It’s “Meatless Monday,” our dog Tally’s least favorite day of the week, as we lighten our food intake. She’ll come to the table, as always, but leave disappointed. It’s our way of starting the week with a healthier, lower intake of food. I just completed my morning run #4,285, enjoying the fresh, smoke-free air. There are still many fires burning in the area, as many Oregonians have lost lives and property. We’re lucky to have avoided such tragedy.
It was another boring weekend, with little to do but grocery shop and watch television. Many people were outside yesterday, soaking in the sunshine and admiring the bright blue skies. Traffic was hectic in our neighborhood, after weeks of little activity. Time to also take-in some of nature’s beauty. I’m surprised at the number of buckeye trees in our area. If it weren’t for Ohio State, I would appreciate them more. The nut is a beautiful mahogany brown with a round tan spot, and this must be the time of the year that they fall to the ground. It brings back memories of my childhood and walks home from Rice Elementary School. There was a huge buckeye tree nearby, and I would fill my pockets with these beautiful droppings. Now, they are just reminders that it’s football season and time for another loss to the Buckeyes. “Sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.”
While my wife picked up some groceries at Zupan’s Market, I walked Tally over to Washington Park. There were buckeyes everywhere she stopped to sniff, and I was careful to keep her away from the potential poisons. They can be eaten if properly prepared, but why take a chance. Beware of the Buckeye! Beautiful yet dangerous, like the shiny apple that attracts Snow White. It’s probably why I’ve grown to associate Ohio State with witchcraft. The football Buckeyes have a 24-game winning streak over my I.U. Hoosiers. It used to be that I always looked to basketball season for revenge, but that’s no longer the case.
Summer is coming to an end in a few days, but its enjoyment has been disrupted by the virus, protests, and fires. Buckeyes dropping from the sky are a sure sign of Fall. Hopefully, the stock market does not follow suit, although this morning’s activity has not been positive. It’s all a matter of timing. We have to put more money down on the house we’re building in Florida, where there will be a palm tree rather than a buckeye.
It’s another blog milestone with this 1,450th post and consecutive daily run #4282. Somehow, I was able to avoid the rain this morning. The showers are a welcome sight, hopefully cleansing the smokey air that’s lingered in the city all week. I can finally see the top of Forest Hills out my home office window. More is expected today and tomorrow as firefighters continue to fight the 30-plus blazes still threatening lives and property. The Convention Center is filled with evacuees and homeless waiting out this local tragedy. As a family, we’ve been fortunate.
It’s another Leadershipless Friday as the group fails once again to get together. Buffalo Wild Wings is certainly suffering from our absence. Mid-week whale watching at least got two of us together for a beer. In a few short weeks, we’ll all be picking grapes and celebrating this year’s crop. Last year, mold ruined the harvest so there was no picking, crushing, racking or bottling. Brix levels are pointing to an early October harvest. I finished up the last few bottles of the 2015 Walleye this week in anticipation of adding more 2017 to the “cellar” that is really a stack of cases in my closet. I Will Work For Wine!
I did watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest yesterday afternoon with little recollection of viewing it years ago – probably in a theater. We motored under that same DePoe Bay Bridge as Jack Nicholson, except our boat wasn’t stolen or filled with lunatics. I finished the movie just before seeing the Chicago White Sox claim their first playoff birth in twelve years. It once again proves that Twenty-Twenty is a year of surprises.
Our schnauzer Tally’s playmate Falco was returned to my wife’s daughter’s home last evening, so dog duty is now back to normal. Tally was surprised this morning to meet her new neighbor nose-to-nose. It’s a big black Labrador with a ferocious deep growl that we had previously heard behind their apartment door. It would have probably liked to eat Tally for breakfast, but there was not a violent confrontation. Tally’s previous nemesis, Moose the Saint Bernard, just moved out a few weeks ago. I did not get to properly meet the owner, with us both hidden behind masks and keeping our distance in the hallway. Big and little black dogs will surely collide again!
There are signs that the smokey haze may soon dissipate, considering the humidity in the air and an actual sun-sighting yesterday afternoon. A few pop-up showers have been reported in our area, but substantial rain will probably not happen for a few days. By this weekend, activity will start to return to normal by Covid standards. I still can’t see the tops of the hills outside my home office window, as I look out over a sea of gray. It’s hard to believe I was out there earlier taking-in the smoke-filled air in an effort to keep my running streak alive.
As I huffed and puffed my way up the three flights of stairs this morning, I realized that six months from now there will be no need to go up and down. Our new home will be on one floor with not even a basement. I wonder how further out of shape my legs will get without this additional exercise? Hopefully, my running will continue, while maybe I’ll get into a sport like Pickle Ball and spend more time in the water? My stride has been reduced to more of a shuffle, with very little leg lift involved. Some of this is intentional to reduce the impact on my aging legs. My 69-year old body is making adjustments to accommodate for my lack of spring and balance. I’m just grateful that I can keep going. 4,279 days and counting.
I had some work-related nightmares as part of a restless sleep. Silly things like I’ve been on the job for months without making a single sale or have scheduled things in error. At least, I haven’t had any about missing classes or not studying for a test. I then wake-up worried about the growing building costs of our home and other financial concerns. Life is not always carefree in retirement. Sometimes I wish that the home was built and we were already moving in, but that’s essentially giving-up the next six months of life. I’ve always been good at looking ahead rather than savoring the moment. In many ways, the anticipation of a Florida lifestyle is exciting, but I will miss my Oregon friends and family.
Last night was a two-dog night with Falco, Tally’s puppy-niece, visiting for a few days. It keeps both of them entertained, but means some extra work for me. Outings are more difficult as they tend to move in opposite directions with me in tow. It is fun, however, to watch them zoom down the hallways and stairs before I put them on the leash. It’s about the only freedom they truly have in these smokey, pandemic times. They both slept better than I did last night, and were anxious to get outside this morning, with little concern about the smoke.
They say that the Portland air quality is the equivalent of smoking twenty packs of cigarettes a day. Make mine Lucky Strike! Maybe I’ve been watching too much Mad Men in these solitary evenings? Breakfast for them usually consists of booze and cigarettes after a late-night affair. Breakfast for me is a 3-mile run, followed by a good cough. In these times, there are three different types of coughs: smoke, Covid, and allergy related. I tried my best to get the smoke out of my lungs this morning. It seemed worse than yesterday.
Despite it being a work day, there was no one on the streets this morning. There were some open businesses but no customers. I didn’t even see another crazy runner like myself, just a few folks walking their dogs and, of course, the homeless. The city is shut down and restaurants that expanded their outdoor service capabilities all have their arms up in the air, wondering what tragedy will befall them next. People were just starting to come out of hiding, and then the fires fill the air with harmful smoke. There’s no “Lucky” about it!
We still do plan on going whale watching in a few days. Hopefully, the sea air will clear out my lungs. Rain is in the forecast for tonight and tomorrow. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. We get enough gray skies here in Portland during the winter months, but this time of year is usually comfortably sunny. Now this “Strikes.” People have retreated once again to the safety of their homes and the economy continues to suffer. What if this was twenty-five years ago with no internet and cable to keep us entertained? Amazon has to be making a killing, while small business continues to suffer!
I had sports to keep me occupied yesterday. A no-hitter by the Cubs, another victory by the White Sox, and Da’ Bears pulled off a football miracle. It was a rare Chicago sports sweep by my favorites. Also on the positive side personally, Tom Brady lost in his debut with the Buccs, as did the Cowboys in the fabulous new Chargers stadium. Only the Colts had a live audience in Jacksonsville to watch my biggest disappointment of the day. The Portland Timbers also lost to end the evening on a sour note. Then it was back to Mad Men and their pitch about “Luckies” being “toasted.” Ironically, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” was the title of the episode.
Every year for my birthday, I get a new pair of running shoes. With my current streak of 4,276 days, I travel nearly 1100 miles annually. Fresh tread has always been one of the keys to fewer injuries. The Brooks Glycerin model has been my choice for at least the last four years, as if they need my endorsement. It’s probably not politically correct here in Nike country, but these old feet need the extra cushioning. I ran this morning in these new shoes through the ghost-like atmosphere of downtown Portland.
The Oregon air quality has apparently been the worst in the world these past few days. I wonder how many packs of cigarettes I’ve smoked of late? It burns my eyes and throat, but the streak-show must go on. Even the homeless have retreated to their tents, now covered with extra plastic, to avoid the caustic conditions. There were few others on the streets this morning. Yesterday, I made a reluctant trip to the Courthouse to check on a red light violation. There were none of the usual lines, considering the smoke and bombed-out appearance of the boarded-up building. A small sign on the plywood surrounded by spray paint indicated “public entrance.” I couldn’t even pay for parking because the glass touch-screen on the meter was cracked, and was sure that there would still be a ticket hassle. There were at least plenty of spots.
Speaking of hassles, I had received a notice in the mail from a San Antonio law firm that I had an outstanding warrant on a $512 red-light violation and failure to appear from six-years ago. Ironically, they had to hire a Texas firm to find me here in Portland where I’ve been living for the last seven years. I was certainly not avoiding the ticket, because I was never aware of the camera that captured this criminal act. In fact, there were two violations within a two-week span at this same screwed-up intersection. I paid for one, thinking they were the same court-order. Since that time, they fixed the light that was certainly one of the city’s biggest revenue producers. It apparently suckered me twice!
My only recourse was to pay the fine and file a “Relief from Failure to Appear Judgement,” hoping to get a judge’s mercy for a partial refund. This seems unlikely considering the current legal backlog, and the fact that no one is working at the Courthouse that is at the epicenter of the 100-day long streak of Portland protests/riots. Only the tragic fire issues have been able to supersede the negative national coverage that our city has been receiving. Between the homeless camps, thick smoke, devastating destruction from the “peaceful” protests, graffiti, and security fencing, downtown Portland looks like war-time Beirut.
I was glad to be able to support a struggling Portland merchant with my new shoe purchase yesterday. The shoes felt great on my feet, and got me through another day of the 11.6-year streak. The temperature was cool, a good sign that the weather pattern is shifting and fire-fighting concerns may become more favorable. There’s even rain in the forecast for next week. I appreciate the efforts of these forest-saving heroes, but extensive damage has already been done and lives lost. Riots, Fire, Virus…Oh My!
As we leave Austin, Texas this morning, I’m reminded that my running streak started here on December 29, 2008. I don’t remember the first day because I really planned on starting New Year’s Day. That early decision to begin has kept me ahead of 6 other runners currently on the USRSA Active List. We had to fly back from Indianapolis holiday festivities that particular morning because I had to get back to work at the clothing store – the only job of my life where I was forced to punch the clock, even on New Year’s Day.
Eleven-and-a-half-years later, 4,265 days ago, I ran on the very same street, Congress Avenue, just across the bridge from where we stayed last night. A daily habit of getting out of bed and lacing up the track shoes was born and continued this morning on the hot, sweaty Texas streets. I was probably running two miles a day back then at a much faster pace just to be sure that I got-in the minimum mile required to maintain “The Streak.” This morning it was 3.1 much slower miles, the current standard, that included the paths they built along Lady Bird Lake – non-existent when we lived here.
The idea of running every day was presented to me at a dinner my wife arranged with a woman she wanted to hire. We met at Fast Eddy’s and while the women talked business, her husband and I discussed running. It was the first time I was aware of the organization that celebrated continuous running streaks. At the time, they were sometimes over 40-years long – now 50-plus!. He explained that members had to complete a full-year, 365 days, to qualify. His personal streak ended at about 565 days after he fell asleep and failed to get-in his late night habit. I decided that I could do a full year but planned to run first thing every morning to avoid excuses not to complete the daily challenge. We got together for drinks with this couple again last night. I once again told him that his suggestion all those years ago changed my life, but I curse him every morning as I prepare to pound the pavement.
Today we’re headed to Foley, Alabama, about 10- hours of driving away. It’s Day 11 of our Coast-to-Coast adventure that will ultimately lead us to Florida in a few days. Tomorrow I will summarize my lunch with a half-sister that was discovered through Ancestry.com DNA testing. This will be our second get-together, another chance discovery that changed my life. To be continued…..
Most of us wish that the year 2020 was over with so we can move on to better times. However, days are precious in the twilight of your life. Each needs to be appreciated, even in these viral times of self isolation, hand-scrubbing, and mask wearing. Today was another running milestone for me, as “The Streak” reached 4,250 days (11.64 years). This morning was memorable because my clip-on radio keep slipping off my belt. It might have shattered on the pavement if it weren’t for the ear bud wires that served as an umbilical cord. Each time it fell, the plastic casing dangled inches from the ground until I finally got it properly secured. With this distraction, the first mile took 13 minutes to complete.
I’ve faced a lot of back and leg stiffness these past two weeks that continue to slow my pace. As my mother used to say, “old age is not for sissies.” I’m just two weeks from beginning my 70th year of life. The everyday aches and pains do not speak favorably about what tomorrow will bring. With this in mind, it’s even more important to appreciate the fact that “The Streak” has lasted so long. My wife’s daughter is in a leg cast after falling from a horse. So far, I’ve been fortunate to be able to run through my injuries.
I’m reading The Luckiest Man, the story of Yankee baseball great Lou Gehrig. He earned the nickname, “The Iron Horse,” with a playing streak of 2,130 consecutive games. The record stood for 56-years until Cal Ripkin, Jr. came along. Gehrig’s ended with the onset of Amyotrophic Lateral Scleriosis (ALS). It’s known today as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He should be an inspiration to all of us when it comes to discipline. I look forward to reading about how he handled life once he could no longer play.
We watched the movie, Motherless Brooklyn, last night with Edward Norton. It involved life with the challenge of Tourette’s Syndrome. It was another reminder of how lucky I am to beat the streets every day. Today, is not just another day, it’s a new week, and time to sign the paperwork on our forever home.
A week ago, I woke up in Glacier National Park and saw a couple small waterfalls. This morning it was just another run through the homeless camps of downtown Portland. The Streak continues at 4,236 days. With the discovery of an aneurysm, I’m feeling vulnerable. It’s been there for many years even though I considered myself an iron man. This minor flaw in my circulatory system has remained stable, but the pessimistic me knows that surgery and the end of the running streak is inevitable. As I approach my seventieth year of life, I hear the clock ticking and the need to savor each moment grows.
I’m a “let’s get this over with” kind of guy. There’s been no time to smell the roses. I have a lot left to accomplish in life, starting each day with a run. I actually fear the day when I can’t run, wondering what will ultimately stop me? With Montana under my belt, I’ve now gone for a run in half the U.S. states, plus Canada, Mexico and Asia. It’s how I explore the areas we visit – my own little side trip. I’ve missed out on Bali and Egypt this year due to Coronavirus restrictions. I should feel fortunate that the virus has not affected my health and the fate of The Streak.
I flip another page on the calendar showing a fabulous waterfall in Seljalandsfoss, Iceland. It’s just another place that I’ve yet to travel, when I’d really like to see it all. I’ve seen my share of waterfalls, including Niagra and Multnomah. Yosemite is the next closest option. Seeing a waterfall usually implies taking a hike, so it’s unlikely that I will see many of the world’s greatest. I wish that I could say that life is like a waterfall – a seemingly never ending flow of energy. Only rarely do they dry up. However, all streaks in life eventually come to an end. If mine does, I can only hope to start another one!
When you don’t want someone around, you tell them to “Go and take a hike.” When there’s little else to do, as was the case yesterday, it’s exactly what we did. Some people love to hike. I’m one of those that questions its purpose. I suppose you could say it’s an opportunity to go where no one else has gone before or at least “the road less traveled.” Others might claim it’s great exercise, communing with nature. I find it boring.
We took the Sperry Trail at Glacier National Park yesterday with hopes of at least getting to Fish Lake. The 6.2 mile route to Sperry Chalet was just too far. It was built in 1913 by Great Northern Railway people – who else would have the funds or building access at 6,500 feet (the same altitude as Logan’s Pass at the Continental Divide). It’s of course closed now due to Covid -19. Given the opportunity, only true adventurers would want to pay the price for a night of no heat, lights, or water after the strenuous backwoods hike. It took us 45 minutes to go the first mile straight-up (about 1,000 feet of elevation), dodging road apples and rocks along the way. It was just starting to level off when we started back after seeing only a babbling brook, one deer, and 6 donkeys carrying supplies. Also, hiking with a mask just doesn’t seem right.
It was a good exercise supplement to my 3.1 mile morning run. We followed it up with a picnic on the banks of Lake McDonald, a welcome break to rest our aching knees. It was a relief to get back to our air-conditioned hotel and soak in a hot bath. Dinner was in Whitefish about 10-miles away. My wife strolled through the western-themed downtown area at the base of Big Mountain, home of the “Hellroaring” Whitefish Ski Resort. The town of less than 7,000 residents was the boyhood home of Phil Jackson of NBA fame. The step-back-in-time Whitefish Lake Country Club was our dining choice, although nowhere near the lake. After a couple martinis, walleye, prime rib, chocolate tart, and a Pepcid chaser, we were feeling no pain.
We’ll do it all again in our last full day at Glacier National Park. It looks like another beautiful, top-down day, with little to do but another hike and picnic. Everything is closed in the park – even many of the trash cans are locked. We’ll top off the evening with another great dinner in downtown Whitefish. Sadly, we’ve yet to see the stars come out. It stays light outside until past 11 p.m. and the sun rises at 6. We would love to see a dark Big Sky, but haven’t made it yet. Too much fresh air, exercise, and alcohol to stay up late for stargazing. Maybe we’ll take a midnight hike tonight?
This morning’s run in Columbia Falls, Montana was at 3,000 feet. It was tough going with little bounce to my step. In fact, I tripped over a root on a tree-lined asphalt pathway and fell on my side opposite the cell phone pocket, otherwise I might have broken something – probably the phone. After the traditional 3.1 miles I was ready to sit down and write. We now have all the modern conveniences, including internet and phone services. The air conditioning feels great and there are two TVs in our Cedar Creek Inn suite. We’re here for two more nights before heading back to Spokane
Yesterday, we tackled the 30-mile Going to the Sun road. My annual National Parks pass enabled us to skip the entry line and there was surprisingly little traffic on the mountain. From what I had read, I was expecting a major back-up and a slow funeral procession up to the top. Instead, it was smooth sailing up to Logan’s Pass. It was also not as intimidating as I had been told with at least a short rock wall separating us from the bottomless drop. The only hassle was when we got to the lot of the visitor’s center on top where everyone was trying to find a parking spot. Plus, the trail to Hidden Lake was closed because apparently a tourist had twisted an ankle and needed to be carried out. In the patches of snow above we could see a couple of bears frolicking and some big horn sheep.
Today, we’ll stop by a nearby deli and pick up some picnic goods. There were several trail heads near Lake McDonald that deserve some exploration. I can’t put it off any longer – it’s time to commune with nature and build-up an appetite on a dusty path through the pine trees. Maybe we’ll see a moose?