Monday, July 25, 2016

A Tiffin Getaway

Southeast Yard
Less than twelve hours after returning from our mini-adventure to Oregon, Apryle and I were packing for a week back home with our families, a wedding and a twenty-four day excursion in Peru. On top of that, the very day that we would return from Peru, we needed to be ready to move out of our apartment in Shoreline and drive to our new home in Tonasket.

Hibiscus at Parents House
All of these major life moments were culminating in a matter of one month and we were both excited and stressed. We spent the entire day prioritizing, packing, and planning until it was finally time to depart to the SeaTac Airport. I went for one last run to Richmond Beach as a way of capping off our six month stint in the city north of Seattle.

Dad & I After Cutting

After a nine month absence, I finally made the return visit back to my birth place of Tiffin, Ohio. More importantly I would be seeing my family for the first time since December in Austin, Texas. I was excited about every aspect of the trip except for leaving Apryle who was bound for Harrisburg to visit with her family prior to the wedding. Our plan was to spend a week with our families then reunite at Raccoon Creek State Park, the geographical midpoint of our childhood homes and the destination of our wedding.

Birding at Garlo

I arrived in Cleveland early in the morning and was greeted by my parents who came with a car full of snacks. We chatted the whole way home and reminisced about the old undergrad days and the drives up to Berea (I lived less than two miles from Hopkins International during college).

Old School Long Run Route
Home was how I remembered, beautiful green grass, impeccably groomed landscaping, meticulously precise masonry work, and a 32x16 swimming pool on the south side of the house. My parent's dogs Sybil and Gidget ran out to greet us and I was feeling quite at home already.

Mom Walking in Garlo NP
The first order of business was to get in solid ten miler on my old standby route, County Road 16 to Township Road 151 to County Road 6 to County Road 19 and back to County Road 16. Dad hopped on the bike for the first time in about six months and joined me just like the old days. It felt good to be back on my home streets and after the run mom and I went for a cool down walk with the dogs. This was essentially the way my week visit back home was to play out for its duration.

Garlo NP Trail
Life was good, a nice break from the daily grind. I continued to run at my favorite spots, cool off in the pool, work around the yard and visit with friends and family. Dad and I ran/biked our Sandusky River Long Run Loop, making it the only long run route I have completed every year since starting my crazy obsession.

The strange siting of the Dead Carp
Mom and I walked at Garlo Nature Preserve and ran wedding errands. Dad and I took a walk up to the woods behind the house and cut up some fallen trees for the wedding center pieces and mom and I worked on deserts for the wedding (well mostly mom).

Mom at Garlo NP
I was able to run at my old practice track at Heidelberg College and at my dad's kingdom, the Tiffin Stadium track. I did a tempo run at Hedges Boyer Park around the Tiffin Cross Country Carnival Course. I put in some loops at Forrest Nature Preserve; the best trail running Seneca County has to offer. Mom and I circumnavigated Garlo Preserve near Bloomville which was a great adventure full of birding, trails, and dead carp.

Lake at Garlo NP
Finally, the day before the wedding dad put together a mini bachelor party with two of my groomsmen Goose and Bowers. We relaxed by the bonfire and watched the Cavaliers in the NBA finals en route to winning the Championship (a dream realized).

Dad Carrying Gidget Home
It was a memorable visit home and though I was sad for it to end, I could not help but be excited about the wedding, the Peru trip and the move to our new home in Tonasket.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Pre Wedding Adventures in Oregon

A collaborative effort by Zach and Apryle

Apryle and Ebey at Dismal Nitch

On May 25th we started out on our journey to the Oregon coast around 8pm, leaving from our apartment in Shoreline. It was not until early morning of the 26th that we arrived at our impromptu campsite near West Lake (just east of Cape Disappointment). We made camp on an uncomfortable slope but were still able to get a few hours of rest.

Apryle at Cape Falcon
We packed up camp and made our way to the Washington/Oregon boarder, but not before stopping at the Dismal Nitch. I was especially intrigued by the scattering of Lewis and Clark Expedition memorials after reading both Sign-Talker and From Sea to Shining Sea during my undergrad years. Both of these books highlight the expedition, and include descriptions of little know heroes of the voyage as well as vivid journal entries which highlighted many of the places along the Columbia that we were driving past.

Cape Falcon
After enjoying the dismal weather at the Dismal Nitch, we continued on to Oswald West State Park. This was an unplanned stop, and our intention was to get out and stretch our legs with a quick run. However, it ended up being one of the most beautiful coastal views we had seen yet. We first took a trail that ran under highway 101, through a dense forest to a beach bookended by towering cliff sides.

Apryle and I at Cape Falcon
Then after taking a few laps, Apryle jetted off to another trail junction that led to Cape Falcon. This trail had a bit of everything: vertical gain, birds for the life list, dense forest, stream crossings, wildflowers and it offered spectacular views of the ocean and various rock formations.

Running Bastendorff Beach
The rest of the day consisted of driving and making random stops at interesting towns we passed along the way. We did some antiquing in Wheeler where we bought Apryle’s wedding band, we sampled cheese at the Tilamook factory, and we watched for whales from the observatory at Depoe Bay. In the early evening we finally reached our destination of Coos Bay.

Camp Site at Bastendorff
I have glamorized the town of Coos Bay due mainly to Steve Prefontaine. As a high school distance runner, you would be hard pressed not to see at least a few of his quotes on warm up clothes of a cross country team. His style of racing made him difficult not to be a fan of and despite it being somewhat cliché, I had to visit his hometown and at least run a few miles.

Sunset at Bastendorff
Additionally, I have also started to recognize Coos Bay as a pelagic bird mecca as well. At any rate, Apryle found us an amazing free campground known as Bastendorff Beach. We went for a run along the water and tried to outrun the incoming tide. Then set up camp in a small stand of spruce trees on the dunes and could hear the waves crashing on the beach as we drifted off to sleep.

The Sea Lions and Seals
We awoke on May 27th and made the brief drive south to Cape Arago State Park. Descending to a rocky outcropping overlook, we heard the throngs of sea lions barking in the distance.  We were delighted to find Cape Arago was a hub for seals and sea lions.  We watched them noisily discuss sea lion matters on the craggy rock island and saw them leap from the water swimming. When we peeled ourselves away from the show, we went for a short run through the forested trail and then back along the seaside trail.

Running along the Bluffs
After exploring the Cape, we continued our pilgrimage to Coos Bay with a lap around Marsh Field, Prefontaine’s high school track.

"There must be a gas station or service
station around here somewhere"
-Clark Griswald

From Coos Bay, we traveled north to Eugene, making two brief stops en route. The first, to romp around the dunes on trail 1339. Sandy from head to toe from tackling each other on the wind swept dunes, we reminisced of our stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park when we moved Zach from Colorado to Texas to start PT school.  At a second roadside pull-out, we paused just long enough to maintain cell service while Zach interviewed for the PT job in Tonasket.

Pre Trail
The mulch and gravel Prefontaine Tail was easy to find in Eugene. We promptly set out running, with Zach averaging 5:52 pace for the 10k course designed to fulfill Pre’s vision of a soft running path.

We walked around the campus and peered through the imposing iron gates at the entrance to Hayward Field. The track was buzzing with athletes, news broadcasters, and staff preparing for the Prefontaine Classic. After an amazing meal at an Indian restaurant, we walked to Pre’s rock – a tough way to end our visit to Eugene.

We were sad to have to leave Oregon, but excited for what  lay ahead.  In the next ten days we would travel home to visit our families, get married at Raccoon Creek State Park and start our three week adventure in Peru!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Peru Photos

Here are some photos. Narrative to follow at a later date!

We saw about 13 figures plus the aqueducts while flying over the mysterious Nasca Lines.

Zach is trying not to look as sick as he feels. Despite taking a Dramamine, I'm not in much better shape.

Feet back on solid ground!

While in Nasca, we did about a 5 mile run that visited 3 historic sites including Paradones.

On our run we also visited aqueducts we saw from the plane. Possibly built by Pre-Columbian Nazca architects around 540 A.D. in response to two prolonged droughts during that time.

Ascending to Inca ruins above Ollantaytambo, with the terraces of Ollantaytambo Fortress visible in the background.

The Inca ruins of Pinkuylluna were used as Inca storehouses. It was free to visit this site and only about a quarter mile from our hotel.

Looking through a window at Pinkuylluna, with the Fortress in the background.

The next day, we hiked to more free ruins. As we approached Pumamarka ruins, a farmer gave us permission to hike through his field.

Looking down at the canyon from Pumamarka.

Zach made friends with the natives at Pumamarka.

We hiked up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, and our effort paid off with tourist-free views.

We immediately hiked to the Sun Gate to watch as the light first splash color onto the Lost City of Machu Picchu.

The ruins were incredible, and the surrounding jungle mountains were, also.

Llamas graze amidst the ruins.

Those Incas know how to choose a good view.

Machu Picchu is home to myriad flora and fauna.

The trip was full of birding.

Temple of the Three Windows.

This stone kept time.

Wife and husband.

We watched restoration crews repack mud into some of the walls.

Some walls were so intricately carved that the blocks fit seamlessly and no mortar was necessary.

Machu Picchu was built into an impossibly steep mountainside.

The hike from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu follows a stone pathway made by the Inca.

Our Cordillera Huayhuash hike started in Llamac and ascended to this first stark pass.

Lots of grandfather cacti.

Day 2, the wind nearly knocked us over as we hiked up and over a steep pass.

The next drainage held spectacular views.

The rocky, arid landscape was bursting with purple lupine.

Camp at Curtelwain, where giardia symptoms hit hard.

We got a bus back to Huaraz, watching movies in Spanish and resting. We could hear the honking of taxi drivers and barking of dogs on the bustling streets below our hotel window.

Huaraz market

Huaraz market

Huaraz market

We headed to an alpine hostel called The Hof to finish recovering from giardia and get a few hikes in in the Cordillera Blanca.

We couldn't wait to get back on our feet, and immediately hiked to Laguna Churup from our hostel.

After an ascent that used ropes over rocky slabs like the Via Ferrata, we reached Laguna Churup.

At 14,600 ft, and still very weak from giardia, Laguna Churup was a tough warm up.

Giant hummingbirds loved these huge blooms on the hillside behind The Hof.

The next day, we planned an easy exploration and recovery day up Qedabra Cojup.

But as the scenery tempted us to press on, our recovery day turned into a 17 mile roundtrip.

Zach sporting his giardia.

The return trip was just as beautiful.

Our next big hike from the Hof was up to Llaca.

The glacial melt forms sparkling lakes. This lake has a dam to protect Huaraz below from flooding.

The crystal clear, brilliant blue stream hid the effects of cattle.

Finally we explored the beaches of Lima. Lima is the most grey, overcast place I have ever been.

We checked out the birding at Villa Marshes about 11 miles south of Lima in a district called Chorrillos.

We rented a boat and to our suprise a guide came with it. Though I do not know the English name, our guide call this bird a Wacu.

Layover in Las Vegas.