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.

 

 

 

 

 

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.