Friday, July 17, 2009


Lots of action on our trail this weekend, starting today with the International Skateboard Competition’s grand slalom event down the big hill on the east end of the trail.

Laying out the skateboard course.Early yesterday evening, I fired up the Gator and headed out to blow debris off the trail. I planned to give the east slope a little special attention for the competition today – skateboarders really hate the sharp, small, gray rocks that blend so well with the color of the asphalt.

As I came through the tunnel and headed down the hill, I found the race organizers observing the track they had constructed with little orange cones. Their faces lit up when I showed up with the blower! They had just finished chalking the positions of the cones and were ready to pick ‘em up, planning to return at 6 am to reset the course. They were thrilled that I planned to make a double pass on the course to sweep it as clean as possible.

As I started slowly down the center of the trail, this was the scene: a lizard-thin, 30-something skateboarder with his head wrapped in a t-shirt (protection against the blazing sunshine) and smoking a cigarette rolled down the hill in front of me, picking up cones and stacking them in front of him on the skateboard. Every so often, when he couldn’t reach high enough to stack another cone, he would lift the stack off the board and set it to the side of the trail.

As the other guys walked down the hill, they picked up the stacks of cones, and we all got to the bottom of the hill at the same time. Once the cones and skateboarders were gone, I made another couple of passes, then headed home on the mostly shaded trail, enjoying the views and long shadows.

Trailside view of the basalt cliffs.Did I mention the recent cougar sightings? In the last week, a cougar has been spotted crossing the trail twice, once in the morning and once around 5:30 pm. No chance of seeing the cougar when driving the gator, though – unless he or she is totally DEAF!

It would be difficult to imagine a better volunteer job than this one. The hours are easy, and reasonably flexible (other than staffing the visitor center 10 am to 2 pm); the rangers are friendly, appreciative, and helpful; the visitors are interesting and energetic. We have a fabulous site, we are close to an enjoyable town in a beautiful setting, and only an hour’s drive – all of it gorgeous – to an unusually interesting major city.

In spite of ALL that, we have “hitch itch” – we are itching to get going! We plan to spend the rest of the summer traveling in the Pacific Northwest, but the desire to get moving has spilled over into planning for next year – and it looks like we might do the big eastern loop.

We’ve spent the majority of our travel time west of the Mississippi – neither of us has been to the northeast or the southeast. Assuming no unexpected health problems, family emergencies, or huge increases in fuel prices, we’re getting excited about visiting places we’ve never been, seeing sights so different from those in the western US. The atlas is getting a workout these days. :)


  1. I can sure identify with your "hitch-itch." This sitting at home for over 6 months every year is a total drag. When we're traveling, 2 to 3 weeks in one spot is waaaaay long enough for me & then it's time to move on. Ohhhhh how I wish we were on the move full time like the rest of you guys!!!! AL.

  2. Yes, Laurie, hitch-itch is a BIG problem when still working and not yet retired. Maybe that is why I read your blog every day. Actually, as I was reading your glowing report about Hood River and Portland, (where my daughter lives) I had some thoughts regarding your love of travel. Sure enough, the next few sentences cleared that right up!

  3. I hope your 2010 travel plans include visiting your relatives that live east of the Mississippi!


  4. I agree with Aunt Donna! The longer we live here, the more we realize there are some pretty fantastic things in southwestern Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee!
    We'd love to see you in Cincinnati!
    Joy & Greg