adventure

Sand For Days

As part of my coastal Oregon series, this particular writing is dedicated to the amazing experience I had on the Oregon Sand Dunes. So much fun that I had to write about it in just one post. All by itself.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I really didn’t visualize the beauty of the dunes or the depth of how far the dunes stretched. I did however catch a glimpse of the dunes roadside where there was an enormous hill of sand with a four wheeler going down it. I silently thought to myself no way. That is way too high for me.

We were lucky to get on the ATV tour as that was the best way to see the shore and the dunes in what I called the safest option for our trio to navigate the dunes as first timers. 30-40 mph on the climbs and the descents were so fast I didn’t even check the speedometer. 26 miles we rode round trip. Nobody flipped. Nobody got stuck. It was a success. This Bay Bridge photo is hard to capture in a photo meaning the in person view seems 1,000 times nicer. 

So much beauty. Such a thrill ride. One of travel buddies said this is definitely a top 10 experience. I would have to agree. I will definitely find my way back to this coast to tackle the dunes again. Not sure when but I will make time for sure.

We had a great guide and we even did some bowl rides at the end. It is hard to explain but you ride the dunes sideways up and down like you were in a bowl. You have to hit the right speed and maintain or your could roll! Just an exhilarating experience. This is also very different from the straight up climb to the straight down descent where you actually can’t see what is ahead of you when you then begin this descent.

This adventure covers the dunes and plenty of play time riding. From the natural bumps or jumps on the main road trail to the coolness of passers by. Everyone added flair to their personal rides with cool flags, political flags, neon lights, and so on.  Our adventure also covered the trip to the ocean to ride along the water. This was another breathtaking sight to see. The large ocean waves were just feet away pounding the shore while you zipped by. There was a fog in the air making the visibility low but the air was cool and crisp off the water. 

This adventure comes with a few $$$ on the review but if you take into account gas prices, the equipment used on the terrain and the guide it is well worth it. The family that owned our rental company was super focused on customer service which I also appreciated.

Can’t wait to come back to this coast and hit more spots along the way. Such a beautiful place to spend some time off the grid.

balance

Road Bike Ramblings

Checked the tires. Helmet on. Out before dawn.

A pre-sunrise neighborhood bike ride was on the docket. Thirty minutes. Easy peasy. Just cruising to get the blood flowing early on a Sunday.

I live at the top of a hill. So the very first thing I get to do is fly. Fly down the hill, wind in my face, breathing deep. Yes, all you Safety Susies, I left my Airpods at home so I could pay closer attention to any traffic at the early hour. As a side benefit I also enjoyed the sounds of the crickets. The frogs. The quiet of morning. A line from a poem came to mind…”to be the only one awake in a house wrapped in sleep.” There is a special peace in that (and maybe a few giggles thinking how many safety cameras I was tripping off.)

Once the wind hit my face on that downhill I remembered how much I love my road bike. Just getting going on it makes me smile but flying down a hill is such a special feeling of freedom. So it makes no sense that I don’t ride more often. I only get out once a month or so. I keep saying I am going to do a triathlon this year. But I realized I am in a mode where the distance between what I say I want to do and what I actually do is great. I want to slim down to feel better but I don’t adjust my nutrition to achieve that. I want to write more but don’t take the time. I want to express gratitude to people who have helped me but the thank you cards still sit in their wrapper. Something I thought about as I rolled under the streetlamps.

Back to biking…I have been doing an endurance program at the gym once a week on a stationary bike. It’s been good for my pacing and endurance control. I tell myself it’s triathlon training. But it doesn’t replace time on an actual road on a bike.

When it comes to the road bike, I hate the uphills. I fumble with the gears trying to make my legs hurt less. My neighborhood is basically all hills of various lengths and gradients. (This is one reason why I sometimes don’t get on my road bike. It takes time and effort to transport it to a flat course.) But as I was riding this morning, I embraced the hills. I took my time getting up them. I sat with the pain instead of resisting it. And then, I enjoyed the coast down the other side. The reward for the work. The time to breathe.

I thought about many friends who I know are facing that big hill in their lives. With a job. With a family member. With a relationship. With themselves. They don’t want to climb it. They would rather go around or just stay put. (This is me, too! In more areas than I’ve even shared.) The only way to get that feeling of freedom is to do the work of getting up the hill. Some times of life are just smooth effort, puttering along on the flats, enjoying the scenery. But exhilaration, the relief, the satisfaction of wind at my face comes after I’ve pushed myself through a challenge. Time to summit the hills I’ve just been staring down, hoping they will disappear. I have been given these mountains to show they can be moved, as they say. Or, so that I can enjoy the beauty and freedom of the other side.

challenges

Shattered

My daughter got a cameo on the big stage…a chance to play on the field of an NFL stadium. Only five minutes. A handful of plays. But I knew it would be an experience she wouldn’t forget.

Of course I had to go cheer her on. We traveled to downtown Atlanta, a far cry from our suburban home. Waze dropped us in a part of town I didn’t know that well. I felt pretty good that we found free parking on the street about 8 blocks from the stadium. We pulled in and walked to the game.

There was a clear bag policy and I forgot my clear bag. Ugh. I grabbed my wallet and cash from my purse. Not sure why…I usually wouldn’t take all that in my pockets, but I figured better safe than sorry.

We took in all the sights and sounds of an NFL game. We cheered when she passed to a teammate who ran it in for a TD. She made her mark.

Flash forward to a couple of hours later. A rain storm had hit. I don’t really care about NFL football so we headed back to the car shortly after halftime. We passed a car about 10 spots away from ours that was going through their trunk, etc. as we walked by. I didn’t think anything of it. Then, as we approached my car, I noticed debris all over the sidewalk. The first thing I saw were my daughter’s faces. Their buttons from years of playing sports. I was so confused. Why were they on this wet sidewalk? Then, toiletries. Those were from my gym bag. And then I looked up to see my passenger side window, broken. Shattered. It took a minute to set in. A smash and grab.

I had been robbed.

Too many details to share here about what got taken, what got overlooked. (They skipped all my gift cards, took my airpods…) Things that were valuable to me that had no meaning to the thieves. There were at least 10 cars that had the same thing happen on this block. Some got hit others got missed. I assume it was because I had bags on my seats. I called the police but they did not come. So we drove the long chilly January air conditioned highway home.

As we drove, I said out loud all the things I was thankful for. They didn’t take those gift cards or my triathlon medal. They didn’t take my awesome stadium blanket or some other valuables I had stashed away. I can only figure they were after cash and easy sellables. Probably addicts.

I was thankful I did not walk up on them while they were doing this. I was thankful my car was otherwise unharmed. I was thankful I am not in a position where this setback would be a real mental or financial hardship. I am SO thankful something whispered to me to take my wallet! It could have been so much worse. I really was not shaken or shattered inside. I can only attribute this to my mindset work and knowing to keep losses in perspective. I would not have responded this way a few years ago.

In a few days, with the help of my family, my car was fixed and all of this was in the rear view. Am I glad it happened? Of course not. But I am grateful my life pushes on. Building your mental and physical muscles matters. I remembered this quote from Dutch Bros. Something I aspire to. There are still a handful of people and situations that can get into my mental fortress, but not nearly as many as there used to be.

challenges

The Off Season

I am a teacher. I work from 8:00 am (or earlier) until 4:00 pm 190 days a year. During those hours I am a role model for little kids, a good colleague to my co-workers, and so on. What happens when I head out to stores to do errands after school?

As an elementary school teacher, I honestly still watch myself a lot of the time. I know I could look up at a store or restaurant and see little eyes looking up at me with an incredulous squeal: Mom, it’s Dr. Friese!! This has happened many times. For that reason, I can’t be cursing or loading up on margaritas when I am out and about, especially within a certain radius of my school.

This self-censorship of sorts extends to social media. I rarely post anything except for very “innocent” family or fitness updates. I stay out of photos where drinking or other grown-up activities are involved. I don’t post political content as much as I can avoid it. I have just a handful of select parents who can see what I post. Otherwise, I just refuse most of those requests, but I am still aware than many people could be looking. I sit through legal presentations each year that share examples of teachers losing their jobs because they post themselves doing legal, adult things online that a parent used against them. Better safe than sued or jobless is my mindset, I guess.

Some comments lately had me wondering if this is fair…as a teacher, I feel expected to hold up some sort of rated-G moral standard no matter where I am. The other roughly 14 hours a day and 175 days a year I am not at school, I often mentally steer away from situations where I can be captured doing “inappropriate” things. But is it fair to expect that I’ll just be basically angelic most of the time? Is being a teacher what I do or who I am? Who gets to decide?

Others close to me have been in this situation lately as well. A friend who is a nurse had a family member go through a medical crisis. She wasn’t completely happy with the way all the care was going and let the staff know it. She wasn’t ugly or unreasonable as much as firm and inquisitive. She was told she wasn’t being professional. But her role in this situation was that of a family member advocating for her parents’ health. Does she have to be a professional even in her personal life?

What other jobs seem to carry the expectation of acting a certain way 24/7/365… am I always a mother? A father? How about the captain of an athletic team? Do I have to behave “as a captain” even in the off season? What does that mean? If I am a forklift operator or a chef, I don’t have the weight of those jobs following me around all the time. How about an athletic coach to young people? A politician? A priest? A police officer? Why do some jobs or roles become identities and others allow you to clock out and just be who you are?

I don’t have solutions for this. It just troubles me how some jobs or roles are seen as 24/7 while others can be left behind when work is over. It’s not even the highest paid people who can just shed their professions at will. Some onlookers use these roles as a weapon when they don’t like what you are doing. (Heaven forbid you’re a teacher and post something with spelling errors!)

In the end, we are all just human, with likes and dislikes, flaws and foibles and lives outside of our work. Just a few early morning thoughts.

challenges

Just Disturbing

the threat. The hoax. The stir. The anxiety.  And everything in between. It was a late evening during a weekday and an email popped in from the school about a threat. One that was being worked by leadership. No worries just a heads up.
Then the text messages fly in. The social media posts hit. One of which is below. So many families opting out of school for safety. Some arriving late. What to do? Thankfully we had a preset dental appointment so we would miss the crazy of the morning.

9:30 we arrive at school with a tardy note in hand. It’s an unusual site. 6-7 cop cars and suvs representing various law enforcement. The sound above is actually a helicopter. What is going on? We pull into a spot to park in case we arrived during a lockdown.
We call a few families to see who is in school who is not. As we sit and adjust to the chaos we hear a boom! Maybe it was the echo of a dumpster slamming shut but it was all we needed to hear. After that boom, we immediately thought gunshot and left the parking without a moment to spare.
School could wait for the next day. My child was anxious. My child was unsure if school was safe. Heck I was like what just just happened. I wrote a note the next day to excuse her for being out of school. I was honest. I noted the above. It wasn’t excused. It wasn’t a valid reason. Are you kidding?
That day I’d say more than 70% of the school was out based on vehicles in the parking lot, parent confirmations and minimal traffic before and after school. Would you think the day should be excused? Would you have sent your child if you faced the scenario I did?
I have been scratching my head about this topic for weeks. I finally jotted down this post. There were many other crazy social media posts of concern. In the end I think what is this world coming to. I value each day and hope I never have to witness a mass shooting or catastrophe at a school. Although those are my wishes, I know deep down it’s possible especially in today’s climate.