we're both good planners and we've yet to have a "bad" camping experience, or maybe because of those things, we needed to do a dry-run with the little one before heading out 50 miles from home only to find that it just wouldn't work. We settled on a spot very familiar to us and one that would lend itself to trial and error; our backyard!

One night after work I rushed home, picked up all the landmines from Jake & Graham that had accumulated in the grass, mowed the lawn short, and got the camping gear ready. I have a pretty good system in place for gathering camping gear, so after the yardwork was done I made quick work of setting up our campsite. We didn't need much; a tent, sleeping pads and bags, flashlights, our normal pillows from inside (just like car camping!), and the dog beds. After about 30 minutes or so the camp was ready for business, and just in time too as the sun was quickly setting. We tried our best to simulate the real camping experience we'd soon have with Anson by setting a few rules:

1- Anson cannot go inside the house until at least 7 a.m.
2- Neither parent can go inside the house to do anything but retrieve forgotten items (like extra clothes or water) or use the restroom.
3- The dogs must stay outside until 7 a.m. also, but they should be vigorously exercised before getting in the tent.
4- If these rules are broken, the camping trip will be considered a failure and we will not go camping until a backyard overnight is successfully completed.

Knowing what we had at stake, Claire & I prepared for the night by thinking about how to do things a little differently in a tent than we'd been doing in our home for the previous two months. For starters, breast feeding wouldn't be as easy because Claire would be doing it with a headlamp on. Secondly, she wouldn't have the luxury of having a headboard to lean against while sitting up with Anson, either. For both Claire & I there was the lack of separation between the little one and the dogs, and finally there was the dilemma of clothing for Anson. How do you ensure that a baby stays warm enough on a camping trip?

That question was answered soon enough by this superb find at a local thrift store:

As you can see it's far too big. We paid $4 for it. No one complained.

After making sure we had everything; diapers, diaper covers, wipes, extra rags for spit-up, extra cothes for all, water bottles, camera, and all the above-mentioned items, we headed out the door of our house and into the wild expanse of our backyard. A quick four seconds later (BEST HIKE EVER!) we arrived at camp and plodded into the tent.

The dogs found their side of the sleeping area and Claire & I laid Anson between us on the other side. He looked quite a bit like Ralphie from A Christmas Story in his little snow suit but not one of us in that tent cared, so long as he was sleeping. I'm happy to report that Anson did splendidly in his temporary bedroom and by 8 a.m. the next morning he'd only awaken twice to feed, and both times slept again quickly thereafter. Our campground became noisier and nosier as the sun rose, bringing with it the hustle and bustle of the neighborhood getting off to work and school. We didn't mind too much, though- we'd survived together in the tent and could now celebrate our successful camping trip!

Now the next question...where will we take Anson for his first real camping trip? Any ideas? I'd love to hear them. Write a comment below and leave a suggestion!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mountain Biking Goodness

Hanging out at the top of the ridge
So two of my buddies came along with me tonight for a mountain bike outing near Eugene and I've got to say; it was GREAT! I hadn't been out mountain biking for about 3 months so I was eager to get back on my Iron Horse (that's really the brand, I'm not joking) and head out into the wooded hills.

My friends Scott & Kohl have been outdoor enthusiasts for their whole lives and share my need to get out of town and explore all that makes Oregon so great. Today we drove a quick thirty minutes to a semi-secret spot and had a blast bombing down trails and huffing up hills. Graham dog and Jake dog both joined us as well. We parked the car at the trailhead about 6 p.m. or so and headed up, up, up to the top of the ridge where we were to ride. After about a mile, we came across a fresh clear-cut that offered our first vista, and with the sunshine-filled view came the wildflowers, wild irises being the most prevalent among them.

Wild Iris lining the road
On we continued, making quick motions along the singletrack trail and making sure not to run into the dogs as they weaved in and out amongst our tires. Jake tends to like being in the lead, but this usually proves problematic after about a mile or so when he tires slightly and slows down. Graham will happily fall in two or three deep and observe a tire at his nose and another at his tail. All that dog between all those moving wheels seems dangerous to the outside world, but we have all proven ourselves thus-far to be a fluid caravan. Thus-far.

Kohl learns how to water Jake & Graham
             The evening came on as we traveled, changing the light overhead slightly and gently reminding us that we'd have to come back down soon enough, destined for Eugene and our partners and families once more. We relished the ride, took plenty of breaks to witness the views and enjoyed one another's company. Around 7:30 p.m., after about 7 or 8 miles of riding, we called it a night and drove back to town. All said, a great ride with some great buddies.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

May recap and exciting news!

Well, it's been a long time since I've updated the blog and I apologize. I have been keeping very busy with work, home life, and the 5ks! I'll recap some highlights from the past month:

I am now up to about 40% completion on the 5k challenge! For those of you just joining check out the details of that challenge here. I began running in a different location for most of my runs at the beginning of May. Klamath Falls, OR is my layover city for work now, so I take that opportunity and make the most of it by running each day that I'm away from home. I also got a smartphone recently and began tracking my runs via a GPS app on my phone. It's been very nice to have here because I can take it along and know exactly how far I've ran at any given point. Since I don't know the town very well, I have been able to just start my run and not worry about how to make a loop that is an appropriate length. When I hit 1.5k on the distance meter, I simply turn around to head back to the hotel.

Klamath Falls is a medium-sized city on the eastern crest of the Cascades, about 200 miles from Eugene to the south and east. The elevation is about 4200' so it's usually colder than Eugene, but drier as well (which I am LOVING so far). There isn't a lot of outdoor recreation here other than hunting and fishing as the city is in a very agricultural area and flanked by the Upper Klamath Lake to the west.

Upper Klamath Lake as seen from my office
Klamath Falls has quite a railroading history, and to this day I would call it a railroad town, but I'm probably biased. One great thing the city and county have done is create the O, C & E Trail State Park. This rails-to-trails park starts near the current railyard and continues east and then north for 100 miles. The first 10 of that are paved and I've been taking full advantage of the park since my runs began down here. The trail is a nice wide (4'8 1/2", to be exact), paved path that is oh-so-level and makes for a quick 5k run.

Trail sign near the hotel

Also, I've been swimming a lot more in the last month (reason why in the next paragraph) than I ever have before. When I get the chance at home I go for a 1/2 mile swim at the gym (gasp!) with a coworker. The swimming, I have to say, is even more enjoyable than the runs because I don't get sore feet or knees from doing it!

One last piece of EXCITING NEWS: I'm pleased to tell you all that I recently signed up for the Eugene Triathlon which takes place August 28th! I'm going to do the short course, which is a .5 mile swim, followed by a 24 mile bike ride, and finally a 5k run. I'm VERY excited about the event and have used it to keep up my motivation for the 5k challenge, in addition to my all-around fitness goals. I'll fill you in on my workout schedule and progress next time, but for now I can tell you that I haven't been on a road bike to train- ever. I've got some work to do!

That's it for now...hope you all have a great day!