I'm leaving Oakridge in a few short hours, voyaging first to Portland and then on to Santiago, Chile and beyond, to Patagonia for a backpacking adventure. I've been up all night doing last minute preparations, and now at 4 am I am finally basically ready to go. My pack waits next to me, and the snow continues to fall outside during an unusually cold and snowy night here in Oakridge.
I wrote a letter about talking about what I've been up to a couple of weeks ago when Natty was here with the good intention of sending it out in paper form before I left. But as often happens with me, time flew by and I didn't get it in the mail, so at Natty's suggestion I'm going to post it here on the blog for you all to check out if you like.
I'll post as often as I can along the way as my adventure unfolds. Tune in every so often as there should be some interesting tales to come.
My letter follows:
January 9, 2008
Greetings from the Snowy Northwest,
As the snow falls outside McKenzie’s and Danielle’s cabin here in Crescent, Oregon, my friend Natty and I are inside drinking orange juice snow slushies and staying warm by the fire. We have been looking forward to seeing each other, as we have grown to be close friends and she left to attend the Women’s History Masters Program at Sarah Lawrence College in New York last fall.
I have been working at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile for a over two years now, (http://mtnmercantile.blogspot.com & www.mtnmercantile.com) and things are good. We sell all types of outdoor equipment; bikes, skis, clothing, cast iron cookware, and camping stuff. Located on Highway 58, and being the only outdoor shop in Oakridge or for many miles in any direction, we meet all types of people doing all kinds of interesting things. I often tend the shop by myself, stoking the woodstove, answering questions, fixing bikes and skis, and generally helping people find ways to enjoy the outdoors near Oakridge.
On my days off I have been enjoying the wonderful outdoor opportunities all around Oakridge. Mountain biking and skiing are perennial (doesn’t this mean all year long?)favorite activities, but I like to ride around on my unicycle, swim in the many streams and lakes nearby, and play ping pong too.
Last year I attended Central Oregon Community College during the fall term, and Lane Community College during the spring term. I studied writing, Spanish, geography, and website design. I contemplated returning to continue my studies this fall at Lane Community College; however, I decided to take a couple terms off to follow other dreams. My friends and co workers McKenzie and Danielle, were expecting a baby this fall, and Lindsay (Natty’s sister) was planning a trip to Patagonia, Chile for the spring. I decided to work through the fall and go to Patagonia with Lindsay for an extended trip in the spring.
The summer flew by as I filled my days working at the shop, seeing friends who were passing though, leading amazing tours through the forested mountains and lush coastlines of Oregon with Wild Heart Cycling (www.wildheartcycling.com), doing support at the Cascade Cream Puff mountain bike race, putting a new roof on Win and Mark’s house in Oakridge, building a deck next to the Airstream trailer which I call home, going out for cruiser bike rides after work with friends, hanging out with my dad here in Oakridge, and keeping all of the mountain bikers’ bikes well tuned.
As the fall hit it was wonderful to enjoy the rain; a fresh and cleansing event I look forward to after every dry Oregon summer. Danielle’s belly was getting big, and she was taking time away from the shop to nurture herself and the baby. McKenzie and I tended the shop until early December when he and Danielle headed down to Coburg to spend the remainder of their pregnancy with McKenzie’s family. Lindsay and I bought our tickets to Chile over Thanksgiving from her family’s house in Bend, solidifying our travel plans together.
December flew by. With McKenzie and Danielle gone I was largely in charge at the Mercantile, leaving me lots to do. This was good for me as I needed some extra hours to save for my upcoming trip, and I enjoyed the time at the shop. Their baby was born a healthy 9lbs, 11oz, on December 23, and they named him William Huckleberry Bowerman. I love him! I hope they call him Huck, a name I’ve always liked.
Natty and Lindsay both came home a couple of days before Christmas, and I went to Bend and to celebrate the holiday with their family. We all enjoyed our time together. Lindsay and I made final plans for our trip, and she left on the 1st of January for Santiago. Once in Santiago she traveled southward to Coyhaique, in the Patagonia region, where she is taking a NOLS mountaineering course beginning tomorrow.
As for me, I’m leaving on the 29th of January (my dad’s birthday) from Oakridge, and flying out of Portland on the 30th. My trip will follow Lindsay’s footsteps, as I fly to Santiago and continue onward to Coyhaique where we will rendezvous on the 11th of February. From there we will travel south together via ferry to Torres del Paines National Park, for a week long backpacking trip around the torres, or towers, of granite rising several thousand feet out of the surrounding forest and lakes.
After our adventure around Torres del Paines we don't have any set plans, we only know that we are looking forward to adventure, quality experience, and joy when we can find it. So we'll play it by ear, and listen to the recommendations that come along the way before we make plans.
Our flights back to the states leave on March 12. We are both going to fly to New York to visit Natty for a week, before returning to Portland on the 19th. I've never been to New York City, and I'm looking forward to that part of the trip as much as the rugged and rural landscape of Patagonia.
I'll try to keep you posted via my blog along the way.
See you out there!