First Trip to Savanna

Wife M and I are making our first trip to the south that is not in Orlando and not for business, and decided on a trip to Savannah, Georgia.  We watched Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil to prepare and my Type A wife has prepared an agenda for us, including ghost tours.  Traveling is stressful for me since I don’t feel well (I try not to say it out loud to the family so as not to ruin their trip/fun), but I will have a good time once I am there. We booked this trip before finances were tight, so it is stressful that we are going, but at the same time it will be an experience we’ll remember.

First Trip to Savanna

Really enjoyed my mani-pedi today!

Wife M scheduled manis and pedis for us today.  My pedicurist was especially good, and had a good touch and gave a good massage.  I spent the entire hour with my eyes closed while focusing on the warmth of the shoulder pillow, the soothing feeling of the process plus foot/shoulder massage and enjoying my warm tea.  It was a marvelous hour at a time when I am in a lot of pain/fatigue from my illness and also feeling worried about my current flare and spot on my lungs.  

Commentary: Once again, there were like 10 women and 1 dude (me) in there — some day, maybe, more dudes will figure out how great mani/pedis are and how nice it is to have groomed hands and feet.  Until then, I’ll enjoy being the only guy in a salon of women 🙂  When I was in college, there were times when guys would comment about how did I know so many women – duuuuhhh, it is the little things that indicate you are not a gorilla or clueless dude, little things like manis/pedis, asking women questions about their lives instead of talking about yourself, wearing stylish shoes/shirts that a stylish woman picked out for you and making flawless eye contact (that is, keeping eyes up or away, and not on breasts or other women). Also, the topic of sex should never come up, ever – it is okay for women to talk about sex with other women, but as a married man making any (even harmless) comment about sex is risking crossing that line of trust.  Even after 25 years of blissful monogamy, those habits are still ingrained in me and help keep my relationship with Wife strong.  

Anyway, I enjoyed my mani/pedi today.

Really enjoyed my mani-pedi today!

Nice overnight stay at Salish.

Wife M and I stayed overnight at Salish. We had happy hour in the lounge, got massages, watched movies and ordered room service, and had a wonderful brunch before heading back to reality.  It was nice and relaxing, and I was able to actually still work nearly a full day on Monday after we returned late morning (I was rested so twice as productive). This is an occassional tradition for us dating back 10 years, and the 20 hours away feels like a nice weeklong vacation.  It is nice now too because the kids are older so can watch themselves versus having to find a willing grandparent.

We watched the Royal Tanenbaums.  I love the movie, and more specifically I love Gene Hackman in that movie.  

Nice overnight stay at Salish.

Played a couple of wonderful hours of GTA

Confession: I love Grand Theft Auto.  It is the only video game I’ve played as an adult, and liked it so much I went out and purchased a used console and a new game.  I play the open world, meaning I race Franklin around the city, making up little games for myself as I go.  Tonight I made a game of chasing taxi cabs.  It was wild — racing through the streets, ramming cars, cars exploding, pedestrians leaping out of the way, things on fire… It was hilarious…  But here is the thing:  in real life, I am almost always a gentle and non-violent person (I am even against the death penalty and refuse to watch porn since I believe it is exploiting youjng women that we should empowering rather than objectifying), but love racing my car through the streets of GTA, causing wonton destruction, laughing hysterically the entire time.  I asked my therapist about it – should I be concerned that I enjoy the game so much?  He pointed out what a kind and caring person I am, and if my outlet is a couple of hours of GTA, that is okay.  So, tonight was a fun night of blowing things up, and tomorrow I return back to my normal kind/polite self.   (Note: I am exceptionally polite, except when I am truly angry, and is something my therapist tried to tone down (i.e. to be less openly friendly and polite), but he finally gave up – it is how I am wired, and I have a hard time not being friendly and polite 🙂 ).

Played a couple of wonderful hours of GTA

Got a mani/pedi today – I love getting mani and pedis

Got a mani and pedi today with Wife M and Daughter L today, and the first thing I’m doing when I get home is taking my shoes and socks off and revel in my clean feet.  My male friends have teased me at times about my mani/pedis, but I honestly don’t care what they think – I am comfortable enough in my masculinity and sexuality (and attractiveness) that I don’t need to explain myself to any men whatsoever, especially when it comes to pedicures 🙂   I truly love getting manis and pedis on several levels: it is nice to have clean nails, it feels great to walk around with scrubbed feet, it looks nice, my wife appreciates it and it is almost as relaxing as a massage.  I plop myself in a big leather chair, they give me a warm pillow and a cup of tea, I turn on the back massager, and they massage my shoulders and legs when they are done.  Pretty damn awesome.  It too my wife a few years to convince me to get a mani/pedi, and since my first one (Memorial Day weekend 2007) I’ve never looked back – to me, getting a mani and pedi is like a haircut, it’s something that you do every few weeks as part of staying groomed and looking nice.

Got a mani/pedi today – I love getting mani and pedis

My 90-Minute Trip To Shangri-La (Benham Falls)

Every summer since 2007, I make a few early morning bike rides from Sunriver to Benham Falls.  It is a 90-minute round-trip journey for me at a easy-moderate pace, and is something I treasure. For the first years, I used to race through the trip to get as far up the trail as I could (usually to Dillon Falls) in those 90 minutes, but in 2011 I was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, which makes a fast pace impossible for me.  But that turned out to be a blessing, for now I take those 90 minutes to enjoy what essentially is a trip to Shangri-la (paradise).  This blog overviews that trip.

Leaving Sunriver

The trip begins between 7 and 7:30 in Sunriver.  Usually, there is still a chill in the air, so I begin my journey in jeans and a sweatshirt, weaving my bike past the meadows, golf courses and ponds for 15 minutes through the resort under the shadow of Mt. Bachelor.

Arriving at the trail head

At the far northern reaches of Sunriver, is the trailhead to Benham Falls.  At one time, this was a dirt loging trail but it was recently paved and marked.  If I peak through the trees very closely, I catch a final glimpse of Mt. Bachelor peeking through at me to see me off.

The Trail Leads East, then North

The trail begins due East, and first thing in the morning I am heading towards the bright sun.  It is peaceful, and I have time to think as I pedal.  I think about how the sun is 96 million miles away and has been burning for nearly 5 billion years, yet is still this warm and bright.  It is wonderful.

Then the trail veers sharply left and heads North.  The sun falls behind the trees and I have a clear peaceful view ahead.  Just a few short years ago, this was a rutted and grooved forest trail road.  I pass a jogger or two along the several mile bike ride.

At the Deschuttes River

The trail crosses a road, descends for perhaps 50 yards, and a bridge appears.  I am at the Deschuttes River.  It is impossible to capture this moment on film – the river sings as it passes the bridge.  To my left, the river flows along steep wooded hills, and to my right the river is cut off by an expansive sun lit lava field.  Undeterred, the river veers north and leads the way for me.  This bridge is built atop the base of an old logging train bridge, and as I cross the river on my bike I almost feel that I am riding on that train as the wooden planks shift beneath my tires.

Just past the bride, the river clings to the trail on one side, and an ancient lava field on the other.  It is peaceful here – the river bubbles and swirls peacefully, a fisherman stands 10 yards away knee deep in the river and the sun shines on the lava field and my face.  It is hard to believe that just a half mile ahead are turbulent waters.

The Path to Heaven

If ever there is a pathway to heaven, this might be it, and a photo can’t capture the essence of this moment.  The river veers right and leaves the path for a short distance, leaving just a forest trail for perhaps 100 meters.  Birds sing overhead, the distant sound of water is in my ears, and I can hear the soft crunch of my feet on the dirt path to go with the rhythmatic sound of my breathing (deep breath in, deep exhale out).  For a few moments, the entire world has melted away into tranquility.

Lava Butte Makes An Appearance

Now, the river returns, bringing with it Lava Butte, the 500-foot tall mound that created these lava fields 7,000 years ago.  Just as quickly as Lava Butte appears, it disappears back into the trees as the river begins to accelerate.


Off The Main Trail

The main road continues on, but there is a smaller hiking trail (marked with a sign) that loops off right, with the river, for 50 meters down then up again before reconnecting with the main trail again.  The river is a thundering cascading torrent here (especially earlier in the season) — behold, this is the cascading torrent of Benham Falls!  From this view, you see it cascading down before cutting through ancient stone (the original river was blocked by the lava fields, creating a 30-mile long Benham Lake before the water found the western edge of the field, draining the lake and creating Benham Falls).   

The Overlook

The main trail enters a parking lot, or winds east to an overlook that provides a spectacular morning view of the falls.  The falls thunder down in steps for approximately 25 feet.  Here there is a placque for Michael Todd McDonald (1961-1984) – initial Google searches did not provide a backstory to this placque.

The Trail Takes A Breather, Then Leaps Back To The River

Past the overlook, the trail dips back into the forest while descending back towards the river.  At the bottom of the dip, the river re-emerges, racing back against the lava fields.

The Final Destination For Me

FInally, the river jaunts west, making a final rush, then jaunts north and — having spent its fury — takes a breather as it waltzes into a meadow.  But before that meadow, I find a small outlook ont the trail – my final destination.  Here, I can see the river below, the lava fields across the way and — in the distant northwest — the Sisters mountains.  It is an amazing view and a serene moment.    


Returning Home

It has been 45 minutes since I left my house. After a few moments of enjoying the view, I will turn and make the journey back. But if I were to continue, the process of the past 15 minutes will repeat itself – the river enters a quiet stretch, accelerates, then speeds over Dillon Falls. But my current spot is a good place for me to give my lungs a rest, regroup and turn around again – it is a blessing of (stable) lung disease and Fibro that they have forced me to slow down and enjoy the view and the moment.  I am feeling invigorated, and it is not yet 8:30 AM.  By 9:15, I will be back at my house, drinking espresso with my wife.  

Life is aweome sometimes.

My 90-Minute Trip To Shangri-La (Benham Falls)