Monday, December 30, 2013

A note to my youngest son

My dear smallest child,

In your life there will be things to fight for...and against. Causes worth your stand and circumstances worth battle. But my small soldier, always remember this: the greatest war you will ever fight will be the one within yourself. Will you choose mercy or vengeance, love or bitterness, courage or fear? Truth or lies?

My prayer for you, my baby, is that you would be strong...within. A soldier who fights for the good, servant to those around you, merciful to all and always seeking the Peace which can reach to your soul.

Miles Yoder (aka Milo)
(Miles. Latin for soldier; Irish for servant; possible German for peaceful/mild, Slavic for merciful)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Mile 23: McDowell Creek Falls

*No pictures this time. My camera was broken.*
July 2nd: The day I became a mom. Okay, that was ten whole years ago. So what better way to celebrate than tacking more miles onto our family goal?

I'd heard about McDowell Creek Falls from a friend but had yet to check it out. It was one of those HOT days in Oregon (ya know...90 degrees) when for a moment I regret having no air conditioning.

The drive seemed long on the map, but turned out to be quite pleasant. Just outside of Lebanon a few miles, turn left off the freeway into farm/forest country.

I think the temp. was a good 10 degrees lower just getting out of the car. Whew! The hike was GORGEOUS. Passing by several waterfalls, over bridges, and up daunting stairs. Through the forest...following the creek and all its meandering.

The hike was only 1.5 miles...but it does feel like more with the inclines. So if you go, be warned. There are, however, shorter trails to take.

And the best part? Playing in the creek! (photos from another trip)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Miles 18.5-22

On the longest day of the year it is a "semi-tradition" to watch the sunset from the beach. I say "semi-tradition" because I think we've only done it once before but all the kids think it is a "must do."

Two years of this tradition now must mean that it is forever a part of our family. Nonetheless, it is one I love and I'm glad they do as well. 

We got to the beach around 4:00...leaving over five hours till sunset. 

After walking as far west as possible, we turned right and followed the shoreline North up Nye Beach. 

Now, I have been to Nye Beach coutless times. Honestly, it is one of the beaches I visit the most as you virtually run into it after making the straight shot over from the valley. However, I had never walked North. 

On our way we hit small pools formed around lonely rocks and small "child-sized" dunes. I was giving myself props for thinking ahead enough to caution them to wait before getting soaked as we had a long time till sunset. Unfortunately, they didn't. But really, once you wade into a warm ocean tide pool, there really isn't much turning back.

Down the beach we went, with Ollie pulling up the rear. I wanted to make it to the end so we coaxed him on and on before finally turning back. Josh kept him occupied on the return trip by dragging a large stick.

 Jake was just determined to carry his finds back. 

Noah and Max did not make the pictures because they were WAY in front,

and Lily was here. 

The end was in sight and I took an exhausted Oliver and a freezing Lily back to the van to get hot cocoa while the others made sand forts. It was a fun filled 3.5 miles!

The day ended, warm drink in hand, with a lovely sunset at 9:05pm.

 About the "Trail"
Nye Beach is perhaps one of the most popular beaches in Newport. Coming from Corvallis, turn right when you get to HWY 101 and then left at a stoplight a little down the road. There are signs to follow.  There is a nice parking area very near the beach (which is important unless you want to take a mile hike when the kids are inevitably cold on the way back to the car) and a foot washing station. However, don't forget to bring the baby powder. It works wonders on wet sandy skin. 

Nothing much more to say about beach hiking...there aren't many different directions one can choose from, but the wide open space and the beautiful ocean make for a superb family "hike."

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Miles 16 - 18.5

I'm not sure why we decided to take a hike on this day. I can't quite remember. I'm pretty sure all the kids were "at" each other and we needed something to do. Well, as you can imagine, this translated to them being "at each other" on the trail. After only about .3 miles there arose the need to sit down and evaluate our options: walking together as a family or turning around. Perhaps the newness of 50 miles had worn off or perhaps it was just "one of those days."

But with new backpacks strapped on and loaded with water, they decided to walk on. And with that song drifting through my mind we continued the familiar path. 

One of the reasons my kids love this path is for its many little trails through the woods and down to the river.

Nothing beats rocks cruising through the air only to disappear with a splash and leave expanding ripples in the quiet water.

 By the end of the walk feet were soaring and attitudes were up. 

About the Trail: 
Takena Landing is located in North Albany right along the river. On HWY 20 coming from Corvallis you will turn right at the first stoplight (don't go over the bridge). The trail begins under the bridge. This is a very easy 2 miles but perhaps because of the ease, it seems a long trip to the end. It makes a short loop at the end and you walk back on the same trail. 

The trail runs along the Willamette River  though most of the time it is hidden from view by trees. There are many little trails with small beaches and fun areas to explore. The total mileage for this trial is about 3.5 - 4 miles. 

Miles 8-15

50 miles.
That is our slogan.
Our cheer.

In my mind, this is a journey to get us back "on track."
To pull us together while they are still young.

Sometimes I just watch Jake. He seems to be in some sort of childhood twilight and the looks in his eyes or the new smiles on his face have a way of making me reflect on the progression of this short time with them. In their lives we are everything...for now.

Jake still sits down to play with the beloved Playmobil and can enjoy an imaginary game with Oliver in which puppies control the forest against lions. Then there are those moments he looks at his siblings and seems to be looking back at the games he used to play.

50 miles together.

This hike marked miles 8-15 and here is the account:

Josh and I have liked the idea of urban hiking for quite awhile. I am one of those who looks longingly at the couples traveling around with backpacks. I envy the idea of walking around Europe...or elsewhere, traveling from hostel to hostel and seeing the sights.  Now the idea that our kids are big enough to enjoy even a taste of that thrills me.

So with the help of Googlemaps and some Portland friends, we etched out a 5 mile hike around the City of Roses.

There aren't really many rules or directions on a hike like this, but it does help to have a plan. We wanted to show them some of the iconic Portland places so we started with one of the newest: The OHSU Skytram.

The cost was reasonable, especially since children under 6 and OHSU students are free. Everything from the parking garage to the elevator was exciting for these small town children. But the sky tram...that topped the cake! Ollie was a bit nervous when his brothers described it as "getting into a big box and going way up high over the freeway" but soon calmed down when he saw the actual "box."

We didn't spend too long walking around as we were all ready to start the actual hike, so we took our return trip back down and waved goodbye to the Skytram.

Our route started on a very nice empty sidewalk passing by construction on the new OHSU buildings. In the forest it is easy to feel small, but the largeness of nature seems to be drawing you out. It lends to the desire of stretching up your arms, breathing deeply, and allowing your children to go just a little further than normal. In the city, I also feel small. But from this feeling of insignificance comes the urge to stay together. To watch everyone a little bit pull together.

Up stairs and down sidewalks; through hidden parks and into busy roads. We made our way downtown and had a great time spotting the outdoor art scattered around the city.

 The fountain park downtown was our first big stop. I knew in my head that falling in wouldn't be a huge deal, but that did not translate well to the rest of me. Most of the time was spent anxiously watching them jump over the water, run too quickly and go a little too close to the edge. They were rallied together with hard candies and were then ready to go on our way.

 Ollie had a fever at the end of the wonder this was a high complaint trip for him. 

Behind the waterfall 

One way to describe our hike through the city would be to compare it to a trip through costco. Complete with distractions galore and more samples than you know what to do with! It was the festival of flowers and along the way we got everything from free strawberry shortcake to music to henna and temporary tattoos.

Pioneer Courthouse Square was a stop on the list and we made it just in time for lunch! Nothing says Portland like a nice selection of food cart meals in Portland's living room. Josh had Greek, the younger boys chose grilled cheese and Jake and I enjoyed a *much too large* portion of Thai food. In the moments between chasing pigeons and hanging from statues, we enjoyed lunch together .

 Finnegan's. The Toy Factory of Portland. Five kids, a very limited budget for a souvenir, excruciating decisions, probably an hour later and we had experienced this iconic toy store.

Just down the road and a few turns and we hit Powell's. Really, every Oregonian child needs to experience Powell's. I remember it as a young child: an entire city block of books and, what is more, a bookstore where one needs a map to get around. Brilliant!

All this downtown sidewalk walking was wearing on me...and I needed a coffee (another perk of urban hiking, especially in Portland). A few blocks and we had found a place for refreshment and headed towards the river. From here we would walk across the Hawthorn (because bridge crossing is always great fun).

The walk across the river, while invigorating, stimulated an urgent need for a restroom in a couple of the hikers so we made the .5 mile walk down to OMSI only to find it closed. For some reason, Ollie was happy about this.

Thank you PCC Climb Center for the use of your restrooms. Back we went across the river. On our original route we had planned to cross the Ross Island Bridge, but after reading this post and a recommendation from a friend to make sure we cross the Hawthorn we decided not to risk it. Yeah, urban hiking takes a little bit of planning if kids and safety are involved.

 It was around this time that Lily decided she wanted to get out of her shell and walk around. Riding is hard work too ;)

We weren't sure of the distance we had come but it sure seemed like more than four miles so we decided to cut out our last stop: Lovejoy Fountain. However, upon meandering our way in the direction of our endpoint, we ended up running across it anyway.

Here is Noah testing the limits of what he should do.

Here is my trying to get a nice picture of these two.

 Here we are standing over a sign after walking in a direction only to find out it would not be a good way to go. "Every direction leads us back again."

 Tired kiddos dragged their feet and we sang silly songs such as "My legs, they'll never get tired, the longer I walk 'em the stronger they get." We waited for those who were lagging behind and encouraged together those who were wilting. "It seems like ten miles." "It seems like one hundred miles." I guessed six. Once re-tracked at home, we discovered it had been eight. Yep. eight miles. Eight memory filled miles...together.

When we reached the OHSU parking garage and saw our lonely van sitting at the end of the dark cave, we joined hands and walked the last few steps side by side.

About the "Trail"
Everyone should experience urban hiking. Cities are beautiful things, as are the people who inhabit them. My main advice: don't fear the city. There just aren't that many bad areas in the middle of the day. Be sure to pack your smile. From the OHSU buildings to downtown...down Burnside and across the river...there was never a moment I felt uncomfortable with the kids.