Nov 16, 2014

Bogs?

"Rain drops keep falling on my head." Do you remember that song? I have to tell you I have very fond memories of that song from my childhood. I remember singing it at the top of my lungs....the only way to sing :) My favorite part was where the singer sang this verse "And I did me some talking to the sun. I told him I didn't like the way he got things done sleeping on the job." If I was not singing that song it was usually something by the Carpenters like "rainy days and Mondays always get me down." But I must tell you that rainy days do not get me down. I love rain. Always have. Always will. I even love gray. It really makes the changing leaves look so pretty when they have a gray background to pop out of.

I am sitting here right now in my parents living room at about 5 o'clock pm in a cozy chair that faces one of four enormous tall windows that look outside (yes, windows look outside here in Oregon :)  I am watching rain pour, and pour, and pour from the sky. This is my most favorite spot to sit. I alternate between staring at the incredible view that makes me sigh inside, and blogging, or reading.

Part of rain is puddles and I am also a most serious puddle lover. I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old walking from school to my Tuesday afternoon church activities in my rubber boots, making sure to go through every single puddle on the way. One time I got to the church activity a little late and as I walked up the aisle of the church all you could hear in the church reverence was the squish, squish, squish of the water and soaking socks in my boots. My mom made me walk home, change socks, and come back.

I have not had rain boots in years maybe since when I was 7. I have secretly missed them. And I am so glad that with my new bus driving job I now need rain accessories. Boots, umbrella and raincoat...all necessary accessories.

I have to walk in so many puddles between the bus office and my bus and I have to be outside and around my bus several times a day. I am out in the rain all the time and my Keds are so unhappy with this new development. I have been searching for the perfect rain boots for about three weeks now. I am sure it does not surprise you that I seem to be over thinking this seemingly simple purchase :)

Months ago I acquired the perfect umbrella for my rain needs. It is one of those retro clear curved ones....like the picture over there. I confess, I could collect umbrellas if I put my mind to it. The big, long, pointy umbrellas. Not the convenient, compact ones... oh no, "the more awkward it is to find a place to put your umbrella the better the umbrella" seems to be my motto.

The next project after the umbrella has been the rain boots and after the boots comes the rain coat. This, "getting ready for the rainy season" is a most serious thing :) I have been noticing everyone's rain boots. I found the perfect rain boots online for my girls from Amazon. Tatiana chose tall red ones that cause almost everyone to stop her and ask where she got them. Natalie chose tall black and white hounds tooth pattern boots that people also seem to like. A little girl that rides my bus has adorable pink, camouflage, light up boots that would totally fit me. One of the ladies at work has boots with Oregon Ducks logo all over them. Every store I have gone into I have headed straight for the rubber boot aisle. Alas, some stores do not have a rubber boot aisle. A lot of the stores simply do not have my size. And then if they do have my size there is always the pattern to consider and the height.

My parents have joined in my boot quest and they have bought some boots and brought them home for me to look at and try on. I honestly thought this would be an easy project. But there is the height of the boots to consider. There is the color. There is how tight they fit around the top of your leg. There is size. My feel are small so I can not just walk into the adult women's shoe department and grab a pair of rain boots, I am usually found standing in the kids shoe aisle trying to find a pair of boots that do not light up and do not have a character on them. Not to brag but I could have had some of those pink camouflage boots with light up heels if I wanted them.

Yep, these are the ones :)
My parents brought home a pair of Bogs the other day. I had never heard of Bogs before. The bottom of them is hard, normal, rain boot, rubbery material but the top is soft, bendable, waterproof fabric. They are very wide and make my feet look very fat when I look down at them. I kept them for a few days with the tags still on them. Thinking and thinking about if they were mine or not. We even went back to to look at the other colors of Bogs in the store. I thought I needed the red ones but then I rethought it....because they did not have my size. All this said they are a little endearing and I eventually decided to keep them. The point is they keep my feet dry and there really should be nothing more than that....right? :) I mean who decided rain boots were about fashion? Who on earth would worry about if the boots would match what you are wearing? Or if they make your feet look fat? Definitely, not me :)

Can you not hardly wait for my blog about shopping for the raincoat? Good times...right?

Nov 15, 2014

Tilamook, Cape Meares, Lookout State Park and More :)

View from Cape Meares
I am not sure why I can not resist the urge to take a perfectly free day and fill it. But ever since I can remember I fill free days with day trips.....hikes....historical sites....Pez factories....beach....big cities....caves...whatever is within 3 hours driving distance qualifies.

So the minute I found out my girls and I had Tuesday, November 11th off I started googling and planning. The first thing I did was pull out the map and study the Oregon coastline. I wanted to show my girls Tillamook, Oregon. On the East coast it is Cabot cheese but on the west coast it is Tillamook cheese. They have a huge factory that you can tour....ice cream, cheese, and even fudge are all readily available. I feel like the girls and I have done a lot of exploring the southern half of Highway 101 which goes the length of Oregon's coastline....with about 40 miles in California and 20 miles in Washington. But we have not done much exploring on the Northern half of Highway 101. So I started researching beaches, hikes, and sites and finally narrowed it down to the Aquarium in Newport, Oregon. Cape Meares which claimed to have the best views on the Oregon Coast, Tillamook...for the cheese, and the longest truss bridge in the United States in Astoria. This was not going to be an easy task to fit this all in but I was going to do my best without making it a stressful trip, I decided I should get a hotel room on the coast so I could at least be in the right place when the day started. If we could get to a hotel in Lincoln City, Oregon I could cut 2 hours off of our driving for Tuesday.

So Monday at 4, after school and work were through, we were in the car driving North up I-5. Which is delightfully straight through this middle part of Oregon. There are several options of roads when it comes to heading West towards the coast and I was not sure which one to take and decided to just go with my gut feeling as the exit came. My gut chose a road that went through Corvalis, Oregon and ended up on the coast in the town of Newport.

We arrived at our hotel at about 7 on Monday night. We ate at an unfortunately yucky restaurant, took advantage of the wifi in the hotel, and played in the amazing heated pool and hot tub. We caught up on episodes of Studio C and slept in.....until 8 :) I was anxious to get going since we had so much to do. The minute the sun was up I knew the day was going to be gorgeous and I was dying to glimpse the ocean since it had been dark when we finally got to the coast the night before. The girls were not thrilled with me but cest la vie :)

It was cold out and pretty windy but it really was the most beautiful day ever. The ocean was a beautiful deep blue color that compelled you to exclaim at least a gazillion times how beautiful it was. I just think I may love winter ocean the best :) The wind would grab the tops of the waves as they broke and cause this amazing spray.

We headed north on Highway 101 which weaves in and out of  Oregon coastal cities, mountains, and staggering ocean views. We stopped when ever we wanted to and ran on the beach and climbed rocks and took pictures....well except for Natalie who I never should have watched tsunami documentaries with a few months ago :) She is so afraid of tsunamis now that no amount of reasoning will convince her to set feet on the shore. So we irresponsibly leave her on the shore and check on her while we race around looking for treasures and exploring.

We decided Tillamook should be our first destination and we got there about 10 am in the morning. There were not many people there so we raced through the cheese making process....and cheese tasting...and photo opps ....and the ice cream which is pretty famous. It was fascinating to watch the assembly line of cheese packaging and cutting. And tasting was fun but I wanted to be able to taste all the flavors they sold but that was sadly not possible. It was interesting to compare it to our cheese tasting trips to Cabot in Vermont.

Astoria-Megler Bridge
After Tillamook we decided to head to the truss bridge. A few weeks ago I happened to hear some ladies in the break room at work chatting about a bridge in Astoria. I LOVE bridges. They are a small obsession of mine. As I listened to the ladies conversation about the bridge I knew I needed to check it out. So I googled and read about it. It is called the Astoria- Megler Bridge. This bridge goes across the glorious Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. The bridge is 4 miles long and it the longest continuous truss bridge in the United States.It is so epic. It starts up high on the Oregon side and then it dips down to skim across the water of the Columbia until it reaches Washington's shore. The Columbia River is very mighty, and wide, and awesome. The bridge is only 14 miles from where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet. Because of the winds the water was impressive and you could feel the wind buffeting the car as we drove across. The ladies at work had been talking about how scary this bridge was to cross because of the strong wind so I was excited. We took lots of pictures but they were taken from car windows so I posted a picture from the internet. This bridge made me happy :) Once we got to Washington we turned right around and headed back across the bridge to Oregon.  The town of Astoria has fascinated me ever since I read a book about John Jacob Astor and his funding of expeditions to explore the west. The book was called Astoria and I really liked it...but I love history stuff...it may bore you :)

After the bridge crossing we thought we would try to make it all the way back to Newport before five so we could go to the aquarium. But as we meandered along we realized this was not going to happen so we headed to Cape Meares instead. I had read about the light house there, and the views, and really wanted to see it. It met all my expectations and that is hard to do :) I want you to feel like you were there but I have no idea how to describe the beauty. We were way up high on the mountain at a lookout that went further out from the mainland so we could see the coastline extending back to our right and our left. We could see a group of sea stacks in the distance. From up high we could see the succession of the waves all lines up to break....it looked so cool.

Beach at Lookout State Park...magical :)
While I was trying to find Cape Meares we happened upon Cape Lookout State Park which was so incredible. There was this empty beach with cliffs that came right up to the beach. Trees right up to the shore line. We found a waterfall that came off the cliff and ended right on the beach...very magical. There were tons of trails on the surrounding mountains and everything was so clean and manicured. I fell in love immediately. I wanted to explore but this is hard with my Natalie and her very intense tsunami fear. So I will be going back to this beach soon and trying some of the hiking trails. There were also some Yurts and very nice cabins not far from the beach and immediately my mind jumped ahead to Christmas break :) You know me :)

Sunset on the Pacific.
As the day was ending Tatiana and I realized that my girls had never seen the sun set on the Pacific Ocean. We had seen it come up on the Atlantic Ocean but obviously had not seen it go down. She decided we needed to do this and I figured why not? So we quickly made our way to the Three Capes Scenic Drive and raced the sun to the beach. As we raced along we came upon a tree that had fallen on a telephone wire. After I made sure someone had called 911 as we drove away I looked in my rear view mirror just in time to see the tree and telephone wire explode three times in pretty awesome, very colorful explosions. My girls felt like this was the highlight of the day .....bless their hearts :) We made it to beach to see the picture at the left there. It was so windy I could barely open my car door. The sand was whipping all over so we did not view the sunset long :)

Once the sun went down the day was over.  It's a little bit of a bummer that Winter days are so short. We cranked our Taylor Swift cd and headed for home already planning our next trip to the Oregon Shore. They laughed at me at work when I said I was going to the shore....they said we do not say shore on the West coast :) Hmmm we will see about that :)

Nov 8, 2014

Living In The Moment.

What does it mean to live in the moment?
 Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
What does someone who lives in the moment act like?
Do we like people who live in the moment?

I have a dear friend who recently mentioned to me that I might want to try some of the, "living in the moment" thing. It will probably not surprise you that I have been over thinking this concept ever since...I am pretty sure that a person who was truly practicing living in the moment would probably not do much over thinking about it....bless my heart :) And since I do not really have anyone in my life right now who wants to exhaust this topic with me I am going to torture the 37people who read my blog by unloading all my wonderings here :)

Honestly and truly I am extremely curious about this living in the moment thing. I am trying to wrap my mind around what it means and if I really do need to do it. I can not imagine what life would be like if I were not trying to think about how my choices in this moment will affect my upcoming moments. When I sit very still, close my eyes, and just breathe I can not tell you how attractive just living in the moment sounds. But is it possible? Is it good for me? Will it make me better? How do you even do it?

Does it mean I do whatever I want trying to trick myself  into believing that in the next moment it will not matter?

Does it just mean taking deep breaths and appreciating what is going on around me? You know...admiring nature?  If this one is it I already do it...whew :)

Does it mean I throw all caution to the wind in the name of the moment?

Does it mean I am selfish?

How do you know when the moment you are currently living in ends and the next moment starts?

Is there a difference between living FOR the moment and living IN the moment?

Let me tell you if I am supposed to be living for the moment that moment will need to involve some great views, someone who thinks I am the best thing since sliced bread, some steak, and a long drive ....throw in some good laughs and some connecting and then I am definitely IN the moment.

I think after all my wondering about this I have to come back to what the parental units always taught me.....moderation.....balance....if you go to far towards one extreme it's probably not a good idea. So I probably should make sure I have some living in the moment to my life but I should also make sure I have an equal amount of not living in the moment in my life .....balance.....right? :) Whew, aren't you glad I figured that out we would not want an overthinking live in the moment 4 foot 10 inch girl roaming the planet....would we?


Nov 7, 2014

My Day.

So every week day at 5:30 AM my alarm clock rings. I get up immediately. I am not a snooze button girl. I open my closet and I stare at its contents realizing, as I do every morning , that I do not have a bus driver wardrobe and my choices are very limited. I finally settle on something after considering the rain, puddles, mud, and bus grease in my life, and then I get ready. I have realized moisture in some form or another is part of life here in Oregon so my hair is almost always in a ponytail or a bun since moisture wreaks havoc on my hair that seems to think it is curly. I fix Natalie's lunch for school and I approve what she laid out to wear for the day. I also make sure there was nothing in her back pack I had to sign she likes to not tell me about those things. I make my sandwich and then fill a sandwich bag with grapes. Sometime in the middle of all of this I make sure Tatiana is up since I have to drop her off at her early morning church class. And then I stand at the counter and eat a bowl of my mothers granola while I stare into space.

We have to leave the house by 6:20 am. But Tatiana thinks 6:20 am means 6:28 am. Which is why I told her 6:20 :) The mornings have been dark. Which I love. We listen to Taylor Swifts new cd as we drive around the lake, down the curvy road by the dam, and into town. I like to listen to my music very loud and as we get into town and closer to the church where I drop Tatiana off she always tries to furtively turn the volume down. She says it embarrasses her. I am not sure how. But it does. She always scolds me as I try to turn it back up, saying, "Mom, I can hear every single word of the song perfectly when I get out of the car and shut the door." I smile at her and say a sheepish sorry and then I always turn it up loud again the minute she gets out and shuts the door. And she glares at me disapprovingly as I gleefully drive away. Yes, I am 46 :)

The school district transportation lot is about 3 minutes from where I drop her off. When I get there I can see all the lights of all the school buses flashing as the drivers are all checking their lights. It looks rather festive. I pull into the front parking lot and park my car. I grab my big huge awesome flashlight, which is one of my favorite possessions. I also grab my umbrella and the bag with my sandwich, grapes, and water in it. I have to make sure I have my wallet since it has my license in it and I have been known to forget it.

I have to walk a little ways to get to the transportation office. And all around me as I walk are school buses in various forms of getting ready to leave. Lights on. The sounds of air brakes being tested. Horns honking and backing up beeping sounds as everyone is getting ready. Once I get into the office I grab my keys out of this enormous cupboard with the numbers of all the buses and rows of little hooks. I put my employee number into the time clock and make sure I have no notes about my route in my box and then I head out to pre-trip my bus.

 My bus is parked all the way at the front on the lot back out by where I had to park my car but I do not mind the walk. I shine my flashlight on my bus as I get close to check for any signs of vandalism or any flat tires. I get on the bus and drop my bag and then go back out to check all the tires. I grab a "thumper" which is a long metal....crowbar? We use them to thump our tires to check for inflation and to make sure the mud flaps are firmly attached. After checking all the tires with my flashlight and making sure I have touched all the lug nuts and axle nuts to make sure they are all secure then I get on the bus and start checking all the lights, fans, indicator lights, seats, and ,,,,yeah, basically everything. I let the air pressure in my brakes build up as I get out and check all the outside lights on the bus, my brights, hazards, and student lights. So it is a lot of in and out, and in and out. The air brake test is the last thing and my favorite part.....you turn everything off on the bus and release the parking brake and just sit for 60 seconds and listen for air leaks and make sure your psi's do not drop to fast. Then you sit another 60 seconds as you apply pressure to your service brake again listening. I just enjoy the silence for two minutes. I stare out the window and look for hints of the sun while I listen.

At about 7:05 am my bus aide arrives at the bus and she and I get ready to leave. Almost all the other buses are gone by this point so I can back my bus up into a completely empty parking lot which is glorious. And makes me contemplate the possibility of doing a doughnut in that empty parking lot for a short minute :) I drive a bus with 330,000 miles on it. It has a flat front and I love how it turns on a dime. This bus and I are peeps and I will miss it when I have to move on to another.

 For the next few months I have been assigned to be a substitute driver on a special education bus route. So I do not pick up lots of kids. I pick up a few kids at lots of different times during the day and at lots of different places. Normal bus drivers pick up in the morning and drop off in the afternoon but special ed drivers are busy all day. I like being busy and being useful. On most days I am done driving at around 3:30 pm. I have a few hour long breaks during the day. I have to pre trip my bus whenever I have been parked in the parking lot for more than an hour but I find the routine of the pre trip very soothing.

The kids make me smile. Sometimes they have hard days and sometimes they have good days and they are so excited to tell us when they have a good day. They love to tell me where they live. They cheer when I back up :) Some walk slow to the bus, some run. Some beg me to avoid the bumpy roads others beg me to take the bumpy roads. One asked me today if I could drive the bus with my eyes closed. One likes to give me hugs. One begs to be able to shut the door. One always has to lift the emergency handle on the window and set off the alarm.

I love this driving gig. I get to go out in the country past lakes, covered bridges, dams, rivers, fir trees in abundance, and mountains. I also get to drive around in our small quaint town. I get to go over lots of train tracks. I get to drive past Weyerhauser and watch piles of logs go from log to lumber. The smell of fresh wood as I drive by is definitely a perk of my job. I get to wave to the same people every day. Funny how many people are walking or driving in the same place everyday...I had no idea. I also get to see sheep, horses, chickens, and cows everywhere I go.