21 January 2006


This area is a boon for the outdoor-types - tons of opportunities for all sorts of activities, which the emphasis on "active". One of those activities is snowboarding. With an elevation of 11,249ft, Mt. Hood has 3 ski facilities, including the only year-round skiing and snowboarding in the US, and it's less than an hour away1. So we decided that we would take up snowboarding. (While Mt. Adams is only 15 miles away, it does not have any facilities; much of the mountain, including the summit, is inside the Yakama Nation Indian reservation.)

It's awesome! The best thing about snowboarding is that when you are first learning, you can have fun on the very first day. But I definitely suggest that anyone learning to snowboard take lessons. We bought a 3-pack of beginner lift tickets (restricted to the beginner lifts) which included rentals and a 90-minute lesson each time. There's no arguing that snowboarding feels really awkward when you are first learning; but once you start to get the hang of it, you're ready to head downhill (slowly).

The key to snowboarding, at least for us, is having the right equipment. So we went out and bought pants, jackets, gloves, wrist guards, helmets, and a buttshield even before we went up to the mountain for the first time.

I know what you're thinking - did he just say "buttshield"?

Yes, buttshield. We each received one of these devices from Corinne's brother Loren, who swears by them. When you are learning to snowboard, you are going to fall. A lot. And even after you learn, you are still going to fall, just not as much (hopefully). With this buttshield shoved down your pants, falling on your ass isn't so bad. And it even keeps you warm when sitting in the snow - not too shabby. The helmut and wrist guards are probably more important - spraining or breaking your wrist while attempting to break your fall is one of the more common injuries on the mountain - but neither garners quite the response of the buttshield.

Mt. Hood from the Mt Hood Meadows parking lot. You won't see any photos of us actually ON the mountain just yet; when you do, you'll know we have gotten sufficiently good to be able to carry a camera down the hill without danger of landing on it.

- Mike (& Corinne)

1Technically, the facilities on Mt. Hood are about 40 minutes from the Columbia River, and our house is 30 minutes from the Columbia. But it's still pretty close.

20 January 2006

Dalys visit the New House

Rather than traveling East for the holidays this year, we coordinated it so that my family would come visit us in January. And it just so happened that they arrived on the day of our closing! (We had done all of the signing the day before our closing, so that we wouldn't have to worry about.)

A toast to the new house! We didn't do any "large scale" moving into the new house while they were here, but we did make sure both cars were full before heading north.

On the Friday after our closing, we decided to host Bad Movie night at our new house, despite the fact that we hadn't actually moved in yet. (We did have some furniture that we bought - cheap - from the previous owners, so that there was something to sit on.) So we borrowed a projector from the office, connected it up to Corinne's laptop, and initiated the house with a showing of Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I can't think of a better way (although I'm sure Corinne can.)

While Drew was here, he helped me replace the battery and battery terminals. Thanks, Drew! It was good practice for me, since I don't have that much experience with machinery - and we now own a machine shop full of tractors and other implements of destruction.

During his last visit, not only did Drew & Michelle encounter the worst winter on Mt Hood in recent history, but Drew was also denied the one food he craved while he was here: Dungeness Crab. So this time, he made sure that he got his fill. They also got to experience, according to Drew, "the greatest snowboarding in my life". I guess we made up for last year. :)

A walk along the White Salmon River, exploring our own personal park.

We snapped this photo of a hawk (?) on a nearby field.

- Mike (& Corinne)

13 January 2006

The New House!

Well, we finally did it. As of January 13th, 2006, we are now the proud owners of a 2000-sqft log house with a 60-acre estate located in beautiful Trout Lake, WA!

The quick summary:

  • The log house was built in 1977 by the previous owners, The Clausens.
  • The majority of the house is on the main floor, with only the master bedroom and bath occupying the second floor. There is one guest room.
  • A Lindal Cedar "Great Room" addition was added in 1991
  • The second floor of the 2-car garage is currently unfinished. Other outbuildings include a garden shed and large machine shop containing all of our newly-purchased farm equipment. You'll probably hear more about the equipment once we figure out how to use it (or even what to do with it!)
  • Approximately 30 acres of the property is planted in coniferous trees. Originally, it was intended to become a Christmas tree farm, but the market didn't cooperate. So now it is rows of 20-year-old conifers that are managed under a state Forest Stewardship Program. (More on that in future postings)
The property even comes with a name: "River Ford Farm", named after a particularly low-bank section of the White Salmon River on the west side of the property. According to local folklore, the Yakama Indians used to cross the river at that section to gather huckleberries on the other side.

Since we plan to be here for quite some time, the photos below will only scratch the surface.

Just to give some perspective... the pink outline is our new property! Just under 60 acres total. This aerial photo is from 2003, so it is fairly recent. As you can see, lots of farmland around us. Trout Lake is an unincorporated section of Klickitat County with approximately 800 residents.

On the threshold of our new house!

One of the happy home-owners exploring the new lands.

Our 1977 log house! In the back you can partially see the Great Room addition that was added later.

A view down the fire lane through one stand of trees.

"The front yard". The house is visible just to the right of center behind some trees; the garage is to the left of center, also behind trees. The circular driveway runs between them.

"The front yard, pt 2" Here you can see the house again, the circular driveway, and the great garden patch in the middle surrounded by cedar seedlings.

Here's a view of the "back" of the house, consisting primarily of the Great Room addition.

Great Room via the Dining Room. Of course, it'll all look different once we get our furniture.

So much to do!

- Mike (& Corinne)

02 January 2006

Christmas in Tulsa

"Tulsa? Why on earth are you going to Tulsa for Christmas?" That was the typical response we got when we told people of our holiday plans. Well, thankfully the trip was much more enjoyable than any of our friends could envision.

Tor & Clare's first tree!

As with most gatherings in Corinne's family, Christmas included many a "game night", 21st century style. Except most of the time it was probably closer to 11am...

We've certainly played Ultimate Frisbee before, but this was our first experience with an actual ultimate frisbee course. Who'da thunk?

A quick stop for some refreshments, courtesy of Krispy Kreme.

At the Rhema Christmas Lights display. More holiday lights than you've ever seen before in one place.

Several days of our week-long trip were spent helping Loren "get organized". I just hope he keeps it up after we leave!

The hard-working organizers... and Loren.

All crammed in Loren's Lincoln, heading out for dessert.

...and of course, lots of time spent at several of Tor's Nordaggios locations!

- Mike (& Corinne)