Tuesday, March 29, 2011

HCRSHT: Days 6 and 7 - Eagle Creek to Eagle Creek

HCRHST stands for the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. My son and I are attempting his first end-to-end which turned out to be about 90 miles. For pictures and back story check out these links: Getting Ready, Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Pictures, and Progress.

This is the portion of our trip where things began to get a bit crazy. Now, you may say that not having a hotel was crazy, or that sleeping through extreme weather warnings was crazy, or even hitchhiking with your small child was crazy, but all that was sort of par for the course on a long distance trip especially through our Gorge in January.

When we hit our third extreme weather advisory in Eagle Creek it was due to flooding. The rain began to come and it just didn't stop. It transformed from rain into pouring and continued for 2 days solid. This combined with the fact it had warmed up only enough to not be snowing and the ground was melting off. We got updates from the Rangers that went something like this: "You cannot continue, all trails are closed," or "We have rerouted some of the major trails as things appear to be letting up, but it is still not safe to continue," or "Nope, you can't go on. Multnomah Falls is even closed due to snow melt combined with the flooding. " When that one was announced I knew we might actually have to end. The only other time this major tourist attraction has been closed was in the now fabled Floods of '96. During that time the Willamette River rose over 10 and a half feet. A foot of that was in under 3 days. We get serious rain here. Since we didn't have a television or the Internet to watch, I couldn't really tell just how bad it was elsewhere. So the map was pulled out and we tried to figure out a new game plan as the information streamed in.

Multiple giant Douglas Fir trees flank the original pavilion complete with stone fireplace and giant cooking pad.

Luckily, Eagle Creek is an incredible spot to be holed up. In the 1840's this is the place where intrepid Oregon Trail folks would place their wagons on rafts and float them down the Columbia hoping for the best. By the late 1800's steamers were popular here and ferried all sorts of cargo up and down the Gorge allowing commerce to the settlements. Due to such popular traffic, in 1915 The Columbia River Gorge Park was established as a unit of the Oregon National Forest system. This was the first time in our nation's history that any part of land was set aside for exclusively recreational use. The very small space (23 miles by about 5 miles wide) was set aside from timber use, resort population, and even mining.

The rock reads: "In honor of Jacob Kanzler 1879-1940 whose dedication to humanity and love of the great outdoors this 23 mile strip along the Columbia River was formally dedicated in 1915 to all people for recreational use and enjoyment.

So as the rain poured down around us, The Barracuda and I slept in the first campground to ever be established in a National Forest. In the first two years the campground was established (1915-1917) more than 150,000 people would sleep here and use the Eagle Creek Trail. This action set the precedent to be followed by the rest of the nation in the National Parks system. We read Call of the Wild, listened to the eagles scream overhead catching fish, and tried to stay as dry as possible. It seems like such a simple act, but connecting with that kind of history has been important to our family. We want our son to see that if it weren't for the early days of preservation, much of what he knows just wouldn't exist.

To be clear, the Columbia River Gorge Park was not considered a National Park. Yellowstone was the first designated National Park in 1890, but was set aside as animal and land protection. Yosemite, was deeded to the state of California in 1864 for preservation as well. The Columbia River Gorge Park was the first recreational facility on federal lands and Eagle Creek the first campground. It was not for preservation of animals or resources, but for the sheer joy of recreational pursuits and a trial for the forest service to see if people would actively use a space for camping/hiking/natural pursuits.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Confession Time

I'm a control freak. While I realize the entire effort is completely pointless, because we are ultimately in control of almost nothing, I still grip the world far too tightly when it comes to matters of big change. I'm highly easy going with the little stuff, but big stuff and I just don't work out too well if you spring it on me.

Let's pick an example from quite a long list of recent events: In order to cash a savings bond I had to be placed on Jules' checking account for approximately 4 days. I had a complete panic attack in the middle of the bank. I think I scared the teller a bit. The security guard was definitely on edge as well. Later, Jules likened it to a cartoon cat who is supposed to take a bath. Yeah...that's probably accurate.

Well, another freak out moment happened yesterday. After quite a long drive and personal lecture (I moved out pretty young and had to embrace the art of the personal lecturing), I have decided to put my big girl pants on and get back into this blogging and being an adult thing. Regardless of how much of life is up in the air at the moment, I should probably hold it together a tad bit better than I have been. You know, that whole Role-Model-To-A-Child deal.

Let me state for the record (and mainly all the Family who read this), the up in the air stuff isn't really bad stuff. Here's the short list:

1 ) Finding out about the ulcer stuff isn't bad, though I am annoyed with how much of it is unknown.

2 ) The first house we were looking at fell through after 2.5 months of negotiations; it was a bummer. That isn't bad, because the one down the street we are currently negotiating on (and have been for the last month) is much, much better even if it is nail bitingly suspenseful working for approval of 3 different agencies (owner, county, and leasing agent) More will come after April 8th when we are given some kind of confirmation. Currently we are through 2 agencies and just need the third.

3 ) My work as a writer has been on hold for 6 weeks (making money tight), but that isn't bad because they are reworking the entire website and I've been given a promotion to columnist (WAHOO!).

4 ) After almost a month of planning, we are sending off our Wonderland Trail application and won't know until May. That's not really bad, since I want the mountain to be intact more than I want to traipse around it, but it sure would be nice to know earlier if the whole thing was going to happen and how many miles we have to hike a day.
So yeah, that kinda normal adult life stuff that I should probably not get all bent out of shape about. Long story short, blogging will once again be back to normal.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

When Cultures Collide

Here in our household, there is only one person who follows what would normally be called "Traditional Medicine" and that is Jules. I am slowly corrupting him over to "VooDoo Medicine" as he calls anything homeopathic. I don't even take asprin. However, in the last little bit that has had to change due to this whole ulcer thing. In the middle of the night, stabbing stomach pains which inhibit walking and breathing require an emergency room visit regardless of where you stand with Traditional Medicine. In my experience, emergency room visits generally result in X rays and medications with long fancy names, and this one was no different. I've now been on meds for about a month and it is really throwing me for a loop!

Pre ulcer diagnosis, I didn't really realize there was much going wrong in my stomach. I'd have occasional heart burn (but who doesn't when they eat triple pepperoni pizza with pineapple?) and I could easily identify the food which I ate that was probably a bad choice. It didn't really happen very often. I didn't feel all that tired. I didn't really have many foods which upset my stomach or my intestines. In short, I considered myself pretty healthy.

Now, I am on anti-inflammatory meds which turn down my stomach acid level quite considerably. I am supposed to accompany these meds with an over-the-counter antacid 30 minutes before I eat something acidic or which could produce excess stomach acid due to being hard to digest. Do you know now many foods are considered "acidic?" They include, but are not limited too: oranges, any citrus fruits or juices, tomatoes, coffee, chocolate, meats other than fish or chicken, fatty sauces or gravies, items which contain calcium (because they increase stomach acid), nuts and seeds (hard to digest), many raw vegetables, items which contain honey or sugar, and fruit juices. Well, that basically includes 90 percent of what I eat.

My non-medication centered life has been quite different for the last 25 days and I'm not liking the results. I'm exhausted. All this lowering of my stomach acids has caused significantly decreased digestion and I'm really feeling it. My anti-medication stance is being further fortified as I really dislike the borderline nausea feeling of having a constantly full stomach, but my body demanding more nutrients. Man oh man, I don't know how people can take handfuls of medication, or medications to counteract symptoms of other medications. It's kicking my butt!

I honestly recognize the need for me to be on these meds for the month that I have been. I dare say the pain in my stomach was even slightly more intense than labor with The Barracuda, and believe me, it wasn't a fun birth. With 11 pills left, I'm sticking it out because I just plain don't want to feel that bad again. However, after this first dosage is over we are switching back to the natural route for illness protection and prevention. If my current feeling is how 62% of traditional medicine followers feel, it explains a lot about depression in the United States.

It is odd to say that since taking medication to make me "better," I feel far worse. Considering most people acquire the H. pylori bacteria in their system when they are children and then carry it the rest of their lives, the issue is most likely never going to go away for me. Personally I'm taking this stint of ickiness to further fortify my desire to go back to juicing, teas/tonics, yoga, and long distance trails.