2008 was a very busy year for me. I can tell this simply by looking at my Flickr account. I usually make a set per outing or trip and for 2008 I had 15 separate sets. In 2007 I only had five.
Although I moved to Portland in October of 2007, it was really in January when I started to settle in and make Portland my new home. Prior to this was the hassle of moving for the second time in two months, finding an office, and traveling back home to California for a couple of weeks to celebrate the holidays with family and friends.
My first road trip in 2008 was to the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The museum is home to a number of aircraft, including the SR-71 Blackbird, but it’s main claim to fame is the Spruce Goose. I tried to get some good photo graphs of the aircraft, but it was just too big to capture with my tiny point and shoot camera. It’s so big, in fact, that I couldn’t see the SR-71 at all until we walked to the other side of the Spruce Goose. I highly recommend the Evergreen Aviation Museum. It’s a fun day trip from Portland and not too long of a drive through some very beautiful wine country.
It also turns out that this outing was the first date I had with my future beloved, Sherri. We’d gone hiking together a few weeks earlier, but shortly afterward we had the nerve-racking yet glorious I-like-you-you-like-me-too conversation. We’ve been dating ever since. This relationship is a milestone for me in a number of ways. For one, my beloved is the first woman I’ve ever dated. And this is the most well-adjusted and mutually supportive relationship I’ve ever had. I’m grateful everyday for it and see lots of good things in our future together.
In the spring I took the Mazamas Basic Climbing Education Course (BCEP). The Mazamas is a well-established mountaineering club based here in Portland. Every year they run a six-week introductory mountaineering course.
It’s incredibly well-priced (in my opinion) and open to a range of ages and fitness levels. In many ways the course was extremely challenging. Prior to taking the course, I had very little if any outdoor experience, so in many ways I felt a bit under prepared. I hated the rock-climbing portions of the course. But I loved the snow sessions we did on Mount Hood. I didn’t manage to make it on an actual climb in 2008, but would like to try for 2009. At least once anyway.
2008 also saw a number of hikes around the Portland area, mostly in the Columbia River Gorge, but also elsewhere. Some destinations were: Hamilton Mountain, Dog Mountain (with snow), Oeneota Gorge, Squaw Mountain, and aborted Larch Mountain hike (snow, again), Tyron Creek, and a handful of easy hikes in Forest Park.
I began three notable practices in 2008, all related: I became vegan, started doing yoga and started sitting with a Zen Buddhist group. These three practices have made an immeasurably positive impact on my life. Even as inchoate as these practices feel (being vegan is about 10 months old, the other two a little over six), I can feel a greater sense of equanimity about myself. I endeavor to continue, nurture and grow these practices throughout 2009.
Often I like to travel for my birthday, so this June Sherri and I took a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia. We drove up in a rental car and rented a flat for five days. It was a fantastic trip. I really enjoyed getting to spend five days straight with my sweetie and Vancouver is a beautiful, wonderful city. The only real annoyance about the trip was waiting in traffic to get back through the U.S. border. That and I think I gained two pounds by eating lots of vegan halvah available at one of the restaurants near where we stayed.
Other fun Portland day trips included trips to Sauvie Island (for picking raspberries) and to Kiyokawa Orchards in Hood River county (to pick apples). Sherri and I even managed to make a weekend trip to the SF Bay Area in order to meet each other’s friends.
2008 also saw the stabilizing of my young freelancing business. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do and have forged a great relationship with a couple of clients. I’m also slowly learning about and becoming involved in the Portland tech scene.
In October I traveled to the Bay Area once again to attend the surprise party for a close friend’s 30th birthday and was reminded of the value friendship.
In November, my folks visited for what might become their annual Portland trip and we had a wonderful time visiting the Saturday Market, Powell’s and the Chinese Classical Garden. They also met my girlfriend for the first time, which went very well. It met a lot to me that they visited and specifically noted how happy I am in Portland and how well I seem to be settling in.
December ended with a crazy snow storm that dropped several inches of snow in metro Portland (very uncommon) over two weeks. Locals humorously referred to it as “snopacalpyse” and “snowmaggedon,” while the resulting melt was referred to as “thawnami.” Portlanders sure like to make up new words. I left shortly after the snow began to attend my mother’s graduation (a Master’s in counseling) and then became stuck in Sacramento for a few unfortunate days. Fortunately I was able to find someone to rideshare with on Craigslist and we arrived safely in Portland after a relatively uneventful drive up (except of course for installing chains and driving through 50 miles of snow). Sherri and I spent a very quiet Christmas together hangout in the flat trying not to eat too many Christmas cookies.