Saturday, June 6, 2009


It was a day of fit, sweaty young men in lycra.

Team Rio Grande of Boulder, Colorado, post race.Thursday night, it RAINED! Rain and wind, more rain and more wind. Odel and I were up early on Friday, talking about what we needed to do to make sure the bike trail was free of hazards for the bike racers, who would be coming through our section beginning around 10:45. Jump on the Gator and go look for trees or rocks on the trail? We also wondered where the race organizers were, since we had expected them Thursday afternoon.

Just then, a bike rider (recreational, not a racer) went zooming past. A-HA! How about if we ask a rider? We walked down our hill to the trail and started down towards the visitor center, where the bikers slow down, and saw two large trucks parked outside the locked gate - the race organizers with tents, cones, cameras, signs. We caught up with the rider as he turned to come back up the hill. He reported only one hazard, a rock, and said he would move it on his way back – thank you!

Bike Racer with a $5,000+ bike and a $400 helmet.  Serious stuff! The organizers were happy to see us, with keys to the gate. We let them in to set things up, and the day got underway, not yet 8 am. Ranger Matt arrived shortly, and we all watched the race organizers set up.

Everyone needed a parking pass to park a car in the lot, so we learned how to sell daily passes, annual passes, extra cars passes – cash, check and credit cards. Lots of little procedural details, but no matter what else Matt was doing, his first priority is greeting and interacting with the visitors. He is a listener (I admire that), not an interrupter or a monopolizer (I fear I stray into those areas). Learning the procedures will be easy – learning the history of the trail, details of this area, which restaurants to recommend, where the good hikes are, how far it is to The Dalles or to Cascade Locks, how to nicely ask a trail user to observe the leash law… all of that will take a little longer.

We came home at 2 pm, the official end of the visitor center hours, though Matt kept it open until the race ended. Around 3 pm, our official radio “beeped” – which sets off a round of slapstick-style alarm: “What’s that? The radio? Where is it? How do we answer it? Yikes! Yikes!” We’re improving, though – the first time it beeped, we looked at each other in shock, then stared at the radio laying on the passenger seat until Odel moved over to pick it up.

Odel with his ear protection in Micky Mouse mode. Ranger Matt was calling to ask if we could make sure the gate was locked after all the race people left. We also had a rattlesnake warning sign to post halfway along the trail, so we got on the Gator and headed up the trail. With all the wind and rain, we found lots of leaves, needles and twigs on the trail, so decided we might as well blow as we go. Odel got out to start up the blower and I caught him with his Mickey Mouse mode, wearing his hearing protectors in stand-by position.

Odel leaves for Memphis today, so I’m taking him to the Portland airport – an easy and pleasant 50 mile drive along the Columbia River – then “reporting for duty” at the visitor center. Life sure got busy all of the sudden!


  1. Hi Laurie
    We'll be sending you and Odel both lots of loving thoughts and virtual hugs this week..... guess I should include Luna in that too since I know she misses Odel when he is not there! Doug & JoAnn

  2. Laurie & Odel:
    It sounds as if you both are having a ball--we would love to meet you at some time down the road, we have a home in Montana--do you have any plans to travel this way this summer? We just purchased a new to us motorhome and enjoyed your blog about the pros and cons of motorhome versus fifth wheel. Mike & Janna

  3. What a fun and memorable opportunity for you two for a few months. I hope as Greg & I begin to travel more we can experience the something similar. BTW Ranger Odel looks so cute in his mickey mouse mode, great photo's with your intertaining stories Laurie, thanks so much for sharing.