Saturday, June 13, 2009


I just got a phone call from Odel – the last leg of his return flight is ready to board, so I’ll pick him up at the airport this evening.  He sounded SO ready to be home!

Ranger Matt is giving us the day off tomorrow – a really nice treat, especially since it means one of the seasonal rangers will need to staff the visitor center.  Odel and I will have a three day weekend together, sharing our oh-so-different experiences of the past week (very unusual for us, since we are normally together 24/7).  After he catches up on missed sleep, we plan to get out on a couple of nearby hikes – Odel said he got exactly zero exercise while in Memphis.

View from the overlook on Twin Tunnels trail While Odel was gone, I began working on a biking habit (I took this photo from my favorite viewpoint on the trail).  From Scoopy, it is a 45 minute ride to the west end of the tunnels on our trail, with plenty of climbing.  If I am on the trail by 8 am, I can shower and eat breakfast before I need to open the visitor center. 

Part of our job is to be a “presence” on the trail, and I like bike patrolling much better than taking the loud Gator.  With Odel back home, I hope to do this west-side ride twice a day, or to ride the entire trail once a day.  That last mile, through the tunnels and down the big descent to the east trailhead is fast – eye-watering fast – going down, but I climb back up very, very slowly.

Kites and surfers on the Columbia RiverBesides biking, kite boarding and windsurfing are the big summer sports here, with the much-easier-to-learn kite boarding (see the colorful, curved kites in the air?) edging out windsurfing.  Driving down the hill on a trip to the grocery store yesterday, I caught glimpses of colorful kites soaring above the water, so made a quick right turn for a trip down to the river’s edge to watch the action. 

The poor guy in the corner of this photo, a windsurfer, was in the water far more than he was on the board.  He’d struggle upright, catch the next gust of wind, lose his balance and splash back into the river.  He gets points for persistence, though!

I can’t believe I have worked in the visitor center for only 5 days while Odel has been gone – it feels like so much longer (shows how long it was been since I learned something new).  I’m comfortable staffing it alone (on a typically slow day), but I would rather be outdoors, patrolling or blowing the trail, picking up litter, weeding.  We staff the visitor center Wednesday-Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm; Odel and I plan to split the shift so we each are indoors just a couple of hours. 

Fundraising Ride sponsored by Friends of the Columbia Gorge

This is the scene that greeted me when I walked down the hill to “work” today: tents, bikes, and lycra-clad riders milling around, grabbing muffins, fruit and water to replenish their energy.  I arrived at 10 am – these bikers had already ridden 25 miles. 

Our visitor center was the midway turn-around point for today’s Friends of the Columbia Gorge’s fundraising fun ride.  Close to 500 bikers participated, so the visitor center was busy all day.  None of the riders (from the Portland area, mostly) I talked with had ever been on our fabulous stretch of trail!

So the good thing was that we (me, Ranger Matt and Ranger Chris) were busy dealing with a happy and interested crowd.  The bad thing is that I was $5 short in my reconciliation of our revenue today (sales of day passes, annual passes, t-shirts and hats).  I’m a too-the-penny type so, though Matt didn’t seem too bothered, it sure bugged me!  Either $5 blew away in the gusts that swept through the visitor center every so often, or I undercharged someone.  :(

Oh, man – the phone just rang.  Odel is sitting in his plane on the tarmac in Dallas, 40 minutes after their takeoff time; the plane needs some servicing.  He started his day in the airport at 7 am PDT; he was originally scheduled to be touching down in Portland at 5:30, half an hour from now.  Our unexpected day off tomorrow will be incredibly welcome.


  1. Hi Laurie & Odel

    Gosh what a wonderful "work"-camping experience. I was wondering how you found this position? Do you subscribe to Workcamping or something. You always seem to find such GREAT places to workcamp!

    Paul Weaver

  2. Paul, we don't subscribe to any workamping sites or newsletters - although we might if we wanted more "jobs". This is the first time we have taken an "official" volunteer position, and we pursued it because we had seen the host site two years ago when we visited Hood River and took a ride on this bike trail. There are very few places to stay with a big rig near Hood River, so this intrigued us. We'll see how we feel about workamping at the end of two months.

    The garden-sitting job we had two years ago in Canby, Oregon, was the result of a posting on the Boomer Bulletin Board (the Boomers being the sub-group of Escapees that we belong to) on the internet - a Boomer couple looking for garden-sitters for 3 weeks. Our ranch-sitting job in Arizona... well, we met the couple that owns the ranch through my cousin.

    One thing I have noticed about full-timing: the longer you do it, the more people you meet. The more connections you have, the more opportunities are revealed. I believe it would be pretty easy for us to stay busy with volunteering in return for sites if we had the desire to do so.

  3. Hi Laurie, it is always a pleasure to read your blog, the pictures always look nice and the way you express yourself, it's just like I was there with you while you are describing something. Looks like you have stumbled onto something that will keep you busy and entertained for the next couple of months, I look forward to reading about your next adventure.

    Hugs, Sharon & Ron