Winter Escape to Maui, Hawaii

 It’s been almost a year since we escaped to Maui for a week. It was one of the most wonderful vacations I have ever been on. My son’s wedding was the reason we ended up in Hawaii on the first day of winter 2016.

I could not think of a better way to spend the first day of winter than sitting beside the pool, soaking up the sun and feeling the tropical air on my skin. It was the most relaxed I believe I have ever felt in my entire life.

This was a vacation to be remembered and I can hardly wait to go back to Maui.

But Now I’m Found

I found myself in Umatilla, Oregon while playing the role of Executive Director of the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. No really…I found myself, because when I crash landed in this small city early this spring, I was completely lost. Many of you have been a part of my journey and know that I was really struggling. But today, just a few days from my last day at the chamber, I am no longer lost. I am no longer tired. I no longer struggle to smile. I truly found myself along the banks of the might Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon and the people I met along the way helped to make me whole again. I will be forever in your debt. The only payment I can offer is to keep you tucked safely in my heart and count you all as friends.

For the friends who enjoy seeing where my travels take me I would like to tell you about this six month stop along the roadside of my life and give you some insight to how special some of the people of Umatilla really are and how, during this season of my life, they played such a big part in the healing of my broken heart. I will never forget how they all took me in and made me one of there own. At the risk of leaving someone out I would like to tell my other friends a little bit about the amazing people of Umatilla and how they affected your friend Lori’s life.

First and foremost I have to thank Ken of Cruising With Ken. Ken, thank you for your friendship and teaching me a new way to look at life. The days we spent in the early morning hours in my garage, hammering out your amazing vision, will forever be some of the most special memories I carry with me about Umatilla. You have been such a great professional mentor and I always felt as if I were getting a crash course in Ken University, thank you for that. Your heart for people is inspiring and I could not be more proud to call you my friend. I am looking forward to what comes next as your vision continues to become reality. #CWKandKenUniversity

 

Roak….Roak…I cannot not smile when I think of your friendship and the pure heart you have for Umatilla. If there was an ‘I Love Umatilla’ award you would win hands down! Counting money, time at the marina, sanding tables, working Landing Days, the dunk tank, Muppet tickets, the Blue Moon Beer Garden, The Path of Almost Totality Tailgate Party, horseshoes, and of course horse racing….such great memories…oh and Bayliners. With my brother hours away in Elgin, you took on that big brother role for me and I really appreciate all your insight and your friendship during my time here.  #bigbroroaktololo

 

Nanci! Nanci…you are such an inspiration to me. You are a firecracker and I see great things in your future. I love your passion for people, and I am so happy that we became friends. We knew from the beginning we were just meant to know each other. Thank you for always being there when I needed someone to talk with. I would pick you to be part of my team over and over again, you bring so much to the table and will continue to bring value and passion to anything you set your mind to. #Iwantnancionmyteam

Then there is Craig…Craig for President! Craig, every single time we visited I completely enjoyed myself. It’s a good thing we didn’t go to middle school together because I think we would have always been in trouble for giggling. Thank you for being a great president. I always felt like you genuinely cared about any concerns I had in regard to the chamber and I appreciated your professionalism and your humor….but mostly I appreciated the videos!! The videos were the best. #craigforlatenighttv

My friend Tina…I don’t know that I know anyone that works as hard or has as much energy as you my friend. I know that you are teaching so many of your kids to have an incredible work ethic and Umatilla is so lucky to have you. I know that I have been so blessed by your friendship and I cherish my memories of our shenanigans…dancing, laughing, crying at sad movies and giggling at Landing Days after parties. You are a joy… an absolute joy to be around and you give so selflessly to so many in your life. I am so happy you are my friend. #everyonesmom

Dave…Dave your heart for Umatilla and the people who call it home is such an inspiration. This community is so fortunate to have had your family so actively involved for the past 25 years, you have given so much of your time and resources and it inspires me. I have thouroughly enjoyed our friendship. You were always, always, always such a pleasure to visit with. Thank you for making me feel like I was a part of the Umatilla family right from the start. #Umatillasrockstar

Jeff, I am so glad you became part of our board giving you and I a chance to become friends. Being able to talk about our spiritual similarities was always such a joy. Thank you for the prayers I know you sent up on my behalf. They were much appreciated. I look forward to our continued friendship and I look forward to getting together with you and Ashley in Portland in the future. #siblingsinChrist

Russ I am so proud of the work you are doing for Umatilla. It has been such a pleasure to work alongside you on the different projects we have tackled…I think we could have a Lori and Russ TV show…what do you think?? We might be wise if we put some of our humor on film instead of us being so serious. The horseshoe game might have been TV material…maybe not…how about the beer garden humor?? Yeah, that would be a best seller if it was a book! Russ, seriously, I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming your friend and I know you and Dianna will continue to be a part of my world. Keep up the good work. #biggerthanlife

Salud, my dear sweet friend Salud. You are such a delight to be around. Your smile is infectious and I don’t think anyone can be in a bad mood if you are near. You absolutely light up a room with the pure joy that radiates from you. I am so glad we spent time together on Landing Days, the Tailgate Party, Paint Night, my party….you are so much fun to be around. I’d like to bottle your pure positive energy and be able to take you with me everywhere, but I will settle on just being your friend. Thanks for always making me smile and making me feel loved. #youlighttheworldsalud

Selena…When I think of you my dear friend I just want to wrap you in my arms and tell you how proud I am of you. You are such an inspiration to me. You are an overcomer, and you are making such a difference in the world already! You constantly make me think with each passionate Facebook post you post and make me proud that I am your friend. Keep fighting the good fight, but don’t forget to take care of you as well. Thank you for walking into my life and becoming my friend. I will be keeping an eye on you and cheering for every single accomplishment you reach. #shesgotheart

My buddy Matt…you my friend are so much fun to spend time with and to work beside. You were such a great part of Landing Days and the Tailgate Party and you have definitely made your way into my heart. I am so glad that you stumbled into Umatilla and have made it your home. I know we will continue to run into each other over the years as you decided who you are going to become. You will do great and might things in your life and Umatilla will forever be a thread in the fabric of your life. I wish you all the best in the future and I sincerely thank you for your friendship, and all the laughs we’ve shared…it has been so fun to get to know you. #mattforOregongovernor

Raelynn…I am so excited that you are becoming a part of Umatilla and will be such a welcoming place for people of the city as well as those passing through. You will be so many peoples first and sometimes only impression of Umatilla; you are perfect for the role. I want to thank you for your friendship. From the moment we first met I knew we shared something special. I am looking forward to stopping in at your place each time I pass through Umatilla. Thank you for being you and for being my friend…even when I ask you to watch…three??? was it three dogs? You were so wonderful, thanks for helping me with that situation. I wish you all the best in your business venture. See you soon. #ourwelcomer

Toni, my dear funny friend Toni…I think one of my favorite memories of the eclipse is driving through the middle of town in the middle of the street with you as you video taped our traffic jam…..So fun and so funny. Thank you Toni for becoming my friend. I know this is not goodbye for us and we will continue to be friends for years to come. You and Roak and the love you have for each other is such an inspiration to me. I am so glad I have been able to witness the special bond the two of you have. It makes me know there is always hope for my future. #roakslove

Amber…we got too busy!! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve seen you. I cannot tell you how much your friendship means to me. We just hit it off in an instant and became fast friends. I look forward to going fishing with you next spring and sitting around your firepit in the evening. Thanks so much for helping me out on the tailgate party, your food was phenomenal. Let’s get together before I leave…maybe do lunch. Please tell Rich I really enjoyed our visit during the Tailgate Party….it was really good for me to relive some of the good times I had in my youth. #bestsmokehouseinthecountry

Jackie…girlfriend you are amazing. I have had so much fun getting to know you and I know our friendship just scraped the surface of both of us. We did not spend near enough time together, but I always enjoyed your snappy wit and how much you loved to be annoyed by me. LOL. You really do have a special place in my heart. Thank you for always being exactly who you are. I will miss you. So glad you are my friend. 🙂 #youdontscaremeLOL:)

Melissa we were always like two ships going in opposite directions because we were both busy busy, but I did really enjoy the few times we got to spend some time together. You do such great work for Umatilla and I’m not sure it would survive without you. Your work is so valuable and I appreciate all the hard work you put into those areas that had to do with me. So glad you are in charge….just don’t tell Russ I said that. 🙂 #thefoundation

Jason…You and I did not get a chance to get to know each other very well, but I do want you to know how much I appreciated all you hard work and how willing you and your crew were to make sure you took care of everything I needed during our events. I am glad you were a part of what we were doing and I know you will do great things in your new role with the city. I wish you the best of luck. #Umatillaleader

Dianna….This cannot be goodbye!!! We were just getting to know each other and we have so much fun together. You and Russ seem to always be in the same place I am just a day or two away.. We need to work on getting our traveling schedules in sync. I have missed you so much since our last outing and I plan on tracking you down before I leave so we can giggle and laugh at things only we would think are funny. LOL. Your friendship is so special to me and I look forward to our next adventures. #Diannarocks!

Cindy..It was such a pleasure to get to know you and I look forward to keeping up with all your remodeling projects on Facebook. I really appreciate your point of view on life. Even though we did not get to spend a lot of time together, we did have a good time going to Pilot Rock. I am sure that our paths will cross again in the future. Thank you for being a part of the board and welcoming me so kindly and making me feel so welcome from day one. #remodelerextraordinare

Kelly…your determination to make Landing Days a success was so cool. I know you are very passionate about this event and it just would not have been the same without you. You brought so much of yourself to making sure this was a successful event and I really enjoyed working with you. Next years event will be bigger and better I am sure. Thank you for all you do for Umatilla, it is very much appreciated. Glad we became friends. See you next Landing Days. #kingoflandingdays

Kirsten….my sweet little Kirsten. You my dear are a rock star! You worked so tirelessly beside all of us and we were all so proud of you. Thanks for always keeping me smiling and being such a huge help for me in my office. There are great and mighty things in store for you young lady. Always find me. I am one of your biggest fans and I am just thrilled that you and I got to become friends. You are always welcome to be a part of whatever it is I am doing. You are a great worker and a great person. I’m very proud to know you and I love your sweet heart. #superteen

Debbie I know we did not get to know each other near enough, but I truly loved your sweet nature and really enjoyed the few visits we had. Thank you for inviting our crazy Landing Days group into your home, it was such a great bonding experience for us. I really appreciate you coming to my party and I look forward to our visits in the future. #craigsdebbie

Betty…I have more than one Betty in my life and each one brings me so much happiness. Thank you for always being happy to see me whenever I walked into your office. You never made me feel as if I was being a bother….even when I was being a bother. I enjoyed getting to know you more at my party and I am really looking forward to helping you in your side business of train robbing….who would imagine we would have that in common. LOL…Looking forward to fun times ahead. #bettybear

Heidi…I know you have made such a difference in the lives of so many of the kids in Umatilla and I am glad I have been able to get to know you. Thank you for taking on the task of becoming a board member. It is appreciated by the entire board and I know you will help make the Umatilla Chamber successful in the future. Thank you for giving so much of yourself for this great community. #overseer

Tamara…we were just getting started. I wish you luck in Umatilla, I know you already know it is a great little town. Handle it with care. You have such a great opportunity to make such a huge difference here and I know you will do your best to make sure that happens. I know we will continue to see each other at different events across the state and I know we will have a great time whenever we get together. See you around for sure. #Umatillaproud

How fitting….Amazing Grace just started playing on my tablet…so cool. The ultimate song about being lost and being found. Love it!! So cool that it came on when I was writing an article about being lost and being found. #Godisgood

So, my friends, these are my friends. If you ever make it to Umatilla know that you travel through a place where I found peace, love, healing and friends, a whole great group of wonderful friends.

As for where I am heading next…only time will tell, but I’m sure you all know that you will see me on Facebook and Instagram. In the immediate future I am heading back to Beaverton to live with my fabulous friend Betty Trombatore. I am going to embrace my inner Portlander and see where life takes me as I become a full-time traveler….I’m not sure I can really say that since I will be living in Beaverton when my wheels aren’t spinning, but for now I’m claiming that title.

Thank you for reading this and if you are my friend please know that you have touched my life and have played a part in making me who I am and I am forever thankful to what you have brought to my life. Proverbs 11:14 says “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” I have found safety throughout my life as my counselors have been many. Thank you friends. I am truly blessed by each one of you.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times…….

 

 

 

 

 

Loving the Dirt

I found myself appreciating dirt this week….I know, right! Dirt??

I remembered a time when my two boys were little and they couldn’t wait to get home from school so they could grab the shovels and work on digging a massive hole at the back of our property. I never knew why they were digging it, or whether or not they even knew, but I know that dirt made them happy and helped them make some great memories.

I also thought about the dirt my family would track in onto my freshly swept kitchen floor and thought, for just a moment, how it would be nice to relive those moments now that they are all raised and have kitchen floors of their own to manage. My kids could probably count on one hand how many times I got after them for ‘tracking up’ my floor. I very rarely cared. I would much rather my kids felt comfortable in their own home then have a spotless kitchen floor.

My other appreciation of dirt this week was experienced at the Pendleton Round-Up. After spending just a few hours walking around the Round-Up grounds my boots were covered in dust. It was dust I was proud of and showed it off to my three girlfriends. “It’s Pendleton Round-Up dirt”, I told them.

As the weekend progressed I thought more about dirt and how the dirt in our lives affects us. Each of us has dirt we have to contend with. We can look at it as a nuisance, or realize our dirt is why Jesus came in the first place. Because of Him our dirt is bearable. He’d rather we felt comfortable in His presence then have us worried about all the dirt we’ve accumulated over the years.

We aren’t perfect and we were never meant to be. Our dirt was washed clean on the day Jesus died on the cross.

As I spent time with my friends this weekend I appreciated their dirt, it helped me understand my own dirt and I realized I did not love them any less because of the dirt they have accumulated on their journeys. They were living their lives the best they knew how at the time and now they are equipped with more wisdom then they had before….all because of the dirt.

Over the weekend I had the chance to walk out onto the soft brown dirt of the Pendleton Round-Up arena. I stood there looking around and thinking about the history this iconic place has been a part of for the past 100 years and I appreciated the dirt.

Psalms 51:1-13

My Ride with Cruising with Ken

Another weekend adventure under my belt and boy what a ride it was. A week ago I was intrigued by the adventures of Ken Fickel, a motorcyclist who decided to cross the United States with $20 in his pocket, a unique story to tell and a nation of citizens to inspire.

I knew I wouldn’t come close to understanding unless I got to experience what it feels like to ride a motorcycle, so I asked if I could tag along on one of his rides.

The weather in northeast Oregon has been completely unpredictable this year, but on the day of our ride you couldn’t ask for a better day. The sun was shining, but not too hot; the wind, that had been blowing for days, had finally settled down to just a slight breeze, so after a little help getting my helmet buckled and some quick instructions on how to ride, we were almost ready to go. I was feeling a little anxious before climbing onto the bike, but I told myself, ‘this dude has 1000’s upon 1000’s of miles on his bike’. After one last comment from Ken… “If you have to hold on, you can’t ride with me,” I was on my way, cruising with Ken…and trying to figure out how to hold on without him knowing I was actually holding on.

From the very first moment I decided to relax and enjoy the ride. Spring in northeast Oregon brings about field after field of crops; alfalfa, potatoes, mint, and wheat were just some of the fields we rode by as the yellow lines of the road kept zipping behind us.

I’ve traveled down a few roads on my own and have seen my fair share of hazards, but I realized how different those hazards can look while on a motorcycle. A cow, a fawn, some rocks, and a piece of metal were all just a stone’s throw away. It was then that I understood fully that the vulnerability factor on a motorcycle is increased significantly; I was glad I was riding with a pro that skirted around each obstacle, seemingly, without a second thought.

The ride was amazing. Each twist and turn of the road held a new landscape to admire. From the rust red rock cliffs along the Umatilla River to the greens, golds, and browns of all of the different fields we drove by. The Blue Mountains wrapped around the edge of the valley in the distance, while a field of green and purple had us driving through the scent of Lavender for miles.

I’ve grown to love the wind lately, it feels healing to me; to have that much wind in my face made me feel ready to face the life in front of me with an entirely new attitude. One a bit more jaded, but more solid then I’ve felt in years.

I was beginning to understand why so many people choose to be motorcyclists, it seems like it would be completely addicting and I’m not completely certain I’m not hooked already. After riding 100 miles with Ken I felt more prepared to hear and understand his story.

After 30 years in sales he decided to leave the button down shirts, the ties and the corporate world behind and cross the country on a motorcycle with only $20 bucks in his pocket.

Of course to do something so bold, as to set out across the nation with just $20 would take more than just the support of his family, he was going to have to find people from the west coast to the east coast that would also get behind his vision.

Ken was fairly certain he could eat corn dogs and sleep under a bridge if that is what it took to get through a day or two….or more. “I knew I could live within these parameters and succeed,” he said.

So he did it, he absolutely did it. He rode from the west coast to the east coast on $20, a whole lot of hope, and on the comradery he found at each and every stop along the way. “I met people who I now consider to be my dearest friends. It has been an amazing adventure. I’ve documented much of the trip with photos and videos. It is amazing the stories you hear from complete strangers as they opened up about their life to me. Then I met a very intelligent individual working at a gas station, it was his second job. This encounter was one of those pivotal moments in life. When I asked him why he was working here he told me he was saving up to take his kids to Disneyland. Right then I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to send this guy and his family on a trip to Disneyland and fix his bike while he was gone, so that when he returned I could take him on his Adventure Ride. That guy is always in the back of my mind while I continue to build this platform that will someday reach a large audience. My goal is to make a TV show, which will give me the opportunity to help a lot of people, like my friend that wants to take his family to Disneyland, or the guy I met that would love to have a motorcycle again like the one he had to sell as a young man because raising kids was more important than riding a Harley.

“The whole reason I left my home on $20 bucks and headed across the country was because I wanted to encourage people that it is possible to do whatever it is they want to do, whatever their passion is, it is attainable.”

My adventure with Ken was coming to a close. I sat on the back of his bike just a mile from my home and I closed my eyes. I felt the wind in my face and let go of every thought I had and just experienced those last few moments. I was completely inspired by his story and his vision for the future. It was one of those encounters that turn out to be life-changing; one that makes me want to strive to become a better person, to go about making the world a better place right where I’m standing. And to think he’s touched 1000’s of people on this journey already that are thinking the same thing as me, and now, after today, I get to be a thread in the fabric of the story of this guy’s life and I find that to be kind of cool.

 

 

 

 

 

Condon, Oregon….The Long Way Around

A road trip seemed to be inevitable on this beautiful spring day in NE Oregon, but to where? After throwing out a few ideas we settled on Condon. We planned on going from Hermiston, down Highway 207. We knew there was a turn or two involved before we would arrive. Neither one thought to keep Google maps live…afterall, how hard could it be to find Condon?  Well, actually, it turns out when a couple of people are just chatting away and watching the wheat fields go by, it can be almost impossible to find Condon, especially when we discovered, after about an hour of driving that we were coming upon the Columbia River, a body of water that should have been at least an hour from our rearview mirror.

We weren’t sure where the mistakes were made, or where the turns were left unturned; we did know, however, that we messed up. We chalked it up to ‘meant to be’ and ‘no regrets’, simply because we came across the unincorporated city of Cecil, which had one grain elevator and a general store that looked as if it hadn’t been shopped in for at least a few decades. Peeking in the window was like taking a step back in time. Old scales with ornate steel sat on the counter. Wooden rockers sat on the rickety porch and when I sat down in one and began to rock, I couldn’t help but imagine how many tall tales had been told on this very porch over the years. We stood on the porch step and took a selfie of our reflection in the window. Little did we know at the time that we were heading in the wrong direction, but truthfully, it was one of those moments during the day that helped to make the entire trip.

We walked through the entire town of Cecil (which simply meant we walked back across the dirt road to our rig) and headed toward the Columbia River, not knowing we were in fact heading toward the Columbia River. The shock we both felt when we saw the oh so familiar Interstate that travels alongside the Columbia, was priceless. Without a second thought we headed toward Arlington which was just about nine more miles down I-84. We were fairly certain we could find our way to Condon from Arlington, and sure enough, within about 35 minutes we were heading down the city’s main street. Condon was absolutely nothing like I expected it to be.

I am certain I have been to Condon in the past, but as we traveled from one end of town to the other I did not recognize a single building, everything was completely new to me, so I am sure that I have just seen a sign to Condon so many times that I actually thought I had been there before.

Condon is amazing. We stepped into the Select Market and had a wonderful conversation with the lady behind the counter, who was very welcoming and made us feel right at home. Once we left the market we came across a group of motorcyclists who had ridden from their home in Seattle to Moscow, Idaho, then up Highway 3, which would be amazing on a motorcycle this time of year. From Highway 3 they went to Enterprise, through Elgin and on to Baker City. Today they had traveled through Union and La Grande and ended up in Condon at the exact time we were there. After our short visit they told us where to find great ice cream, said their good byes and thundered, single file, down the road.

We walked on. Two women stepped through a door near us. Instantly I knew I had met one of them and had actually just spent a little time with her at the 2017 Travel Oregon Conference in Salem. After a quick hug we both introduce our companions then began talking about how amazing Condon looked. Condon seemed as if it would have been a tumbleweed town in decades past, but with the help of windmill money the citizens were able to revitalize it. The results are phenomenal. Another quick hug, a few good byes and promises to talk again soon, and we were on our way again, this time across town to the Gilliam County Museum.

Once inside we visited with the curator, Sue, before heading to the extensive collection. A bookcase filled with bound newspapers caught my eye in an instant. I grabbed the one from 1901. The first article I saw said, “DYNAMITE EXPLOSION, Three Men Were Blown to Atoms in a Cartridge Factory”, a tragedy that happened in Philadelphia. I thought it interesting that they had news all the way from Philadelphia. I wondered what mode of communication they used…I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Google.

The museum was very nice and had so many interesting things to see. Including what seemed to be a printing press as well as a safe unlike any I had ever seen. Outside they had placed the original City Hall, the jail, a one room school house, a barber shop, which at one time was a one-woman bordello, and finally a cabin built from rough cut timbers.

As it turns out, spending a day exploring Condon is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Our trip home was made without any unexpected wrong turns, but we did make some deliberate detours. The first one led us down a dirt road where we came across a lone antelope buck and a lot of wheat stalks…thousands upon thousands of wheat stocks. We pulled in beside some small silos and stepped out of the rig to stretch our legs and get some fresh air. My traveling companion was a little too relaxed to the point of almost falling asleep. I was pretty sure the fresh air would do us both some good.

The colors that stretched out before us were amazingly placed. From green to gold and purple to blue all under a blanket of blue, dotted with puffed up cottony clouds. It was amazingly peaceful watching the green heads of wheat dance across the field in the gentle breeze. It was one of those moments where I was truly glad I was alive, and on the earth, in that place, at that moment.

Back in the rig we went. On to our next adventure, which was just down the road a few miles and once again involved a narrow dirt road, but boy was it worth it. We pulled in under one of the enormous windmills and just experienced it. Until you are lucky enough to stand at the base of one of the behemoths, it is hard to fathom the size of them. And only if you have seen the separate pieces drive by on a semi-truck will you really understand just how big the windmill really is. We listened as the blades sliced through the air time and again, and worried a little about the possibility of one of those blades flying off and wreaking havoc with the land and the people who stood below it. Turns out we had nothing to worry about. The entire windmill, along with the hundreds of others we could see, stayed standing the entire time we were there.

The impromptu trip was just what we needed. We met a lot of great people, saw what an economically vibrant community can accomplish, watched nature whisk by us as we drove the backroads of NE Oregon and had a great time enjoying each other’s company.

Loving Life Like Lori….life just gets better every day.

Little Mermaid at the Elgin Opera House

By Lori Kimbel

Without a doubt the Elgin Opera House is the place to be on Fridays and Saturdays throughout September as the Little Mermaid graces the stage. Opening night jitters seemed to be non-existent as these well versed actors and actresses took to the stage time and again after each and every set change. It was completely obvious that the audience enjoyed the show, with the laughter, gasps and cheers that came from both the main floor and the balcony throughout the performance. During intermission the play-goers could be heard exclaiming how amazing the quality of the show was.

Madeline Hale, an Opera House favorite for nine years, does a phenomenal job in her first lead role. She was completely believable as Ariel and her acting and dancing were spot on. Madeline is a high school sophomore and has dedicated much of her spare time to perfecting her acting skills. One of my favorite moments of the play was when she was trying to explain why she could not talk to Prince Eric. All the hours of practice she has spent on the Elgin Opera House stage comes through loud and clear, with or without a voice.

Of course every princess needs a villian, Ursula was all that and more. Her tangly tentacles and evil ways caught Ariel up in an instant. Meegan Anderson, the woman behind the villainous creature was absolutely amazing. She filled the Opera House with each and every note of her strong, well-tuned voice. The Little Mermaid is her first play at the Elgin Opera House, but hopefully it will not be her last. She was simply amazing and it was obvious she is a seasoned actress.

Sebastian, played by Brian Monger, was the surprise of the night. Who would have thought a Reggae-singing Jamaican crab could have so much personality and add so much to the show. Monger, a native Oregonian, was raised in a musical family and seems to be a perfect fit for the Elgin Opera House.

Quentin Durfee played Prince Eric. His love for Ariel was obvious, even before he realized she was the one he was searching for. The Little Mermaid is Durfee’s fifth musical production, yet it still amazed me how comfortable and flawless he was in front of the live audience.

 

Flounder was absolutely adorable as he skated across the stage in almost every scene. Brady Morgan was the young man inside the bright colored costume and really did a fabulous job. I’ve noticed he tends to stand out in every show he is a part of. I first saw him in Christmas at the Opera House and then again in Ring of Fire and let me tell you the boy plays a pretty mean fiddle. Brady is going to continue to stand out at the Elgin Opera House as he will take the lead in “A Christmas Story” this coming December. There is no doubt in my mind he will do a great job.
King Triton, played by Russell Buckley, definitely came across as the King of the Sea. His commanding voice put everyone on edge as the search for his missing daughter carried on into the night, and if he wasn’t known to be such a nice guy, he would have definitely put the fear into many in the audience. Buckley is no stranger to the Elgin Opera House stage as he has performed in eight shows over the last several years.

Then there was Scuttle….wow! Not really wow, that was amazing, or wow, he stole the show, but wow has there ever been a sea gull that loud, that high-spirited, that flamboyant, that talented, that absolutely entertaining kind of wow. Alan Stogin claimed his seagullness and had the audience enjoying every minute that he was on stage.

The always entertaining Chad Rasmussen played the rambunctious Chef Louis. He has performed at the Elgin Opera House in a variety of shows and it is always fun to watch as he brings his characters to life on the stage.

Samuel Shown plays Grimsby and even though this was not the biggest part in the play, Shown really did a great job with it. This was his first time performing at the Elgin Opera House, but I really hope to see him come again. I think there is a lot of untapped potential here and I am looking forward to seeing his next performance.

The next two that I am going to mention did not have leading roles, but I thought they played their parts wonderfully, and were actually two more of my favorites of the night. The electric eels, Flotsam and Jetsam were played by Abby Hale and Jeremiah Dockweiler and they did such a great job as Ursula’s sidekicks. In addition to their evil acting they also wore amazing costumes.

The mersisters, played by Aubrey Slaughter, Emily Carman, Naomi Medley, Sonja Adams, Ashlee Zaugg, and Tess Cahill entertained the crowd with their singing and dancing as well as with their jealousy of Ariel.

This show just kept getting better and better as the night continued. The tap dancing sea gulls were amazing with their tap routines that were absolutely flawless, and the more than two dozen little sea gulls were adorable.

The one thing I can always count on with a Terry Hale production is that there will be something that blows away the plays that came before. With Beauty and the Beast it was the Beast that was slowly lowered down to the stage floor, with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang it was the car that had everyone talking. With the Little Mermaid it will be the musical number Under the Sea. The stage absolutely came alive with the most colorful sea creatures and flowers you can imagine.

There is so much that goes into an Elgin Opera House performance each and every time. From the sets, to the paintings, to the costumes, to the welcoming committee, the lighting, the choreography and the ticket sales, it is obvious the people involved in the Elgin Opera House love what they are doing and lucky for us they just keep on doing it.

Santiam Pass

By the time I arrived in Sister’s I’d been traveling all day. The weather was perfect. The thoughts in my head not so much. They bantered back and forth between standing strong in the direction I was headed and wanting to crawl back three or four years into my past. The wheels of my Ford Edge kept spinning me forward.

Just outside of Sister’s the air turned cooler, but not enough for me to roll up my windows. With Pandora on ‘shuffle’ my music went from Country to Rock to Jesus and God and back again. The tall Ponderosa Pine cast shadows across the pavement as I continued on my journey, one that started in Elgin seven hours earlier. I had drove away from my hometown with tears in my eyes; sad about a life that had gone through a million changes in just two short years, changes so drastic my marriage was on the edge of divorce. My broken heart felt as if it could never be repaired. I hugged my husband goodbye, and drove away. I drove away from the man I’ve loved since the moment I met him in 1993. I left my home, my hometown, my friends, my brother, my sisters and my dog. My heart was torn into a thousand tiny pieces and I had absolutely no idea how to put it all back together on my own. How will I ever be able to shut the door on this relationship when there is nothing I want more in the world than for it to be strong again. How will I ever pick up the pieces of my heart that lay scattered throughout all of Oregon, a realization I came to as I traveled alone today; memory after memory came slamming into my reality with each passing mile. So many pit stops, picture ops, rest areas, restaurants, hotels, and even simple sides of the road churned up memories of all the times I’d traveled alongside my husband. How in the world will I go on? How in the world will I ever be able to move on when all I want to do is run back to the way things used to be, before his eyes quit seeing me, before his arms quit holding me, before his heart quit loving me.

I climbed higher into the mountains as I thought of all the memories we’d made along the way. There was the family reunion where cousin Troy taught us the game “This is my Stick”. The camping trip with our friends Debi and Dennis made me almost laugh out loud as thoughts of Dustin and Micheal ‘snipe’ hunting and ginormous mosquitoes filled my mind. The corner where we almost died led to thoughts of the other corner where we almost died. The Santiam Pass is not a fun pass to climb during the winter, I was glad it was now spring, we were lucky to escape with our lives on these occasions. Of course I will never forget pulling over at Idanha and tying wire to each windshield wiper so we could take turns pulling the wiper in our direction after the motor had decided to quit working in a downpour.

Something I did not expect happened on my trip up the mountain and over the other side as I traveled alone. I found some peace with my current situation. My thoughts get jumbled when I am near my husband. A force wreaks havoc on my life with him. But as I distanced myself from him and the force he is involved with I, once again, found peace in my solitude. The mountain air cleared my mind in an entirely new way. The heaviness and sadness that has been so much a part of my life for more than two years was no longer with me. I piece of me began to heal as I realized there was nothing inside of me that said to give in, give up, or quit fighting for my marriage. I was just doing like God had asked. I was walking away. He did not tell me I would stay gone forever, he just gave me peace for my temporary situation and I had a complete knowing that it was the Holy Spirit that told me on three separate occasions to ‘walk away’.  Somewhere along the way among the tall trees, or standing beside Suttle Lake, or taking pictures of a snow-covered Mt. Washington I realized I would continue to wait for my husband to find what he was searching for, for God to tear the veil that hid reality from him. Somehow, someway, someday, God would restore my marriage. My job was to grow in Him while I waited. Afterall, if my husband was going to become a husband like I ‘d never seen before, then I better figure out how to become a wife like he’d never seen before. So here I am. A few more miles on my tires, more peace than I have felt for many, many months and the knowing that what I see as my life right now is not the end of the story. God has a plan and I will follow that plan as best I can as he lays out each day in front of me. I will continue to walk by faith and not by sight.

Nature is so healing. Being surrounded by God Himself is such an amazing realization. It’s calming and its nurturing. I felt blessed beyond measure to experience His love for me in an entirely new way today. I know I will come to think of this day as another turning point on this journey. One I probably would not have willingly gone on right now, but I know that when I see what God has in store for me, the journey will be well worth the pain and anguish I have felt for the last 25 months. I look forward to the day when I am whole-heartedly filled with His Joy once again.

Wheat, Alfalfa, Grass and Mint in the Grande Ronde Valley

I travel a lot, and am blessed to meet some really great people along the way. Lately I’ve been in the Gorge and have come home in the evening, just as the sun has set behind Mount Emily in the Grande Ronde Valley. This is that time on my trip when I crank up Pandora and roll my windows down; I’m almost home. Driving through this amazing valley in the heart of summer renews my soul.

For 360 degrees the view is just amazing, but what touches me deep inside my soul are the variety of smells that mix and mingle as I make my way from La Grande to Elgin. First there is the fresh cut grass, then a field, or two, or three of alfalfa; did you know that cut alfalfa and uncut alfalfa smell different? Then, the other night I could have sworn that I smelled fresh green beans, but I couldn’t see the field along the way. Then there is the mint. The mint is amazing and conjures up memories of friends no longer with us. Today I noticed a new crop of sunflowers that will surely add to the views within a month or so.

I wish I could convey what it is like to drive this highway this time of year. Today I drove through and noticed that the smells were unremarkable, but I am sure that after baking in the sun all day those smells will be just as strong and sweet smelling tonight as they are on the other evenings when I’ve passed through.

This post does not come close to capturing the sense of those fleeting moments when I have been blessed enough to travel through the Grande Ronde Valley on a few special evenings as each of these fields release their sweet aromas toward Heaven.

 

Point Prominence

image

What can be better than taking a trip through the woods with your man and your dog. Snow in the mountains of NE Oregon stops a lot of road trips throughout the year, but come late spring the flowers are in bloom and most of the snow in the middle elevations has finally melted away enough that the roads are fairly safe to travel.

It had been a couple of years since we had made the trek up to Point Prominence so we decided it was a great day to grab some sandwiches from the local Subway, load our dog, Boone, into the back of the truck and take off on a Sunday afternoon adventure.

The road we traveled on had much to be desired as we made our way higher and higher into the mountains. Ruts from the spring run-off were, at times, a couple of feet deep and just as wide, but my man managed to traverse them easily, even though they lasted for several hundred yards.

Along the way he was lucky enough to see a large brown bear as it ran across the road in front of us. By the time I turned to look it had disappeared into the brush.

Along the road to the Point Prominence Lookout there are several places to drive right up to the edge of the canyon with beautiful views of the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The Minam River is somewhere hundreds and hundreds of feet below us.

We pull out our lawn chairs and take in the beauty that stretches for miles before us. We gobble up our lunch and are glad for the lack of mosquitoes and flies, the cool night air I’m sure has kept them at a lower elevation.

We decided to head to Point Prominence Lookout. Sure that the views there are 360 degrees. We turn off of our main road and head up a spur road which should be just a few miles long. The road is created by rocks that are bigger than baseballs. We soon regret our decision to go to the lookout, however we are on the road already, so we continue on as we are thrown this way and that time and again. I do not recommend this road to anyone with a back ache or anyone that does not want to get a back ache. Geesh it was awful.

We make a turn and see that up ahead a tree has fallen across the road, and even if were able to get past the tree, a sturdy green gate blocks the road completely. There will be no going to Point Prominence Lookout for us today. Yes, we could have gotten out and walked the last mile or two, but it was getting late, so we decided to turn around and head toward home.

We stopped a couple of more times on the way down just to see the view again before heading back home.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

My Journey to the Camino de Santiago

With so many things swirling around in my head about work, life, family, friends, and relationships its hard to imagine that there will be a day that I will be out in this big wide world all alone on the Camino de Santiago. Of course I won’t really be alone, I just won’t have the comforts of home, like lifelong friends and family. I know new friends are waiting and I am so curious as to what I will encounter along The Way.

But all that is really for another post. My mission right now is to figure out what my life means before I go. What does my journey look like on my way to the Camino? For about the last four months there has been some confusion on my part as to what life was all about. Why do we work so hard to get somewhere when the only thing that happens when we arrive is the rug gets pulled out from under us….or the entire flipping carpet, flooring and sub-floor; forget about just the rug. You know you are on a journey of self-discover when the floor you had been standing on melts beneath your feet as you struggle to stay standing.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve gained my footing, I’m standing pretty straight again, but things will  never be the same. The floor may get rebuilt, but the cracks that will remain will forever be a reminder that life sometimes comes crashing down upon us. It is how we handle these situations that show us what we are truly made of. I know for me it really wasn’t that pretty. I was scared, I was angry….really angry, resentful and definitely felt the love drain from my body. But I’m back now, the floor is still in pieces and lays crumbled beneath me, but it doesn’t look as scary as it once did. I feel like a six-year-old playing on a pile of rubble and making the best out of the sticks, splinters, sawdust and nails. I have no idea what I am creating, but at least I’m not just sitting on top of the pile crying my eyes out….not that I haven’t done that from time to time, but for the most part I’m enjoying the process of building something from the pieces.

I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. About life, death, being a good person, being a good friend, being someone the world needs.

What I know is that I have amazing friends, that I am loved, I have a fabulous community to call home, and the words family and friends are interchangeable in my life.

I have also learned that I love deeply and believe it or not, that isn’t always a good thing to all people, but I also know that the love I have inside of me has the ability to make a difference and for that I am truly grateful.

My journey to the Camino de Santiago is paved with the encouragement of great friends, both new and old. Time and again the Camino has come into my existence. First with the movie The Way, by Emilio Estevez. I watched it once and was slightly intrigued. Then at two different conferences El Camino came up again. It was after the first conference and before that second that I felt as if I was to go on El Camino. Then I met someone who had actually been on the pilgrimage, he convinced me to go alone. Me?….alone? In Spain? On El Camino? A former Me would have laughed knowing there was no way I could do that, but the moment he said I should go alone, and with his encouraging words of ‘you can do this’, I knew to the depths of my soul that he was right. I will be going alone…with the 1000’s of other pilgrims that are going alone of course….so, at least I know I will be in good company. I know there will be good friends waiting for me on the Camino de Santiago, I wonder if they are as excited about the journey as I am.

Yes, this will be an amazing, life-changing trip and I am looking forward to the challenges it is going to bring, as well as the clarity and inspiration that will surely accompany me along The Way.

I have to let you know though that this is more than just a vacation to a country rich in history and beauty. This trip is more than the planning, the itineraries, the packing of my backpack and the goodbyes I will say before I go. A higher power and the Camino are pulling me to it. Something is there, waiting for me to discover. It is hard to explain, but me not going is not a possibility, it is as if the road to Santiago craves to have my feet step onto its dusty path and it won’t stop nudging me until I arrive. The nudges have continued as the Camino continues to come into my existence, time and again, and as many times that is has happened over the past four months it is hard to believe I had no idea this walk existed before that.

The life changes that are in store for me are unknown and a bit worrisome, but the road to Santiago holds promise of emotional healing for what lies ahead between now and then, and for that I am already grateful.

Ready to Search My Soul in Spain

20160502_075637

I was looking at the first post I wrote for this blog back in 2011. I talked about my love for Vegas….I really do like Vegas, it’s been a long time since I’ve been and I’d like to see all the changes that are constantly taking place.

Now, however, the person I am now, really has no desire to go to Vegas. I think I’m ready for a trip to Spain. I know it will be a life changing experience and I am ready for the clarity it is going to bring. I am finding it very refreshing the lack of fear that I have when I think about going. Just the thought of the trip has made significant changes in who I am.

 

Friendly Encounters at Oregon Governors Conference on Tourism

 

Have you ever had on of those weeks where everything just came together? I had the good fortune of spending five days in Pendleton, Oregon, home of Eastern Oregon’s signature event, the Pendleton Round-Up. The Round-Up wasn’t happening at the time, but good old fashioned Pendleton hospitality was alive and well at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

As I sat with 450 of my newest friends on Tuesday morning I had time to reflect on the events that had taken place over the course of the last five days. I was amazed at the chance encounters that will no doubt turn into solid, meaningful friendships. Equally amazing was the sense of family I encountered. This group of people, who are all part of the travel industry in one way or another, are all there and held together with a common thread, the love of Oregon. I could have not been more thrilled to be surrounded by hundreds of people who love this great state as much as I do.

The conference itself was one of the best conferences I have ever gone to, but it really was so much more than that. I have been going through some pretty significant life-altering events lately and to take some time to connect with both new and old friends was invaluable at this stage of my journey through life. I learned so much about the way the universe works and God’s role in my life. I’ve realized I am racing through this stage as each day brings completely new experiences, both good and bad; it is as if my life is on fast forward and I don’t know how to slow it down, if I should, or what is coming at the end of this particular road.

Rambling Wanderer Rose

It was great to be able to go to the home of one of my very best friends and relive the moments of each day, as she graciously allowed me to sleep over at her house, so I did not have to make the trip back to Elgin each night. We stayed up too late, laughed just as much as we normally do, cried a few tears, talked about how angry life can make us and once again became closer friends. I cannot imagine her not in my life, friends since second grade, she has been the one constant in my life through every single stage….I don’t think I would even know how to do life if it weren’t for her. Of course we talked about ‘Sharing the Laughter’ tour….and I believe we are going to start a podcast soon……stay tuned, it should be entertaining, at least to our other friends that are as crazy as we are and love us no matter what kind of fools we might make of ourselves….so you four friends, you know who you are, be ready with your words of encouragement. I’m still working on the title of the podcast, but I was thinking about ‘Sharing the Laughter, a business podcast that will make you smile.’ …..hmmm, it might still need some work…How about ‘Sharing the Laughter – A Uniquely Oregon experience’…. I like that one better.

Since graduating from EOU last month I have been trying to live exactly how life comes at me….that’s not the right way to say it…as life envelopes me. It has been nice to walk in the right direction, without realizing what the right direction is until it is laid out in front of me…one step at a time.

One of my newest friends recommended a book to me this weekend, The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. A quote from this book sums up the last five days, and the new friendships I am so honored to be a part of: “Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other”.

The photo above is one of my favorites from the weekend. A tribute to Prince by Dan, along with a dance floor full of   new friends.  The photos below are Susie, Cristie and myself along with Brooks, me, and Liz. Great people that I am looking forward to a lifetime of memories with.

I do want to give a special shout out to Todd Davidson and his team from Travel Oregon. What an amazing group of people. You all put on one heck of a conference. Also, thank you to all of the wonderful people from the town of Pendleton, you are NE Oregon and I am proud to call you my neighbors, as well as my friends.

Be sure to check out my new logo in the middle of the page. I have had this in my mind for months and finally got it created this morning. I am very excited about it. Have a great day, cherish your friendships and love one another.

20160426_135140[1] 20160426_135417[1]

My View

20160227_205704
This is my letter to the readers of Northeast Oregon Business News.

These first couple months of 2016 have proven to be quite eventful to say the least, and we are covering some of those events on the following pages.

I hope you enjoy the article on the situation in Harney County, written by University of Oregon professor, Peter Walker, for Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I think his article covers it well. I know the issue of ownership of public lands runs deep and wide and has many facets along the way, I hope those on both sides can find common ground someday. As for Harney County, which is known as a model for the public and private entities working well together, my hope is that they can put the pieces back together, mend friendships, and relationships, and continue working together for the greater good like they have in the past. As for the occupiers, it is my belief they went so far over the line they lost all credibility.

Other items in the news lately include the minimum wage increase in Oregon. This is one of those issues that everyone also has very strong opinions about. Many businesses believe it will ruin them, while others see it as a challenge to make their company that much stronger. I hope it bolsters an economic revival in Oregon, but it seems like that might be a long shot. Only time will tell.

While attending the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Economic Luncheon I was able to visit with one of the gubernatorial candidates for Oregon, Bud Pierce, M.D., Ph.D. He was raised in a close-knit family in a farming community and now resides in Salem. When he was just 14-years-old his father passed away from a heart attack, an event that would indeed change his life. As a teenager Pierce got a job at the Air Force Base Market working as a bagboy only for tips. For Pierce this solidified how important work is, and he realized how much bagging groceries and being a doctor has in common. “You need to know your craft, the more you work the more you get paid, and you need to be nice to people,” he said. Pierce feels as the time he spent working as a teenager was invaluable and believes teenagers today need those same opportunities. Our visit was relaxed, yet packed with vision, and insightfulness. Pierce has four key motivations in his life, building his business, serving his community, his children and philanthropy. If Pierce becomes the Governor of Oregon I do believe he will accomplish a lot for the good of our State. “I’m not running to be governor, I’m running to govern,” he told me.

I would like to invite any political candidate who would like to share their vision with me to please contact me at lorikimbel@neobn.com

Another interesting life story is that of Tim Sieber, the new president of SeaPort Airlines. Like Pierce, Sieber also began working at the age of 14. He went from scrubbing airplanes to becoming the president of an airline. Amazing situations can happen when a person has a strong work ethic. Be sure to read all about Joseph Hardware and Kruse Family Dentistry as well, more fine examples of strong work ethics.

On pages 14 and 15 you can read about some great things happening in the art community here in NE Oregon. Kelly Ducote has just become the new executive director for the Liberty Theater Foundation in La Grande and the NE Oregon region joins Americans for Art’s National Study of Economic Impact. Arts are so vital to the health and well-being of an area and I am so glad that so many Oregon Historical Theaters are being pulled back from the brink of destruction. Thank you to the Liberty Theater Foundation for all the hard work that has gone into saving and restoring this gem.

Speaking of theater, my husband, Mark, and I attended the live production of My Fair Lady at the Historic Elgin Opera House last night and I was completely blown away, once again, by the talent that graces this stage play after play. Rene Wells played Eliza Doolittle and did an amazing job. Let me tell you, this lady can sing! And dance, and perform. Great job Rene Wells. Then there was Brent Clapp of Brent Clapp Media in La Grande, who played Professor Higgins. What a fabulous actor from start to finish. I am looking forward to him playing a part in many plays to come. Kenn Wheeler played Alfie Doolittle, and there has never been a more charming intoxicated gentleman. Colonel Pickering, played by Terry Hale, was comical and delightful. This list of great acting does go on and on. In addition to the acting I must give a ‘shout out’ to the costume designer of this production, Denise Wheeler. The outfits were beautiful and the ladies hats were amazing. Of course I cannot leave out the sets. They seemed to be straight out of Broadway. To the cast and crew of My Fair Lady, great job all the way around. Oh, I guess I better not leave out the director, Michael Frasier for without him there would just be a lot of people, dressed up wonderfully, wandering around on stage.

As for myself, I am finally drawing close to the end of my educational journey at Eastern Oregon University. Just three weeks to go and I will have earned my Bachelors in Business in Leadership, Organization, Management and Marketing. It has been an amazing process and I am ready to put all I have learned into making Studio 6 Designworks the best publishing and marketing business it can be. I am looking forward to not having homework, which competes with what I am trying to accomplish with Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I hope to spend more time updating my blog as well. I spend a lot of time traveling and attending great events and would like to share some of those experiences and photos with those that follow along at www.ramblingwanderer.com .

Until next time, Carpe Diem…….Lori

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

I attended the live production of My Fair Lady at the Historic Elgin Opera House last night and I was completely blown away, once again, by the talent that graces this stage play after play.

Rene Wells played Eliza Doolittle and did an amazing job. Let me tell you, this lady can sing! And dance, and perform. Great job Rene Wells.

Then there was Brent Clapp of Brent Clapp Media in La Grande, who played Professor Higgins. What a fabulous actor from start to finish. I am looking forward to him playing a part in many plays to come.

Kenn Wheeler played Alfie Doolittle, and there has never been a more charming intoxicated gentleman.

Colonel Pickering, played by Terry Hale, was comical and delightful.

This list of great acting does go on and on. In addition to the acting I must give a ‘shout out’ to the costume designer of this production, Denise Wheeler. The outfits were beautiful and the ladies hats were amazing.

Of course I cannot leave out the sets. They seemed to be straight out of Broadway.

To the cast and crew of My Fair Lady, great job all the way around.

Oh, I guess I better not leave out the director, Michael Frasier for without him there would just be a lot of people, dressed up wonderfully, wandering around on stage.

The MAX, What a Pleasant Surprise

20160220_122253

Portland, Portlandia, The Rose City. I was here. All day long, I was here, in Portland, the Rose City, and once again she made me proud to be an Oregonian.

It was amazing day in the city, even when we stepped out of the Smith Memorial Student Union Building and felt as if we had entered a recreation of the movie The Birds, it was still amazing. The onslaught of ravens was short lived and until I began writing this they had drifted from my consciousness. It was the only piece of the day that was a bit odd, the rest was wonderful.

People were friendly, the food was delicious, and the transportation system in Portland was not the one I had imagined, the one that is depicted on the news. I was so pleasantly surprised at how clean the trolley and the MAX were, and how normal the people looked that shared this mode of transportation with me throughout the day. It wasn’t scary, not even in the evening as we made our way toward our final destination for the night. What a great way to explore the city.

It was my first experience with the MAX, but it will not be my last.

Oh, and the young men in the photo, I have no idea who they are, but wanted to capture them on ‘film’, so I did.

From There to Where?….Only Time Will Tell

The pictures in today’s post are a bit haunting to me. I’m sure we all have those times in our lives when we feel a little Twirly Treesempty and stripped of our warmth for life. Why was I put into this world on the day I was born? Why not a century sooner, or later? Why wasn’t I born in a third world country, where food is scares and loves is even more so? Why was I chosen to live the charmed life I have lived? Questions…there are always a million questions in a day.

These images somehow captured what I was feeling in some of the moments of today; tomorrow it will be sunshine and roses that will capture my mood I am sure, but today these are it.

I live in a house empty of children. I became an empty nester this year and I am finding it strange and a little hard to get used to at times. Like today, when I captured the image of the old, empty, beaten up house, with broken windows and no love inside.

20160130_144845

Almost my entire adult life I have spent raising kids. Good kids, sad kids, wonderful kids, bratty kids, sporty kids, beautiful kids, noisy kids, quiet kids, sneaky kids, funny kids, rambunctious kids, troubled kids, wet kids, party-going kids, Jesus worshiping kids, hell-raising kids, basketball playing kids, softball throwing kids, prom-going kids, racing up the stairs kids, running around in circle kids, kids that woke me up at night, kids that woke me up in the morning, kids that wouldn’t shut up, kids that wouldn’t talk, kids that loved me, kids that hated me, kids that I will never stop loving until the day I die and probably not even then. I actually only have five kids, but throughout the past 29 years I’ve experience all those kinds of kids within my five.

And now they are done at my house. Sure there are visits, but come on, we all know that a two day visit is nothing like living together. We can’t get under each others skin that fast, we can’t really get to know whats going on with each other that fast…..but that’s okay. This is the way life is supposed to be. Kids grow up, they move on and with any luck at all they have become decent human beings, ready to change the world, each in their own individual way.

For me I could not be more proud. I was blessed to be a mom to five wonderful children. And even though each and every day had it’s own set of struggles, triumphs, and challenges, I would not change the choices I made when I decided to become a parent. It was, and still is one of the greatest decisions of my life.

But now I’m left with these, these haunting images that compare to a life that  was once so full and is now so quiet, and  trying to learn how to navigate a new path; One that is not near as noisy, or as exhausting, but one with its own set of challenges just the same.

I know this is a temporary feeling, my life is beyond full of other things like school, a business, friends, community, the list goes on. But for today I will embrace this feeling of emptiness, only because I know new things are coming, new ways for my life to feel complete are just around the corner. I just wanted to acknowledge this place I am at as I transition from my past role in life into my next.

Oh, and just so you know…my next role… the one coming up… the one I’m about to step into….it’s going to be fabulous. Stay tuned.

 

Walking in Winter

Elgin Opera House

The middle of January doesn’t always mean weather nice enough to go for a walk in, so when the sun popped out and the warmth came along with it, it was a perfect recipe for a walk around our small town.

We chit chatted while we walked, checked the mail, talked about the nice weather and wondered where our life is taking us.

Change is in the air. It’s uncomfortable and awkward….that’s a weird word….awkward.

Tomorrow’s a new day. The beginning of my fourth week of my very last term for college. I’m so ready to finish! Yes, change is in the air.

Elgin PGG Building

Hood River at Night

Hood River Hotel

I don’t know exactly what it is about Hood River that I love so much, it just has that special something. It seems like I always arrive in Hood River after most of the shops around downtown are closed for the evening, but that doesn’t stop me from walking around looking through their windows. It’s peaceful in Hood River, and I have had so many good experiences there that it just soothes my soul to be there.

Tonight was not any different. We arrived to late to visit any shops, but it was perfect timing to grab a quick bite to eat at El Rio before heading over to the Starlight Theater.

It was our first time going to the Starlight. Chalk up another great experience to Hood River. Not sure what to expect, we walked in and were surprised at what we saw. Comfortable recliners in place of regular theater seating. People were enjoying pizza, wine and beer. The atmosphere was contagious. People were chatting and laughing, everyone was having a great time enjoying each others company before the movie started.

We actually went and saw Revenant, and even though it was pretty intense and beyond my threshold for gore, I enjoyed the movie. It was one of those that really made you think about life, injustice, revenge, dying, and acting. It certainly deserves the awards it has received.

After the movie we strolled, yes, strolled through town. I love taking pictures of store window displays and Hood River has some great ones.

We finally turned in for the evening. Making our way up to the 3rd floor of the Hood River Hotel for a quick nights sleep before heading toward the Oregon Coast in the morning.

Happy New Year – I’m Ready for 2016

The beginning of a new year is always so exciting to me. I’m never sorry to see an old year go, sometimes I am sentimental about it, other times I’ve been ready to put the year behind me without so much as a small glance back, but I have never felt the need to hold onto a year so much that I don’t look forward to the promise of what the bright shine new one holds. I always enter the New Year with all of the excitement of a 6-year-old on Christmas morning.

2016 holds much promise. In spite of what many would like us all to believe, violent crime is down 16.2% since the 2005 level, according to the FBI’s Crime in the United States data. It is easy, in an election year especially, to start feeling as if our world is falling apart. Yes, bad things are going to happen, but I plan to keep marching on, without listening to much of the rhetoric, as I try to make a difference in our business community.

I live in a small town, so the police, the firemen and the emergency medical personnel are more than the heroes that keep us safe, they are my friends and I would like to express my most sincere appreciation for the work they volunteer to do. For more than 60 years the Elgin Fire Department has given Santa a ride through the streets of Elgin, so he can stop in at each house and pay a quick visit to all the little people in town. It is a very special tradition and I appreciate those that still make this happen year after year.

I hope that 2016 finds each and every one of you with a new sense of excitement on what the New Year holds for you. May your friends be many and your troubles be few. May your business prosper and your life be full of all the things you love, whether that be travel, fishing, camping, socializing, or just relaxing. I hope our paths cross along the way and until then Happy New Year.

Chance Meetings

Chance meetings are always so much fun. While delivering the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of NEOBN I happened to walk toward a young man on my way back to where my car was parked. I smiled and said, “Hello, how are you?” He smiled back and said he was cold, he acted like he wanted to say more. I asked where he was from as I spied the Arizona license plate on the rig he was standing near. I’m from Europe, but I live in Hawaii. We talked more, I found out he was heading to Utah. I gave him a copy of my paper and said, “maybe you will want to write an article about your travels.” “I am a writer,” he said. “I have a blog.” Chance meetings are always so interesting and they never seem like chance by the time they are through.

 

I am who I am largely in part to who I grew up with

Jul 22, 2015

Thirty years ago a group of us graduated from a small town school in NE Oregon. There were 38, 39 or 40 0f us, the actual number has been debated every time we get together. As with all classes across America, some of us were there from the “get-go”, others joined along the way, but each and every one had an impact on me in one way or another.

I’m a pretty positive person. It takes a lot to bring me down and even less to give me a high. During our get-together I mentioned that I thought one of my classmates husbands thinks I’ve had too much to drink at our annual Elgin Stampede each year. I just explained that is just me and I am just high on Stampede. The amount of friends gathered in one place is amazing and makes me feel as if I am on cloud 9 all weekend long.

Many of us attended our reunion this year. Far more came from miles away while only a few came from the town we grew up in, a phenomenon I have yet to understand.

As I visited with these adult versions of the kids I went to school with I noticed a common theme; everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. No one seemed to be judging anyone, or wondering what they were thinking behind the smiles, or thinking about the quickest way to leave the bbq. People were happy to relive the memories that were made 30 and 40 years prior.

The quiet ones were still a bit quiet, and the loud ‘one’ was still the loud ‘one’. LOL.

These people, from the time I was 6 years old, taught me how to cry, how to laugh, how to lean on someone, how to run from someone, how to dodge a dodgeball, how to be mean and spiteful, how to be loving, how to be forgiving, how to be jealous, how to be hurt, how to grieve, how to forgive and how to live. Without their guidance through life I would not be the person that I have become and I will be forever grateful.

In Loving Memory of Forrest Andrews

Forest Andrews 2

Forest Andrews
My husband and I were visiting Hood River Tuesday night and while we were walking through downtown we heard a commotion of sorts, so I convinced him to go exploring with me to see what was going on. We walked into a parking lot that overlooked a side street. The street was lined with young people. For a few moments I thought this was a normal gathering of Hood River young people, something they did each summer night. I was fascinated and took pictures of this mini culture, one I obviously knew nothing about, but it seemed special and most definitely picture worthy. I worried they might get angry at me taking pictures, a few glanced my way, but let me intrude without saying a word. After taking about six pictures I suddenly realized this was not a normal gathering. A young lady with a bouquet of flowers welcomed a hug from a friend as she wiped away her tears. I immediately put down my camera and told my husband it was time to go, we had intruded long enough on something we knew nothing about, something so special to the people involved and I had a feeling it was something tragic. The next morning we drove down the street before leaving town, it was then we learned about Forest. I found this page on Facebook and wanted to share the photos I took. I hope they are special to all of you, but by all means if you do not want them on here then please take them down. I have been out of high school for many years, and unfortunately, like you all, lost a close friend just after high school. We still toast him at every reunion, tell stories about him, laugh at his memory and cry because we hate it that he isn’t here with us today. I will forever be changed by the sight of all of you sharing your love for Forest, spending time together in his honor and helping each other through the pain. I wish you all peace. Sincerely, Lori.

Wheatstock

>Wheatstock was amazing! Is there really anything better than live music on a Saturday night?

Okay, it may not have been woodstock, but look out Oregon, I think Wheatstock has the potential to be one of Oregon’s signiture events in the coming years.

With a love for music, a love for a small town in northeast Oregon, and the kids that call Helix home, the volunteers of Wheatstock will continue to make this event better and better each year.

Now back to live music on a Saturday night, how could it get any better? Well, throw in a beer garden, the smell of fresh cut wheat, a grass lawn to dance into the night on, free camping, and headliner Stoney LaRue, and you have got yourself a Saturday night, northeast Oregon style.

Great local bands played into the night at the Helix arena, a precurser to Stoney LaRue, whose album, Velvet will be released August 30.

If you weren’t able to make it to this years Wheatstock, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. You will not be disappointed in the amount of entertainment the fine people of Helix have in store for the 2012 event.

Wheatstock came about like so many great events, a couple friends got to talking, and while sitting in the Rainbow Tavern, in Pendleton, Oregon, those two men began to dream.
Those men were Duane Dunlap and Jef Farley.
Both with musical backgrounds, both from northeast Oregon, the two men chatted.
“Hey, let’s put on a music festival,” said Duane Dunlap. “I think we could make it work.”
The dream became a reality and they called it Wheatstock.
Dunlap, who was coaching the Helix basketball team at the time, knew there were a lot of great people in Helix. People that would help put on a great show for the people who came to watch.
Helix High School has roughly 60 kids enrolled. It is a 1A school which has a pep band as well as a full band program, thanks in part to the people who have put on Wheatstock for the past five years.
“Music is important to young people and we are going to do our best to keep it going,” said Dunlap.

If Winter is Around the Corner…Stay Out of Wallowa Lake

One of my very favorite places to visit is Wallowa Lake. Whether it is summertime, when the place is buzzing with activity, the spring, when the snow is still on the ground, the dead of winter, when the entire lake sometimes freezes over, or in the fall, when the crowds have gone and peace and quiet once again descends on the area.

For those of you who have never been to Wallowa Lake I urge you to go. It is such a unique place and every season is so different from the next, that no matter when you go it will be a unique experience.
For those of you who have only visited in the summer, I highly suggest going in late fall or early winter. The lake, always a beautiful sight to see, is amazing when the nearby mountains are covered in snow.

Any time of year there is plenty to do while visiting Wallowa Lake. The nearby shops are always enjoyable to visit, and the restaurants offer a variety of delicious dining opportunities. Mini golf, para sailing, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and hiking are some of the most popular activities to explore while at Wallowa Lake.

The Wallowa Lake Tramway, which first began in 1970, will take visitors 3700′ to the top of Mount Howard.

The Wallowa Lake Lodge is an excellent place to turn in for the night after an active day around the lake. Built in the early 1920’s Wallowa Lake Lodge offers 22 rooms and also has eight cabins on the property.

 

Last fall, Mark, Hannah and I decided to take the boat to Wallowa Lake. Hannah wanted to swim one last time before winter, and I thought it would be great for Mark to drop us off at one of the many floating docks that are on the lake.

Now I’m not sure if these docks are for public use or not. I always thought they were, but when I came home and told my son about our adventure, he assured me these docks were privately owned. So if that is the case then I assure whoever owns this dock we lounged on, we did not in any way cause any damage, and we really appreciate you letting us borrow it for that hour.

Now it would seem that Hannah and I would have a great time swimming, and visiting, and just hanging out together on this day, but we didn’t! Furthermore, that lake is so dang cold I don’t know how I didn’t come out of it without frostbite for as long as I was trapped in that lake! Yes, trapped! I was trapped in Wallowa Lake, while Hannah stood on the dang borrowed dock laughing her head off at her mother, who was freezing her fanny off!

It all started off so great. Mark dropped us off at the dock and sailed away, he most likely was looking forward to some peaceful fishing.

Hannah and I started talking about getting in the lake. We knew it was cold, which meant the only way to go swimming was to jump right in. There was no getting used to it little by little, because we were in who knows how many feet of water, we could not see the bottom at all. The dock sat about two feet above the water, which let us dip our feet in, but that was about it. We knew it was all or nothing.

Hannah began explaining to me that the way she gets used to water is she jumps in and makes sure her head goes under, because once her head goes under she is instantly used to it…..uh huh!

I decided to go first. Now if it was twenty years ago, you bet I would have dove in, head first, but I’m not that skinny little, in shape, young lady I once was, so I scooted to the edge of the dock and began lowering myself in, then took the plunge.

Oh….my….gosh!!! I have never felt anything so cold in all my life. It sucked my breath away in an instant, to the point I could barely talk. All the while Hannah is screaming at me “Put your head under. Put your head under.” I wanted to smack her. I tried putting my head under, but the life jacket I had decided to put on at the last second before entering the water, prevented me from doing so. By this time Hannah is dry, warm, and dying laughing. I reach for the dock, because I have decided that this isn’t any fun, I don’t want to swim anymore and I’m getting out. Only…..I can’t get out. The dock is to tall and there are no foot holds to help a person, who is in the beginning stages of hypothermia, climb back up onto the dock. As a suggestion to the people who own these docks, who are probably young, skinny and in shape, maybe you should put a ladder on the dock just in case some chubby ol’ lady decides to go swimming from your dock in September and can’t get back on the dock….Just a thought.

“I can’t get out Hannah, call your dad,” I tell Hannah.

“I don’t have cell phone service,” she says, still chuckling.

“No, just yell, ‘Hey Dad’!”

So she yells, he asks if he needs to hurry. I tell her to tell him no, he doesn’t need to hurry. Well he took that as he could just finish fishing.

By this point I’m just not a happy camper, oh and Hannah decided to jump into the lake too. So now she too is stuck in the lake and cold, but still can’t stop laughing at her mother who I’m sure was turning blue by this time.
Finally Mark arrives at the dock and saves the day.

The bruises I got from being dragged up onto the dock lasted for more than a month. I told my story for two weeks. Hannah laughed every time she thought of her mother stuck in Wallowa Lake for at least three days, and the Pendleton Whiskey I drank after my ordeal, was gone in minutes.

So if you go to Wallowa Lake remember, the water is cold, the docks might not be for public use and the memories you make will last a lifetime.