Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 begins...

Once again I haven’t updated in forever!! Its New Years day, 2012. I’m working in the Cincinnati area for awhile. I had been working in North Dakota for several months prior to this.

For a few reasons 2011 has been one of the tougher years of my life, I have mixed feelings about it being over, but I’m ready to move forward. I leave 2011 stronger and more reflective than when I started.

I’ve had a hard time putting in to words the way I feel about relationships ending and life changing. Its hard to let go, but at the same time I’ve always felt that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be.. Regardless of how painful it is, or how hard it is for us to accept, we really don’t need to be upset about it, I feel its more important to be thankful for the experiences, good and bad that we have taken from a relationship. What happened was exactly what was supposed to happen. Really.. That’s the way life is. We can try and blame this or that, or say “if I would have just done this differently” but in reality the only true way to understand it is to be thankful for everything that you had, and appreciate how it made you grow as a person. I’ve always been fond of the saying “thats just the way it is….”

Now as I move forward in to 2012, I’m excited about the future. I’m putting together  plans for moving to the Pacific Northwest. I don’t feel like I have much choice with that, it’s a place that tugs at my soul daily..
I haven’t fully decided on which city I want to live in. I’m leaning towards Bend, I always feel at home there... Like much of Oregon, It’s a dreamland for a person that loves the outdoors. One thing that I really like about Bend is the amenities that the city actually offers. Being in such an isolated place, several hours from the nearest freeway, (think about that for a minute, how far are you from a freeway??) I wouldn’t expect it to have most of the higher quality offerings of a much larger city, but it does and yet you can be in the wilderness in 5 minutes...

People in Bend are happy. They really want to be there. I have visited Bend many times, and everytime I go I am impressed with how happy most everyone I meet is. Bend is a city of transplants, transplants united by a love of the outdoors, physical fitness and quality of life. The passion of Bends residents as a whole contributes a lot to the vibe of the city. People are so willing to say hi and start talking to you randomly. In a lot of cities it seems like people are unwilling to expand their ideas, or the social circle that they have always had/been in and it tends to make for a vibe of overall depression.
The biggest thing missing from Bend in my opinion is any sort of urban grittiness. I love cities, and I’m not sure how I will feel in the long term about being in a wonderland that is in the middle of nowhere. I suppose I can always take my trips to Portland!! Here is a little blurb that someone else wrote about Bend, I think that most everyone that goes there falls in love.

I miss you all and I hope that everyone has a great 2012!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Pipe is all finally in the ground!

Finally got my first day off in over a month of 14 hour days. All the hard work has paid off because as of yesterday, all of the pipe is in the ground. I started working on this project in January 2008 trying to figure out how we were going to route it the 675 miles from Wyoming to California. Several accidental deaths, Four billion dollars,  and Three and a half years later, the pipe is in the ground. There is still a lot of testing and clean up work to do before it is operational, but that is coming along quickly. I honestly never thought I would see this day.

Now apparently I am pushed along to another much smaller project in North Dakota. I'm not sure when I will be going, whenever I leave Oregon sometime in the next few weeks is the best guess. The worst part about that is that the only town in the area is Minot, which if you have seen the news would know that it is currently under water. We are trying to figure out how we are going to live there and right now the discussion seems to be leaning towards building a camp because the already limited housing is obviously even more scarce now. It's only supposed to last 3 months, so I guess I can handle that. I'm kind of looking forward to being in the wide open prairie lands for awhile. As long as I'm outta there before the winter hits than everything is good. I'm possibly going to be going to another large multi-year project in Texas and other parts of the South later this fall, but I'm not really sure if I have Texas in me. A few other possibles are Southern Indiana/Ohio or Pennsylvania/New York.(Mountains!) As always with my job though, I won't know for sure until it happens..

Here are some pics from the last couple of weeks.

Here is the last convoy of pipe being delivered on a nice rainy foggy typical Oregon morning.

One thing that I'm not gonna miss is hauling my awkward equipment up mountains to set it up.

This is one of the last stretches of pipe, strung out waiting to get welded together.

After the pipe is buried, one of the last things we do is place pipeline markers over it. This is one of the final stretches just as it turns South to California.  Thats Shasta in the background. After we set the markers, the ground gets seeded with native plants, so in a year or two it will look a lot nicer hopefully.

And this of course is the California/Oregon state line. The end of the line for now. There is a big receiver station that has been built that other pipelines are going to tap in to.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Still alive!!

The past couple of weeks have been pretty slow still. There is a lot of opposition to the project that is still  holding us up. We are already several months behind schedule and that is gonna make this rapidly approaching winter  "fantastic"... The "Axe Men" have moved in and started logging some of the areas that we have permission to begin working in. My job since they have moved in is to work with a biologist to survey and keep track of any raptors "Eagles and Hawks" that are in the area, and make sure that they aren't being disturbed or becoming too agitated by all of the commotion in the area. We have also been marking noxious weed areas, noxious weeds are plants that are invasive and can take over an area.  We have to make sure the weeds aren't spread by any of the construction activity. So anyways, I've been learning a lot about birds and weeds the past couple of weeks. It's pretty neat I guess...

I have been getting in a good bit of running also. I am finally feeling really good, I have been battling a foot injury and a groin strain for over a year and it has really limited my running during that time. But slowly over the last 2 months I feel like I am back, and I run virtually pain free now. Its actually pretty weird and almost feels like something is wrong.

Here are some pictures from this morning's run. Remember to click on them to view them fullsize, they look a lot better that way.

Can anyone tell me that this isn't a beautiful lake??

Here is the view from higher up.

Normally you would see Mt. Shasta in the background here, but there are some fires in the area and it was too smoky this morning.

Here is part of the Gnarly trail that I took on my 15 mile run to be able to enjoy these views. I didn't see one other person. I love days like that.

We had a new slate floor installed  in our kitchen over the past 2 weeks. Rebecca applied the final coat of sealer last night, and our next door neighbor helped her move the appliances back in this morning. I can't wait to see it in person. It looks great Rebecca!

Here is a close up, I see my Jeep is still happily waiting for me in the garage!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Slow week.

This past week hasn't been particularly interesting, mostly everything that we need to do surveying wise for this project to take place has been done. Mostly we just spend a lot of time in the mountains double and triple checking things.

We did finally get a bit of good news yesterday morning. The Obama administration has issued us a Limited Notice to Proceed. What they have done is given us permission to construct approximately 50 miles of the 675 total miles of the pipeline. The 50 miles is all broken up in to little chunks. A half mile here, a 1/4 mile there. This is kind of a big headache that is just going to make this project last even longer because instead of starting in one spot and working all the way through, we have to keep jumping all over the place. Given the terrain out here, that takes a lot of time.

I am happy that we can finally start, but the government regulations are making it a pain. I understand why people are opposed to pipelines. I am very opposed to pipelines... I've heard all about the Enbridge pipeline that just leaked in to the Kalamazoo river. Everyone wants to drive cars and have heat in their house in the winter. Pipelines are part of that equation... I can only do my best to make sure that the route is the least environmentally harmful as possible.

Here is a cattle drive that was taking place on the main road coming in to Lakeview on Thursday morning.

Here is a picture of some cool horses on a ranch just east of town.

Here I am this morning leaving to go on my run. This is the Deschutes river trail as it leaves downtown Bend and heads out towards the wilds.

Here is where it actually branches off in to a single track.

And a picture of my shadow as I run up the trail through the backyard of one of the lucky residents of Bend, oregon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Ahhh, Sunday morning again! My favorite time of the week. I am sitting here, icing my aching legs and drinking my 2 large cups of coffee searching the internet for quotes about Oregon. Here is one that is relevant to where I'm at....

Before the Cascade Mountains give way to the high desert along the south-central edge of the state, they leave parts of their green, wet selves scattered across the borderlands. Forests and dunes, lakes and playas, grasslands and sagebrush stand almost near enough to nuzzle each other. The result is a mingling of open spaces and timbered slopes, of freshwater lakes and alkali flats in a world straddling such vastly different geological and historical eras that only a strong imagination can reconcile the contrasts.-Mark Highberger ("South Central Oregon" in An Explorer's Guide to Oregon)

Its hard for me to put in to words how completely fascinated I am with this region of the country. The Pacific North West. Northern California and Oregon specifically. I have spent enough time here to know that it will be hard for me to ever stay away. Last time I left here, I was away for about a year and a half and I thought about it everyday.

Early this morning I ran the Klamath Lakes trail on the outskirts of Klamath Falls. I completely lost it when I got to the top of a mountain and alone I could look in any direction and see something beautiful. In one direction I had a stunning view of Mt. Shasta, in another I had a gorgeous view across Klamath Lake of the South rim of Crater lake (the 2000' deep lake is the deepest lake in America.) In another I could see the Snowy peak of Mt. Mcloughlin and in another I could see Klamath falls far below.

I consider Minneapolis a very beautiful place to run also, but it is different. I think Minneapolis possibly has the most beautiful urban running routes in America. I can't get enough of the downtown lights reflecting off the frozen lakes at night. Often times, even though I live only 3 miles away from the bustling downtown of a major American city, I will see deer and occasionally Bald Eagles adding to the overall experience. Still there just isn't that sense of discovery and overwhelming emotion that the Northwest has on me.

Its very conflicting to me. Minneapolis is such a nice and stable place to live. But I don't think I will ever be completely happy there. Rebecca thinks that she ultimately sees owning a small boutique hotel and living back in Michigan. Traverse City or possibly the Frankfort area.
I don't know. The Pacific Northwest has gotten in to my blood. I don't know if it will ever go away.

Here is a song that I am really in to right now, I had it on repeat while I was on my run this morning. Its by Minneapolis area singer Bon Iver.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Maybe I'm not really meant to be a blogger, it seems like I'm not really good at sticking to my schedule of posting every Sunday.

So not a heck of a lot has been going on, we are still preparing for construction. I think we are actually getting pretty close.

Since no one has seen me in quite a while, here is what I'm looking like these days. LOL. Pretty much like a desert rat in my opinion.

This is the view that I see most of the time. Just my shadow as I stare at the ground while I either march across the desert, or climb a mountain.

I've been doing a lot of river and stream crossing too. This is the best way, but it only works for the smaller streams. Most of them you just have to take your boots off and wade across. Some of them are really deep and cold. We have actually gotten chest deep in freezing water a few times. I live for stuff like that!!

I do have one or two good stories from the last couple of weeks. Last week I was climbing up a rock face and my guys were a couple hundred feet behind me when all of a sudden the all started screaming hysterically. JACK!! COUUGGAAARRR!!! WATCH OUT!!! Yeah, I almost got eaten by a Mountain Lion. And then I almost had a heart attack and fell to my death. Anyways, I was almost near the top when the guys spotted a huge cougar slinking along the top of the ridge towards me, maybe 20 yards away. All the screaming sent the cat scrambling for its life, but it was definitely a scary moment for me. I can think of a lot worse ways to die I suppose.

Here is an abandoned gold mine that we came across. I love stuff like this. We probably spent an hour looking around. Its hard to say when this place was last occupied. Late 1800's maybe?

Here is baby Mule deer crossing the road with a nice view of Mt. Shasta in the background. If you click on the picture, Mt. Shasta will stand out a little better. Mt. Shasta is somewhere over 14,000' in elevation at the top and I believe has more vertical gain than any other Mountain in the lower 48. I think the base of the Mountain is at something like 3000' so if you climb from the bottom, its around an 11,000' climb. A lady died while climbing it last week.

Here is a nice picture of some of the terrain that the pipeline will cross. It comes up off the desert floor you can see in the distance and makes its way up and over this and many other mountain ranges.

Look for another post from me in the next couple of days. I can do better than one post every month!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Week.

So. Sunday is always my favorite day when I'm on the road. Actually Saturday is pretty good too, its always a lot more relaxed and everyone is kind of excited that we are on the verge of a day off. I always try and get done a little early so that I can can get wherever I decide to go that night before it gets dark out. The past two Saturday nights I have spent in Klamath Falls, mainly because its only 2 hours away and I have been too tired to attempt anything farther.

Today I'm kinda sad because its fathers day, and I miss my Dad I just want to hang out and go fishing with him, but that has pretty much been impossible with this job given that I can't get any time off and I'm 2,000 miles away.

I'm really in love with Northern California and Oregon, and I am pretty hopeful that I will be moving out here. When I do, I can get my Dad out here to do some fly fishing for wild Salmon and Steelhead in the incredibly rugged and beautiful rivers that seem to be everywhere in this region.

This past week we started staking some of the Right of Way for this pipeline, whenever they decide to build it. In Oregon, there are a lot of trees, so often using GPS is not a possibility so we spend a lot chopping through the trees to be able to see where we are going.

Telling my crew where to "cut line"

Towards the end of the day, doing my notes and watching my crew work.

There were 4 Bear sighting and one Cougar sighting this week. I didn't see anything, but my crew saw 2 of the bears.