Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Come find me!

Hey all, in case you didn't get the flyer in the mail, I changed my blog over to wordpress so you can follow this link: where I've just completed my 70th blog post since 2007!

Oh and also check out my journalistic endeavors here in Eugene at the University of Oregon journalism school, you can see them at

And if you want to hear about any updates I've made on my blog, click on the "Follow" button on the top of my blog site's window.


I'll leave you with a picture I took from along the Willamette River here in Eugene...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Car on Fire and the Lost Coast Trail

Before I get into my backpacking trip along the northern California coast, I have another piece of interesting news...

So I was riding my bike across campus to the Mac lab where I was going to work on my final project for Visual Studies...I turned to head down the hill at the bottom of which was the Journalism building but what I was confronted with as I came around the corner was flames, pouring out of a car that was nose deep in the trunk of a tree off the right side of the road. As I took it in for a moment (noticing immediately that the driver's door was open and that no one was inside) before I got hit with the thought: "I'm a journalist! This is news! I have a camera in my pannier!" So I frantically dug out the camera that I had checked out from the Journalism equipment room. I remember my hands were shaking. I threw (well, lovingly placed) my bike down on the grass and started to snap pictures of the flaming car as the distant sound of sirens produced a huge fire truck that pulled up and out of which poured several firemen running with the hose to douse the fire.

In minutes, a huge steam cloud filled the immediate area. Meanwhile, I moved across the front yard of a frat house where a bunch of boys were standing in a group snapping pictures with their camera phones. I went into professional mode and moved in closer (right in their view) to document the rest of the scene.

Then I noticed a group of paramedics and firemen crowded around an older man who I realized had been standing on the corner where I parked my bike, casually talking with a passerby as I pulled up. I didn't see until now the blood coming out of a cut on his forehead as I approached and started taking photos of the paramedics speaking with him.

I felt so slimy!! But at the same time, it was exhilarating...

Finally, as the action died down, I took a few more pictures of the front wreckage of the vehicle before making my way down the rest of the hill to the computer lab.

Thinking how I had a camera full of pictures that were The News of the Moment, I pulled into the parking lot thinking, wouldn't it be classic if I just totally fell and broke the camera.

Which I promptly went and did! Well, the camera was okay but I totally came in and, in the process of pulling my foot out of the toeclip (which I installed on my pedals for my 100 mile ride the previous weekend) I got caught and totally fell straight over onto the side the camera was on! Flat onto the camera. Well, somehow the bike and I managed not to crush it and that's all I was worried about, as opposed to a passerby who rushed to help me up, making sure I was okay...Absolutely. Classic.

So I got up and dusted myself off and rushed into the lab where some of my cohort were working on their own project. "I'm gonna be famous!" I announced, neglecting to include that I had just ate it big time on my bike.

After showing off my pictures, I called Morrison to ask him what the heck I should do. He is good friends with a man who works for who is in charge of breaking news on the website. Dan came in (he was going to meet with us later that night to be around to help us with our projects) and showed me how to send the pictures and the short video I'd shot (unfortunately after the fire was out..) to KVAL to be posted. I formatted the pictures, just like I'd been taught in class, for the web and sent them off to Mark Furman who is in charge of the news station's website.

What was supercool (in addition to the fact that as I was sending him more pictures, they started pulling up with a short description of the occurrence on their website...crediting me as the photographer!!) was that the next day it just so happened that Morrison had arranged for Furman to come in to talk to our class. So when he came in that morning to our lab, the first thing he asked was "So which of you is Stacey Hollis?" Famous, I tell you!

Okay. So aside from that excitement, the final days of class wound down with the completion of our final projects-an edited video of our chosen event. Mine turned out okay, there are a few glitches I want to smooth out when I have access back into the lab. It certainly wasn't worthy of submitting to KVAL like some of the others', but I can put it into the "community news" section where people post videos of their kids. And cats.

So it hardly sunk in that we were on "summer break" before we headed south to the Lost Coast Trail for a 26 mile backpacking trip along the Pacific Ocean. My partners in crime were Clare (the brains of this operation), Chris and Ted

Drove 6 hours to Arcata where we stayed with Clare's friend from college. We went out to dinner but were pretty exhausted to care about much more than eating! 

The next day we drove to Mattole Beach -our starting point- dropped off the boys and drove both cars to Shelter Cove to leave my car for our arrival at the end of the trail. Unfortunately, it ended up taking muuuch longer than we intended because we had to search the secluded beach town before finding the parking area where we were to leave my car for the next 3 days. We didn't get back to Mattole until around 5pm (Chris and Ted amused themselves by throwing rocks at the mammoth bear canisters that each of us were required to carry, as mandated by the Bureau of Land Management). Finally, packed and more than ready to go, we hit the trail.

About 15 laborious steps into our trip, it suddenly became apparent that a coastal backpacking trip meant walking 25 miles through the sand. Oh yea.  

Walked alongside the Pacific Ocean which crashed beside us, with a strong wind at our backs. The view was fantastic. Endless ocean to the right, and various shades of yellow and green foothills to the left. We did only four miles before finding our first camp site near an abandoned lighthouse. As we walked up to a several driftwood windbreaks where we intended to set up for the night, I looked over to the rocky coast and saw a small tan seal waddling into the sea. As I was about to call out to the boys who were ahead of me, I looked in the direction he moved and there was a huge group of seals waddling off the beach and into the water in a boiling, roiling, scooting frenzy. "Look look look look!!!" I cried as they splashed into the water, a motley crew of various earth and stone hues. They swam out into the shallows and dozens of heads turned to stare at us as we stared back.

It turned out to be an awesome campsite, above the intertidal zone, constructed with huge pieces of driftwood serving as perfect windbreaks for our tents and a firepit that was soon aflame as we sat around and ate a delicious gnocchi stew premade by Chris. 

I awoke in the early morning to the sound of sealions barks. I had had dreams of cougars stalking around our tent so I didn't dare to venture out of the protection of my tent until the morning rose. Clare and I emerged to be greeted by a full moon settling into the far reaches of the Pacific.  It wasn't long before I noticed the huge solitary sealion down the beach a few hundred yards away. Chris got some video footage as we snuck, not so sneakily, in for a closer look. Clare, Chris and I checked out the lighthouse and ascended the spiral staircase for a view from the top. 

That day we hiked from about 8-12:30 and rested for a bit while lunching beside a small creek. This is where we started to misjudge the amount of miles we'd traversed...

That evening, we camped out where there were some spans of flat land between the mountains and ocean and we decided, based on the landscape and our map, that we were about 16 miles down the trail. For the amount of time we'd been moving along that day, we couldn't imagine that we weren't that far. 
We collapsed in the sand, exhausted, until we finally got up the gumption to follow Endless-energy Ted to a more secluded and comfortable site along a creek where it drained out to the ocean. 

It felt good on our tired toes to wade into the frigid water. Clare and I sat on a half-submerged log in a pond that was formed by a sandbar blocking the creek from the lapping waves. There we watched a little pharalope make its way around us, half-walking half-floating along the pond's edge. Like a miniature seagull with sandpiping tendencies.

Clare had mac and cheese for us that night and Chris foolishly (if anyone is to blame..) left me to stir while he went off for firewood and, while talking with Clare, I managed to make some gesture as I spoke that ended up tipping the whole kit over into the sand: pot, water, noodles, stove and all. 

Luckily Clare had saved 1/2 the noodles to cook if we wanted leftovers. I ate a bagel for dinner…

Exhaustion. Sleep came instantly. 

The next morning we were once again treated to gorgeous weather. It was fortunate that the marine layer once again neglected to roll in, in wet morning blanket form. We broke camp and hiked a-ways until we came across a trail labeled trail that confirmed what we had been dreading: we were 6 miles behind where we thought we were and we had to do a total of 15 miles in the unforgiving (forgiving? all too giving..) sand before the end of the day.

We picked up the pace. 

It was a beautiful day and we put our bodies to the test. For quite a stretch we saw endless bear tracks imprinted into the soft sand. There was definitely more than one and they were darn big! Our bear canisters were never bothered over the nights we spent out, although one hiker mentioned to us that a bear walked into their camp before they went to bed the night before! Furthermore, they'd heard another camper had had his canister inspected the night before, as evident by the gashes in it the next morning!

We came to some long, wide flats that ended up being the ones that we had assumed we had reached the night before. Slowly the coast rounded out so that we could see Shelter Cove, our destination, in a distant misty haze. In fact, it beaconed to us throughout the entire day! 

We sat up on some rocks right above a more rowdy stretch of beach and lunched while we waited out the tide because the water was too high on the beach for us to go farther.  

Finally we got moving after two parties moved ahead of us. This area on the map warned that it couldn't be passed at high tide and we were about 1.5hrs past and hoped we'd be able to go on. There were definitely some sections where we had to dance quickly around some corners between wave sets but we were able to continue on, only getting doused once. We hiked hard for hours. If the terrain wasn't soft, sinking sand, we were rock hopping which also slowed us down considerably. Lucky for no sprained ankles! 

Shelter Cove teased us, looking as if it wasn't getting any closer as the long hours passed...

We. were. tired. 

Nonetheless, we carried on and I looked out and saw some seals in the waves, their heads poking out of the swells, watching me as I lumbered along. It was beautiful out there. 

At 7:30pm, we rambled up onto the end of the Lost Coast Trail. My car was still there, loyally awaiting my return. I laid down on the pavement parking lot, happy to be done as well as satisfied and proud that we'd done it. What a trip! 

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 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!

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 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 :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crow just did whaat?!

Okay I just need to start this post one something pretty random that I just heard.

Crow just did what!??

It seriously sounded like a soft little 2 syllable owl call and I heard it twice before it clicked that I was hearing something birdish that I had NO idea what it could be. My first thought was that it must be some kind of weird dove, although there really aren't any around here (the band tailed pigeons are up in the forests) so then I was wondering if someone's fancy domesticated dove got loose..but who has domesticated doves around here? My host mom in Guate had some but I don't think it's too common here in the states. So-keeping in mind these thoughts were all within a couple of seconds-I looked up from my computer to see a crow sitting on the corner of Market of Choice's roof. Well, I dismissed him immediately, thinking the dove must be on the awning under which I was sitting. But then the crow did this little gulpy movement with his head twice in a row and I heard that soft musical double-note  coming from him! Twice in a row!

Then the bugger flew away.

I am not kidding you that I'm a bird dork and I am NOT kidding you my jaw dropped. After he flew away and I got to closing my boca, I wondered if anyone had noticed it suddenly drop open and wondered what the heck problems weirdo girl at her computer might be afflicted with.

I know crows can make some wacky noises, but that was the first that noise I'd ever heard one bust.

Anyhoo! I'll get down to business now and try to ignore the crow cawing back behind the parking lot. Maybe it'll come back and I can get a pic.

So this week we've started our third class, Visual Studies, which has taken the place of Suzi's Reporting and Information Strategies. To let you know what I think of it, I'll simply say this: I came here with the intention of pointing myself in the right direction for a career in writing and yet now I also  want to be: an editor (both in print and audio), a graphic/web designer and now a photographer! I have the editing/design ambitions thanks to my Newspaper Editing class where we have learned not just the obvious (thanks to the title) but also html and page design; the audio editing was something we did in Suzi's class and now I totally want to be a photographer too as we learn (in bootcamp are all the classes: short, sweet and JAM packed) how to work digital SLRs! Our teacher is quite the character (aren't they all, aren't we all) a gruff guy with years and years of experience under his belt. He's done a huge amount of work overseas, including areas in war.

We've spent the week learning and practicing how to determine shutter speed, ISO and aperture. It's fun to climb up the steep learning curve and feel slightly more competent each day. A lot of that I'll attribute to Chris. Although he is no longer my partner since the last class ended, that didn't stop me from recruiting him to give us an in-depth tutorial in Washburne Park after class ended. Ted, Ryan and I bopped around taking pictures each taking turns calling Chris over to help us understand what the heck we were doing. It juuust happened to be his birthday that day so he, Ted and I headed to Bepe and Gianno's for an authentic Italian dinner.

The food was IN.credible. We did the meal family style (which is how Chris, who is half Italian, told us his family would do it) and ordered all different courses, completely driven to ecstasy over each one--crostini with bree and roasted garlic cloves; pesto penne, eggplant parmesan, and almond cake-piled high with mascarpone. Glorious. Oh and you can't possibly forget the red wine!

Wednesday I enjoyed another fantastic GEARs ride along McKenzie View and Sunderman. Gary asked me an interesting question: would I like Eugene as much if I wasn't a cyclist? Well at the time I said yes, thinking of all the hiking around here and the perfect size of the town, the nice people, the coffee, the foooood...but, on reflection, I think I should have said no. I'd still love Eugene, don't you dare question me on that, but. The absolute bliss that settles upon me as I'm flying along on some winding country road on a perfectly cloudless day with a large group of the most friendly and dedicated riders, I just can't say that I don't love it here a huge trashcan's worth more than I otherwise might.

Speaking of great bike rides. I had another today! We went out to Franklin Firehouse by way of Meadowview and had another mindblowingly perfect day. It's funny, people keep joking how we've hardly had a summer here with all the rain and "cold" but honestly, I've yet to feel any need to complain!

So the rest of the week involved taking photos, learning how to use photoshop, laying out in Hendrick's Park with the dudes (my program posse) and eating a lot of Clif Bars (I need to stop buying those things...).

Well I was going to post this blog earlier but then I had to run off to work. Work has been fun but I haven't been called in much because they're really down this year, customer-wise. Aside from the usual difficulties of being on-call, working less has been okay for me because classes are a great big heap on my plate at the moment, but money is always nice...

Tomorrow I'm going on a hike up in las montaƱas with the Eugene Hiking meetup group. I offered to be a driver for the carpool so it probably would be a good idea to get some sleep so I can drive with all my faculties tomorrow! So, I bid a fond goodnight.

ps. Sending strong, supportive thoughts to Norway <3

Monday, July 18, 2011

Rain!?? Are you kidding me?

So last week went by in a blur, good thing I keep sticky notes on my desktop that recount the week's event so I can then elaborate (and elaborate, and elaborate...) on them.

Now. What better to start the week off than a resounding, cringe-inducing "CRUNCH"?

Well a heck of a lot, actually.

So the next thing I hear behind me as I'm locking up my bike  is "Oh no, were those yours?" I look down at the sidewalk where my war-torn glasses lie, completely smooshed.

If I recall correctly, there was an "Oh ****" uttered as I picked them up, staring at them through my prescription sunglasses that I always wear on my bicycle. The girl looked really uneasy and after attempting to bend them back to life, I let her take the cue to flee with an "It's not your fault".

My prof told me where I could go to get them bent back into shape because luckily the lenses weren't broken. I found my blurry way to the eyewear/doc store/place and in minutes I had my glasses back and in much better condition. No charge!

That afternoon we had what is known as a Grammar Party; it was organized by Melissa who was here last year. Tom Wheeler was ever so kind to give us a 2+ hour grammar review with a full on power point presentation. It was absolutely what we needed, although not everyone stuck around to find that out! Melissa (it was her birthday!) brought snacks and we munched on those while getting the grammar breakdown. I thought it was really awesome of the prof (to whom this was our first introduction) to put that time in for us. Grammar is hard, especially when you didn't get much of it in school. I attribute mine to reading and my Mom for always correcting me.

For Tuesday, Chris and I spent the entirety of our afternoon editing our video interviews on the river trail.

It's pretty neat to reach the finished product, after matching up video with audio, putting in background sounds and doing the voice overs. Took a long time, though! Turns out this is a lot of what we'll be doing in my next class, Visual Studies. Oh yea, and it rained. And everyone says how it's "so unusual" this "never happens" summers are "always sunny". Well sitting in class soaking wet, I was feeling heavy doubt in these Oregonians. Maybe that means the winter will be sunshine city??

Wednesday I made brownies for the following day, our last class with Suzi. I went on the Wednesday bike ride and it was fantastic out. It seemed like cyclists were coming out of the woodwork as we made our way over Bailey Hill (a doozie) to the Loraine, Spencer's Hwy crossroads. We met another group of about 30 who passed us by and Gary, our fearless ride leader, says how he loves to see more cyclists than cars on the road. Both ahead of us and behind, there were just loads of us! I loved being a part of that.

So Thursday Suzi had a movie for us and we ate all variety of baked goods brought in by only the girls of the group, I totally called that one in my head. Chris brought a handful of cheeze-its in a sandwich bag, but that definitely doesn't count. The movie was about this crazy journalist that wrote all these amazing stories and then the question comes up of whether he didn't make them all up..I love how Suzi says at the end "Don't do that." because hey, who knows, if I hadn't seen that movie, I might be embellishing left and right!
...I'm sad the class is over.

So Friday I went on another awesome ride (I think it'll be not awesome if I get hit by the pavement. They won't let you join the rides if you don't wear a helmet and believe me, that is never an issue for me!) this was with my new cycling friend Rachel who I met through GEARs. She mapped out a really great route with three big ol' hills and lots of beautiful tree-bedecked slopes. We saw a bobcat! A little one, but there was no doubt as it bounded across the deserted highway. Just after it disappeared, a turkey chick scrambled across the road in the opposite direction! We saw the mother at the edge of the woods into which the bobcat disappeared and wondered if we'd just interrupted a hunt in progress!

For the afternoon, I worked on my profile on Tilke Elkins (check it out here!) at my coffeeshop/office. They have live music every Friday so I sat outside and typed away while listening to the band.

Saturday I slept in because it seems like the tired that I don't feel during the week hits me like a million tons on the weekend. I didn't go on the ride because it was raining and I couldn't get my tired body moving at 7:30am so I skipped out (and felt very guilty about it later...I let the rain get the best of me!). In the afternoon I joined Cathy and her work friend Jasmine for the Symphony in the Park, which I won ticket to via Twitter!  Mind you, the event is free but it has limited spots and there were no tickets left available except through a Eugene radio station that tweeted something about being one of the first 5 to email them, you could win a pair of tickets..well it had been tweeted 45 minutes prior but I for the heck of it shot off an email and not five minutes later they wrote back saying congrats and come pick up the tickets at the station headquarters! Pretty flippin' cool if I do say so myself!

The concert was awesome, the Eugene Symphony played in the outdoor Cuthbert Amphitheater and we sat in the grass, ate pizza and drank wine while listening to a very talented group of musicians. There were several songs sung as well, by a pair of opera (?) singers who were phenomenal! I really loved watching the conductor work his baton as if he were drawing the music out of the instruments before him. The rain, which had been pretty heavy all day, somehow neglected to drench our evening and everyone was pleased of that.

Not a bad venue!

Yesterday I woke up to...more rain. I feel like the more rain right now, definitely the more sun during the winter, it just has to be. Right? So Rachel and I had planned a hike and I invited Ted and Chris from my class. We took basically all morning to rally up because we all were tired and not eager to go tromping in the drippy woods but after some Supreme Bean persuasion, we piled into Rachel's car and headed east. The drive was gorgeous and so quickly it seemed we were in the mountains. The trunks and branches of the trees seemed to materialize more and more moss the farther we went.

The rain stayed with us for a good part of the drive but gave up while we were trying to decide on a trail (and where that trail may be..they're elusive!). Finally we settled on Hardesty trail near Oak Ridge. It was beautiful and mossy...and muted in a way. I guess the thick ground cover and the lushness of the forest does that. We did 5 miles or so out and then started back upon the start of a slight, sprinkling rain. That and the rumbling in our stomachs quickened our pace. It was fun to spend time with my new buds and do some serious hiking. I'm feeling like I once again evaded the rain and now it's going to sneak up on me and wreak some havoc soon...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oregon Country Fair!! ...and other stuff.

After class on Thursday I rode over to The Whittaker area of Eugene..the artsy hip side 'o town. I had a 4 o'clock one-on-one interview with the art-maker who's gallery show I attended last week. I had decided to do a feature piece on her and I am so glad that I did, the interview went great! It was fun to just ask her all about her art background, methods and what inspires her. We talked for more than two hours and I got a wealth of notes to work with. It was nice because we really got to a comfortable space where she was really open in speaking about many fascinating parts about herself and her work and I felt good with the questions I'd prepared and the whole thing went so smoothly.

Interview is too much fun. We've been doing that a lot this week for our various assignments and just really find out such interesting things about people and their backgrounds. Being able to approach someone and just get their story is something that I somehow can do with confidence when I'm "on the job". I was worried about how I'd do, since my journalism leanings was more focused on the writing with the interview part of the work looming darkly over me. Well it sure isn't looming anymore now that I've taken off the water wings and taken the jump off this crazy world!

That's not to say I won't be getting the dreaded Bad Interview Experience. I just gotta deal with it when it (or many of 'it') comes.

So this weekend has had its interesting spots: let's see, there was the GUH-orges Saturday ride that had a great group. We did 50 miles and I was enjoying feeling much better than I did on the Wednesday ride. I'm making some cool friends and getting really familiar with the regulars so that I feel more part of the group each time. It's nice feeling that community feeling, corny as that sounds!

That evening, Chris and I went down to do interviews on the River Trail for one of our many class assignments. I was pretty exhausted and it seems like the week has compounded the lack of sleep and hard work to result mush for brains. Somehow that was enough to do the interview as Chris worked the camera. We had a good time with it, though, and talked with this one couple who had 7 foster kids! I was pretty impressed, most of the kids they took in were "problem" (translates to badly treated) children. They have their hands full but seem like they're absolutely made for it and, hey, if they're willing in able, more power to them.

So the thing about being mush for brains on Saturday? Well, not having a chance to rest and recuperate made it so that Sunday morning I was absolutely completely MUSH. I met Chris and Damien at the bus station to catch the shuttle for the Oregon Country Fair. Well, Damien was a ball of excited energy. Chris walked up and exuded that very same aura of exhaustion that I'm becoming so familiar with! We bobble-headed onto the shuttle for the 40-ish minutes to Veneta.

The fair is something that anyone who has been to it will tell you that if you're in Oregon when it's on, you absolutely MUST go. No questions, no arguments, just go. So we went.

And let me tell you.

This guy did The Labrinth David Bowie crystal ball hand thing!
If you're ever in Oregon and the Oregon Country Fair is on, GO. It was so freakin' great, I can't even describe so bear with me while I try. We get to the grounds and for the first stretch, all you saw were tents. People from all over come for this thing. I'm telling you.

So it is basically a verdant maze with hand-built wooden booths, of all variety, that are just too charming for words and blend perfectly into the forest-setting. The artistry that is represented is phenomenal and the people watching is Out. Of. This. World.

You've got stilt walking can-can "girls" (the quotes signify that you want to take that term loosely); elaborate, colorful costumes and quite obviously thought-out-specifically-for-the-fair outfits, hats, hair, etc.; beautifully intricate painted bodies with no holds barred on the sparkles; musicians and bands playing at random throughout the area; really the whole thing was stimulation overload but it worked out because it brought me out of my zombie coma.

We wandered, ate yummy food, marveled at the crafts and artwork, and I reveled in staring to my heart's content at anyone and everyone.

Random yoga "room" in the forest.
Our teacher was gracious enough to grant us the permission to "cover" the fair for our news piece this week since Chris and I couldn't find anything in our beat. I ended up interviewing a mandolin-maker, did you know that they call stringed instrument-makers luthiers? Well I didn't and now that's my new favorite word. It has such a beautiful sound to it. His works were similarly beautiful. Check out his time lapse video of making a ukelele on his website!

So my favorite part of the Eugene Country Fair was....storming the drum circle. I'm talking with, probably a hundred something people, a full-blown march across the entire fairgrounds, through the winding maze until we reached the drummers and waged war. For serious!

Well, it all started at the accordion guy's show. Jason Webley played to a huge group of us, all under this huge multi-colored tent. The guy was fantastic, a complete goof and really talented. He asked for recommendations and would burst into whatever song was called out with his accordion and complete enthusiasm. Near the end, he had us all stand up and he threw out the contents of a big huge bag to the crowd: tons of water bottles with beads or rocks in them. He told us he was going to storm the drum circle and show them that the Accordions were number one! So he seriously got everyone all jiggered up and started started a huge parade across the grounds, winding their way through the forest and lines of artist booths chanting for everyone to hear: "You with the drum, you'd better run, the time has come for acoooooor-di-on!" Well, wasn't about to get left behind so I got right in there and took up the chant with Damien, and Chris (daggummit!) who cleverly claimed it for his fair story ran ahead taking pictures. Somehow, all these accordionists appeared out of nowhere and melded into the crowd, playing away as we all marched forward, nothing but energy and good completely off-the-wall goofy fun! We made it to this bridge and there was our first battle, a line of drummers beating overturned buckets with sticks but they were no match for our force nor our volume. We broke through and made it to the drummers, who were ready for us. The accordionists played hard and we cheered them on. Webley climbed up to this crazy treehouse type structure (there were lots of these around btw) and played on and totally keeping us cheering, chanting against our foes. It was pretty incredible, the accordions and the thundering drums and the multitude of bodies. Very much what you would call a rush, yessirrie. Quite an experience, let me tell you.

I think we lost, though. *Sigh* .....But not for lack of spirit!!

PS. If you ever happen to be anywhere within some several hundred miles-or even more for that matter-of the Oregon Country Fair:

Just Go.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Turtle Gazing at the Moon

I hope everyone had a great Independence Day! I will admit, though that I felt the most patriotic today, the 8th of July, when I watched the space shuttle take off this morning. It was just an absolutely incredible sight, and emotional as well. I definitely felt some tear well up but they were those of excitement, wonder and pride. Just imagine what must have been going through the minds of those astronauts as they listened to the countdown...

In other news, well there's a boatload of it. I'll try not to get too carried away. (I got carried away..)

On Saturday I did a GEARs ride up to some covered bridges, it was a perfect day and I made a new friend! Her name is Rachel and we have an incredible amount in common, not to mention that we live really, really close to each other! She is a nurse at the hospital in town. We've both been too busy this week to hang out so I'm excited to see her again tomorrow.

Painting by Noelle Dass
On Sunday, Chris and I went to the Arts and the Vineyard festival on the north side of the Willamette River. It was a huge craft festival and I was covering it for my next story. Chris came alone to be my photographer (and good thing too, his pictures were far better than I could ever dream of taking). I interviewed a handful of artists and we both were totally enamored by our own chosen painting in one's mine, a turtle by Noelle Dass. Can you honestly blame me? I mean really.

It was really neat to hear the stories of the artists and how the world of festival hopping is not an easy one..constantly having to find and apply to new festivals and pumping out new work to have fresh supplies for buyers. It's not easy, but they love doing it, doing their chosen art and seeing people appreciate it.

It was a beautiful day and my photographer did a fantastic job of getting some really great shots.

Photo Credit: Chris M. Scotti

We watched a folk music duo play their various stringed instruments and sing in harmony to wind up a nice afternoon at the festival.

I met my friend Holly at Prince Puckler's, a homemade ice cream shop and we enjoyed rich creamy goodness and she got me back on track with my knitting. I'd say I progressed since I last saw her (which is when she got me started), but I pretty much missed a stitch not five minutes into trying it on my own when I got home that it's been pending until today where she had me start all over! Haha, she just slipped the whole thing off the needle, not that it was much at all..three rows? But it had the essence of a bandaid being violently ripped off!

On my bike ride home, when I passed Washburn Park on Agate St. I heard jazz music so I peeled off to check it out. The whole field was filled with people out on lawn chairs and blankets and a band played on a concrete patio "stage" on the north end of the field. They were a brass quartet and I pushed my bike up and plopped down on the grass to watch as the evening slowly closed in, breezy and golden.

Monday Chris and I met up to do the Butte to Butte 10k! We tried to find Melissa (also in our program) who was also signed up to run..we imagined finding her at the start line. There was absolutely no chance, the crowd of 4,500 runners and walkers and their significant whatevers just did absolutely nothing to help us find our running-mate. Rude, right?

So after milling about for awhile and warming up, finally all the 10k runners lined (massed?) up behind the start line. We shoved ourselves in the mix. Then we waited some more...til' the shot went off and we smacked pavement. Like, with our soles I mean. Although when we faced Donald Street which should be called Donald Mountain, I sure felt like my face might smack pavement! After a mile of steep uphill, we were greeted by first a sign that said "Free Donuts Ahead!", I laughed, thinking it was a funny joke and hoping for water. Nope. Boxes and boxes of donuts piled on a table at the end of a driveway full of cheerers on. I didn't see too many runners opt for what might have been a wonderfully kind gesture in any other possible circumstance. I skirted around them, trying not to think about fatty sugary goodness forming a solid rock deep in my shell-shocked innards.

But truthfully, it was a great run. Chris left me in the dust about 20 meters in and for the rest of the race I watched people with longer legs and wider strides fly past me in a never-ending stream, even on the downhill! I felt great though, enjoyed the run, the people-watching; and smiling, waving and saying thanks to the almost constant presence of onlookers cheering us on. That was definitely awesome.

In the last mile there was a man playing a big standing xylophone, a band playing either Under the Boardwalk or a song from the Little Mermaid, I can't remember which. As the song faded behind me, a second band was set up and playing a couple blocks down from the first! When I could finally see the finish line in the distance, I went into a sprint and somehow held it til the end, almost not able to stop in time at the crowded bottleneck of runners ahead. You can actually watch me come in at 1:01:20-something in this can scroll/fast-forward to 1:15 and watch me narrowly avoid running into the camera...

We were given bagels and water and energy drinks and I went and sat on a picnic table on a hill overlooking the final stretch and watched the never-ending flow of runners come in.

Melissa found me! But then she went to find water and we didn't see each other again. Chris found me! We watched for awhile and then pretty much walked the opposite of what we had just run (minus the hill) back to my house where he parked his car. It made for a good cool-down!

Later in the day we met back up for food and fireworks. Before we got to the fireworks, though, as we walked through campus I saw three guys playing soccer on one of the fields and after seeing if Chris was game, we walked up and asked to play with them! It was so fun, we played for around 45 minutes with these guys, two of which had arrived not long ago from Dubai. They were all really good so Chris and I made sure to let them know that we'd be "so much better" (pahaha..doubtful!!) if we hadn't run 10 kilometers that morning. Finally on the verge of cardiac and what I'm just going to call body arrest, we limped off after shaking hands with our new friends and heartily agreeing that it was a pleasure to play with them.

We joined some fraction of Eugene on the bike bridge above campus and saw some far off fireworks there and then decided to walk (limp) over the Autzen Stadium (yea yea, go ducks) to watch what ended up being a great show and we were able to get real close!  I think I blacked out from exhaustion after that. Buuut, t'was a super long but super fun day!

Monday Suzi had us interview (gah!) students around campus. That was nervy (I use this word in place of nerve-wracking, not gutsy, just sos you know). Nevertheless, it ended up being really fun and I loved hearing how they responded to my list of questions about what they thought of the news, if it was trustworthy, how they obtained it (tv, internet, paper), how much they followed it, etc. It was fascinating! Asking random people questions is fun. I did get some heavily annoyed looks when I came up to a table or two, though, and backed away pretty quickly to search for friendlier faces. I talked with one guy from Saudi Arabia who was working on his English so it was hard to get him to exactly understand my questions but just hearing a bit about him, assignment aside, was really neat and I would have stayed longer if I didn't still have more interviews to do.

This week we started our Newspaper Editing class with John Russial, who use to be an editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer which is famed as one of the best edited papers. The class is really me. So I'm the dork of my group that really gets a kick of spending an hour editing articles, what of it? I'm not saying that means I'm good at it, though. It's not easy! We have to not only check for grammar, punctuation and spelling, but also fact check. Now that is not easy and is very time consuming (or consuming of my time because I always seem to be the last one to leave after the clock has struck end o' class). I'm learning tons about AP style..which is basically a way to keep your publication standard between articles and authors, as far as making sure everyone complies with a single certain way of abbreviating, punctuating, etc. even if there are more correct ways than just one. This way your publication looks more professional, less haphazard. There are a lot of rules though, and they're definitely not all intuitive.

Did a GEARs ride on Wednesday! It was super windy and we were heading straight into it for probably 10 or 15 miles. This wasn't a particularly long ride and the entire way home had the wind at our backs but I sure was wiped out by the end of it. I was still getting through the soreness from the Butte to Butte and my legs were pretty much down for the count when we finally wheeled back into Alton Baker Park. Sterling, a 70-something man with a long white beard who had remarked on my pace a couple of weeks ago brought me some old clip in pedals of his that he had promised to bring. I was really taken by his generosity, as these are not cheap! It'll be great if I can hunt down some shoes now that aren't over the top expensive. This way I'll be able to pedal more efficiently, getting forward motion not only on the downstroke but the upstroke as well. Course, how many times I'll topple over for not unclipping in time to catch myself on a stop is yet to be determined but I'm betting I might be cursing those pedals for the week or two of trying them out...!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Journalist on the Run

Feet at an artist opening we covered on Thursday
So I've been working for the past two nights at my job at Chef's Kitchen. It's really been fun, my co-worker Chelsea has taught me how to open. The day after learning how to do it, I was made to do it again, but this time solo! I found that I really enjoy working as a server (not that I'm taking orders yet, I'm happy for that to come in time!) because I like the act of prepping everything-like setting up the salad station, getting the ice, restocking the wine shelves, wiping down the restaurant, etc.

Nevertheless, I'm no pro. After proudly shelving the last bottle of new wine, The Chef comes out, with a serious look on his face, "Did you just restock the wine?" Yes! and don't you see me, such a good little worker, taking initiative over here and sweeping the floor when no one asked me to?? "Did you put the newest bottles in the back?" Uhhhh..ermm... " You always have to put the newest wine bottles in the back so that the oldest get used up first, and it's not just the wine bottles either, it's everything. That's how it works in a restaurant, it's intuitive!" Oops.

So yea, back down I go, this time taking ALL the bottles out and, with the supply receipt, carefully making sure to re-shelve the bottles so that the ones that had just been bough were at the back.

Yea, you've seen this before. So pretty.
Ya live and ya learn and ya make stupid mistakes...but hopefully only just once.

The rest of both nights went great though! I love it when there's actually a good number of customers and Chelsea and I are wildly running around trying to refill waters and clear away finished plates while our prep cook yells out what plate is ready to go to what table. And when that plate is ready, you gotta drop everything to get it out there! It is just too much fun!

Classes have been fun, we're learning audio this week. Chris and I went out and did interviews along the river trail. 

He taught me a good deal about audio editing which is so. cool. I don't know why, but I'm finding I really enjoy computery stuff. In fact, the other night I was up til 1:30am (which is actually late for me out here, no laughing!) completely enamored with this HTML tutorial. I made my own webpage...from nothing!!

It was just so darn neat to follow the directions and type out all this code into my computer's notepad application and save it and then open up a web browser, type in the address I made and there it was!!

Mind you, this took about 1 1/2hrs of tutorial-ing...and it doesn't look really much like anything...but this is a screen shot of my web browser (cropped so I could zoom in on the most important part)! Course, now I can't figure out how to get back to it...otherwise I'd give you a link, but still!

Hey, bear with me, I'm a beginner! But it was really fun to feel like I was behind the scenes and seeing how much work goes in to even just something as simple looking as what you see above. Very cool and I have Mindy McAdams, her Journalist's Toolkit and HTML Dog to thank!

Yesterday was busy, after class we enjoyed a cohort get-together which extended from a late brunch into the entire afternoon! We moved to a cute park on Monroe and sat and talked and kicked around a soccer ball, chased Tucker (Amber's puppydog), watched the park-going kids chase was a fun time and a great chance to relax and have fun together. We're bonding! I think our group is fantastic.

A goofy pic of Tucker on the move! My new bff, btw.

That evening, Chris and I finished editing our audio postcard and rushed down to The Whiteaker neighborhood to cover an Artist Talk at The Voyeur. I've never been to a talk before and it was fascinating to hear her talk all about her inspirations around her art, which was really quite beautiful. She had a very interesting perspective on nature and how she let her art present itself. Tilke Elkins, was the artist's name. I decided that I'd love to use her for my final project in my Reporting and Information Strategies class. We have to write a feature on someone and I think it'd be really fun to do a more focused interview on her and her work, and turn it into my feature! She was totally open to the idea and we are planning to do it sometime next Thursday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hiking, Dancing, Staining and Writing

Wow, so it was less than a week that I last posted but so much has been going on, it seems like ages!

The weekend was eventful, I went on a hike with Damien on Saturday up Spencer's Butte and was really impressed with the view and the steep climb up to a long rocky top. It was the absolute best day to do it! Clear blue skies and we could see out to Mt. Baker and the Three Sisters, all covered in snow. Between the rocks grew an array of wildflowers and the few trees that had taken root near the top were covered in lichens and moss such that you felt like you were looking at an underwater ecosystem. We picnicked on burritos courtesy of Damien and some crazy everything but the kitchen sink muffins I'd made.

The Wildflowers were amazing, you couldn't help but get so close.

A view of the mountain coming out of the driveway, that's how close!
Damien and a view towards the south
That evening we met back up and drove to Corvallis (45 minutes or so away) for a Swing and Blues dancing event! The swing was a blast and, since I'd done it before I was able to pick up fairly easily but it had enough differences that I asked each guy who danced with me that he have patience with me! We had an hour intro lesson and danced for 2 hours and then they turned the lights down and we danced blues for the next two hours.  
No introductory lesson. I hadn't even heard of blues dancing til coming here! 
So I kind of just dove in and did the best I could. The idea is to mimick your partner, and the lead would improvise these slow artsy moves. It took me a while to get use to it, especially with each guy's different style, but I loved it!

This is my underwater scenery...
This stuff was so bright and the knots in the tree were just crazy accents.
A congregation of knots.
This is at the event I covered: a worm compost expert explains the process and gives advice.

Saturday I went to cover an event that was going on in my coverage area, a garden tour. There were booths set up outside of the River House community garden so I just kind of went up to the people behind the tables and asked what they represented and why they were there. I ended up learning a ton about the Master's Garden extension program because many of the booths were some group within that extension: master gardeners with a specialization, like compost, food preservation and just pure gardening. It was a fun afternoon learning about this program and the people were really interesting to talk to. They all are just so knowledgeable. 
There is a good story behind this cake..or inside it!
For the afternoon, Cathy and I had the pleasure of restaining her enormous deck! Neither of us had been looking forward to the job but we sucked it up and got to work. It took 2 1/2 hours and we got a system down and enjoyed talking as we worked, with music playing in the was done before we knew it! So that was nice to get out of the way, especially since we knew if we didn't do it then, we'd have to do it on the long weekend of the 4th and couldn't even be out on it til it dried! We were very pleased with ourselves. 
We are having fun in our class, it's neat to be able to read others' stories to get an idea of different writing styles, but also a little intimidating! If you want to have a look, we post it here to our class blog.

A beautiful residential garden on the garden tour.
For Monday night, while I should have been writing, I was instead eating cupcakes at Divine Cupcake. I met my friend Holly there, who really liked their cupcakes and suggested it. We both got the chai with vanilla/cinnamon icing. I tried not to gulp it down in four bites, but rather savor it with my soy latte while we talked. She is very passionate about knitting and I had said I'd love to learn. Well, wouldn't you know it, she pulls out a pair of needles and a big ball of yarn and set to teaching me right in the cupcakery! She taught well, I did a row or two before we were kicked out at closing time. 

I got home before the night's rain and I turned my article on the Master's Gardeners in a half hour before it's due time, midnight!

Happy girl on mountain.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Stacey's First Week o' Grad School

So, despite starting grad school in the summer, I can’t think of anything better...
My first day, we collected in a room in the library for pastries and coffee and a kind of welcome/introduction from Petra Hagen, who is in charge of Graduate Programs in the School of Journalism and Communication. We got a better idea of what we were to expect in the coming months and how she, along with the rest of the Journalism grad faculty crew are all very much available for us. What is happening right now, is that the journalism school building is getting a total makeover over the course of the next two years so our classes will be held in the Library as well as other buildings. The faculty will be stationed in Agate Hall (where I’m told the Vaux’s Swifts swirl out of the sky and down into the chimney in the evenings at a certain time of year!). So it sounds a little scattery, but I’m it’s easy to zoom around from one side of campus to the other on my bike. I think the faculty really wants to make extra care to be accessible to us, what with these changes going on just as we’re coming in.

Funny that Boulder, my other choice of school, was going through very similar changes, it was just their bad luck that the situation blew up in their faces with the audit falling right in the middle of it all.

I have no regrets, though. Just seems like I’m coming into grad school for Journalism just when the educational movement is making sure to keep up with the changes that the field is experiencing. What I like hearing is that we are going to have classes available to us now that keep us right up there in the running.

Willamette River Trail
For example, our first class has us each in front of a huge Mac computer learning about blogging on Wordpress and how to navigate Twitter and use it as a journalism tool. Suzi Steffens is our teacher for this class, Reporting and Information Strategies. The name just sounded boring so I didn’t have much hope for the class.

Not til Suzi walked in the door.

This woman pretty much blew us all away. Not five minutes into class she had us all cracking up, talking about her obsession with twitter and flying from one interesting topic to another.

Before we knew it, we were on our first “assignment”. Like, she literally had us choose a part of town based on our interests, partnered us up, and kicked us out onto the streets to “find some news”!  Way too cool.

So I was partnered with Chris and we took off on our bikes (good thing I got a fellow cyclist!) and headed off along the river trail. Chris is a California native and comes from a background in photography and just graduated a few weeks ago! So in a whirlwind, now he’s in grad school.

This couple was just too charming not to capture in a picture.
We tooled along the trail and checked out some of the various sites just off the trail, the Rose Garden which is now in bloom. I got to talking to this one man and we discovered he was the father of Chad who led our Mt. Hebo trip yesterday, haha, so I got to see him again and he seemed a little horrified that I was meeting his father who had opted to go to the Fairy Festival over joining our hike. His father was a very sweet character.

Chris and I carried on and pulled up to the River House where there was a community garden. With the intention to ask someone about that, we discovered the house itself was run by the Eugene Outdoor Program. After asking where we might find someone to talk to about the garden, we struck up conversation with one of the employees of the program and ended up finding a good story lead in him! He’s the Lead Kayak Instructor and told us about the program and how it caters to the youth of Eugene. Chris manned up and asked if we could get some photos of him (as a photographer, this is something he is use to..and something I’m going to have to work up to!) and took a couple great shots of him in the boat shed with the colorful array of kayaks lined up behind him.

Afterwards, we were outside and found a woman filling up a bag next to the garden and we asked her what she was up to. Turns out the compost is free and she was getting some for her own home garden. The city provides the various community gardens around the city with the fallen leaves and clippings they collect in the fall which is something gardeners drool over.

We rode on and talked a bit with a man in a motorized wheelchair who called himself Scooter. He was outfitted in bright orange reflective clothing and said that even that didn’t keep the cars from hitting him! He’s been here for decades and told us how much change he’s seen as Eugene has developed over time. Nice guy, once he found out we were riding on the sidewalk because we were lost and a little afraid of the road construction that was going on where we had intended to ride.

In an attempt to find a reclaimed farmland (unfarmed and let to return to natural landscape) that Suzi had told us about, we got hopelessly lost. A map would have been helpful, something I usually tend to have on me but of course not today. So we road in what we swore was a straight line but crossed Coburg Rd about three times (despite the fact that I’m pretty sure it is in a straight line as well…). Meh. Smh…

Somehow we found our way home and that night I wrote up my article on the kayak guy and the outdoor program.

That was all just Monday!!

Okay, so I don’t really remember all what happened on Tuesday. Suzi gave us a big tutorial on Twitter and Wordpress and we went over each others’ articles. I’m discovering how cool twitter is after half-heartedly giving a dang about it for however long I’ve been a member (aside from posting links to my articles and blog posts..). You really just constantly have a stream of real-time news right at your fingertips and you can follow whatever you’re interested in and get updates all the while. So I’m excited about my local resources, it’s fun to see what’s going on in Eugene from various different perspectives (including the police, my teacher, classmates, Eugene new resources, Eugene bikers…pretty great. So suddenly I’m understanding Suzi’s obsession and am suddenly realizing I’ve developed one quite similar…

Oh yea! I went on a jog up the trail to Fox Hollow and then on toward’s my second time and will be a long time before I’m not gasping like some desperate, flopping fish out of water as I “run” (aka, put one foot in front of the other, if barely) up the path.

One of the lush, overflowing plots at a Eugene Community Garden
Wednesday Chris and I made another news-finding expedition. We hung out sketchily outside of one locked community garden that had its gate ajar ‘til we got up the nerve to just walk on in. Well after watching us amusedly as we walked up, one of a trio of gardeners asked us what was up and we told him. “Did you come on bikes?” he barked, we nervously pointed at them propped up near the gate. But no, they were actually really nice and eager to talk. Pat Bayes told me he’d been at that garden for two years but has been a gardener for fifty. He pulled me off to show me the various plots while Chris took pictures and talked with the others. Bayes’ dream is to run this garden as a community, rather than having it under the control of the city. In essence, they want “control over our own existence and how we do things”, sharing crops as a community and paying dues with “sweat equity”.

Both days out in search of news, Chris and I have marveled over how open and friendly people here are. We’ve learned so much from this handful of people we’ve encountered who were more than happy to stop for awhile and just talk with us. It’s been really quite an experience..especially for the introvert in me. I definitely have had to give a little extra shove to urge myself toward that next unsuspecting interviewee. They won’t all be so nice, right?

After covering our “beat” for the afternoon, I headed home and met Cathy and we got ready for our Wednesday GEARs ride. I’d had it in the back of my head all day, knowing we’d be doing Gimple Hill which Cathy had told me weeks ago was pretty rough! Well, we met up with the group under some slightly ominous skies and headed up Loraine (which sure ain’t an easy feat in itself!). The ride was pretty flat for the majority after that and the clouds broke apart, allowing for another golden evening that will only be a vague memory in four months or so.

The beautify of the sunlight cannot begin to be fully expressed here
Gimple Hill loomed ahead and Gary, the ride leader told me to just shift way down, take it slow and “enjoy yourself”. Well I made it and am not any worse for wear. Cathy was right there too and I didn’t hear her about hard core-she just did a big ride only yesterday! We were both very happy we’d gone. The skies were phenomenal on the ride home.

For Thursday, Suzi told us she’d be in class for our scheduled block but that we didn’t have to come in. Well, I was glad to see about five or so of us showed to take advantage of another opportunity to learn something new from Suzi. Well, we are definitely being introduced to some interesting slices of the internet! Sorry, I’m not going to divulge all my secrets! Not yet!

We had a little cohort lunch get together, my classmates and I. It was nice to enjoy an opportunity to bond as a group on the patio at Agate Alley. We’ve got some characters! It was great to sit back and relax as we laughed, related to each other and shared our stories.

One thing we all had in common is we are so excited that this adventure is starting and are looking forward to what is to come.