Monday, June 2, 2008

Back In Corvallis

I arrived back in Corvallis on May 29th. It rained during my entire traverse across Oregon. A fitting welcome, I thought.

After leaving Monterrey and crossing back into the US at Laredo, Texas I headed west. I visited Guadalupe Mountains National Park just south of the New Mexico border and the nearby Carlsbad Caverns just on the other side of the NM border. I day hiked in the Guadalupes and managed to make the top of Texas's highest peak.

From there I headed more or less due north, stopping to see the Taos Pueblo. The pueblo is billed as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the US. I then crossed into south central Colorado. I spent several days there hiking and backpacking in the Great Dunes National Park and the adjacent Sangre de Cristo mountains. The dunes are the largest in the US. They seem out of place, being adjacent to lush pine forests and 14,000 ft snow capped peaks. During my backpacking trip into the dunes I was surprised to find various forms of life eeking out an existence amongst the sand. I attempted a nearby 14er but there was too much snow on the ground. Out of all the things I didn't have in the Buffalo probably what I most wish I had brought is a pair of snowshoes.

From the dunes I headed towards Denver. I stayed there with a friend for a few days and went downhill skiing with him one day. I hadn't skied all season and I really enjoyed our outing, as well as catching up from our last meeting. From there I picked up Ann at the airport and we headed to her brother's house in Boulder. I was there for a few days over the Memorial Day weekend. Her two nephews, like other young kids I encountered during my trip, enjoyed playing in the Buffalo. One of them spent the night in it with me. The younger one really enjoyed driving the Buffalo.

Ann and I took a day trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. From what I saw it's a great park. Anyone who likes mountains would love this place. The road which runs along the spine of the park had just opened for the season. It must be one of the highest roads in the US. The road traverses alpine tundra, normally an environment you can only see on foot (at least in the continental US). It was still early in the season (lots of snow) so hiking opportunities were limited (assuming you don't have snowshoes). I hope to return some day with snowshoes or under more favorable conditions.

Ann, her sister, brother, and oldest nephew also ran the Bolder Boulder. This is a 10k run billed as the largest timed race in the US. The run has a carnival atmosphere, with bands playing live music along the route, people running in various outlandish costumes, and cold beer waiting at the finish line. After having dinner with TO, an old high school buddy, I started driving again. I would have liked to stay longer and climb in the Flatirons near Boulder but it was raining and the weather outlook for the next few days suggested it would continue.

From Denver I headed more or less directly back to Corvallis. Returning to Corvallis was a little strange at first but I've quickly gotten used to it. It's nice to be back amongst old friends. Through bike rides with the boys and time spent with Ann I realized there were some little things that I missed. I also have a greater appreciation of the area than when I left.

I'm planning on staying in the Corvallis area at least through June. The bakery is doing well. Certainly, there are still some challenges, but May sales increased 230% over April's sales and we made a profit. Orders have come in from various parts of Houston. My sister's been very busy, often staying up into the wee hours to complete orders. We've made offers on a commercial property in Texas City. The business name will have to change due to a conflict we discovered when we attempted to register the business with the state of Texas. We've also started looking at the supply chain more carefully. To date my sister's been purchasing supplies from local grocery stores. We've been contacting wholesale distributors looking for better deals on bulk deliveries of the most used ingredients. We want to continue our sales growth, in part through further marketing. Amongst other things this involves making improvements to the web site. We're also working on improving our accounting practices. Anyhow, it's all kept me somewhat busy. It almost feels like I'm back at HP. Certainly, I'm having to learn quite a lot, something which I'm enjoying.

I hope to take a few days off in June to take advantage of this year's abundant snowpack in the Cascades. A trip up Rainier, Hood, and / or Jefferson with the boys is in the works. I've been running with Ann (who is training for another race) often and have also returned to mountain biking the local trails. Beyond June there's uncertainty. Once we take possession of a property I'll likely fly down to Texas City to help with the start-up, but I don't know exactly when that will be. Meanwhile, I plan on continuing blog updates.

Here's some photos from this most recent leg of my trip. My camera died in Colorado, so some of the photos are from my cell phone's camera. The photo at the top is of a caterpillar I encountered in the middle of the Colorado dunes. I watched him for a good while, curious to see where he was going. It was very windy that day. He was frequently blown over, and struggled up the piles of sand. Despite this he kept going, but I never figured where he was heading. Only he knows, I suppose.

For those who are interested, the total trip mileage (starting from when I left Corvallis in September) was 19819 miles. The Buffalo's still alive, although I had to apply some duct tape to keep the bumpers from falling off. I'm giving it a good rest by seeing how long I can go without using it.

Many thanks to everyone who made El Viaje a once in a lifetime experience!

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