What’s Your Stoke this June?

Admittedly, it’s been a roller coaster year.  There have been some incredible “ups”.  In fact, I’ve all but abandoned this blog for months and months– fall and winter running around the globe to Europe, South America and even the briefest of visits to Africa.  But with all wonderful, there are the life challenges too.  Professional struggles, health, family, personal.  We all have these hardships and some of us…many of us…have all of the above.  My point? Well, mostly excusing why I don’t write much these days.

Right now, one of the activities I look forward to most during this busiest time of my professional year, is riding with my “dude” friends in the early morning.  We have our routine and we don’t even have to discuss details.  One of us says “Ride?” before leaving work, and we just know the drill.  Simple, uncomplicated.  No drama.  Except for a chain jamming.  Back brakes not working.  The dazzling sun, blinding me since it gets light so early this time of year.

From time to time a girlfriend will join me on a ride.  A fun experience too–more social, more of an “event” I guess.  Awesome in it’s own way and I’m happy for the female company which I don’t get much of these days as my girlfriends start families or I drop off the radar with my odd schedule that leaves me super busy or out of town.

One of the questions I struggle with regarding these posts is why I write to begin with?  Who reads them?  Does it help anyone? (which was my original point…to encourage the average, probably female, human to try new activities without feeling self-conscious.  Perhaps to give some tips to aid that mission.  The blog has evolved, but at the beginning of this summer season when there are so many things to do, let me share some of my ideas to get you out of the house….some resources to support these endeavors:

Pine Mountain Sports:  Longtime local Bend bike shop.  They are not only super friendly, but super knowledgeable about everything bikes.  The gear, the trails and the instruction if that feels better (I know I could use some clinics…especially on bike maintenance which I’m grossly under-educated about):  Pine Mountain Sports

Tumalo Creek (central Oregon): Longtime local paddle shop. And I’ve worked there for years.  We do everything paddling.  Retail, classes, rentals and tours.  Want to try the frisky ripples? I’ll help you: Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe

eNRG Kayaking:  Santiam River (whitewater) or Oregon City/Portland area (Willamette Falls and both flatwater and whitewater). There’s no better paddle instruction center than eNRG. I consider the Santiam river my backyard (because it is LITERALLY my backyard 3 days a week). So many choices. So accessible.  eNRG Kayaking

Wild & Scenic Film Festival: June 15, Oregon City (brought to you by eNRG).  If you want to get excited about outdoor adventures with an eye toward stewardship, these films will inspire.  After the films, there’s the chance to do a full moon paddle up to the historic Willamette Falls. You think it’s too far to travel from Bend?  It’s not. I do it about every 2-3 weeks.  Wild & Scenic Film Festival Oregon City

“Field Trip” to the gorge:  An easy over-nighter trip to the gorge can make you feel like you’ve gone on vacation yet so accessible!  We had the opportunity to paddle the Klickitat, hike around and stay at the now open Bingen School Inn.  This converted-school-to-hotel offers everything from hostel bunking to boutique “cabins” which surround a small spa…massage anyone?  Worth the visit.  Sorry you missed the grand opening.  It was rad. Bingen Inn in Bingen Washington

Sekse’ Fit:  Now open since April-ish, Sekse attracted all the best dance/fitness instructors to this little studio in the Box Factory.  Every class I’ve been to has been exceptional. PS, if you want to get your “sexy” on (or in my case, an extremely dorky version of aerobics instructor trying to be a pole dancer) this studio is a must.  Coolest chicks in Bend teach here.  Seriously.  They’re also the nicest and welcoming.  Sekse’

Okay, so that’s the list for now.  Give some of these places a try.  Maybe not your bag.  Definitely mine.

Thanks for listening…

SueBike

 

Tumalo Creek Visits Trail Tales

When Jaymo and I came up with the idea for Trail Tales, I always had one of the guests in mind…one that also showcased Tumalo Creek and the community efforts our crew makes on a continual basis.  It’s a mindset that comes from the top down.  Geoff Frank, a lifelong paddler himself–originally from Portland– is a great example of a guy who loved paddling and partying through his youth and somehow took that passion and created a lifestyle business from it.  Here’s the secret though…and I think I can say this with love and respect for the guy since I’ve worked for him for almost 8 years…. he went from being an immature fun-hog and has become a highly respected, successful force and leader of all things paddling in central Oregon.  The best part is he’s maintained his desire to simply get people on the water and support community while respecting the river, the environment AND directing a year-round dedicated team of 7, growing to over 50…perhaps over 60… in the summer.  “He all grown up”!!

Front side of TCKC

Jeff Michael, who joined our team last season as rental manager (not an easy lift), is a longtime central Oregonian who has guided the local riverways for decades.  He’s smart, he’s a hard worker and he’s a funny dude.  Jeff Michael has stories.  He knows just about everybody in town. He’s got staying power and is worth listening to.

This April 9th, if you’re in the Bend area, I invite you to come out and talk with Geoff, Jeff and I about all things paddling.  We’ll probably also discuss tourists, “locals” (whatever that means), whitewater park–even traffic frustrations.  However the conversation goes  it’s bound to be a good time.  Please join us at the Deschutes Brewery Pub, upstairs in the tasting room.  We start around 7pm.  Hope to see you there!!

Thanks for listening…

 

A Trip South…Part One

I have always had a passion for seeing new places and experiencing different cultures.  So when I was asked to join Sam and the eNRG management team for a scouting trip down to Ecuador my reply was “Hell ya!!”.  I’d never been to South America and this would be a paddle-focused trip.  Let’s go!

Sam and I arrived early, to enjoy a little “us” time before the others arrived, and to make sure logistics were good to go.  He had hired a personal driver with a 10 passenger van plus secured accommodations everywhere we were visiting (another treat as I’m typically the person figuring logistics for personal and client-based trips).  In Quito I was pleasantly surprised to find our lodging really cute–a clean hostel owned by a Dutch man who had run this little venture “Aries Cabins” for 27 years, having married an Ecuadorian woman and relocated there.  While his bedside manner was “sharp” he knows his stuff and his service is great.

After a much-needed night of sleep Sam and I ventured out, with Favian, our Ecuadorian driver who was to become the backbone of our trip.  We first went to the Center of the Earth–the equator.  It was a fascinating visit and learned fun facts relative to the equator that I’d never known, and even though explained, still holds mystery and thoughts of “what the f$#k!”?! How?  Why?  For example, we learned that you are about 2 kg lighter in weight on the equator.  We learned there are contingencies of Ecuadorian people who practiced “head shrinking” and finally, never, ever pee in the rivers in the Amazon basin! (I will spare you details but if you’re interested Google “candiru”)…

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On to Quito!!  Sam and I arranged to meet up with Favian and his brother after a few hours so we could explore, at our pace the sites of Colonial Quito.  It is a beautiful and vibrant city (reminiscent of many towns we’d explored just a few months back in Europe).  A fabulous experience nonetheless. The opportunity to speak Spanish and learn the city from a local’s perspective is, in my mind, priceless even considering Favian drove us WELL out of way to pick up and drop off his brother.  That’s alright…kind of how this stuff goes.

A side note here for anyway new to travel and reading this blog as a resource.  My luggage got lost.  Again. Same as our flight into Paris. When flying internationally I recommend you pack a minimum of two pairs of underwear, toothbrush/toothpaste and a change of clothes.  It helps a ton, particularly when you get run through the many iterations of where your luggage is. I was told no less than four stories…none true…regarding the location and arrival time of my pack.  It did finally arrive around noon about 36 hours later.  Do yourself the favor and prepare.  Just in case.  Good luck.

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The rest of our crew arrived about the same time as my luggage.  After some repacking we left Quito bound for Banos (a small town which reminded me vaguely of Sayulita, Mexico…a sort of hippie, international traveler-welcome town with cute shops and  a friendly energy).  However, we stopped along the way for lunch at a traditional restaurant serving a standard, single lunch option.  Rice, salad (don’t eat lettuce or tomatoes in South America) and a meat/gravy entree.  The meat, we were explained by Favian, was stomach.  I will always TRY everything.  While I didn’t prefer the taste, others in our group enjoyed it.  This wouldn’t be the first of many diverse meals we ate. And as I said, I’ll always try.

We ventured on…and if you’re interest is peaked, please stay tuned.  The adventures began from there.

Thanks for listening…

Sue

Another Trail Tales

Another Trail Tales: A Conversation With Inspiring Community Members happened this last Tuesday.  This month, I had co-host Denny Dragan up there with me.  I wrote about Denny last summer as one of the people that really supported me through my MCL tear.  He was, in fact, my physical therapist (and probably as much my emotional therapist).  Denny is the kind of guy that makes every single person he talks with seem like they’re the most important person in the world.  Great guy and was relieved to have him up there with me this last week.

We talked with two guests, Rick Wright and Adam Short.  Rick is a long-time whitewater paddler in the Bend area.  He’s a true community member, sitting on the board of both the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the Downtown Association, and is extremely humble and well spoken.  His story was poignant and the audience had a ton of questions for him.  It was awesome to get some real dialog going!  This was a big part of Jaymo’s and my vision for this talk series. I particularly liked hearing about his assistance to paddlers who get into trouble on the rapid in front of his house.  Appropriately named after him “Wright Stuff”, it’s the first of the serious rapids on the town stretch “Riverhouse” and has given many paddlers a run for their money.

Adam was also a great guest, and turns out, the husband of a friend of mine which made it all the more interesting to me.  This is so typical of Bend…we truly are still a small community.  Adam was a pro-snowboarder and like many pro athletes realized his run had an expiration date.  He determined to go back to school and became a PA at Desert Orthopedics. He helps people who’ve been injured via his work while raising his family of three kids and wife Tammy (awesome dancer, teacher and human).

The night was good, but here’s my “secret”.  I was barely functional having been to the ER just two nights before.  I’d spent the previous 2 days sleeping and surviving in considerable pain.  I was only partially coherent when “interviewing” these guests.  I won’t go into detail other than to say it was stomach-related and meant a clear liquid diet for several days.  No bueno.  I hate the feeling of being helpless and alone in my studio.  It’s a scary feeling, perhaps worse than the pain. I’m on the mend now which I’m grateful for, but I am more grateful for a few people who supported me in this. A friend who called and stopped by with medication and well wishes, and Denny who prior to the event, literally had me laying on the floor of the pub doing adjustments (upstairs before anyone arrived) trying to relieve my head/neck pain that had accrued from laying in bed so much.

It’s important to acknowledge that even when we feel alone, we’re probably not.  It truly is about community and I’m fortunate to be a part of an awesome one.  The greatest of thanks to those who helped….We’re paddling this canoe together after all!!  Thanks for listening.

A Next Conversation

It was a stunning fall morning on the back deck at Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe.  Myself and K.M. Collins, were laughing and chatting about my project “Trail Tales: A Conversation with Inspiring Community Members”, as she prepped the camera for a live interview.  This particular interview was important to me on multiple levels.  For one, it seems like “Tales”, a monthly event at the Deschutes Brewery is gaining some traction.  It’s a really personal project for me and perhaps I’m the most inspired out of anyone, talking with the potential guests and co-hosts. When people ask what it’s all about I describe the idea behind this monthly discussion, and I get fired up all over again!

The other reason this interview was important to me is that I know K.M. Collins on a personal level.  Collins and I first met awhile back…perhaps 5 years ago?!  Wow.  Time flies.  She was enthusiastic and positive, just getting into the sport of recreational paddleboarding. It was toward the end of the peak summer season, at a time when I was spending, on average 3-5 hours a day on the same stretch of flatwater, instructing beginning SUP group and private lessons.  I will never forget an interaction with her– I was getting ready to launch my small group of newbie students  (full disclosure, after teaching the same basic class maybe 100 times over the years, you can get burnt out).  Collins was returning from a solo paddle and said to me as I was setting out on the water “Yeah homie…are you totally excited to get out there?”.  In that moment I laughed to myself…ummmm no?  But something about her positivity and authenticity led me to consider something.  I might have uttered these same instructions to students over and over and over, but for these four paddlers it was the VERY FIRST TIME.  It was a pivotal moment.  Since that day I’ve reminded myself that I am privileged to be a part of these students’ experience.  I get to show them for the first time, in many cases, what paddleboarding is about.  I get to set the stage for an activity that, if it goes well, can enhance their life in many ways….health-wise if done for exercise.  Socially if paddling with friends.  Perhaps it’s a way to experience the water for those individuals who previously had no connection to the water.  This SUP instruction stuff is a gift!!  I was taking it for granted.

I appreciate Collins’ words that day for reminding me how fortunate I am, and also her continued enthusiasm with SUP and all kinds of other activities because she still keeps me on my toes. She is passionate about gaining accessibility to the water, for all people and especially women.  I admire her commitment–she exemplifies the inclusive, community-minded human.  Collins is the first to encourage a fellow woman to try out a sport, not only with words, but making herself present to help.

It was a fun interview and hopefully you can check it out (I don’t have the link yet, but stay tuned).  In the meantime, if you’re around the Bend area on October 9th from 7-8:30pm (ish), come check out Trail Tales:

Trail Tales: A Conversation with Inspiring Community Members Oct 9

Thanks for listening, and hope to see you there!!

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K.M. Collins kicking it with a fellow paddler…

A Day with Dad

I’ve written of my dad before, but it’s been awhile.  To sum up, my dad is in later stages of Alzheimers disease. At times, I’m still in disbelief, even though it’s been evident for almost a decade.  This last weekend Sam and I took my dad and sister down a stretch of the North Santiam river.  For my dad, it was his second year in a row he’s rafted this same stretch with us. Last year he sat upright and even grabbed a paddle and tried to help. Regardless of the direction he was paddling, it was still an attempt.  This year, not so much.

Recently I’ve begun a project with a friend doing monthly “talks” at a pub. Our “show” is called Trail Tales: A Conversation with Inspiring Community  Members.  The point is to engage with individuals from our community that are experts or exceptional…mmmm not sure what descriptors work best here…in the outdoor industry.  However, the reason we choose our guests is for their outstanding involvement in the community. Their achievements as humans.  While it would be impossible to interview my dad (he barely talks at this point) I think he’d qualify.  Note: perhaps I’m not objective but isn’t that how a daughter should view her dad?

I can’t actually say my dad was ever an exceptional athlete.  But he’d try anything.  He did the occasional whitewater rafting and also kayaked a class III section of the Owyhee, with basically no experience, following the lines and instructions his experienced friends told him.  He was a runner (ran the Boston marathon three times) and later a triathlete.  In his youth he was a football player (and played in the band, which led to funny stories he’d tell us of playing at half-time in his band uniform). What stands out in my mind was his involvement with community and his generosity to his friends, family and strangers.

I remember when his best friend became tragically ill with a brain tumor.  The final month of the man’s life was very much a struggle, and his petite wife was challenged to meet his basic needs (Bob was a tall man therefore caring for his basic functions while essentially dying at home was unbelievably tough for her).  Eventually my dad stepped in to give her breaks.  He helped in all the ways a person must when helping someone who lacks the ability to take care of their own needs…bodily functions, bathing, etc.  I can’t imagine it was easy for my dad, but he took it in stride and with love. Cruelly ironic with the situation as it is now–the dynamic is not lost on me when I help.

When putting together a legal plan for my mom and dad after his diagnosis, we sought the help of a local attorney who knew and had worked with my dad.  He was a lawyer in Salem for most of his life…well liked and respected.  It was only when we visited this particular attorney did we learn of his career-long compassion. She wouldn’t allow us to pay her because she “couldn’t in good faith charge us…your dad helped so many people for little or no fee”.

I find myself wondering, when I write these posts, what my point is.  What’s the message?  In a writing class I’d be criticized for rambling and not having a clear intro, middle and end to these “stories”.  Maybe that’s why I enjoy the blog format so much—YOU don’t have to read them and I’m not being graded…haha!  My point with this particular post?  Well two-fold:  One, I’ve been writing and talking with people recently about the importance of community and helping one another out.  We’re all paddling this canoe together.  I believe my dad exemplified this well. Two, I love and respect my dad for being an incredible human and I realize the older I get, we haven’t all been as fortunate.  I’m grateful, and if you feel that way too about your dad, give him a call today. Or email.  Or text.  Whatever works for you, but let him know you care.

Thanks for listening….