Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Tuba Ensemble and Blackberry bRamble

Okay! Back online! Sorry 'bout that. I've been a bit overwhelmed with various projects lately (of which you'll be seeing some of the results!) so that's my genius excuse for not posting lately.

So I'm going to backtrack to the 30th, where I left off, which was when I said I was going on the hiking trip to Iron Mountain. I didn't end up having to drive because there were enough people going this week that offered...so the hike was fairly short but it was the most perfect day for it and the wildflowers were out in force! It was a fun group, lots of interesting conversation. There was a pair of New Zealanders who were in the middle of a US tour, checking out our crazy country before it self-destructed (they were following the debt crisis, probably moreso than a lot of Americans!). There was also a very in-depth conversation on the philosophy of knowledge and what it is. Common sense, is this something that is set in stone? Is common sense knowledge? How does something become known as fact and what if it is disagreed upon, does the majority win? What if the minority is right? Like the few people that believed that slavery actually IS a sinful act and black people aren't less than human?

Interesting stuff to think about.

Oh, and then there were the views! We lunched up at the top of the mountain, which was well-named for the layer of red iron that could be seen as its own strain contrasting against the dark gray rocky top of Iron Mountain. We also meandered through some open meadows that were dotted in wildflowers that glowed under the early afternoon sun.

The next day (my weekends seem to go by so fast and, instead of recharging, I'm depleting my batteries down to the quick!) I went on a 65 mile ride out to Rattlesnake Butte with Cathy and GEARs. It was a good long one, which was what became the deciding factor for us to do next weekend's Blackberry Bramble, a century ride..100 miles in one day! They also have a 100 kilometers, metric century option-which was what I'd figured I'd do until that evening when Cathy said we should do the real century. Woo!

Oh yea, and that evening I dragged myself (via automobile..) down to Washburne Park where I did my photography assignment: 5 sets of 3 pictures, each set having a closeup, medium and far away picture of basically the same thing. This lovely Sunday evening the park rang with the sound of...tubas!


video



The next day, was classes (well, class). Dan Morrison, our teacher for Visual Studies...I don't know if I've described in enough detail. The man is a trip. He is a seasoned photographer, having done work in other countries including native tribes where he was the first person to have documented their daily lives (I need to ask him about where I can see those images..) and war-torn Afghanistan. He actually showed us some video he took during one of the troops' outings where there was constant gunfire and he was out there, armless, and completely dependent on the soldiers he followed. I can't imagine being one of those guys, having no idea if the next day- or minute- would be their last. All in the name of patriotism. 

Anyways, Morrison happily tells us about his insane experiences as well of some of his less insane ones and giggles about the idiots he's worked with (or taught!) and doesn't hesitate to tell us that he's been talked to by the dean more than once about how he needs to stop swearing (seemingly every other word..!) in class. He's a tough guy and can pretty much belittle anyone in less than five seconds if he so chooses. Nevertheless, he obviously is passionate about his work and is a genius at what he does...and winning his respect is something that I'd secretly wanted to do from the moment I met him. 

Anyways. So Melissa, who is in my program cohort and was the third of our 10k Butte to Butte trio, asked me to join her in the Women's 1/2 Marathon that would be held the first week of September here in Eugene. I accepted, knowing that the most I've run is 10 miles and that was only two times in my life..but hey, as long as I have a partner in crime for these crazy adventures (I know my brother is shaking his head at my lunacy right now...) I'm gung-ho to go!! So anyways, that was my reason for doing a 6 miler after class that day (we're on the 31st now..) and 4 miles the next day with Chris down by the river. We were waiting for his car to be looked at (it's been acting odd lately..) so what better way to spend idle time than running, right? 

Wednesday and Thursday was nonstop work: in addition to class, I worked on setting up and editing my photo project and Morrison held a Final Cut Pro party-he bought us pizza and helped us figure out the video editing program which is pretty darn tricky. It's usually taught over the course of 5 weeks...we had 5 days.

In addition to that, I also squeezed in a couple of rides with Cathy to get us ready for Sunday's century (!!) so we did around 30 miles both thursday and friday evening. I just want to say, I think Fox Hollow goes on forever. It is a loooong uphill. It was actually my first ride here in Eugene, two months ago (wow, only 2 months??) where Cathy took me on the very same ride out Fox Hollow and I am happy to report that I feel like I've really improved and gotten stronger over the course of the last 8 weeks. 

So that weekend was another jam-packed one..as ususal. On Saturday I attended a canning demonstration downtown where a group of master food preservers showed the process of canning green beans to a small audience. I did video interviews of both the demonstrators and audience and took photos of the process, which carried over several hours. It was really fun! I love learning while "working"...journalism is such a good excuse for that! 

I was up way too late on Saturday evening (the night before my 100 mile ride) watching Sherlock Holmes at Clare's house (another fellow cohort-er). She lives just up the road from me and is interested in ecotourism journalism which is something that is very relevant to the times as people visit other countries and don't realize the detrimental impact that tourism and travel can have on the earth. Not to mention the fact that someone can travel to another country and be completely walled off from the actual culture. Sipping margaritas in Mexico on a gorgeous hotel patio makes it easy for a traveler to completely overlook the fact that they are being made completely ignorant of what the country is really like and what its people are really going through. That is something that I've talked at length about with my Nicaraguan spanish teacher while I was visiting his country. I discussed this with Clare and we were excited about the possibilities that our grad program was preparing us for: to contribute toward informing the public (travelers in particular) of these issues. 

Blackberry Bramble!! So the fact that I'm typing about this means somehow I survived the day. It really wasn't bad!! I was really a bit worried and actually didn't tell anyone outside of Eugene (particularly my Dad, the Century champion!) about it because I seriously wasn't sure I'd be able to finish. Well I did! And let me tell you, I feel very proud of myself for having done so. It was a looong day..about 7 hours of riding total (with about an hour total of breaks, rest stops where they had great food spreads). Cathy and I were together for the entire ride, which we averaged at 14mph. We killed the hills, particularly the Wolf Creek hill which we were dreading ("We're at the top already!?" -Cathy) and the long rolling hills we took in stride. The course was a gorgeous one, with beautiful views. It actually wasn't sunny out, in fact we were enshrouded in clouds for about 3/4ths of the ride which made it the most perfect temperature for the strenuous climbs and fast-going flats. Ha, we even had a "draft-line" with this one guy who for some reason kept right on our tails, passing us and then we'd be right on his tail until one of us decided to take him. Finally he pulled ahead but we were flying for that stretch!

Cathy called out when we hit 100, based on her bike computer, and we cheered as we finished up at Amazon Park where we were greeted by music and blackberry pie with a huge scoop of ice cream. I called my dad that evening to tell him the good news :)


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