Oregon, so far

I’ve been in Corvallis for just over two weeks now. How am I feeling?

From the professional standpoint, the slow start is over. I feel like I’m handling tasks but not necessarily in the most strategic way. It’s just about getting things done and filing away notes about how to get a handle on the procedures. I hate it but it’s a necessary part of the process, at least my process. I can’t decide how a project should be handled if I don’t stumble through a few times. I feel that I’m about to make a breakthrough but I’m just not there yet.

I should say that I am very thankful to be working with such a nice group of people who are ready to assist and are very patient with my questions.

From the personal side, I am getting over those early days when the newness of a place is almost more than you can handle. If you haven’t ever moved, trust me when I say that the first week or two in a new place is just a struggle. Everything takes longer. Everything takes effort. Even if you find a grocery store, the layout and some of the products are new to you. Oh and don’t forget your reusable shopping bags if you think you might make a stop at any kind of store. There is no mindless supermarket run or stop for takeout on the way home from work. Menus are different; traffic flow is unfamiliar.  It’s silly just how exhausting everyday life can be when adjusting to a new place.

I left temporary housing behind on Thursday morning and am in our new home. It feels good to be in my own space and I can see Mr. McB and I settling in nicely, even if his arrival is still months away. Things are pretty organized now. Both our new bed and Mr. McB’s new chair will arrive this week. It’s my job to break both in before he arrives in September so sleeping in the middle of the bed and mindless TV viewing are in my future.

photo 1(1)This Saturday, I did make it to the Saturday market where I found a load of fresh produce. My haul is below.

photo 3(3)Dinosaur kale, white zucchini, normal zucchini, and yellow zucchini along The yellow tomatoes were a supermarket find.
These ingredients were combined with crushed tomatoes and cannellini to make a delicious Tuscan kale soup.

photo 4(1)Cherry plums and Marionberries, an Oregon speciality
Ninety percent of the world’s Marionberries are grown near Salem. They taste like sweet blackberries.

On Saturday evening, I discovered the walking trails near our home. They stretch for miles and are wide enough for cyclists and walkers. One stretch of the path leads to Philomath and passes by fields on the way. Since the grasses were just cut back, there was plenty of animal activity. There were birds of prey flying high above and little rabbits scurrying to safety.

photo 2(1) photo 3(1) photo 4I might still rely on Siri to get to the post office and church, but I’m learning a little more each day. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty good start.






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Oregon Trail Days Five and Six

I’m just getting back to rounding out the trip.

Day Five
Instead of taking in more of Boise, I decided to get an oil change on my way out of town.

I had decided to spend the night in Redmond near Bend so that meant getting off the interstate and taking route 20 through Oregon. The landscape is pretty interesting. There were hills and mountains. At one point, I felt like I was weaving around giant anthills. This is also a very lonely stretch of road. It is a place where a single gas pump is worth noting and the FM stations fade out.

I don’t have any photos because there really aren’t many places to stop and I wanted to keep moving.

I was in Redmond by early afternoon. I settled in at the lodge where I was staying.


I wanted to go on a long walk but it was chilly and fatigue was taking over. I passed out pretty early.

Day Six
I was eager to reach Corvallis which meant getting up and out early. The road was an interesting one. I was driving on a wet, foggy morning which made the sunken grade and switchbacks just a bit more challenging. I know a few people, including Mr. McB who are too prone to motion sickness to enjoy this stretch of road.

I was in Corvallis before 9:30. Below are a few pictures that I took on my first day. The images are from my temporary housing. I look forward to exploring and learning more.




Oregon Trail Day Four

Knowing that traffic in Salt Lake is heinous, I decided to enjoy a late start. It was around 9 when we left for the Great Salt Lake.



Holy Moses, that is a stinky place. I don’t know what causes the stench but I know it is not the salinity because the Dead Sea smells nothing like that. There are also brine flies that help to eat the algae in the lake. The guys refused to pose on the beach or the rocks. They would only submit to the railing of the visitor’s center.


We were back in the car and on our way to Boise. After spotting a sign for the Oregon Trail Educational Center, we decided to make a stop at Glenns Ferry. The museum is found at the Three Island Crossing State Park. This site was a popular river crossing until 1869 when Mr. Glenn began his ferry service.







The settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail faced many perils in pursuit of a better life. While I wasn’t in danger of dying from dysentery or starvation, my journey to Oregon was not without sacrifice but I also thought the risk was worth the chance of a better life and new adventures.

After finishing up at the museum, I was back on my way to Boise. I was feeling pretty tired and hungry so I stopped in at La Tapitia, a Mexican restaurant near the Holiday Inn Express. It was so delicious.


After dinner, I had a burst of energy. I took a walk along the Greenbelt. The path follows the river and passes by the Boise State stadium. I was really impressed. I didn’t know what to expect from Boise but it was really very charming. I hope to visit again.







Oregon Trail Day Three

With an eye on getting to Salt Lake City before rush hour, I was out of Cheyenne early. There was a stop downtown to see the Capitol and the decorative boots that are clustered in the historic district.







Wyoming is a lovely state. There are snow-capped mountains and landscapes that resemble an old Western. I was very excited when I saw a herd of antelope and little prairie dogs crossing the highway.


To allow for a break, I decided to enjoy lunch in Rock Springs. After a nice lunch in a local brewpub, I took a walk around the historical district. It was a charming place with friendly folks.






I still had a couple of hours in WY. The sweeping vistas are stunning but the rigors of the drive were catching up to me. At some point, I felt myself getting grumpy again. Thankfully the Utah welcome center offered a welcome break from the road. I took advantage of the walking trails; it felt so good to stretch my aching legs.





It was back to the car and then off to Salt Lake City. I was not prepared for the intensity of the traffic. I was so relieved to pull into the hotel parking lot.

I vegged for a while and then took off toward Temple Square. The whole complex is stunning. The gardens are immaculate. The austere buildings are surrounded by statues depicting key moments in Mormon history. There are also fountains and green spaces that lend themselves to contemplation.




The guys are reading about pushcart pioneers who didn’t have money for a horse.

Afterwards, I decided to make my way to the statehouse which is perched atop the highest hill in town. At this point, my water was gone. I now understand why everyone had a gallon jug of water and not just a small bottle.

After nearly puking on the way up the hill, I made it to the top and really enjoyed exploring the Capitol complex.



Utah is the “Beehive State.” Benny took issue with the fact that bees were seen as the model of industriousness but he didn’t want to upset the natives so he kept those thoughts to himself.




After a walk down the hill, which was almost as brutal as the walk up the hill, we had dinner at Crown Burger. The mushroom swiss burger was excellent. The fries were tasty but I did not enjoy the local fry sauce which seemed to be a spiced mix of mayo and ketchup.


We returned to the hotel and slept well after this action-packed day. It was really a blessing to see and do so much.

Oregon Trail Day Two

Monday was a long travel day.

We started out from Columbia, MO on our way to Cheyenne, WY. The GPS decided to route us through Kansas instead of Nebraska. With all the decisions that come along with a move a job change, sometimes you just want someone else to take control and that’s what I did with the GPS.

It started out good. There was a sign stating that we were on the Oregon Trail and that was pretty cool. Shortly after that, the rains started and then came the winds. The sky was a dingy, nicotine color and keeping the car on the road was harder than it needed to be. This kept on for hours.

As I neared the Colorado state line, I noticed that my car was running a little hot. That never happens so I pulled off at an exit and let it sit before adding some coolant. I was good for another 35-40 minutes but then it started to inch up again.

God saw fit to get me to the exit in Flagler, CO where there just happened to be a garage. After an initial diagnosis of a blown head gasket, cooler heads realized it might be as simple as a bad radiator cap.

I was back on the road and carefully watching that temperature gauge. Fueled by adrenalin, I pressed on and wound up in Cheyenne a little after 9 local time.

It was a rough day. There were tears and a overwhelming sense of loneliness. At the end of the day, there was also a sense of accomplishment in having met the challenge and thankfulness that the problem was minor and that I had a support team of friends and family, even if they weren’t physically with me.

Oregon Trail Day One

Finnegan, Benny, and I started our trip around 6:30 on Sunday, June 8. It was rainy and we encountered fog on our way to Asheville. I love the drive from Greer to Asheville, it was definitely hard to say goodbye to this picturesque route.

As we rolled on 40 in NC, “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers came on the radio. It was the perfect interlude for this stretch. Finn was pretty disappointed that we were not going to watch Top Gear.

We stopped at the TN Welcome Center and the guys enjoyed the scenery.


TN is a big state. They were happy to get off 40 until the saw how long we would be on 24. Benny lost it in KY and asked to be FedExed back to Oregon. We were stuck in traffic just the other side of the IL border and I knew our little crew needed a roadside attraction to lift our spirits.



We stopped in Metropolis, IL and had a nice visit before setting off again.

We spent time stuck in traffic on 57 and finally got rolling through the farmlands of IL.

Everyone was excited to see the arch in St. Louis but we still had about 99 miles to go. It was evening when we made it to Columbia but we made it and filled our bellies before hitting the sack.

Today, we ride for Cheyenne but before that, we thank God for our safe journey thus far.

Finny and Benny in SC

Since this is my last day in SC, we decided to head out to Furman University, one of my favorite spots in the area.

Benny has told Finnegan all about our new town in Oregon. Finny thought it was only right to take Benny out for an afternoon in the South. After a walk by the fountains and a stop to smell the magnolias, we made it to the lake. 20140607-200210-72130630.jpg

Benny was very excited until the ducks began to land nearby. Beavers and ducks just don’t mix. We tried to only lob our stale English muffins to the turtles and not the ducks. Benny seemed to enjoy that.

Our trip was but short because of a problem with my phone. We made a quick trip to the AT&T store and seem to be in business again.

The big adventure starts bright and early tomorrow. Catch you down the road…

My traveling companions

Several folks have expressed some concern since I will be traveling on my own next week. I am happy to announce that I have recruited two traveling companions.

Meet Benny and Finny

Benny Beaver and Finnegan the travel gnomeBenny is a welcome gift from my wonderful new colleagues at the Oregon State University Alumni Association.

Finnegan is Mr. McB’s travel gnome. Poor Finny has been neglected for a long time. He is thrilled to bid Mr. McB and fond farewell and set off on this trip with me.

Benny and Finny promise to post lots of photos next week. Stay tuned!