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.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Melting snow days...

The Mountain snow is really melting now, its mostly gone and I'm thinking in another week or two it will all be gone except for the snow on the highest peaks.

Here is a cool snow tunnel that I found on the side of a mountain.

Here are some "roads" that we will be using as access roads when the snow is all gone.

All of the melting snow is creating some ferocious looking streams.

And some cool little water falls.

And a lot of little ponds.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Boring week

Progress on this project has been really slow thus far. There are still a few major hurdles that we have to make before we can really get going, in the mean time we have been busying ourselves by marking roads that we can and cannot use for access on this project. There are a lot of rules and a heck of a lot of people/agencies monitoring everything that we do in regards to this project. Which roads/trails that we use is one of the things that people are currently making a big deal about.

Here is an example of a nice road that for some reason, someone has decided that we can not use.

Here is an example of a decent road that we can use.

The biggest hazard that we are running in to while staking these roads is getting our vehicles stuck. At least daily, one or more of us will get our truck stuck. It can often turn in to a pretty big task to get the truck unstuck. Due to the remoteness of where we are working, it is not uncommon at all for a truck to be stuck overnight or longer.

Here are two trucks that I helped get unstuck this week.

This one we got out at about 10pm, it made for a long night.

This one had to stay overnight and ended up getting out the next afternoon.

I'll need to knock on wood, but thus far I am the only Surveyor on our part of the project that hasn't gotten stuck yet. I'll chalk it up to luck for now, but I suppose having plenty of past experience in the mountains doesn't hurt either... I know when its best to just stop driving and start hiking...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Two days off.

By Saturday night, Lakeview can tend to start filling me with the dread of Sunday. Lakeview isn't a bad place if your out of town working 12+ hours per day. But having to spend your day off in this town can be really depressing. You can judge for yourself based on this picture of downtown that I took last Sunday. I'm sure a lot of people love this town. Not me.

You can always click on the pics to make them bigger.

So Saturday after work I didn't waste any time on washing my truck before I drove the 3 and a half hours North West to Bend.

Bend, Oregon is one of my favorite cities in the country. I seriously love this town. Its a bit pricey and it is really hard to find a job here because the main industry I believe is tourism. But every time I come here, I get the vibe that this is a place that I could easily call home and be 100% happy with that decision. Rebecca has yet to visit Bend, but I am kinda thinking she is gonna feel the same way. Unfortunately for some reason I don't have any snazzy pictures of Bend, I will work on that tomorrow. I did take a picture of some Geese that I saw on my run this morning.

Being that this is a holiday weekend, Bend is packed full of people right now. On the way back from my run, I stopped at The Crepe Place.
On a typical Sunday morning, I order, they make my Crepes and I leave. Today there was a pretty big line and it took over 30 minutes. It was a little embarrassing because I was wearing running cloths and I was drenched in sweat but I think people around here are used to seeing that though because it seems like this is the land of the uber fit. After getting my order (it is worth the wait!) I walked next door to Starbucks to get myself 2 large coffees. No, one isn't enough. The line was out the door! Bend really gets a ton of people coming in for holidays I guess.

I did make a wonderful discovery today. Bend has an outdoor Olympic 50 Meter swimming pool!! It should go without saying that after I finished my breakfast I headed straight for the pool. It was nice to get in the water. Its been about a month since I last swam and I could really feel it. I'm gonna try and get here every Sunday, at least until I end up at the Camp. That way, I can possibly maintain a shred of fitness.

Since I now know for certain that it will be several months before the camp will be built in Vya, Nevada I am moving from a hotel in to a house. Housing in Lakeview is very hard to come by given that its a small town and it only has a couple of motels. A lot of people are trying to figure out ways to make money off of this pipeline project which is going to bring approximately 800 workers to their small town. I found an older couple that is renting out two rooms at their house. They own a small restaurant in town, and they raised 6 children so I think I will be fairly comfortable living there. I talked to them for a little while and they seem really nice. Its about $1200 a month cheaper than the hotel I was staying at, so hopefully its a win win for everyone. It will be a little weird, but I guess I will get used to it. I will just be waiting for Saturday night to roll around so that I can head back to Bend!

By the way, I saw that train wreck again on Thursday, still there but with a fresh coat of snow!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


This morning I thought I was in the middle of nowhere. I took a picture of the last sign that I passed. It wasn't referring to the direction that I was heading. If it were, it would have said "No services next 200 miles" I was heading in the direction of Winnemucca, 200 miles East but the sign referred to Gerlach, which was 100 miles South.

Sometimes, when you think you are in the middle of nowhere, a shark jumps out at you. I was kind of looking around thinking to myself that probably very few people have been here

and THEN...

I guess I wasn't too surprised. It's very hard to find anything in nature that hasn't in some way been touched by man. It is pretty cool looking, and the fact that it is where it is adds to its charm. Its probably 20' tall, so whowever did it put in some time.

I did see something that was a little more interesting this afternoon.

I haven't seen a derailed train before. I don't know why they left it laying there. I guess out here it is just too much trouble for them to clean up.

So I did it. I hope this will inspire me to actually start posting with some regularity. My goal is every Sunday. I think its a good way to sort of keep in touch. I have no idea what communication will be like when I get to the camp. Right now I am using a satellite phone for the majority of the area on this project, but I have heard talk of installing some sort of cell tower at the camp. But nothing is for sure. No one even knows when the camps will start being built for sure. No one even knows when this project is going to start for sure. The only thing I know for sure is that I am going to be here for a long time.