Portland to Coast, Part I

Guess what–Posterous only allows postcard-size blogs!  So I will have to post my blog in two or three easy-to-read snippets.  Just follow along with me.  It took me two hours to write this thing, then Posterous wouldn’t upload it, and I thought I’d lost it.  The writing AND my sanity.

But the entire blog was in my computer’s memory, thanks to the right-click-save option.

So–here goes, Part I:

We all ask ourselves the same question every year: “Just why, exactly, do we put ourselves through this?” I think every team does the same, considering how many team names there are that reflect the thought. There are teams with monikers such as “Sisters with Blisters”, “Are We There Yet”, and, of course, ours–“Sleepless in Seaside”.

The Thursday evening decoratiing of the vans is always a lot of fun for our team. We gathered at one location and put our personal touches on the windows. Rick’s newest van-lighting idea got put on (unique lighting that will make the vans easy for our walkers to spot in the dark), and finally we made the last-minute plans for meeting up the next morning. Start times are different every year; this time we were seeded in the 7th take-off wave, 4:30am.

Two-thirty came way too soon, but Paul and I had some sleep, which is better than nothing–an occurrence that happens way too often on these events. Our own van is Van 1, so our house was the meeting point for most of half the team. Everyone showed up on time, we got loaded up with coolers, food, and overnight stuff, and off we went. Traffic was light, and we got to the Hawthorne Bridge start point with plenty of time to spare. Lots of people, some way too perky for my tastes, and a lot of loud music. Good thing this is in a light-industrial area. We got registered in and waited. Soon enough, our team’s wave was announced, and off Paul went.

We piled back into the van and drove over to OMSI to get Connie, our last team member. Her husband drove her to this halfway point, as she lives farther away than any of us.

Then we had the yearly “where do we go from here” conversation, a brief dialogue with a volunteer along Water Street, and we were on our way. We really had to hustle, as Paul is one of our fastest walkers, and we had to meet him at the 2-mile spot per his request.

We met up, then drove on to the exchange. When he got there, his health had changed a bit. As he passed someone earlier on (a non-event person), he fell and gave himself some nasty scrapes on his hand and leg. But, trouper that he is, he kept going. The first-aid kit came in really handy once he got to the van. What a mess!

On the next few legs, there is nothing but flat, heavily-traveled highway and little shade. We were very grateful that the weather icooperated this year. Last year got hot early on. Connie and I were both fried by the time we got to the ends of our stints last year. This year was not so bad. We could actually think at the end of our walks!

And, of course, we were all grateful for the portable toilets at every exchange. Always a line, but if someone shouts “Next walker!”, everyone moves aside for that person. I was amazed to see a couple of late-term pregnant women walking this thing. I’d move aside for them in the bathroom line just on principal.

All of us in our van had better walk times than we thought we would, and were about a half-hour ahead of our projected times. This knowledge is vitally important, because the other van (whose members are probably still fast asleep in their little beds) has to know what time to meet up with us. Cellphone coverage goes to nil in the mountains, no matter what carrier is used. No tower = no communication, period.

It’s amazing how fast the day passes when in this event! You would think there would be a lot of boredom, waiting for your walker to show, stopping every few miles along the road to see if they are going to need water or nourishment, etc. But we are good friends, and we enjoy each other’s company, and that speeds time along. Before we knew it, the sun was going down and we were almost done.

I had the last leg for our part of the team, and was grateful for the dark. Then I could put on the speed in my “dork-walk”–bent at the waist at a 45-degree-angle and stiff-arming the atmosphere beside me as I tried to better my time. It doesn’t help that I’ve gained weight over the past twelve months. I actually passed a couple of people, but was passed by more. However, most of them were speed-walkers. Yeh, like I have a snowball’s chance in Texas of keeping ahead of them…

Finally, the end! Team 2 arrived on time, and Jodi took the racewalk armband from me and was off. Hooray! A quick meet-up with the other van, an exchange of van contents (cooler went with the active van, personal items went on to the rental house), and we were outta there!


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