When home isn’t “home”

I had the great fortunate traveling to Burlington, Vermont for CASE’s Summer Institute in Communications and Marketing last week. Quick review… Burlington is an adorable little town. The “crepedilla” from Skinny Pancake might be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. If you are a marcom professional working in higher ed, beg your boss to send you to this conference. You will come home with fantastic contacts, good ideas, and a determination to become more strategic instead of simply being a task monkey.

After recovering from the red-eye, I found that my body happily adapted to being back on Eastern time. I had settled into a comfortable routine and rhythm in Corvallis but there was just something about being back on the East Coast that put me at ease. When I wasn’t in sessions or catching up on work, I could easily chat with friends and family without thinking of the time difference. I wasn’t prepared to feel at home in Vermont but I did.

Maybe a little too at home…

On Thursday night when I was waiting for my plane to leave JFK, I had the strongest urge to simply not come back. I was boarding a plane to go home but suddenly, Oregon just wasn’t home. I felt a tightness in my chest and tears bubbled near the surface when I thought about coming back to a place that is so far away from family and dearest friends. I seriously planned my escape. I pondered what I would need to do to get my checked bag. I wondered if I could call my husband’s family in NYC to have a place to land for a few days.

Thankfully, I am far too responsible and boringly predictable for all of that. I got on the plane and made my way back to PDX. I wasn’t happy but I was coming back. When I woke up on Friday morning, I cried and questioned what I had done. It had been weeks since I felt like that. I went into work on Friday afternoon and kept myself busy with tasks. I was so tired that work pushed away all my anxiety and sad thoughts.

I knew I had to get a handle on this so I treated myself by stepping away from work and driving to the coast yesterday. I had a great time in Newport and felt that maybe, just maybe, I could get used to this. Part of this is doing a better job of taking care of myself, one cannot center everything in her life around work. Fun has to be a part of the equation.

I don’t regret my choice but this opportunity didn’t come without sacrifice. That’s true of many things in life. I am not writing this for sympathy. I want to faithfully document this whole move and just like with life, skipping over the rough parts isn’t an option.

 

Tastes of Oregon

On Friday, I had the opportunity to sample some delicious new flavors. The first was the coconut oatmeal cookie created by Mennonite bakers. That is a delicious flavor combo. Overall, I prefer an oatmeal scotchie but the coconut oatmeal is not as rich, making it a better choice for summer.

On Friday night, I sampled the bacon guacamole from Del Alma. I enjoy my guac with loads of lime and cilantro so I wasn’t sure about this concoction featuring bacon, chipotle peppers, and chopped hazelnuts but it turned out to be so good that my taste buds did a little dance. The hazelnuts were a perfect balance to the heat of the peppers. The bacon appeared in thick, flavorful chunks. It isn’t an everyday guac, but it is delightful!

Yesterday, I thought I would order a pizza because I had good experiences on Friday and good things come in threes, right?

20140713-192338-69818008.jpg

Wrong! Woodstocks delivered this pizza in a timely fashion and they use quality cheese. That ends my list of positives. The crust was burnt on the edge and soggy on the bottom. The sauce tasted like spaghetti sauce and the seasonings didn’t belong on a Hawaiian pizza or any pizza for that matter. This pizza was not great cold on day two. At least American Dream had that going for them. A good pizza is hard to find in Corvallis!

Pretty little pity party

Sing it Puddles!

Generally, I am not one to feel sorry for myself or at least not one to wallow in it. That has not been the case over the last few days.

Until a couple of weeks ago, Mr. McB and I thought that he would be able to make a visit here in conjunction with a  business trip to California. Plans changed and that all evaporated. I was sad but then on Thursday, the day he was to arrive, I just hit rock bottom. I saw the shuttle that would have brought him from Portland to Corvallis no less than four times during the day. Normally, I might see it once in four days. I sat in the parking lot at work and cried. It was not a good day.

Thursday was also crappy because once again Anytime Fitness refused to accept documentation that would allow me to cancel our contract. They keep moving the goal line when it comes to what we need and it is infuriating. They have six different pieces of information but keep asking for something else even though what I am providing what they ask for. They also didn’t freeze our account as promised. It is corrected now but I’m annoyed that I had to follow up on it and ask for the charge to be reversed.

I was also frustrated because the trash company did not take away the cans left by the previous tenants, even though I was assured that they would. I also still have car parts, including an entire exhaust system, in my garage. Not major things but I cannot stand it when people don’t do the service I am paying them for. I don’t have time to call repeatedly but I don’t have much of a choice.

Friday, I woke up grouchy but pulled out of it when I was able to spend the evening with friends and their family. It was nice and I felt better.

Saturday, I was able to get a local bank account without any fuss. I went to the farmer’s market. I was really having a great day. I decided to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and head to the shore. I made it 10 minutes down the road when my “check engine” light came on. I was able to make it in to Firestone only to learn that my catalytic converter is toast. Thankfully, I have a wonderful friend who just happens to be getting his Ph.D. in automotive engineering and he made sure I knew that the federal government requires automakers to have nice long warranties on catalytic converters. The warranty covers eight years and 80,000 miles and I am at 7 years and 75,488 miles. I should have focused on how fortunate I was to be safe and to know that at least part of the repair is covered under warranty. Instead, I picked up the “woe is me” flag and there was more crying last night.

Today I am finally getting in the right frame of mind. I went to church and was very touched by the message. I remembered that I am never alone and even when things seem hopeless, I’m not doing the heavy lifting on my own.

I am thankful for my Creator, my family, and my friends. They all sustain me during the rough times and love me even when I decide to throw a pity party.

 

Oregon, so far

I’ve been in Corvallis for just over two weeks now. How am I feeling?

From the professional standpoint, the slow start is over. I feel like I’m handling tasks but not necessarily in the most strategic way. It’s just about getting things done and filing away notes about how to get a handle on the procedures. I hate it but it’s a necessary part of the process, at least my process. I can’t decide how a project should be handled if I don’t stumble through a few times. I feel that I’m about to make a breakthrough but I’m just not there yet.

I should say that I am very thankful to be working with such a nice group of people who are ready to assist and are very patient with my questions.

From the personal side, I am getting over those early days when the newness of a place is almost more than you can handle. If you haven’t ever moved, trust me when I say that the first week or two in a new place is just a struggle. Everything takes longer. Everything takes effort. Even if you find a grocery store, the layout and some of the products are new to you. Oh and don’t forget your reusable shopping bags if you think you might make a stop at any kind of store. There is no mindless supermarket run or stop for takeout on the way home from work. Menus are different; traffic flow is unfamiliar.¬† It’s silly just how exhausting everyday life can be when adjusting to a new place.

I left temporary housing behind on Thursday morning and am in our new home. It feels good to be in my own space and I can see Mr. McB and I settling in nicely, even if his arrival is still months away. Things are pretty organized now. Both our new bed and Mr. McB’s new chair will arrive this week. It’s my job to break both in before he arrives in September so sleeping in the middle of the bed and mindless TV viewing are in my future.

photo 1(1)This Saturday, I did make it to the Saturday market where I found a load of fresh produce. My haul is below.

photo 3(3)Dinosaur kale, white zucchini, normal zucchini, and yellow zucchini along The yellow tomatoes were a supermarket find.
These ingredients were combined with crushed tomatoes and cannellini to make a delicious Tuscan kale soup.

photo 4(1)Cherry plums and Marionberries, an Oregon speciality
Ninety percent of the world’s Marionberries are grown near Salem. They taste like sweet blackberries.

On Saturday evening, I discovered the walking trails near our home. They stretch for miles and are wide enough for cyclists and walkers. One stretch of the path leads to Philomath and passes by fields on the way. Since the grasses were just cut back, there was plenty of animal activity. There were birds of prey flying high above and little rabbits scurrying to safety.

photo 2(1) photo 3(1) photo 4I might still rely on Siri to get to the post office and church, but I’m learning a little more each day. All in all, I’d say it’s a pretty good start.

 

 

 

 

 

I s

Oregon Trail Days Five and Six

I’m just getting back to rounding out the trip.

Day Five
Instead of taking in more of Boise, I decided to get an oil change on my way out of town.

I had decided to spend the night in Redmond near Bend so that meant getting off the interstate and taking route 20 through Oregon. The landscape is pretty interesting. There were hills and mountains. At one point, I felt like I was weaving around giant anthills. This is also a very lonely stretch of road. It is a place where a single gas pump is worth noting and the FM stations fade out.

I don’t have any photos because there really aren’t many places to stop and I wanted to keep moving.

I was in Redmond by early afternoon. I settled in at the lodge where I was staying.

20140624-210826-76106213.jpg

I wanted to go on a long walk but it was chilly and fatigue was taking over. I passed out pretty early.

Day Six
I was eager to reach Corvallis which meant getting up and out early. The road was an interesting one. I was driving on a wet, foggy morning which made the sunken grade and switchbacks just a bit more challenging. I know a few people, including Mr. McB who are too prone to motion sickness to enjoy this stretch of road.

I was in Corvallis before 9:30. Below are a few pictures that I took on my first day. The images are from my temporary housing. I look forward to exploring and learning more.

20140624-211823-76703588.jpg

20140624-211820-76700751.jpg

20140624-211822-76702043.jpg

Oregon Trail Day Four

Knowing that traffic in Salt Lake is heinous, I decided to enjoy a late start. It was around 9 when we left for the Great Salt Lake.

20140612-195601-71761318.jpg

20140612-195558-71758829.jpg

Holy Moses, that is a stinky place. I don’t know what causes the stench but I know it is not the salinity because the Dead Sea smells nothing like that. There are also brine flies that help to eat the algae in the lake. The guys refused to pose on the beach or the rocks. They would only submit to the railing of the visitor’s center.

20140615-132138-48098784.jpg

We were back in the car and on our way to Boise. After spotting a sign for the Oregon Trail Educational Center, we decided to make a stop at Glenns Ferry. The museum is found at the Three Island Crossing State Park. This site was a popular river crossing until 1869 when Mr. Glenn began his ferry service.

20140615-131126-47486236.jpg

20140615-131127-47487647.jpg

20140615-131126-47486644.jpg

20140615-131128-47488564.jpg

20140615-132017-48017674.jpg

20140615-132016-48016489.jpg

The settlers who traveled the Oregon Trail faced many perils in pursuit of a better life. While I wasn’t in danger of dying from dysentery or starvation, my journey to Oregon was not without sacrifice but I also thought the risk was worth the chance of a better life and new adventures.

After finishing up at the museum, I was back on my way to Boise. I was feeling pretty tired and hungry so I stopped in at La Tapitia, a Mexican restaurant near the Holiday Inn Express. It was so delicious.

20140615-134755-49675751.jpg

After dinner, I had a burst of energy. I took a walk along the Greenbelt. The path follows the river and passes by the Boise State stadium. I was really impressed. I didn’t know what to expect from Boise but it was really very charming. I hope to visit again.

20140615-135027-49827704.jpg

20140615-135029-49829683.jpg

20140615-135028-49828569.jpg

20140615-135030-49830508.jpg

20140615-135032-49832308.jpg

20140615-135031-49831385.jpg

Oregon Trail Day Three

With an eye on getting to Salt Lake City before rush hour, I was out of Cheyenne early. There was a stop downtown to see the Capitol and the decorative boots that are clustered in the historic district.

20140612-181745-65865534.jpg

20140612-181743-65863707.jpg

20140612-181746-65866423.jpg

20140612-181744-65864633.jpg

20140612-181742-65862806.jpg

20140612-181741-65861928.jpg

Wyoming is a lovely state. There are snow-capped mountains and landscapes that resemble an old Western. I was very excited when I saw a herd of antelope and little prairie dogs crossing the highway.

20140612-182311-66191081.jpg

To allow for a break, I decided to enjoy lunch in Rock Springs. After a nice lunch in a local brewpub, I took a walk around the historical district. It was a charming place with friendly folks.

20140612-182617-66377990.jpg

20140612-182615-66375435.jpg

20140612-182616-66376259.jpg

20140612-182617-66377109.jpg

20140612-182618-66378838.jpg

I still had a couple of hours in WY. The sweeping vistas are stunning but the rigors of the drive were catching up to me. At some point, I felt myself getting grumpy again. Thankfully the Utah welcome center offered a welcome break from the road. I took advantage of the walking trails; it felt so good to stretch my aching legs.

20140612-075946-28786178.jpg

20140612-075948-28788634.jpg

20140612-075949-28789675.jpg

20140612-075947-28787529.jpg

It was back to the car and then off to Salt Lake City. I was not prepared for the intensity of the traffic. I was so relieved to pull into the hotel parking lot.

I vegged for a while and then took off toward Temple Square. The whole complex is stunning. The gardens are immaculate. The austere buildings are surrounded by statues depicting key moments in Mormon history. There are also fountains and green spaces that lend themselves to contemplation.
20140612-174604-63964311.jpg

20140612-174603-63963209.jpg

20140612-174605-63965392.jpg

20140612-174606-63966473.jpg

The guys are reading about pushcart pioneers who didn’t have money for a horse.

Afterwards, I decided to make my way to the statehouse which is perched atop the highest hill in town. At this point, my water was gone. I now understand why everyone had a gallon jug of water and not just a small bottle.

After nearly puking on the way up the hill, I made it to the top and really enjoyed exploring the Capitol complex.

20140612-191935-69575953.jpg

20140612-191936-69576843.jpg

Utah is the “Beehive State.” Benny took issue with the fact that bees were seen as the model of industriousness but he didn’t want to upset the natives so he kept those thoughts to himself.

20140612-174417-63857258.jpg

20140612-193136-70296226.jpg

20140612-193134-70294856.jpg

After a walk down the hill, which was almost as brutal as the walk up the hill, we had dinner at Crown Burger. The mushroom swiss burger was excellent. The fries were tasty but I did not enjoy the local fry sauce which seemed to be a spiced mix of mayo and ketchup.

20140612-191805-69485149.jpg

We returned to the hotel and slept well after this action-packed day. It was really a blessing to see and do so much.