Last days of Monmouth, OR
Been extremely remiss in blogging. That’s a challenge of being on this trip: I want to record everything I experience, but I need to get out there and experience things so I have stuff to record. The fact that I haven’t been writing much means that it’s been a fantastic week, which is all the more reason that I want to write about it! You can see my dilemma, I’m sure. Here goes.
I did write about how I arrived at Mark, Tanna, Emma, and Justin’s last Sunday night under cover of darkness, only to be busted by Poochie. Monday we hung out, and Tuesday I was going to take an afternoon class at Straight Blast Portland, but nobody showed up to teach or even unlock the place. So I hung out at a coffee shop instead and went to the evening class. This messed up my plans with Mark, Tanna, Emma, and Justin, but I got home in time for ice cream from Dairy Queen!
And I’m really glad I went to the evening class. When no one came to the Portland SB location at noon, I hightailed it over to the Beaverton location, because they have a class that starts a half hour later. I didn’t get there in time to train, but I did meet Eric Hemphill, one of SB’s black belts, and decided to train with him in Portland that evening. He has a serious knee injury, but was able to show some great stuff that I wrote about in my training journal. I worked a lot with Bill, a big purple belt who was extremely friendly and gave me a nice detail about biting for an arm bar. I also gave some trouble to a couple of the other guys there, according to one guy who wasn’t training; he said he had fun watching me spar and put these guys on the defensive. All in fun, of course!
As usual, the guys were really nice and welcoming, and I learned a lot from them. One thing that was particularly fun is that I pulled off something called a figure-4 footlock (also called a toehold or a toe “fold,” I learned in Utah) on Bill. Once. He asked me to keep sparring with him and try for it again, and of course once the element of surprise was gone, so was the opportunity. But it was fun to spar with him, a purple belt named Travis, and another guy whose name I forget but who had crazy peroxided hair. Here are pics of me with Eric.
Wednesday, Mark and I took Emma, Justin, and their cousin Frankie to the beach. For those of you who grew up on the east coast, the Oregon shoreline is vastly different. There are huge rock formations that are covered with mussels and barnacles, as well as cool little tidepools and eddies full of sea anemones whose tendrils grab onto your finger when you touch them. We had about a half-mile hike on what looked like a mountain trail to get to the beach, and when we got there it was only about 65 degrees or so with the wind. I don’t know how cold the water was, but my feet got numb pretty quickly, when Frankie and Emma dragged me into a tidepool, so I’m guessing COLD. I also picked my way back to the car once to grab snacks over a huge pile of rocks. Here's what some of it looks like:
The drive there was gorgeous, on winding roads throug little beach towns called Alsea and Tidewater. The beach itself was in Waldport. I had told Mark I wanted to get back to town for an 8pm class at Chris Woolford’s new Portland academy, so he said we’d take the “highway” back. Well, the highway is two lanes and has traffic lights. This is small town Oregon, I guess. And it was fine by me. And speaking of small town Oregon, this sign just cracked me up:
I guess God doesn’t have a Blackberry yet.
Here is a picture of Mark, Emma, Justin, and Frankie near a rock formation called the Devil’s Churn.
And here is a picture looking down into the Devil’s Churn. I was trying to get a clear shot of the starfish that are in there, but I doubt it’s very clear.
We also got some pictures of Justin taking care of business,
Frankie and Emma chilling on the rocks and looking cute in their swimsuits,
and mussels and barnacles and rocks, oh my!
Oh, and we didn’t see any of these at the shore, but on some of the postcards I bought here, there were pictures of a Thunderegg, which is Oregon’s state rock. I think Thunderegg is my new favorite word in the English language. Now that’s a breakfast food.
Mark and I just shot the breeze in the car on the way to and from the beach. We got to ride in Tanna’s minivan because there were so many of us. Normally Mark drives what Tanna calls the Dirt Ride, which is his little white sedan that he decorates with soda cans, food wrappers and, apparently, dirt. In order for Tanna to agree to drive it on the day we went to the beach, Mark had to de-dirtify the Dirt Ride. Fortunately for us, he did a good enough job.
Mark and Tanna live in Monmouth, which is the town they grew up in. They play up their hillbilly-ness, which is probably not that pronounced. But it makes things fun, because then they talk about things like how when Mark was a kid, he and his brothers would go crawdaddin’, which I guess is hillbilly for catching crayfish, cooking them in butter, and eating them. They are a really tight-knit family, and Mark is still very close with a bunch of his elementary and high school friends.
He told a story about how one of his friends found a picture in Playgirl (I didn’t ask what he was doing with a Playgirl) of a bunch of guys, naked on a couch with their arms around each other looking very chummy. Mark’s friend superimposed pictures of their friend’s faces onto the naked guys and emailed the doctored picture to all of them under the caption “Just Dudes.” So now whenever they all get together, whether it’s to go crawdaddin’, to eat pizza that the developmentally delayed waiter sneezed on right in front of them, or to go in search of the Phantom Crapper (someone who back in the day apparently took dumps all over the campus of Western Oregon University, like on the bleachers, in stairwells, on desks, but was never caught), they make sure it’s just dudes.
It was a great day, and then in the evening I drove into Portland to train with Chris Woolford, a black belt who just opened his academy. I had outdated information about the start time of the class, so I arrived late, but I did get a chance to spar with a couple people, including Chris, which was great. He said I move really well and gave me some good suggestions. Here’s a picture of me with him.
I meant to go back to his academy to train with him some more, but the best laid plans were thwarted, as you’ll see in the next entry! But as usual, he and his students were incredibly friendly, with one student just giving me two tickets to the MMA event that was taking place in Portland that Saturday. He got them free from work, but still, how great to give them to me!
The next day, Thursday the 3rd, I had to say goodbye to Mark, Tanna, Emma, Justin, and Poochie. I took them out for breakfast and got a picture with the kids. It's a weird one. Either my eyes are closed or I'm staring demurely down. Emma and Justin look ill at ease. I think they're on to me.
And here’s one of all of us in the restaurant:
I had a ball and was really sorry to say goodbye. That continues to be the biggest challenge of this trip: reconnecting with old friends and then being torn apart from them again. Well, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to be with them at all, and it makes it that much more likely that we’ll get together again, maybe in my new digs, wherever the hell they will be.