Standing Solid in Front of the Almighty’s Podium

This is not a suggestion to gather at a physical church while in the midst of a pandemic. Please stay safe everyone.

I had planned on going out and taking pictures this morning, but thought I’d read a book in the Bible that was suggested by my pastor on Sunday first. After just a few verses, I realized what it was saying was exactly the way I was feeling prior to a week ago. It finally dawned on me after being pulled in this direction and that direction, with this thought and that, not wanting to hurt, or offend, or de-value anyone during this precious time in our country’s history, that as long as my thoughts and actions are based on Jesus’ teachings about love, I cannot go wrong.

James 1 (NLT) starting with verse 5 says: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world and they are unstable in everything they do”. James 1: 5-8.

I don’t know about you, but I was feeling this so much! A little background on me for those that do not know me, I love! I really do. I love people so much and my heart just aches for the pain so many people are in right now. My heart was feeling so heavy for weeks, but much of the heaviness has lifted since I realized that I don’t need to stand at one worldly podium forever, as long as I continue to stand before God’s podium, I can visit all the other podiums long enough to gather information and learn how to love the people gathered around each individual worldly podium. As long as I visit God’s podium most often to gather insight and direction, I can visit other podiums, without getting consumed with just one point of view.

I used to say I was wishy-washy, because I could walk from podium to podium and be all in with what the speakers were saying….I don’t call it wishy-washy anymore….I call it being a caring human and wanting to understand what others are going through so I can know best how to support them, how to hear them, how to love them. It in no way means I have to agree with them.

I’m not here to condone any of the violent actions taking place across our lands, these acts are appalling and have no place in our society. Hate and violence have the ability to destroy us all. And just because you might not be involved in punching someone, does not mean you are not a part of the hate and violent crowd if you are spewing hatred and violence out of your mouth. Physically violent and hateful acts are going to hurt and even kill some people there is no doubt about that; violent and hateful talk has the power to destroy friendships, communities, families, and nations. Please choose not to add fuel to the fire that is raging from coast to coast. You want to be angry, be angry. Anger can move mountains, hate is toxic. It not only has the power to destroy all of those things I already mentioned, but it will also destroy you. Your insides will be become stressed, you will physically be able to feel it. I hate this person, or I hate these people, or I hate this or that….can’t you feel the effects just reading that line has on your heart and your stress level? Now feel this: I love my mom, I love my dad, I love my dog…totally different involuntary physical reaction.

During this time of struggle that so many of us are facing in our daily lives with the onset of the Coronavirus, along with the recent unrest, I encourage you to focus on our creator. When you feel unsure of how to fix the state of our world because you grew up in a rural area of our country and have never had the opportunity to even talk to a black person about the weather, or you are feeling guilty because you love the man you went to school with who became a police officer, or you feel unsure if it’s okay to be completely frustrated with the looting and destruction of so many small business at the hands of rioters, because you are afraid you are being insensitive to the plight of our black and brown brothers and sisters, and when you wonder if all the confusion and chaos is part of God’s plan, know that it is not! God is not a God of confusion; God is a God of confirmation. I say all of these things, because I was feeling confused, and unsure of what podium I should stand at, until I finally realized I didn’t have to stay at one podium too long and as long as I spent the most of my time in front of God’s podium then I was not in danger of losing myself to one point of view. Because right now there are a lot of voices, (one reason I’ve put off writing for so long) and a lot of these voices need to be heard. It’s okay to listen, it really really is, and just because you listen, does not mean you fully support that person or that groups stance, but it does mean you care enough to be part of the solution to our country’s problems. Seriously, I am saying this in this in the most pleading voice you can imagine….spewing hatred is not the answer.

Yes, racism is prevalent in our society. You want to hate something, hate that!

The fabric of America is created with so many colors, so many beautiful colors, and I for one, am richer because of our tapestry, I would not trade it for anything. I am proud to be an American, not because I love all aspects of our government, because I assure you that is not the case. If I were to say I was a democrat, I would not be proud. If I were to say I was a republican, I would not be proud. But I am an American, and I am proud. I am proud of my siblings, my black ones, my brown ones, my white ones, my blue ones, my yellow ones and all the other colors in between and I am most proud when they peacefully, angrily, quietly and loudly stand up for what they believe in; the violent and hateful part I can do without.

So I implore you, please stand up for what you believe in, but don’t stand so strong that you can’t at least visit another podium or two, you might be surprised at what you learn.

Right now, it is so true that people need to understand why there are so many people saying black lives matter, it is because black lives matter, as simple as that. Knowing in your soul that blacks lives matter, does not mean that you have to believe in or support the organization that is Black Lives Matter, but as a human, especially if you are a Christian, please understand what is going on. Read between the headlines, but most of all read your Bibles. There is definitely a battle raging and it is not between flesh and blood. Good and evil are at odds like never before it seems…good will win I assure you, good will win….for all shades of humans, not just yours.

This is not about choosing between who to love more, you are not being called to do that, you are just being asked to listen and understand what some people are feeling. But know also that not everyone is sitting at that podium, not all black people believe in the Black Lives Matter organization, nor do all white people, but that is okay. In America, we all get to have our own opinion, we all have our own barometer of what is right and what is wrong. Search yourself for where it is you truly stand, I would like to encourage you to stand in the space that brings you the most peace deep down inside

So if you are feeling torn, like I was, know that it is okay if you support the Black Lives Matter organization, it is also okay and completely encouraged and at this time in our society should absolutely go without saying that it is okay to support the fact that black lives matter, and it is also okay to love Latinos and honor them for the colorful threads they have added to the American tapestry and it is also okay to look up to officers that put on their uniform each day with the mindset of protecting the innocent….it is also okay to hate the fact that police brutality exists and needs to be eradicated.

Love is the answer. When you love people where they are at and for who they are, that will move mountains. I understand (well I actually don’t and really never will, but I do honor their stance) the anguish that some people are waging this battle with, and I know that many are doing it with love in their heart for their fellow man, their fellow American. I am excited that so many of my American siblings have joined the cause in support of equality for all.

I am proud to have my own thread in America’s tapestry, it’s no thicker, no brighter, no better than any other thread and I’m fine with that, I would not want it any other way. I look forward to tomorrow, because suffering builds endurance and endurance builds character, and character leads to hope…and hope does not disappoint. There are people in our country that have suffered, be it yesterday, or yesteryear, and I see the endurance on which they have fought…I see the character in their faces and I have such hope for an amazing future for our country.

Our nation is becoming a nation to be proud of in ways like never before and I am so excited for the changes taking place, changes that will make this world a better place for not only my children, but for my grandchildren and their grandchildren and so on and so forth. If only we could all look at our descendants, descendants that will carry our DNA, our individual tapestry and maybe even our similar thoughts and outlooks. Are you curious what color your great great great great granddaughter will be? Will she be proud to call you grandma or grandpa? Can you imagine not loving her because of the color of her skin? Love conquers all….all the time, and today, like all days, I choose to love my American siblings, I would like to encourage you to do the same. I understand that is not as easy for some as it is for me, but lean into it a little more than you did yesterday, and tomorrow, lean into it that much more. Love truly is the answer, can you say it? Can you believe it? Can you feel it?

A Rambling Wanderer’s Prayer While Hunkered Down in the Midst of the Coronavirus

Dear Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus & Holy Spirit

Thank you for Your love for me. Thank you for your perfect peace during this time of utter unrest that has swept across the country.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

Lord I ask, in the midst of all the other requests you are hearing today, that you be kind enough to settle your peace on and in your children around the world.

Let them see the workings of your hand amid the chaos that surround so many of them as they do their work to bring comfort to those who are sick and dying.

Lord please give strength and protection to the construction workers who are diving in and creating hospitals out of stadiums, hotels, and conference centers. Pour out an overwhelming amount of patience and grace as they work in a world unlike any we’ve ever experienced before.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

To the moms and dads who once climbed in their rigs to go to work each day, give them patience, new eyes that they might see their families in a whole new way. Give them peace and comfort in these trying times so that they can instill in their children a hope, a truth, and a love for you Lord.

I thank you for this time of seclusion. A time that has allowed me to rest in your love. A time where I can be assured that you are near. You are here.

Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Hebrews 4:10

Thank you for protecting my parents and for creating me to be their child. Thank you for watching over the new parents I’ve been blessed to have in my life. Thank you for watching over all my siblings, those I have by blood as well as those I have by love.

My children Lord! Thank you for my children. I know you love them even more than I do. Thank you for creating each one to be a part of my life. Thank you for guiding them along their way. Thank you that they have peace in their souls, loving hearts and a determination that they will get through this season and come out on the other side as being better for it.

Thank you for my friends who continue to do what they each do best in the middle of a world infected by a minute virus that has the ability to rock our world in a matter of days. Thank you that you are our rock we can stand on, find strength in and rest against. Lord thank you for the guidance you are providing to all our nations leaders.

Thank you that through it all, through the fear, through the sickness, through the panic, through the anxiety, through the deaths that are happening at a terrible rate, through it all you are here. And although it is extremely hard to understand why something like this happens, I know this is an amazing time of reflection, a time of love, a time of honesty, a time of determination, a time of healing, a time of much needed rest, a time of prayer, a time of appreciation, a time of helping neighbors, a time of reconciliation, a time of surrender, a time of preparedness, a time of forgiveness, a time of recognition to the new heroes….truck drivers, grocery clerks, business owners who are revamping their facilities to make medical equipment, contractors who drop everything to create new hospitals and restaurant owners serving those in need.

This is also a time to …appreciate is not a big enough statement…our doctors, nurses and other medical staff who are working so diligently trying to save lives at the very risk of their own.

A brand new world is on the other side of this virus. I know it without a doubt. A kinder world. A world more in awe of You than ever before.

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearths with his love. Romans 5: 1-5

Thank you for being here. Helping your people grieve over what they have lost, and ready to help guide them into their future.

May we all realize daily how wonderful it is in the shadow of your wings.

Have mercy on me, my God, have mercy on me, for in you I take refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. Psalms 57:1

Lord thank you for my husband. Thank you that he loves you and seeks you daily. Thank you for this time we have together to grow our love, to walk out this journey side by side. Please continue to give him strength, wisdom and guidance as we walk out the calling you have placed on our lives. Please keep him safe and healthy as the virus closes in around us.

Lord thank you for the pastors and spiritual leaders who are helping others to see the peace and love you freely offer to everyone. Help them convey to those they meet an overwhelming sense of peace and security that only comes from knowing You.

Lord thank you for loving your people and showering peace, determination and love down on them as we walk through this season.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Rodney Falls & the Pool of the Winds

Mondays are normally used for diving into the work week, figuring out what needs to get done for the week ahead, but not this Monday; this Monday we decided to go hiking.

We didn’t exactly have everything organized and truth be told things were kind of scattered, mostly because of our recent photo equipment purchases (so much to learn, so little time). We recently came back from Vegas where we were attending a WPPI (Wedding & Portrait Photography Internation) Conference (hence our recent buying spree), then once we got home I had to go straight to work on The Gorge Business News for the March/April 2020 issue…and then….I got sick and mostly laid in bed or on the couch for about four days. By Saturday the paper was back from the printer and Rick was out delivering and I felt like I’d just been given a new lease on life. My illness had subsided and I was full of energy, so I cleaned our place from top to bottom…beds, bathrooms, kitchen and floors…you name it, I cleaned it. Of course the dreaded Coronavirus is rearing its ugly head here in Washington and the world, so I even added wiping down each and every door knob and handle with Lysol.

Sunday was spent at church, then lunch with friends, some more paper deliveries and then some time at McMenamins Edgefield where we spent a couple hours wandering the grounds and taking photos. I found some strangers that happily allowed me to take their picture. AJ and Fay who seemed very in love, and then a family of five, the grandmother Dee, the daughter Melissa and her husband Brian along with their two kids. Beautiful and fun family

So today, Monday, when a hike was suggested I had a little bit of a hard time wrapping my head around it. It was Monday after all and I was feeling a little like I’d just been off work for practically two weeks with Vegas and then being sick, not to mention we plan on leaving for Oklahoma on Friday for a week and then I’m going to spend time with my kids for several days.

Work…who needs to work? Even Wall Street shut down today with the Dow having its biggest drop in US History at 2013.76 points!!! We needed the fresh air in our lungs and nature surrounding us! Vegas was more than a week ago, but the stagnant air that clung to everything we had with us was still clinging to the inside of our lungs, we were sure of it. A hike would do us good and get us ready for the next several days of work before we take to the skies once again to visit friends and family in good old Oklahoma!

Our three primary goals for life are Travel, Write and Take Photos. We accomplish these goals constantly. We’ve decided we need to add a fourth goal and that would be to make some money while we are doing the first three. We’ll keep working on that one.

Back to today’s hike. We each have a new Cotton Carrier for our cameras. Rick’s is strapped across his back and fits on his chest, the camera attaches at the center of his chest. My Cotton Carrier is strapped to the left side of my chest. It was our first time using these and we both absolutely loved them. It was completely comfortable to me and I even hung my water jug from one of the straps until Rick offered to pack it for me, since I’d been feeling under the weather lately. He was trying to lighten my load as much as possible.

We jumped in the Edge and headed toward the trailhead. The drive there went by so quickly. It seemed like it took about ten minutes, but in reality it was probably about six minutes. Yes, we live that close to not only the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead, but also Beacon Rock, Strawberry Island and even the Pacific Crest Trail, each and every one of them are just a few minutes from our home.

The Hamilton Mountain Trailhead parking lot was almost completely full when we arrived. Here it was a Monday and the lot was full. We definitely would not be alone on the trail today. Spring is in the air for sure.

We strapped on our new Cotton Carriers, grabbed our hiking poles, which we don’t always take, but we’ve hiked Hamilton Mountain before, so we know it is not the easiest hike out there. We clicked our water tanks onto a strap on our carriers and we were off.

The trail is steep for at least the first half mile. I rested often, trying not to overdo it since I was just getting over being sick. My lungs were screaming at me often to just turn around, go home and take a nap, but I knew they needed to get all the left over gunky Vegas air out of them, so I kept trudging along. Rick was patient the entire way. I knew he would have rather walked faster, but he was a good sport about my frequent rests along the side of the trail.

In between my resting we trudged on.

I knew that once we reached the power lines there was a bench we could sit down at and look out over the gorge below us, the town of North Bonneville, the Bonneville Dam and all of the surrounding tree-covered hills. I could see the junction where the trail split, the bench was just a moment away now. We’d have our snack and rest up before the next phase of the journey that would lead us to the Rodney Falls and the Pool of the Wind. But then, from seemingly out of nowhere appeared a lone hiker. I knew in an instant the bench, my bench, the bench I would sit down and rest at, get a drink of water at, eat a cookie at, was not my bench at all, it was his.

We trudged on.

We met a man, Abram, who was hiking with his little boy and his little girl. We all stopped and chatted about the hike and before long his wife Tamesha and their son Jay came walking around the corner to join us. Of course I asked if I could take their picture and then we ended up talking about getting together for a family photo session in the future.

We all said our good-byes and then we trudged on.

Rodney Falls and the Pool of the winds were flowing much harder than the first time we saw them last year. We spent some time exploring the area and taking pictures before deciding to go a little farther up the trail so we could at least say we covered some new territory. The view turned out to be amazing and we were glad we kept going even though this turned out to be the most treacherous part of our whole trip. Steps cut into the side of the mountain were inches deep in slippery, slimy mud. I was really glad I had my walking stick, especially on the way back down through this area that threatened to take our feet out from under us, but we managed to stay upright the entire trek.

We talked about running into Washougal to take some photos before the light of day was gone, so with that motivation we headed back down the mountain side.

This time when we arrived at my bench, it actually become my bench. We sat for a short time then headed down the mountain once again. In no time at all we arrived at the Edge, lungs cleaner, mood lighter, legs stronger I’m sure of it and the thought of doing the same hike at least once a week. I remember we talked about doing the same thing last time we made this hike… a year ago….we’ll see if we can do a little better on this commitment this time around.

Las Vegas at WPPI

Vegas is always an experience and this time around was no exception that is for sure. Of course the trip started in Portland, after the customary picture of our shoes on the PDX Airport carpet we made our way to D Terminal.

There was still work to be done before we left for Vegas, so we jumped in our Ford Edge and headed toward Bigg’s Junction where we planned on taking a few photos of the new Travel America being built there. On the way we stopped at Big Jim’s in The Dalles…it’s our new favorite drive-in. The burgers are soooo good and made with real beef and the French fry sauce is so much like the fry sauce from my hometown drive-in (Czer’s) my ultimate and forever favorite drive-in, so lunch for me was perfect.

Time flew faster than normal and by the time I’d snapped several pictures in Bigg’s, it was time to hit the road so we could make it to the airport on time to catch our flight.

Normally we fly Southwest….we love Southwest. Everyone is so friendly and we can make changes to our tickets without being charged for the changes. We can also check two suitcases for free and have a carry-on along with a personal item. Southwest is awesome. This time however we decided to fly Frontier because the tickets were so cheap. We had to pay for a suitcase…we stuffed all of our stuff into one. We decided not to pay for a carry-on. We were able to take one personal item, so we made that work. I always pack way too much in my personal items and carry-ons on a plane, this time was no exception.

We had enough time at the airport to look around a couple of the shops and grab a coffee from Peets Coffee. Rick got a Oat Milk Horchata. When the barista handed Rick his coffee he said in reference to the design he tried to make on top of the coffee, “look, it’s a little Horchata,” which totally threw me because I was going to ask him to make the design in the shape of a Horchata. We all laughed. I thought the whole thing was hilarious.

As we walked toward our gate Rick said to an older man wearing a Kansas City Chiefs hat, “go Chiefs.” The man was sitting at a table waiting for his own flight. He smiled at us and started talking about the hat. “It also stands for ‘Kinda Cute’.” We smiled and laughed, and I totally wanted to take his picture, but didn’t. Regrets, regrets.

The flight was pretty routine. Not a whole lot happened. Once we were getting ready to get off the plane the group of young men in front of us were wide awake and razzing each other the way young guys do. One of them had brought a basketball and one of the others thought that was the craziest thing to do…bring a basketball to Vegas. He kept saying, “Who brings a basketball to Vegas?”

We made our way to baggage claim, but not before going thought the customs store where we found out that you can only purchase items there if you are leaving the airport on a plane, not if you are leaving the airport by taxi, or Uber, or by any other means. Once we got to the baggage claim the young man that had been giving the other young man a hard time for bringing the basketball, was covered in sweat from bouncing the basketball. I laughed at him and made a smart aleck comment about him having the basketball now. He laughed.

We grabbed our bags and made our way to where our Uber driver, Pedro, was waiting. Pedro chatted all the way from the airport to the Luxor. He gave us ideas on who had the best buffets, which he endearingly called buff ettes.

 

Chasing Waterfalls Again and Finding More Friends Along the Way

We talked about going hiking early after we first woke up this morning, but figuring out finance, working on taxes, and other last minute Friday things got in our way. We were finally heading out the door at 2:30, a bit worried we wouldn’t get a chance to hike as much as we wanted to before it got dark.

We drove to Latourell Falls the long way. And isn’t God’s timing just so amazing and interesting sometimes?

We arrived at the trailhead fully intent on hiking to the Upper Falls. It was just .8 miles up and then 1.1 miles down the other side. We climbed our way to the first overlook, just .1 miles above the parking lot. My legs burned already from the incline. We looked at the waterfall and the path far below us. It lead straight to the bottom of Latourell Falls. The water crashed into the rocks and the sound roared to where we stood.

“Let’s go down there instead,” Rick suggested.

My legs were so relieved.

We made our way down the path, the mist hit us full on and we were still 20 yards away. We continued on on the asphalt path until we were just 15 feet or so from the base of the ??? foot waterfall. The recent rains had the falls thick with water destined for the Pacific Ocean.

A young couple came up beside us and asked Rick if he would take their picture. We love to take strangers pictures, so he happily agreed and then offered to do a mini photo shoot with them and email them the pictures. To say they were thrilled was an understatement. The posed in front of the waterfall, on the bridge, and then later, after they’d made their way back to the parking lot, they stood on the bridge as we stood 100 feet below them and we took more pictures. They kissed once, but I missed it. So I leaned over and kissed Rick, they instantly knew I was signaling them to go in for a kiss one more time.

It was a sweet encounter. The young man was completely smitten by his girlfriend and we could tell she adored him as well. She works for a major league ball team and told us if we are ever in their area she would totally get us tickets to a ball game or at least a tour of the stadium.

It turns out that they live in the same town as my sweet friend Betty now lives. I guess when me make a trip to visit our Betty we just might have to go to a ball game as well.

All In!

I‘ve been writing a lot more lately….just not in this blog. My writing, like my thoughts, are all over the place, which makes me afraid that this blog will just seem disjointed and chaotic, just like you’d imagine a rambling wanderer would write, so I don’t post. I tell myself that someday I’ll find that smooth rhythm that joins all my thoughts together enough to post on here regularly…just like the cooking blogs have or the photography blogs…I think I’ve just been lying to myself. So, as I sit here eating pretzels and ranch at 11:19 on a Friday night I am deciding to just start spilling my thoughts into this blog regardless of how random they all seem to be and how vulnerable they make me feel. Please join me on this journey that I’ve started so many times, for my hope is that I will make a difference in your life, that I will help you on a day when life is a struggle, that I will encourage you to go all in when all you want to do is climb back into bed, and I will have just the right words to help you see life a little brighter on a dim day.

I go on a lot of adventures and my life can look like it is always good, but it’s not, and that’s okay as long as we keep learning along the way right. I want to share some of my struggles that might look a lot like your struggles….it won’t be easy for me, but I am sure I’ll find a way.

I find it hard to put myself out there with my thoughts that are tied so strongly to feelings…..feelings that won’t always match my readers, and that too is a bit scary to me. I don’t like confrontation, but welcome respectful dialog, just not on this website…(I turn off the comments because they just get filled with the strangest spam messages you could ever think of, but please find me on Facebook and talk with me there).

Brene Brown talks a lot about vulnerability. I recently read her book Braving the Wilderness. It was fantastic. We think we are all alone in our insecurities, but in reality, many of us worry about what our peers are thinking about us. Hopefully they are thinking “You go Girl!”, but our mind often gets the best of us…I know mine has. I come from a small town…I love coming from a small town especially the one I come from, but coming from that small town has also made me shy away from creating this blog with real feelings typed out along the way….(what will the ladies at the bank think? Will they scoff at the nerve of me thinking I can write something that might make a difference in someone else’s life? (They are wonderful ladies, I am quite sure they would be some of my biggest cheerleaders, but my mind doesn’t always tell me that) What about the people I went to school with, they know who I was and how I acted back in my youth…will they believe I’ve actually grown up and am an asset to society, or will they remember a time when I was young and did things to fit in instead of always doing what was right (I adore my classmates by the way…and I think I was a pretty good kid….I’m sure they could tell you stories, but hopefully they won’t.) There are even a few people from that small town who I wish I could just hide this whole blog from for fear of what they might be thinking about it….but if I told them I was intimidated by them I think they would be shocked, then they would probably assure me they really are not thinking anything but good things about me and my blog. But I still find myself feeling a bit uneasy deciding to openly share my thoughts and writings with the world, however I think I’m finally ready.

My word for 2020 came to me in the loveliest of ways (I’ll share that story soon) and the word was ‘freedom’, so with a new-found freedom I am going to break free from the crippling thoughts that have kept my words tied up inside of me until they’ve died and I am going to create this blog for you, for the ladies at the bank, for my home town, for my classmates, for my friends and even for my kids….that’s a whole new set of vulnerability issues for me, but who am I kidding…they are all too busy being the amazing adults they are and living out their lives to read their Momma’s blog…so I’m good to go. And as for my husband…I’m not even going to feel an ounce of vulnerability there because he is my biggest cheerleader and he has a great deal to do with why I now have the courage to really dive into this blog and make it into something people can turn to for entertainment and encouragement.

Yes, I have decided to take Brene Brown’s advice to be brave and go all in. I’m excited, a little nervous, and hopeful that the words, which seemingly fly out of my fingertips and miraculously show up on my computer screen, will make a difference in your life.

I would like you all to know….I will be honest. I will be encouraging. I will cry when I am hurting. I will cry if I know you are hurting. I will be vulnerable. I will be authentic. I will write as if what I have to say is just what someone is needing to hear. I will share my faith. I will share my fears. I will share my joys. I will write as if that is exactly why God placed me on His great earth in the first place.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

Egg and I

Wow! What a summer!

I hope your summer has been every bit as fun as mine has. This past Saturday I attended the annual Timber Tiger Lodge party, which takes place on the side of the Elkhorn Mountains, overlooking the entire Baker Valley. The food was fabulous, the band was amazing, the dancing, of course, was a blast, and the time spent with friends was invaluable.

This summer has definitely been action-packed for me and I feel extremely blessed to be living a life that involves so much joy. A life that would not be possible if it weren’t for the advertisers that support this paper and the readers that continue to pick it up off of the newspaper stands and read it, some offering suggestions for improvement and others just sending along a message, or two of encouragement. Thanks to everyone involved in The Gorge Business News, including Marc Robins who continues to put out quality articles that not only inform, but also entertain.

There were a couple of events I covered over the last couple months that were just amazing. One was Kiteboarding4Cancer, an event that raised more than $194,000 in a single weekend. I was lucky enough to be one of the volunteers, which gave me the opportunity to meet many of the people involved. Look for my article on this event as well as an article on Rob Chimelak and also Andrew Muse, two people I met while attending the event.

Pendleton Bike Week was my other favorite event of the summer. The creation of Erik Folkstad, Pendleton Bike Week was one of the most enjoyable events I have ever gone to. The people were all very friendly, the bikes were beautiful and some were so unique it was a wonder people could create such machines. Three Dog Night entertained the crowd in the Happy Canyon Arena and the Seattle Cosacks stunt team performed each day. If you haven’t seen the Seattle Cosacks you are missing out; they were amazing.

egg-and-i-road

Of course I can’t leave out the time I spent with family this summer. To kick off the summer one branch of our family met at Barton Park, then later in the summer another branch of the family met at Lake Sutherland, Washington. My dad and I drove to Lake Sutherland together, stopping along the way at Egg & I Road, where he grew up. Some of you may remember the books Egg & I about Ma and Pa Kettle. My dad lived across the street from the family the book was written about and he used to be babysat by Pa Kettle, who would show up in a suit and tie. It was very special to hear so many of my dad’s childhood memories as we drove down Egg & I Road together. I trip I will cherish forever. Of course waiting at the reunion were many wonderful people that I have so many childhood memories of. My cousins and I were able to sit around the campfire for three nights reliving old memories and making new ones in the process.

Closer to home more family memories were being made on camping trips, meteor shower watching, wildflower gathering, fireweed jelly making, and hiking with my husband, my daughter, her husband and their children. They were even lucky enough to see a moose in the northeast Oregon mountains.

Yes, this has been a summer to remember in so many more ways than one. Once again, I thank you for picking up this paper and spending time within its pages. Feel free to email me article suggestions, comments or complaints. I read them all and appreciate every one.

Until next time Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day)

Chasing Waterfalls

Today I decided to start writing more often and even set an alarm on my phone to remind me to spend some quality time getting my thoughts, ideas and travel adventures down on paper….well, electronic paper anyway. Little did I know then that an adventure was brewing and I would have a fabulous story to tell before the night was through.

Three o’clock in the afternoon Rick announced that we had company.

“Oh, okay,” I hollered from the office as I made my way to the front room, curious as to who would be visiting. I was pretty sure it would be our closest neighbors, since Rick and our visitor had come in from the back yard. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by a Chinese man, Hui (pronounced Why), who did not speak an ounce of English, well…maybe an ounce. When he like something I said he would say, “Gooda”.

Hui, Rick and I all walked outside so that I could meet his companions, Kammy and Lushan, who were busy picking apples and placing them in the plastic grocery bags Rick and offered to them after they explained their fascination with the beautiful apples hanging from our trees in our back yard.

Kammy spoke very good English and explained how they ended up in our back yard picking the apples from the apple trees that had been planted so many years ago. It almost seemed as if these trees had been specifically planted for these three Chinese visitors. We were happy to share and were delighted in how much they appreciated the ripe fruit that is not available in the province they live in in China.

We learned that Kammy had come to America to attend a conference. Lushan and Hui design and manufacture fireworks, Kammy markets them. After the conference they decided to head west and visit several National Parks before going back to China. They had been in Yellowstone yesterday and were going to head toward Crater Lake, the Redwoods and eventually arrive in San Franscisco before flying back to their homes.

They knew they were in the Scenic Columbia River Gorge, but they weren’t real sure about what that was exactly. They loved the natural beauty they’d been experiencing, so when I asked if they would like to see waterfalls they nodded their heads eagerly.

We started to explain how to get to the waterfalls that were just across the river from us, it was coming out more complicated than I intended, so finally I suggested to Rick that we take them on the tour, they could follow along behind us in their car and we could stop at each waterfall we came across…. they were thrilled, we promised to meet up after they grabbed a sandwich from the Hungry Sasquatch in North Bonneville, while we got ready for our instant adventure.

Within a half an hour we were all together again ready to visit the waterfalls along Oregon’s Historic Highway 30. Hui decided to ride along with us so he could visit with us via the electronic translator. We learned he has a daughter and a son, both of who we video chatted with for a few moments. We talked about his work, our work, Oregon, Washington, China, all through the electronic translator. We pointed out Beacon Rock and told him we could hike to the top of it, he laughed and said he was afraid of heights.

We crossed the Bridge of the Gods, intent on paying for not only our car, but for Kammy and Lushan’s vehicle as well, since we had a coupon that saved a dollar for each vehicle. Hui, would have nothing of that and insisted he pay the toll, we gave in and he was very happy to hand over the $4 for the two cars.

Within 10 minutes we were at Horsetail falls where some very nice people took pictures of our group before we walked back up the trail, crossed the highway and climbed back into our rigs to head toward the next waterfall, and then it was off to Multnomah Falls, the most popular of all the falls in the Columbia River Gorge.

It was fun to watch them enjoying themselves. I snapped pictures of them at each stop along the way, helping them document their trip. Kammy suggested we all get our picture taken with Multnomah Falls in the background, so once again we asked a stranger if he would mind taking our picture. “I’d love to,” he smiled genuinely and took photo after photo. Afterwards as we were visiting he explained he was here from Indiana, and had been at a conference in Portland for the last several days and just needed to get out of the hotel, so he made his way to Multnomah Falls. I jokingly suggested he follow us as we were still exploring and making our way toward Portland and we had met our three new friends just an hour before, so adding him to our group wouldn’t be that awkward at all.

The four men and Kammy decided to walk to the bridge between the upper falls and the lower falls, I stayed behind so I could snap their pictures as they all stood on the bridge above me. By the time they made their way back down to where I was Rick and Mark (our photographer) had had a great conversation and I could tell Rick knew I was going to love what I was about to hear.

About four years ago I learned about Luis Palau. I was having a rather rough time in my life and started watching his sermons on You Tube. I knew he had been invited to speak in Athena, close to my home town in NE Oregon and I wanted to go so badly, but life kept me from making it there. Still I continued watching his sermons. So much of what I learned from him has stuck with me….that doesn’t always happen. But I just love his message of Jesus’ love. I couldn’t wait to read his book he recently released and pre-ordered a copy. I read it from cover to cover in just a few days after it arrived in my mailbox. My respect for this man, who has talked about the love of Jesus in front of 25 million people throughout the world, only grew after reading about his life, his mission and the divine burden God placed on his heart so many years ago.

As it turns out today I shook hands with a man (Mark, our new photographer friend Mark) who works for the Luis Palau organization and he had just gotten a text from Luis’ son telling him that his dad was touched by the message that Mark had talked about at the conference he had been attending….the same hand that has shaken Luis Palau’s hand….I was a bit awestruck by the entire unfolding of this adventure I was on today, it felt so out-of-the-blue, yet so absolutely planned.

Kammy once again joined us and said they really wanted to treat us to dinner as a thank you for taking them on this tour of the waterfalls. She said, ‘the fanciest place you have here, your favorite’….Rick and I looked at each other, smiled and said “Red Robin” simultaneously. We told them they served hamburgers and chicken and it was a truly American experience with their bottomless root beer floats and bottomless french fries.

Dinner was great. We had a very nice waitress named Linda, that was thrilled to have our Chinese friends as her customers. Our food was delicious as always on of course so plentiful. Bottomless french fries filled the table to the amazement of Hui, Kammy and

the dessert, the prayer, the food, the french fries, the conversations, talking politics, fireworks, needing a photographer, how they just kept talking about the apple bringing us together, welcoming us to China, saying it is very safe. Cameras everywhere, hugs. facebook with Kammy. The town they are from supplies 80% of the worlds fireworks. Kammy and I mapping out their travels for the week.

Afterwards in the parking lot with Mark, Ricks conversation with Mark, our prayer before the night ended.

Rick and I are just in awe about what God did today. We are really feeling that He is calling us in a big way.

It was really cool how we all seemed to work together to show Jesus’ love to these 3 visitors, who obviously have so much influence to hundreds of people in their country. Amazing night.

Feels like a very pivotal day.

Panther Creek Falls

Sundays have become our day to explore places we’ve never gone before, today that meant a drive out Wind River Highway north SR14 in Washington state to Panther Creek Falls.

We could hear the waterfall the moment we stepped out of the car and could tell it was not very far away. The trailhead is not very well marked, but is on the opposite side of the road, and is only about 20 or 30 feet from where we parked.

The hike was steep, but fairly easy and not very long. It is well maintained and leads right to where Big Creek and Panther Creek converge. It is a spectacular sight to see. The waterfall is more like several waterfalls all pouring into the same pool at the bottom of the hillside.

We stayed long enough to take more than enough photos and talked about coming early in the morning next time so we can be there while the sun is shining on the water.

Several people came and went while we were there. One of my favorite interactions was with a sweet momma and her family. They were bringing their kids to see a waterfall for the first time. The kids were all smiles.

A Rambling Wanderer – Oklahoma Bound

In six hours and 15 minutes I will be checking in to my Saturday morning flight, 24 hours before it departs the Portland airport, with the world famous PDX carpet, and heading southeast to Denver, my first stop on my way to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I’ve never gone to Oklahoma before and have actually been calling it Oklahome, because I have a feeling it is going to feel a lot like home to me….probably instantly. There will be a couple people there to meet me that are going to make this place feel like somewhere I don’t want to leave, but of course I will leave, once my two and a half weeks of my working vacation comes to a close. I am sure I will be leaving with a heavy heart, but also with a suitcase worth of great memories and many new friends as well.

I’m excited for what the next two and a half weeks will bring. We’ve talked about going to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the Flying Tee in Jenks.

I’ve purposely not researched Oklahoma. I thought it would be great to be a little surprised by everything I come across. I have no idea what the city of Tulsa looks like, or Oklahoma City for that matter. I have no idea what their history is all about, but I am ready to start learning all about it the moment I ‘touch down’.

Great food, good times and saddles, in Pendleton, Oregon

It’s been a couple months since my youngest daughter and I got to spend some time together, so an evening in Pendleton was just what we needed.

Our first stop was at Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub. My daughter isn’t 21 yet, but that’s okay, the restaurant is kid-friendly, and I don’t really like beer, but that’s okay too, I knew from experience the food was amazing. And it was! For those of you who do like beer Prodigal has a variety of beers hand-crafted right here in northeast Oregon, including A Beer Named Sue, Wheatstock Hefewizen, Righteous Indignation Organic Red, Maxxx Power, and Huckleberry Wheat, to name just a few.

We both ordered a cup of the macaroni and cheese, which was absolutely deliciously cheesy. We also shared an order of fresh cut chips, also very good.

Once our dining experience came to a close we headed out into the cool evening air of northeast Oregon. Climbing into my rig my daughter asked, “What is Hamley’s?” referring to the great neon sign announcing Hamley’s Western Store that was just down the street. Mom fail #389,567!!! How had I never taken inside Hamley’s Western Store?

We parked just under the Rainbow Cafe sign then made our way inside the western store that has been a part of northeast Oregon culture since 1883. Genevieve Wells, told me years ago about coming to Hamley’s to get her outfits for her reign as the very first queen of the Elgin Stampede in 1946. (Incidentally, the Elgin Stampede just won the Columbia River Circuits award for Best Small Rodeo of the Circuit for 2017, but that’s another story).

Saddle Maker Hank Moss

 

 

Now I’m Found!

I found myself in Umatilla, Oregon while playing the role of Executive Director of the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce. No really…I found myself, because when I crash landed in this small city early this spring, I was completely lost. Many of you have been a part of my journey and know that I was really struggling. But today, just a few days from my last day at the chamber, I am no longer lost. I am no longer tired. I no longer struggle to smile. I truly found myself along the banks of the might Columbia River in Umatilla, Oregon and the people I met along the way helped to make me whole again. I will be forever in your debt. The only payment I can offer is to keep you tucked safely in my heart and count you all as friends.

For the friends who enjoy seeing where my travels take me I would like to tell you about this six month stop along the roadside of my life and give you some insight to how special some of the people of Umatilla really are and how, during this season of my life, they played such a big part in the healing of my broken heart. I will never forget how they all took me in and made me one of there own. At the risk of leaving someone out I would like to tell my other friends a little bit about the amazing people of Umatilla and how they affected your friend Lori’s life.

First and foremost I have to thank Ken of Cruising With Ken. Ken, thank you for your friendship and teaching me a new way to look at life. The days we spent in the early morning hours in my garage, hammering out your amazing vision, will forever be some of the most special memories I carry with me about Umatilla. You have been such a great professional mentor and I always felt as if I were getting a crash course in Ken University, thank you for that. Your heart for people is inspiring and I could not be more proud to call you my friend. I am looking forward to what comes next as your vision continues to become reality. #CWKandKenUniversity

Roak….Roak…I cannot not smile when I think of your friendship and the pure heart you have for Umatilla. If there was an ‘I Love Umatilla’ award you would win hands down! Counting money, time at the marina, sanding tables, working Landing Days, the dunk tank, Muppet tickets, the Blue Moon Beer Garden, The Path of Almost Totality Tailgate Party, horseshoes, and of course horse racing….such great memories…oh and Bayliners. With my brother hours away in Elgin, you took on that big brother role for me and I really appreciate all your insight and your friendship during my time here.  #bigbroroaktololo

Nanci! Nanci…you are such an inspiration to me. You are a firecracker and I see great things in your future. I love your passion for people, and I am so happy that we became friends. We knew from the beginning we were just meant to know each other. Thank you for always being there when I needed someone to talk with. I would pick you to be part of my team over and over again, you bring so much to the table and will continue to bring value and passion to anything you set your mind to. #Iwantnancionmyteam

Then there is Craig…Craig for President! Craig, every single time we visited I completely enjoyed myself. It’s a good thing we didn’t go to middle school together because I think we would have always been in trouble for giggling. Thank you for being a great president. I always felt like you genuinely cared about any concerns I had in regard to the chamber and I appreciated your professionalism and your humor….but mostly I appreciated the videos!! The videos were the best. #craigforlatenighttv

My friend Tina…I don’t know that I know anyone that works as hard or has as much energy as you my friend. I know that you are teaching so many of your kids to have an incredible work ethic and Umatilla is so lucky to have you. I know that I have been so blessed by your friendship and I cherish my memories of our shenanigans…dancing, laughing, crying at sad movies and giggling at Landing Days after parties. You are a joy… an absolute joy to be around and you give so selflessly to so many in your life. I am so happy you are my friend. #everyonesmom

Dave…Dave your heart for Umatilla and the people who call it home is such an inspiration. This community is so fortunate to have had your family so actively involved for the past 25 years, you have given so much of your time and resources and it inspires me. I have thouroughly enjoyed our friendship. You were always, always, always such a pleasure to visit with. Thank you for making me feel like I was a part of the Umatilla family right from the start. #Umatillasrockstar

Jeff, I am so glad you became part of our board giving you and I a chance to become friends. Being able to talk about our spiritual similarities was always such a joy. Thank you for the prayers I know you sent up on my behalf. They were much appreciated. I look forward to our continued friendship and I look forward to getting together with you and Ashley in Portland in the future. #siblingsinChrist

Russ I am so proud of the work you are doing for Umatilla. It has been such a pleasure to work alongside you on the different projects we have tackled…I think we could have a Lori and Russ TV show…what do you think?? We might be wise if we put some of our humor on film instead of us being so serious. The horseshoe game might have been TV material…maybe not…how about the beer garden humor?? Yeah, that would be a best seller if it was a book! Russ, seriously, I have thoroughly enjoyed becoming your friend and I know you and Dianna will continue to be a part of my world. Keep up the good work. #biggerthanlife

Salud, my dear sweet friend Salud. You are such a delight to be around. Your smile is infectious and I don’t think anyone can be in a bad mood if you are near. You absolutely light up a room with the pure joy that radiates from you. I am so glad we spent time together on Landing Days, the Tailgate Party, Paint Night, my party….you are so much fun to be around. I’d like to bottle your pure positive energy and be able to take you with me everywhere, but I will settle on just being your friend. Thanks for always making me smile and making me feel loved. #youlighttheworldsalud

Selena…When I think of you my dear friend I just want to wrap you in my arms and tell you how proud I am of you. You are such an inspiration to me. You are an overcomer, and you are making such a difference in the world already! You constantly make me think with each passionate Facebook post you post and make me proud that I am your friend. Keep fighting the good fight, but don’t forget to take care of you as well. Thank you for walking into my life and becoming my friend. I will be keeping an eye on you and cheering for every single accomplishment you reach. #shesgotheart

My buddy Matt…you my friend are so much fun to spend time with and to work beside. You were such a great part of Landing Days and the Tailgate Party and you have definitely made your way into my heart. I am so glad that you stumbled into Umatilla and have made it your home. I know we will continue to run into each other over the years as you decided who you are going to become. You will do great and might things in your life and Umatilla will forever be a thread in the fabric of your life. I wish you all the best in the future and I sincerely thank you for your friendship, and all the laughs we’ve shared…it has been so fun to get to know you. #mattforOregongovernor

Raelynn…I am so excited that you are becoming a part of Umatilla and will be such a welcoming place for people of the city as well as those passing through. You will be so many peoples first and sometimes only impression of Umatilla; you are perfect for the role. I want to thank you for your friendship. From the moment we first met I knew we shared something special. I am looking forward to stopping in at your place each time I pass through Umatilla. Thank you for being you and for being my friend…even when I ask you to watch…three??? was it three dogs? You were so wonderful, thanks for helping me with that situation. I wish you all the best in your business venture. See you soon. #ourwelcomer

Toni, my dear funny friend Toni…I think one of my favorite memories of the eclipse is driving through the middle of town in the middle of the street with you as you video taped our traffic jam…..So fun and so funny. Thank you Toni for becoming my friend. I know this is not goodbye for us and we will continue to be friends for years to come. You and Roak and the love you have for each other is such an inspiration to me. I am so glad I have been able to witness the special bond the two of you have. It makes me know there is always hope for my future. #roakslove

Amber…we got too busy!! I feel like it has been forever since I’ve seen you. I cannot tell you how much your friendship means to me. We just hit it off in an instant and became fast friends. I look forward to going fishing with you next spring and sitting around your firepit in the evening. Thanks so much for helping me out on the tailgate party, your food was phenomenal. Let’s get together before I leave…maybe do lunch. Please tell Rich I really enjoyed our visit during the Tailgate Party….it was really good for me to relive some of the good times I had in my youth. #bestsmokehouseinthecountry

Jackie…girlfriend you are amazing. I have had so much fun getting to know you and I know our friendship just scraped the surface of both of us. We did not spend near enough time together, but I always enjoyed your snappy wit and how much you loved to be annoyed by me. LOL. You really do have a special place in my heart. Thank you for always being exactly who you are. I will miss you. So glad you are my friend. 🙂 #youdontscaremeLOL:)

Melissa we were always like two ships going in opposite directions because we were both busy busy, but I did really enjoy the few times we got to spend some time together. You do such great work for Umatilla and I’m not sure it would survive without you. Your work is so valuable and I appreciate all the hard work you put into those areas that had to do with me. So glad you are in charge….just don’t tell Russ I said that. 🙂 #thefoundation

Jason…You and I did not get a chance to get to know each other very well, but I do want you to know how much I appreciated all you hard work and how willing you and your crew were to make sure you took care of everything I needed during our events. I am glad you were a part of what we were doing and I know you will do great things in your new role with the city. I wish you the best of luck. #Umatillaleader

Dianna….This cannot be goodbye!!! We were just getting to know each other and we have so much fun together. You and Russ seem to always be in the same place I am just a day or two away.. We need to work on getting our traveling schedules in sync. I have missed you so much since our last outing and I plan on tracking you down before I leave so we can giggle and laugh at things only we would think are funny. LOL. Your friendship is so special to me and I look forward to our next adventures. #Diannarocks!

Cindy..It was such a pleasure to get to know you and I look forward to keeping up with all your remodeling projects on Facebook. I really appreciate your point of view on life. Even though we did not get to spend a lot of time together, we did have a good time going to Pilot Rock. I am sure that our paths will cross again in the future. Thank you for being a part of the board and welcoming me so kindly and making me feel so welcome from day one. #remodelerextraordinare

Kelly…your determination to make Landing Days a success was so cool. I know you are very passionate about this event and it just would not have been the same without you. You brought so much of yourself to making sure this was a successful event and I really enjoyed working with you. Next years event will be bigger and better I am sure. Thank you for all you do for Umatilla, it is very much appreciated. Glad we became friends. See you next Landing Days. #kingoflandingdays

Kirsten….my sweet little Kirsten. You my dear are a rock star! You worked so tirelessly beside all of us and we were all so proud of you. Thanks for always keeping me smiling and being such a huge help for me in my office. There are great and mighty things in store for you young lady. Always find me. I am one of your biggest fans and I am just thrilled that you and I got to become friends. You are always welcome to be a part of whatever it is I am doing. You are a great worker and a great person. I’m very proud to know you and I love your sweet heart. #superteen

Debbie I know we did not get to know each other near enough, but I truly loved your sweet nature and really enjoyed the few visits we had. Thank you for inviting our crazy Landing Days group into your home, it was such a great bonding experience for us. I really appreciate you coming to my party and I look forward to our visits in the future. #craigsdebbie

Betty…I have more than one Betty in my life and each one brings me so much happiness. Thank you for always being happy to see me whenever I walked into your office. You never made me feel as if I was being a bother….even when I was being a bother. I enjoyed getting to know you more at my party and I am really looking forward to helping you in your side business of train robbing….who would imagine we would have that in common. LOL…Looking forward to fun times ahead. #bettybear

Heidi…I know you have made such a difference in the lives of so many of the kids in Umatilla and I am glad I have been able to get to know you. Thank you for taking on the task of becoming a board member. It is appreciated by the entire board and I know you will help make the Umatilla Chamber successful in the future. Thank you for giving so much of yourself for this great community. #overseer

Tamara…we were just getting started. I wish you luck in Umatilla, I know you already know it is a great little town. Handle it with care. You have such a great opportunity to make such a huge difference here and I know you will do your best to make sure that happens. I know we will continue to see each other at different events across the state and I know we will have a great time whenever we get together. See you around for sure. #Umatillaproud

How fitting….Amazing Grace just started playing on my tablet…so cool. The ultimate song about being lost and being found. Love it!! So cool that it came on when I was writing an article about being lost and being found. #Godisgood

So, my friends, these are my friends. If you ever make it to Umatilla know that you travel through a place where I found peace, love, healing and friends, a whole great group of wonderful friends.

As for where I am heading next…only time will tell, but I’m sure you all know that you will see me on Facebook and Instagram. In the immediate future I am heading back to Beaverton to live with my fabulous friend Betty Trombatore. I am going to embrace my inner Portlander and see where life takes me as I become a full-time traveler….I’m not sure I can really say that since I will be living in Beaverton when my wheels aren’t spinning, but for now I’m claiming that title.

Thank you for reading this and if you are my friend please know that you have touched my life and have played a part in making me who I am and I am forever thankful to what you have brought to my life. Proverbs 11:14 says “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” I have found safety throughout my life as my counselors have been many. Thank you friends. I am truly blessed by each one of you.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times…….

When is a Kid No Longer a Kid at the Eagle Creek Fire

I’ve driven through the Gorge more times than I can even remember, and each and every time it is a beautiful sight to see, one we Oregonians don’t take for granted, especially this week as the Eagle Creek Fire continues to ravage the hillsides and ravines. 

A careless act of a 15-year-old child apparently started this inferno. It has displaced families and chased wildlife from the area. It has stopped commerce in its tracks with the closure of I-84, put the lives of countless firefighters in harms way, has had a detrimental effect on the young, the elderly and the sick, not to mention the sore throats and headaches of those who tend to be healthy, and has caused entire cities to evacuate. The devastation to this pristine area will be felt and mourned over for decades…but it will grow back, it will be different, but it will still hold a beauty we will all grow to appreciate once again. Earth is funny that way, it takes a charred up forest floor, black and ashy, and brings forth life once again. The damage is done, but Mother Nature basically says “hold my beer”, I’ll show you what I can create from these ashes…and she will. Hikers will marvel at the fireweed that springs forth throughout the burnt areas and bear will thrive on the huckleberries that will once again bear fruit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know this won’t happen overnight, I realize this is going to take some time. But, we’ve got time, let’s wait around and see how things turn out, after all what choice do we have now? 

Tears come easily to my eyes when I think about the fires that are currently ravaging our land and the fact we could have lost our historic lodge, just like they did in Montana this fire season….Fire season…what the heck, isn’t that one of the scariest things to think about?? Fire season, a season that those of us in the west know all too well. Thankfully Multnomah Falls Lodge was saved by the fearless few that chose to put their life on the line for the sake of those of us who are sitting comfortably, safely in our homes. 

To tell you the truth I didn’t start writing this to talk about fire season exactly, or the devastation that our beautiful state is currently experiencing, not to mention the eight other western states having the same experience. Nope, I didn’t intend to spend much time on the topic of fire itself, but it really is so completely heartbreaking to know that while I sleep tonight trees that have been withstanding Pacific Northwest storms for decades will be charred to death. We’ve all seen it. Time and again, summer after summer, the devastation continues, acres and acres of lush green forests are turned into virtual wastelands.

Yes, my heart is heavy, the loss is great, the act was senseless, but we must go on. We have to figure this whole thing out, because right now there is a 15-year-old scapegoat and my heart breaks for him and his family.  My heart breaks for the 15-year-old child that (allegedly) stupidly, acted like a 15-year-old child. I know I wasn’t the smartest child in the room at 15….for example….I thought it would be great, in the very first nine weeks of school, to change the ‘F’ that I got in science (I decided I really liked socializing, and flirting with a certain 15-year-old boy, much more than science that term)…anyway…I raced home to be the first one to the mailbox and changed my ‘F’ into a ‘B’. Easy Peasy. ‘F’s can be turned into ‘B’s with a quick swipe and swoop of a pen. Yep, I suddenly had a ‘B’…life was good…until I realized that every report card showed the previous nine weeks grade!! My entire school year I lived in a stress unlike any I had ever experienced before. Every report card day I had to be sure that I was the first to the mailbox, because if I wasn’t it was hard telling what my mom and dad would have done….(I know now my punishment wouldn’t have been too harsh,…I was actually a little spoiled, but don’t tell my siblings. I felt, however, that my life would have been all but over if they would have ever found out.) Of course the previous grades were written through carbon paper, so I had to go home, find carbon paper, and carefully turn that lovely glaring ‘F’ into a ‘B’ each and every term throughout the entire school year. Worst year of my young life. Does this compare to setting two states on fire, absolutely not, but my point is, we can do really stupid things when we are young. And even laugh when we are doing it. Some of us get really really lucky and no one ever finds out what cruel things we have done, or what careless things we have done, or what things we have done that were completely intentional and completely awful. And some of us start two states on fire and everyone in those states know we’ve done it….and some of those people….some of those adult people say things like “I hope he goes to prison for a long time”, or “string him up”, or “I’d like to whip his a**”….some of the things being said I can’t even bring myself to type. Think back to yourself at 15….did you ever make a mistake, one you regret, one that changed your life, because this kid did and there are a whole lot of adults that are saying and thinking the unimaginable about him and to me that is another piece of the tragedy here. 

I understand the severity of this situation, I’ve been on fire lines (not working the fire line, just lucky enough to get a chance to photograph those on the fire lines), I’ve lived where evacuation notices had been put into place, I truly understand the severity of the situation. I understand people are losing their livelihood, I understand there are people who are having severe medical issues because of this and I am not trying to make light of those situations whatsoever. Our forests are in trouble, obviously, and everyone is pointing their finger at this young man that in one split second made the biggest mistake of his entire life. All blame is being placed on this boy, and that is what he is, he is a boy, not unlike your son, or grandson, or brother, or nephew, he’s a boy…boys do stupid stuff (yes of course, girls do stupid stuff too…see paragraph six). I would like to encourage each and everyone one of you that has taken the time to read this to soften your heart a little toward this kid. This is a mistake that will most likely haunt him for the rest of his life, but if his parents handle it right, and we as a society handle it right, maybe he will be the one that solves the issues that are so prevalent in how our forests are currently managed, maybe he will grow up and change our world.

Young man, I refuse to hate you for what you did, because truth be told, what you did affects me; you damaged my Oregon, a place I am so proud to call home. Yes, I refuse to hate you because of this senseless act, but I would like to challenge you to continue to mature, and you will, and to become the best man you can become; grow up and make amends for your mistake; make Oregon and Washington better states; make the world a better place. I see amazing things in your future, because out of great devastation is the opportunity for greatness. Yes, I challenge you to go boldly into the world and do good, and may you find peace in your young life once again. 

Umatilla’s Path of ‘Almost’ Totality Tailgate Party

Ready or not the 2017 total eclipse of the sun is just a week away….where will you be to experience it all? How about heading over to Umatilla’s Marina Park on Sunday just to make sure you get a good spot to view it from. Plenty will be happening to keep you entertained and there are still some RV and tent spaces available (call 541-922-3939). Besides…traffic on the roads just might be atrocious, so you might as well just stop in at Umatilla and call it a day….a good day. One with plenty of new friends, some Blue Moon beer, pulled pork sandwiches and free live music. Monday morning you can wake up to cinnamon rolls and coffee just in time to relax and experience the total eclipse of the sun. What better way to enjoy this once or twice in a lifetime event?

About a month or so ago the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce thought it would be a great idea to have a tailgate party…a big tailgate party. So they invited a couple of their favorite bands to come out and play, asked a hometown caterer to create some delicious food, ordered some Pepsi and some beer and before they knew it they had a tailgate party on their hands….Umatilla’s Path of ‘Almost’ Totality Tailgate Party.

What’s a tailgate party without a few games of volleyball. Be sure to pull a team together, or join a team at the party. There is sure to be some great volleyball action right next to the Blue Moon Beer Garden.

Of course there will be plenty of souvenir “Eclipse Coins” to buy and can be used for all your purchases throughout the party, and don’t forget to take a few home in your pocket to share with you kids and grandchildren….proof that you experienced Umatilla’s Path of ‘Almost’ Totality Tailgate Party, on the day before the historical 2017 total eclipse of the sun.

All the fun starts at 11 a.m. Sunday morning. Music will be playing while Amber from GG’s Smokehouse Catering is serving up some delicious pulled pork sandwiches complete with her own special bar-b-que sauce. Hamburgers and hot dogs and Pepsi will be available as well.

The Blue Moon Beer Garden will open at 1 p.m. and will serve beer until 11 p.m.

Limited Edition T-Shirts will be available on site.

The Outsiders will be playing in the afternoon and Blue Tattoo will be playing in the evening. Between these two bands Pamela Thomas Martin will be entertaining the crowd.

There are also some great Facebook contest prizes that will be given away including an overnight stay in Astoria, thanks to the Astoria/Warrenton Chamber of Commerce, as well as a night stay in the Tower at Wildhorse Resort and Casino compliments of Wildhorse. A ticket package from the Pendleton Round-Up and Happy Canyon will also be given away during the evening. Be sure to check out the Umatilla Chamber of Commerce and Vistor Centers Facebook page to enter for your chance to win. All winners must be present at Umatilla’s Path of ‘Almost’ Totality Tailgate Party.

 

 

Rambling Wanderer – Summer 2016

Here we go, summer is in full swing. It’s time for camping, fishing, bike riding, kayaking, hiking and all other types of outdoor activities.

I was lucky enough to start my summer off at Barton Park in Boring, Oregon where a portion of my family got together to camp, tell tall tales around the campfire and reconnect.

As if that wasn’t fun enough I recently welcomed a new grandbaby into the family. Summer is definitely off to a great start in my world.

There are some great businesses and happenings to read about in this issue of Northeast Oregon Business News. This issue kicks off the beginning of our third year and I cannot tell you how happy I am that I decided to start this venture. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many great people from around Northeast Oregon as well as throughout the Pacific Northwest. I think I am ready to tackle the next three years.

Be sure to read all about Cinnamon Cottage which is located in La Grande. One of the owners has been a friend for years and she and her business partner have created a wonderful gift shop.

My hometown of Elgin has just had a groundbreaking ceremony for the Elgin Health District Rural Health Clinic. You can read more about it on page 5.

Below this letter is a couple photos and and ad for the WAAAM Air and Auto Museum in Hood River. If you are traveling through on I-84 in the future, be sure to stop in and see all they have. It is absolutely one of the greatest museums I have had the pleasure of visiting.

Just yesterday I went to the 22nd annual Wildhorse Resort & Casino Pow Wow. It is one of my favorite events to go and take pictures at. It is such a colorful and fun event. Be sure to mark it on your calendar for next year.

During my travels this month I also stopped in at Timberlake Campground, which is just a short distance from Hood River on the Washington side of the Columbia River. This is a fabulous campground. If you like lush green brush, walking trails and the sounds of nature, this is the campground for you. Learn more about it on page 12.

If you’d rather spend the night with a few more amenities be sure to stop in at the brand new Hampton Inn in Hood River. With views of the Columbia River this will be a great stop along the way when you need a place to stay. Information can be found on page 13.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep up on all my latest travel photos. A few from the past few weeks are to the right.

Thank you so much for taking the time to pick up Northeast Oregon Business News. Your readership is appreciated, and as always I welcome comments and suggestions.

Have a wonderful summer and until next time…..Carpe diem (Seize the Day)

Lori

The Road to Hana in Maui

What an incredible trip this was, yet had I known the Road to Hana is the fifth most dangerous road in the world, I don’t think I would have willingly gone.
It’s been almost a year since we escaped to Maui for a week. It was one of the most wonderful vacations I have ever been on. My son’s wedding was the reason we ended up in Hawaii on the first day of winter 2016.

I could not think of a better way to spend the first day of winter than sitting beside the pool, soaking up the sun and feeling the tropical air on my skin. It was the most relaxed I believe I have ever felt in my entire life.

This was a vacation to be remembered and I can hardly wait to go back to Maui.

OEN and the Tom Holce 2016 Entrepreneurship Awards

By Lori Kimbel
 
It’s no secret that I come from a small town in Northeast Oregon… Elgin, Oregon to be exact. Elgin is like many of the small towns in America, more often than not it is peaceful, safe and friendly, so when this small town lady decided to spend a night on the town in the big city of Portland, it was, to be honest, pretty exciting and at the end of the night I realized that Portland, believe it or not, is a lot like Elgin.
 
My adventure started when I climbed onto the Max in Beaverton. Now to people who ride the Max every single day, I am sure this sounds like no big deal, but to me….this was a big deal. I’ve been on cattle drives and gone to more rodeos than I can count. I’ve seen four cougars, three bears and one wolf, but I’d never ridden the Max by myself, especially knowing I would be going back…at night (insert dunt dunt duahh music here). I kept track of the stops on my phone and loaned a pen to a young man who had misplaced his. All in all the people seemed….like people.
 
Stop after stop, and a daring race through a tunnel 260 feet below the surface, I finally arrived at my destination. As luck would have it the Max stopped within 50 or 60 yards of the front door to the Oregon Convention Center, where the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards were taking place.
 
Shaking off the raindrops that had gathered on my jacket, I stepped inside and it was as if they knew I was coming. “What is your name,” the young lady asked me. “Kimbel,” I said. “Lori Kimbel.” As it so happened a gentleman, also with the name Kimball was right in front of my, so he and the young lady had already been discussing me, it made me feel like I was back in my hometown walking into a conversation at the local post office lobby…(small town humor).
 
The main event would not start for another hour, which left me time to visit with newfound friends and learn about some of the entrepreneurs that were showcasing their business and/or product. Bull Run Whiskey was my first stop. I always enjoy hearing about the process taken to create a product and the gentleman behind the counter was more than happy to explain the subtle difference between the various bottles of whiskey, one of my favorite spirits. I decided on a sip of the Oregon Single Malt Whiskey; it was smooth and left me wanting more, but I wandered away after thanking him, making my way to the complimentary drink station next to the whiskey station.
 
After ordering a sangria, the unmistakable smell of fire roasted s’mores filled my senses. James, from Nineteen 27 S’mores, gave me a quick rundown of the business that he and his wife, Kelly, started late in the summer of 2015. The unmistakable fire that burns within the heart of every entrepreneur was evident in James. The S’mores experience reminded me of sitting around the fire at my brother’s ‘elk camp’…..well, maybe that was the whiskey I’d just shot, either way, once again, I was reminded of home.
 
I made my way through the crowd, stopping in at each table to learn a little bit about each business owner and why they had decided to become entrepreneurs. I sampled delicious bar-b-que sauces of Felton and Mary’s Artisan Foods, tasted some wonderful peanut butter at Eliot’s Adult Nut Butters, had a bite of some spicy beef from Don Felipe Products and drank some of the best hot cocoa I’ve ever had from Treehouse Chocolate.
 
I knew I had to save room for dinner, so networking was next on my agenda. I met some great people throughout the evening and thoroughly enjoyed learning about what their passions were and what made them want to be a part of the evening dedicated to Oregon entrepreneurs. Throughout my career and the many networking events I have attended, I find that just being from Oregon and having that commonality is enough of a connection to start lasting friendships. Oregonians are proud of their state. Who wouldn’t be? We have Mt. Hood, Wallowa Lake, Multnomah Falls, the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, Portland…..and Elgin. We are also proud of the people who call Oregon home and who have dedicated their lives to making the world a better place.
 
Once the ceremony started I was swept up into the emotions of the evening. I have never met Linda Weston, the outgoing president and executive director of OEN, but was sure that when we do meet, we are going to have a great visit.
 
The annual awards ceremony honors the skill and the courage that it takes for entrepreneurs to create a business out of an idea. The event is intended to not only celebrate entrepreneurs, but to highlight their importance to the region’s economy. This year’s Awards Ceremony, “Create Your Legacy,” also celebrated OEN’s 25th year and paid tribute to Weston, who will be retiring at the end of 2016 after 17 years.
 
It was a night of inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit from start to finish. Weston set the tone as she highlighted what her journey has been like over the past 17 years at the helm of Oregon’s Entrepreneur Network. Her passion for business and the people who create them was evident and it was obvious her presence at OEN will truly be missed by those who know and love her.
 
“Over those 17 years, the entrepreneurial ecosystem supporting entrepreneurs throughout the state has changed significantly for the better,” said Weston. “There is far more education, support, access to coaching and mentoring, and access to a variety of kinds of capital then there was even 10 years ago. And, the kinds of entrepreneurs we see are far different—it’s not just tech entrepreneurs. There are so many more entrepreneurs in consumer products like food, beverages, footwear, etc, and in bioscience/biotech, clean tech, etc. There are many more women entrepreneurs—evidence was clear last night with 3 out of 4 of the winners being women. And, there are many more entrepreneurs of color.”
 
This year’s Awards Ceremony marks the final year of Linda’s remarkable 17-year tenure as President and Executive Director of OEN. She will be retiring and launching a consulting company at the end of 2016. Under Linda’s leadership, OEN has experienced significant growth and expanded its impact across the state, serving more than 52,000 participants since 1999, generating $10,792,545 in donations and sponsorship revenue, and securing more than $1.1 million in grant funding to expand access to OEN services in underserved areas.
 
In 2002 and 2005, Linda was selected by Portland Business Journal as one of 25 outstanding Women in Business. In 2005, she was one of three national finalists for the “Supporter of Entrepreneurship” award in conjunction with Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. In 2007, she was recognized by Northwest Women’s Journal as one of “100 Most Powerful Women” in the Northwest.
 
“It feels wonderful handing the baton to my successor, Maggie Finnerty,” said Weston. “We put a very specific process into place for succession. I gave the OEN board two years’ notice that I planned to retire in December of 2016, so we engaged in a very thoughtful process about how we wanted to approach everything from how we would conduct the search to who would handle the search and when we’d launch it, the timing of the announcement that I’d be leaving, and we planned for at least a 90 day transition with the new executive director. We were also very intentional about who served on the search committee—it was diverse in terms of sector represented, age, gender, race, and geography so that we had great input. Maggie has a perfect background and skill set to step into this role—she was a perfect choice, and she’ll do well in leading the organization. In terms of what’s next for me, I won’t fully retire. I plan to launch a consulting practice focused on helping both early-stage companies and non-profits.”
 
The OEN Board ‘passed the hat around’ so to speak, and raised $16,000 for a ‘trip of a lifetime’ for Weston, who is an avid traveler.
 
“The best part of the night for me,” said Molly Lindquist, founder and CEO of Consano, “was watching out-going executive director of OEN, Linda Weston, honored for her incredible contributions to the entrepreneurial community in Oregon. Linda was a key connector and mentor to me as I founded my non-profit Consano, and I know she has served in that role for countless other founders as well. It was wonderful to see the community celebrate her impact!”
 
Weston however was not the only one to receive a gift during the award ceremony. Sam Blackman and Jesse Rosenzweig, co-founders of Elemental Technologies, presented a $150,000 check to OEN to support its services.
 
From 141 nominees for the 2016 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards, the finalists were narrowed down to 20 after a series of interviews and reviews by OEN’s expert judging panels.
 
The categories included Volunteers of the Year, Startup Stage, Development Stage, Growth Stage, Wyatt Starnes, and Entrepreneurial Achievement. The Game Changer Award was decided by the audience during the award ceremony and went to Nadya Okamoto of Camions of Care.
 
Camions of Care is a youth-run global nonprofit that strives to manage and celebrate menstrual hygiene—through the global distribution of feminine hygiene products, and the engagement of youth leadership through a nationwide network of campus chapters. In the last two years, its network of over 2,200 volunteers has addressed over 24,000 periods through over 40 nonprofit partners.
Bright.MD and Radar were the other two finalists in this category.
 
Volunteers of the Year where Terry St. Marie, Co-Founder of Built Oregon, Ernie Bootsma, Parter at Ater Wynne, and Ann McQuesten, Corporate Associate at White Summers Caffee & James LLP.
 
The Startup Stage Award, which honors a company with projected revenue for the current year of less than $0.5 million, went to Hubb, which automates the complex workflows and tasks required to collect, manage and market content for your next conference or meeting. Runners up were Crystal Clear Technologies and NemaMetrix.
 
The Development Stage Company Award honors a company with past-year revenue of at least $0.5 million and projected revenue for the current year of $0.5 – $8 million. Customer.io, which is a platform that uses application data and rules to message users, was the winner of this award. Senaptec and Wildfang were runners up.
 
The Growth Stage Company Award honors a company with past-year revenue of at least $8 million and projected revenue for the current year of over $8 million. Ruby Receptionists, which is the only virtual receptionist service dedicated to making personal connections with your callers, was the recipient for 2016. FCR, iovation and Puppet were runners up in this category.
 
The Wyatt Starnes Memorial Award honors the region’s most promising early stage tech entrepreneur. Runn
 
The Wyatt Starnes Memorial Award winner was Tyrone Poole of NoAppFee.com. In 2005, Tyrone was training to become a firefighter at Portland Community College. He suffered an injury that badly damaged his left leg, leaving him unemployed, unable to pay his debt, and evicted from his apartment. He eventually ended up in a homeless shelter. Tyrone founded NoAppFee.com to help combat unnecessary homelessness. NoAppFee.com revolutionizes the way renters find homes by screening potential renters against every vacancy in a market, eliminating the need for multiple, costly applications.
 
The Entrepreneurial Achievement Award honors an entrepreneur or founding team with a strong record of success over the past 18 months. Monica Enand, Ceo and Founder of Zapproved was the recipient of this award. Runners up were Oliver Alexander and Orion Falvey co-founders of Orchid Health, as well as Trevor Mauch, founder of Carrot.
 
“I believe OEN is important to Oregon because it lays the foundation for a collaborative and healthy start-up ecosystem,” said Lindquist. “As someone who has directly benefitted from the many connections I’ve made through my involvement with OEN, I can say that there is no way I could have grown my organization so quickly without the invaluable collaborations and relationships I’ve developed within this dynamic community.”
 
Then, just like that the, evening was over. I said goodbye to the people I’d bonded with over a chicken and mashed potato dinner and a bottle or two of wine, knowing we would be connected forever if only on LinkedIn. I slipped on my coat and walked out into the night air. I was downtown Portland and I felt safe after spending an evening with 500 of my newest friends. A few walked my direction toward the Max. I marveled at the glass towers of the Convention Center as I waited for the ‘Blue Line’ to arrive.
 
Once on board I texted a friend explaining how I was on the Max leaving downtown Portland, but there was no need for her to worry about me, because Superman himself was seated within ten feet of me. Grant it he was about 20 years younger than most Supermen, and not quite as buff, but Superman just the same.
 
Then Trudy arrived, she asked to sit beside me and told me about her evening experience at the Tony Bennett concert. “He is 90 years old and his voice is just as strong as ever,” she exclaimed. Yes, tonight, my wonderful night out on the town in Portland felt like home, Portland felt like Elgin…peaceful, safe and friendly.

Andrew Muse and His Tiny Home Adventure

By Lori Kimbel

Twenty six year old Andrew Muse is living a life full of adventure and excitement. A life many would love to have just a taste of. Traveling the country with his golden lab, canine companion, Kicker, Muse is seen grinning from ear to ear with each new-found, adrenaline-charged quest and Kicker is right alongside him in almost every video or photo posted to Instagram @andrew_muse.

Muse is famous…Instagram famous. With 30.1 thousand followers, Muse and Kicker always have a great photo, or video to share with their adoring fans. Traveling around in their 4 x 4 adventure van, jumping out from time to time to go snowboarding, kiteboarding, rock climbing, or hiking, these two constant companions are anything but boring. Their adventures will soon be released by GoPro with Season two of Tiny Home Adventure, which is set to be release by Fall 2016.
&nbps;
But wait! This story doesn’t start here. Yes, it’s still in the beginning stages, after all Muse is just 26 and has a lifetime of adventures waiting for him, but this is more like Chapter 2, or maybe even Chapter 3. Chapter 1 was spent growing up in Massachusetts with his mom and sister where Muse would spend hours in the woods building forts and exploring.

“I wanted to get further west and ride bigger mountains with more snow than what I was used to on the east coast,” said Muse. “I’d never been further west than New York, so I started traveling just after high school. My dream was to be a ski guide, so I moved out west and started taking avalanche courses and this and that. I bought a GoPro about five years ago and started creating edits. I learned how to take videos, edit them and turn them into something that people would want to watch, and then I got hooked up with Rosignal as a snowboard athlete, and I also got sponsored for kiting.”

Chapter 2 began when Muse1 purchased a $500 truck camper and began remodeling it. Kicker of course was not even a thought in his mind; Booter was his sidekick back then. Like Kicker, Booter was a golden lab and he too was more like a best friend than a pet. While remodeling the camper Muse decided to film the entire process. Tiny Home Adventure Season One was born.

“Every two weeks I’d release an edit,” said Muse. “I did all the editing and all the filming.” I’m sure Booter helped keep him on track and entertained while Muse worked away on his computer.

When Muse was not remodeling his camper, he was finding ways to boost the adrenaline that coursed through his veins. Rappelling off of a bridge, long boarding for miles, snowboarding, and white water rafting were just a few of the activities that kept his body in a naturally induced state of euphoria. Of course Booter fed off of Muse’s excitement and was a willing participant in almost every activity.

It’s hard to put into words what this young man and his friend Booter are all about. So please stop reading this, pull out your smart phone and check out some of these links to get a feel of what a typical day in the life of @andrew_muse is all about. Like the old 60’s song, Andrew Muse was ‘born to be wild’ with his dog Booter at his side of course.

“My real dream was to become a professional athlete,” said Muse, “but I just didn’t really have the foundation and the skill set to get there, so content creation kind of became the way for that to work. Assuming that it would have some value with brands I could live the kind of lifestyle that I always wanted, but never really thought possible. This is really working toward something that I didn’t think was realistic. I’ve gotten little nuggets and rewards along the way that made me think maybe this will work, so I decided to really push for this athlete, content, creative thing and I just buckled down and started focusing on it.”

And focus on it he has.

“The first Tiny Home Adventure project and the whole remodel process really showed me how hard I could work,” said Muse. “I would wake up at about six in the morning without an alarm and I’d work until about 12 o’clock at night. That was a pretty big eye-opening experience. If I’m passionate about something, and I have a vision, I can work super hard and it doesn’t feel like work at all.”

Season one of Tiny Home Adventure can be seen on YouTube as well as Vimeo. Amazing footage is captured by Muse. You won’t be disappointed if you check it out.

“I filmed season one in six months with 12 episodes; it was the wildest and craziest adventure ever.”

Of course with every great story comes great tragedy. After filming the final episode of Tiny Home Adventure, Muse and Booter headed toward home. Two hours before reaching their destination, at 60 mph, Muse slams into the back of a semi that was going just 40 mph. His truck and tiny home were destroyed. Everything he owned lay scattered along I-15 in Utah. Digging through the rubble he found Booter, he was severely injured and died in Andrew’s arms.

“At the scene of the accident I literally lost everything I owned that was in the truck camper. It destroyed my truck, my camper, I had no money and I lost Booter. I would have done anything if I could have kept Booter around.”

Life at that moment and for the days and weeks to follow felt like it was beyond repair for Muse. His best friend, his constant companion, was gone. His career, which relied heavily on the comradery of the two together, seemed to be over.

“The paramedics who were on the scene of the wreck were trying to make small talk about climbing and this and that and I was just sobbing and I didn’t want to talk to anybody. One of the firefighters came over and put his arm around my shoulders and said, ‘Dude I get it man, I’ve lost dogs and it’s like the worst thing.’ He had compassion to the situation. You could tell he was the only person that really got it. I really connected with this firefighter and he knew nothing about me and I knew nothing about him, so I asked for his contact information so I could show him what Booter and I were doing. I told him we had a really special bond and we had this series we were filming together. So we kept in touch for a few weeks and then he called me up randomly about two months later and said I have an interesting opportunity for you. I lost a dog tragically when I was your age and I ended up with a new dog and it really helped me through the situation. We breed dogs, we breed golden labs and labradoodles and if you want a dog you are welcome to the pick of the litter. That’s how Kicker came into my life. It was a small world experience with a firefighter and a family who are the kindest people.”

Chapter 3, life was beginning to feel more like an adventure again.

“Kicker’s been great,” said Muse. “He’s been super healthy and I put him in a lot of interesting situations whether it’s in snow or water. He just goes everywhere with me. He’s been snowboarding, kiteboarding. He just kind of lives the same life I do and seems to enjoy it.”

Muse is back in the thick of adventure seeking.

Recently Muse participated in the Kiteboarding4Cancer event in Hood River. One project he took on was to paint a kiteboard that would later be auctioned off to raise money for the event.

“This was my first year participating in Kiteboarding4Cancer and being active in it. I just saw last year what a fun positive event it was, so I decided to paint a board and try and contribute as much as I could.”

Once again life dealt Muse a blow.

“The second day I was painting my board I got a phone call from my mom saying she had just been diagnosed with cervical cancer,” said Muse. “So it become something that at first it was like, ‘okay I’ll do this because it’s nice and I want to be part of this cool event and help raise money’, to like, something that was a lot more serious to me. It made things feel like a lot more close to home. Thankfully the situation with my mom had about as good a prognosis as possible. She had surgery and they were able to remove everything and there is just a small chance that it could return. So that was nice. During the Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event everything was still in the air and we weren’t sure how bad it was and so it was pretty scary. It’s terrifying when it happens to you and it’s super sad and scary.”

The Kiteboarding 4 Cancer event raised $194,000 in a single weekend. “It’s insane how much money they were able to raise and how many good people they bring together,” he said.

So what does the rest of the book…er…video of @Andrew_Muse look like? Only time will tell, but so far things are looking pretty good.

Once Muse arrived home after his car accident he was trying to figure out what he was going to do with his life. He had gotten a job offer to be the video coordinator for the US Ski Team, but he had planned on coming home and figuring out how to make season two of Tiny Home Adventure sustainable if possible. He was totally broke, his equipment was gone and he’d lost his business partner. It was beginning to look like he would have to take the position with the US Ski Team simply because it seemed like his only option.

But then he opened up his email and saw that GoPro had sent him something.

“GoPro reached out to me and asked if they could pick up season two,” said Muse.

They wanted to know how much Muse would charge.

“So I gave them a number that was close to what I would be making with the US Ski Team and they accepted it. Is was a pretty crazy email to have GoPro hit you up and say, ‘hey, there are so many opportunities for us to work together our head is spinning’…I was like, ‘is this real?’”.

Muse has sent more than 50 hours of footage to GoPro and season two of Tiny Home Adventure should be available online by this fall.

“I would like to do Season three,” said Muse. “There is talk of either going to New Zealand, South America or Europe, or a sailboat trip in the Caribbean. Who knows we are just trying to get the season two off the ground and hopefully get a good response from people and if it does well than hopefully we will continue to travel the world and see a bunch of cool stuff and inspire some people to really do some cool stuff as well.”

Of course Kicker will be right by his side.

“My goals for the future are to continue this lifestyle of doing what I love and inspiring people to do the same. That’s kind of my big thing. I really like to inspire people and tell them you can do what you love, and make a career out of it if you are really willing to work hard enough and make sacrifices, like superficial sacrifices. I feel that for an exceptional life you have to be willing to go down a road that most people haven’t gone down and take the risk to get there. I think inevitable you can be successful if you are willing to work hard enough and be willing to put enough of positive energy into it,” said Muse.

My View

There is never a lack of stories when it comes to writing about Northeast Oregon, but there is the lack of time to write them all. With 2016 quickly coming to a close I guess it is time to think about the future and what it may hold.
 
The amount of support I continue to receive has been very inspiring.
 
I’d like to thank both Trish Yerges and Marc Robins for writing great articles for me to included within the pages of both Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News on a regular basis. I appreciate their view of the world and I always look forward to what stories they capture.
 
Life is about change. I will soon be having one of those big birthdays…you know the kind, one of them with a zero in the number. I am looking forward to the new year and will actually be glad to put this last year of my youth behind me. Change isn’t always easy, but I think for the most part it is always necessary.
 
Thank you all for taking the time to read my publications. As always, please feel free to write, or call with questions, suggestions, opinions and story ideas.
 
Here’s to tucking 2016 into our memory banks and moving forward toward 2017.
 
Happy Fall.

Sincerly,

Lori

Derek Kolbaba and the Business of Bull Riding

By Lori Kimbel

Derek Kolbaba is a bull rider and is on his way to making his dream, of riding in the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, come true.
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“He was a determined little guy when he was growing up,” said his father, Kyle Kolbaba, a professional bull rider himself in the 90’s.
 
At seven-years-old Derek came up to his dad and said, ‘Dad, I want to start riding calves and I want to be a bull rider’.
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“At that point I decided it was time to teach him the right way to ride,” said Kyle. “It was all he wanted to do, he was very disciplined, and as he got older he trained himself. When he was seven-years-old I said, ‘this is what is going to happen’ and I told him from now until about when you are 15 or 16 you are going to be taught the right way to ride bulls at seven-years-old, while everybody else is going to be taught how to win calf ridings and cow ridings. They are going to be taught how to hang onto something, while you are going to be taught how to ride bulls when you are riding calves.You might not do as great down in the junior rodeos, but when you get to the big bull rides you are going to know how to do it.”
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In December 2011, Kyle took Derek to Gold Beach to his first big bull ride. Derek was 15. He won the event, got a buckle and $3,000. Since then he has won buckles, money, a loyal following, and a lot of respect from fellow bull riders.
 
“From that point on he never looked back,” said Kyle. “I took him under my wing until he was 18, but at 16 he was self-sufficient. He went everywhere, he entered his own rodeos and he ended up winning a lot. I didn’t have a lot to do with it. I trained him up, so to speak, but the kid is so disciplined. He has all these goals and he has told them to me from the time he was young until now.”
 
It is obvious Kyle is a proud dad, and Derek is just as proud to be Kyle’s son.
 
“My dad is the one who taught me everything I know,” said Derek. “It was nice to have someone that had already been there and done that, so to speak. Having a mentor like him from the beginning, teaching me the right way of doing things instead of having to go through the hard knocks of learning was a big jump for me. Everything I know, I have to give all the credit to him.”
 
“A lot of bull riding is you learn techniques, the basics of it, and a lot of it is training to be the best,” said Derek. “They say bull riding is 90% in your head and I believe that 100%. You have to be physically strong, but you have to be mentally strong as well. If you are going in there kind of doubting yourself then you probably aren’t going to succeed as well as you’d like. You definitely have to have a confidence. Going up against an 1800 pound bull you definitely have to talk yourself into it.”
 
At 17 Derek won the Washington High School Finals State Title. At 18 he won the PRCA Columbia River Circuit then won it again when he was 19.
 
“From the time he’s turned 18 to now and he’s 20, he has accomplished so much,” said Kyle. “More than a lot of people in their whole career. I’m a proud father of the boy. I just grin from ear to ear. I spent nine years in the PRCA and I won the Columbia River Circuit one time in my career, and I tried so hard every year, then he just pops right out at 18 and 19 and wins it twice in a row.
 
In 2015 Derek was able to compete at the world finals at just 19-years-old.
 
“It is amazing to me to see how disciplined and how serious he is,” said Kyle. “What a difference it makes in a person to be able to pursue a career and be able to go after your dreams and be able to live it…actually live it and not just say that’s what I wanted to be.”
 
Bull riding can be a very lucrative career. The top bull rider in the world is Kaique Pacheco who has won $266,303.50 so far this year.
 
“Bull riding is not a very long career,” said Derek. “In the PBR they do a great job of making it where you can make enough money to make it through the rest of your life. You’ve got guys that are making seven million dollars in a career. That’s a decent living if you are smart with your money and that’s not really counting sponsorship’s.”
 
Derek currently sits 12th in the world. His winnings total $77,251 for 2016 so far.
 
Derek’s goals for this year are to make it to the PBR finals as well as make it into the National Finals Rodeo which takes place in Las Vegas.
 
“I’m going to keep knocking at the door and see what happens at the end of September,” he said. “Some great things about this lifestyle is that you get to see a lot, and meet a lot of great people. Being able to ride bulls in front of thousands of people on the east coast, west coast, Canada, it really takes you to a lot of different places…it’s pretty special.”

My View – What a Summer!

Wow! What a summer!
 
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I hope your summer has been every bit as fun as mine has. This past Saturday I attended the annual Timber Tiger Lodge party, which takes place on the side of the Elkhorn Mountains, overlooking the entire Baker Valley. The food was fabulous, the band was amazing, the dancing, of course, was a blast, and the time spent with friends was invaluable.
 
This summer has definitely been action-packed for me and I feel extremely blessed to be living a life that involves so much joy. A life that would not be possible if it weren’t for the advertisers that support this paper and the readers that continue to pick it up off of the newspaper stands and read it, some offering suggestions for improvement and others just sending along a message, or two of encouragement. Thanks to everyone involved in Northeast Oregon Business News.
 
There were a couple of events I covered over the last couple months that were just amazing. One was Kiteboarding4Cancer, an event that raised more than $194,000 in a single weekend. I was lucky enough to be one of the volunteers, which gave me the opportunity to meet many of the people involved. Look for my article on this event as well as an article on Rob Chimelak and also Andrew Muse, two people I met while attending the event.
 
Pendleton Bike Week was my other favorite event of the summer. The creation of Erik Folkstad, Pendleton Bike Week was one of the most enjoyable events I have ever gone to. The people were all very friendly, the bikes were beautiful and some were so unique it was a wonder people could create such machines. Three Dog Night entertained the crowd in the Happy Canyon Arena and the Seattle Cosacks stunt team performed each day. If you haven’t seen the Seattle Cosacks you are missing out; they were amazing.
 
Of course I can’t leave out the time I spent with family this summer. To kick off the summer one branch of our family met at Barton Park, then later in the summer another branch of the family met at Lake Sutherland, Washington. My dad and I drove to Lake Sutherland together, stopping along the way at Egg & I Road, where he grew up. Some of you may remember the books Egg & I about Ma and Pa Kettle. My dad lived across the street from the family the book was written about and he used to be babysat by Pa Kettle, who would show up in a suit and tie. It was very special to hear so many of my dad’s childhood memories as we drove down Egg & I Road together. I trip I will cherish forever. Of course waiting at the reunion were many wonderful people that I have so many childhood memories of. My cousins and I were able to sit around the campfire for three nights reliving old memories and making new ones in the process.
 
Closer to home more family memories were being made on camping trips, meteor shower watching, wildflower gathering, fireweed jelly making, and hiking with my husband, my daughter, her husband and their children. They were even lucky enough to see a moose in the northeast Oregon mountains.
 
Yes, this has been a summer to remember in so many more ways than one. Once again, I thank you for picking up this paper and spending time within its pages. Feel free to email me article suggestions, comments or complaints. I read them all and appreciate every one.
 
Until next time Carpe Diem! (Seize the Day)
 
Lori

Little Mermaid at the Elgin Opera House

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By Lori Kimbel

Without a doubt the Elgin Opera House is the place to be on Fridays and Saturdays throughout September as the Little Mermaid graces the stage. Opening night jitters seemed to be non-existent as these well versed actors and actresses took to the stage time and again after each and every set change. It was completely obvious that the audience enjoyed the show, with the laughter, gasps and cheers that came from both the main floor and the balcony throughout the performance. During intermission the play-goers could be heard exclaiming how amazing the quality of the show was.

Madeline Hale, an Opera House favorite for nine years, does a phenomenal job in her first lead role. She was completely believable as Ariel and her acting and dancing were spot on. Madeline is a high school sophomore and has dedicated much of her spare time to perfecting her acting skills. One of my favorite moments of the play was when she was trying to explain why she could not talk to Prince Eric. All the hours of practice she has spent on the Elgin Opera House stage comes through loud and clear, with or without a voice.

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Of course every princess needs a villian, Ursula was all that and more. Her tangly tentacles and evil ways caught Ariel up in an instant. Meegan Anderson, the woman behind the villainous creature was absolutely amazing. She filled the Opera House with each and every note of her strong, well-tuned voice. The Little Mermaid is her first play at the Elgin Opera House, but hopefully it will not be her last. She was simply amazing and it was obvious she is a seasoned actress.

Sebastian, played by Brian Monger, was the surprise of the night. Who would have thought a Reggae-singing Jamaican crab could have so much personality and add so much to the show. Monger, a native Oregonian, was raised in a musical family and seems to be a perfect fit for the Elgin Opera House.

Quentin Durfee played Prince Eric. His love for Ariel was obvious, even before he realized she was the one he was searching for. The Little Mermaid is Durfee’s fifth musical production, yet it still amazed me how comfortable and flawless he was in front of the live audience.

 

Flounder was absolutely adorable as he skated across the stage in almost every scene. Brady Morgan was the young man inside the bright colored costume and really did a fabulous job. I’ve noticed he tends to stand out in every show he is a part of. I first saw him in Christmas at the Opera House and then again in Ring of Fire and let me tell you the boy plays a pretty mean fiddle. Brady is going to continue to stand out at the Elgin Opera House as he will take the lead in “A Christmas Story” this coming December. There is no doubt in my mind he will do a great job.

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King Triton, played by Russell Buckley, definitely came across as the King of the Sea. His commanding voice put everyone on edge as the search for his missing daughter carried on into the night, and if he wasn’t known to be such a nice guy, he would have definitely put the fear into many in the audience. Buckley is no stranger to the Elgin Opera House stage as he has performed in eight shows over the last several years.

Then there was Scuttle….wow! Not really wow, that was amazing, or wow, he stole the show, but wow has there ever been a sea gull that loud, that high-spirited, that flamboyant, that talented, that absolutely entertaining kind of wow. Alan Stogin claimed his seagullness and had the audience enjoying every minute that he was on stage.

The always entertaining Chad Rasmussen played the rambunctious Chef Louis. He has performed at the Elgin Opera House in a variety of shows and it is always fun to watch as he brings his characters to life on the stage.

Samuel Shown plays Grimsby and even though this was not the biggest part in the play, Shown really did a great job with it. This was his first time performing at the Elgin Opera House, but I really hope to see him come again. I think there is a lot of untapped potential here and I am looking forward to seeing his next performance.

The next two that I am going to mention did not have leading roles, but I thought they played their parts wonderfully, and were actually two more of my favorites of the night. The electric eels, Flotsam and Jetsam were played by Abby Hale and Jeremiah Dockweiler and they did such a great job as Ursula’s sidekicks. In addition to their evil acting they also wore amazing costumes.

The mersisters, played by Aubrey Slaughter, Emily Carman, Naomi Medley, Sonja Adams, Ashlee Zaugg, and Tess Cahill entertained the crowd with their singing and dancing as well as with their jealousy of Ariel.

This show just kept getting better and better as the night continued. The tap dancing sea gulls were amazing with their tap routines that were absolutely flawless, and the more than two dozen little sea gulls were adorable.

The one thing I can always count on with a Terry Hale production is that there will be something that blows away the plays that came before. With Beauty and the Beast it was the Beast that was slowly lowered down to the stage floor, with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang it was the car that had everyone talking. With the Little Mermaid it will be the musical number Under the Sea. The stage absolutely came alive with the most colorful sea creatures and flowers you can imagine.

There is so much that goes into an Elgin Opera House performance each and every time. From the sets, to the paintings, to the costumes, to the welcoming committee, the lighting, the choreography and the ticket sales, it is obvious the people involved in the Elgin Opera House love what they are doing and lucky for us they just keep on doing it.

 

New Owners at Timberlake Campground and RV Park

By Lori Kimbel

Kyle and Marissa Vaner Borght knew they wanted something more than the life they were living in Burbank, California. Their day to day lives lead them down the black pavement to work then home again. Their kids played on pavement at the school they attended and played basketball on pavement in front of their house. Pavement, a modern day convenience, seemed to surround them, and at times felt suffocating, so much so that they knew it was time for a change. They began looking for a new place to call home. A new way of life, of living, of breathing; a place without pavement.
Both Kyle and Marissa grew up going camping with their families. They wanted to create some of those same memories with their two boys, only they knew they wanted even more.
“We knew we wanted something we could do together and be successful at,” said Kyle.
For two years they searched for the ideal location and way of life. They looked in Oregon, in Montana, and in Idaho, then, finally found it in Stevenson, Washington at Timberlake Campground, just 10 minutes from the massive Columbia River.
“We see so much potential in the Gorge,” said Kyle. “There is something for everyone; windsurfing, brewery hopping, wineries.”
Timberlake Campground was created by LeRoy Anderson and opened in 2005. Kyle and Marissa purchased the 22 acre park in February of this year and could not be happier about their unique change in lifestyle. Being an hour away from the nearest Nordstrom doesn’t seem to faze Marissa in the least; she is thriving under the canopy of green leaves.
“We wanted something we would want to come to,” said Marissa.
“This isn’t a job,” said Kyle. “One day you wake up and realize you are capable of more than you ever thought you were.”
There are 43 RV spots, a group RV spot and 22 Tent sites.
“You walk in to each tent site and there are cedar shavings to put your tent on,” said Marissa. “You are surrounded by ferns and trees. It is just gorgeous, and at night when all the campfires are going it is just beautiful.”
It is quiet, family friendly and smack dab in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge. Close by, visitors will find the mouth of Wind River as well as Dog Mountain, a popular hiking area.
With plenty of room to stretch out in your own campsite, or stretch your legs as you stroll around camp, Timberlake Campground offers the kind of vacation camping enthusiasts are looking for. Walking paths tucked neatly beneath the multi shades of greenery bring a real sense of leaving the city behind. Far from the noise of train whistles that can accompany many nights stay in the gorge, Timberlake gives visitors a peaceful nights rest.
Of course if it is a meeting place you are looking for, you will find plenty of room at the lodge at Timberlake Campground. With room for 100 and all the chairs and tables you would need the lodge can accommodate graduations, reunions, weddings and more. The commercial kitchen is an added bonus, as is the huge rock fireplace inside the lodge.
The only thing missing from Timberlake Campground is, well, the lake. Although the campground is host to many fishermen throughout the year, there is not a lake for them to fish in at the campground. Luckily the Columbia River is just a short drive away.
Kyle and Marissa are also host to several events throughout the year including their Wine & Cheese Tasting Weekend in May, Brew Fest Weekend in June, and two Customer Appreciation Weekends in October.
Of course don’t forget to look for “Timber” the resident camp cat during your stay.
Timberlake Campground is open from March 1 – October 31.

 

John Kueber Creates Jrrny.com for Travel Blogger Enthusiasts

By Lori Kimbel

John Kueber’s first attempt at public office, a bid for president of the junior high he had just started attending where he was known mostly as ‘the new kid’, taught him a lot about failure. Kueber lost the election by a landslide. “I didn’t really let it bug me,” he said. “It actually energized me.” It was at that moment he realized failure was a part of life. He also realized the thought of failing did not scare him in the least little bit. This notion helped shape him into the successful businessman he has become.
Kueber was raised in Alberta, Canada, and then moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington, where he rowed for the crew team; an endeavor that gave him insight into a world of business he would soon find himself enveloped in once he graduated.
Fresh out of college he began selling advertising for digital media. It was the tip of the iceberg in what has become a digitally dominated career.
At 27-years-old he raised $400,000 for a business many people were skeptical about, an online hardware store. It worked. Eventually he sold the business for over $3 million to Eagle Hardware Executives.
“I was a happy guy, but I wasn’t really living life. I had become owned by my work and wasn’t really having any real life experiences,” said Kueber.
After living life like a 28-year-old with a million dollars in his pocket, it was time to get serious again. So he put his entrepreneurial hat back on and created Urban Pages, a Seattle based print publication, and eventually expanding into Portland, Oregon. After five years he sold both publications to Tiger Oak Media, also a Seattle based company in the print publication field.
“I finally settled down and started the life I have always wanted,” said Kueber. “I got married and now have twin 8-year-old girls. Raising kids is like the most life-giving thing you could possibly do. I hope they still listen to me when they are 18! If they are, I would tell them to take as many “manageable risks” as they can. By this, I mean if you have an opportunity and the worst thing that can happen is some failure, a hit to your ego, then do it. Between 18 and 25 you have a lot of freedom to make mistakes, and as long as you aren’t breaking the law, they generally pay off in at least experience down the road.”
After almost seven years as the chief operating officer at Tiger Oak Publications, a company that creates Seattle Magazine, Seattle Business, Seattle Bride, Oregon Bride, California Wedding Day, Urban Unveiled, Best Companies, and Seattle Health, Kueber knew he was ready for a change.
“-A year ago I knew it was time to go back to being an entrepreneur. I took some time off and went to Europe.” It was while bicycling in the Pyrenees of France that Kueber realized something was missing in the travel market. The business side of his brain kicked in while he made his way up the winding road he was currently peddling on. What if travelers had a platform where they could tell other travelers what was around the next corner, where the closest beer was, or the nearest place to get a great bite to eat, or the cheapest, or most expensive, place to stay?
Jrrny.com was born. Jrrny is a user-generated online travel magazine, created by travelers for travelers. The goal of jrrny.com is to help travelers flesh out their itinerary before leaving home, and it is a great platform for travelers who want to share about their trip and travel adventures as it is happening.
Travelers, who like to write, can set up their own profile and have their first journey online within minutes, complete with photos and a jrrny-generated map of their journey location.
He came home from his trip to Europe with jrrny.com already created in his mind, although, according to Kueber, Jrrny is never truly “complete”. “We’ll continue to evolve the site to add video, more destinations, and thousands of more user posts. We’ll be launching an app later this year and many more exciting features planned. But for now, we believe we already have one of the best travel content sites anywhere. The community creates the jrrnys, and the community will always benefit from the shared knowledge. We’re in the advertising game for our revenue model. We currently have customers ranging from boutique hotels all the way to Starwood Hotels.
“For an entrepreneur, building a business is always exciting. I actually get chills when I read some of the posts on jrrny.com,” said Kueber. “It’s the idea that we are really bringing the world together with new and inspirational travel ideas. Instead of basing people’s trip decisions around hotels, we’re allowing people to picture the incredible experiences to be had around the world, and giving them the confidence to make that happen using real knowledge from our community. It is actually making the world a better place. It is bringing the world closer, more familiar, and not so intimidating.”

Wheat, Alfalfa, Grass and Mint in the Grande Ronde Valley

I travel a lot, and am blessed to meet some really great people along the way. Lately I’ve been in the Gorge and have come home in the evening, just as the sun has set behind Mount Emily in the Grande Ronde Valley. This is that time on my trip when I crank up Pandora and roll my windows down; I’m almost home. Driving through this amazing valley in the heart of summer renews my soul.

For 360 degrees the view is just amazing, but what touches me deep inside my soul are the variety of smells that mix and mingle as I make my way from La Grande to Elgin. First there is the fresh cut grass, then a field, or two, or three of alfalfa; did you know that cut alfalfa and uncut alfalfa smell different? Then, the other night I could have sworn that I smelled fresh green beans, but I couldn’t see the field along the way. Then there is the mint. The mint is amazing and conjures up memories of friends no longer with us. Today I noticed a new crop of sunflowers that will surely add to the views within a month or so.

I wish I could convey what it is like to drive this highway this time of year. Today I drove through and noticed that the smells were unremarkable, but I am sure that after baking in the sun all day those smells will be just as strong and sweet smelling tonight as they are on the other evenings when I’ve passed through.

This post does not come close to capturing the sense of those fleeting moments when I have been blessed enough to travel through the Grande Ronde Valley on a few special evenings as each of these fields release their sweet aromas toward Heaven.

 

Wandering out to Point Prominence

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What can be better than taking a trip through the woods with your man and your dog. Snow in the mountains of NE Oregon stops a lot of road trips throughout the year, but come late spring the flowers are in bloom and most of the snow in the middle elevations has finally melted away enough that the roads are fairly safe to travel.
 
It had been a couple of years since we had made the trek up to Point Prominence so we decided it was a great day to grab some sandwiches from the local Subway, load our dog, Boone, into the back of the truck and take off on a Sunday afternoon adventure.
 
The road we traveled on had much to be desired as we made our way higher and higher into the mountains. Ruts from the spring run-off were, at times, a couple of feet deep and just as wide, but my man managed to traverse them easily, even though they lasted for several hundred yards.
 
Along the way he was lucky enough to see a large brown bear as it ran across the road in front of us. By the time I turned to look it had disappeared into the brush.
 
Along the road to the Point Prominence Lookout there are several places to drive right up to the edge of the canyon with beautiful views of the Wallowa Mountains and the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The Minam River is somewhere hundreds and hundreds of feet below us.
 
We pull out our lawn chairs and take in the beauty that stretches for miles before us. We gobble up our lunch and are glad for the lack of mosquitoes and flies, the cool night air I’m sure has kept them at a lower elevation.
 
We decided to head to Point Prominence Lookout. Sure that the views there are 360 degrees. We turn off of our main road and head up a spur road which should be just a few miles long. The road is created by rocks that are bigger than baseballs. We soon regret our decision to go to the lookout, however we are on the road already, so we continue on as we are thrown this way and that time and again. I do not recommend this road to anyone with a back ache or anyone that does not want to get a back ache. Geesh it was awful.
 
We make a turn and see that up ahead a tree has fallen across the road, and even if were able to get past the tree, a sturdy green gate blocks the road completely. There will be no going to Point Prominence Lookout for us today. Yes, we could have gotten out and walked the last mile or two, but it was getting late, so we decided to turn around and head toward home.
 
We stopped a couple of more times on the way down just to see the view again before heading back home.

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Barton Park, Oregon For Family Camping Trip on Memorial Weekend

It was a beautiful day for a drive across the state from Elgin to Boring. We arrived at Barton Park and were thrilled with the wonderful group camping site that was waiting for us. It was large enough for our group of 30, with spaces for tents surrounding the main area. The large fire pit area was well kept and a great place to visit late into the night each night. There is a convenience store within a half mile of the park that has fuel as well as a deli.
They do close the gates at 10 p.m., so that is always something to be aware of whether you are heading to the park late, or have to leave from the park.

Insider Tip

The restroom at the group camp is not in service, so there is a quarter mile walk to the nearest bathroom.

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Finding Myself One Day At A Time…

My Journey to the Camino de Santiago

With so many things swirling around in my head about work, life, family, friends, and relationships its hard to imagine that there will be a day that I will be out in this big wide world all alone on the Camino de Santiago. Of course I won’t really be alone, I just won’t have the comforts of home, like lifelong friends and family. I know new friends are waiting and I am so curious as to what I will encounter along The Way.

But all that is really for another post. My mission right now is to figure out what my life means before I go. What does my journey look like on my way to the Camino? For about the last four months there has been some confusion on my part as to what life was all about. Why do we work so hard to get somewhere when the only thing that happens when we arrive is the rug gets pulled out from under us….or the entire flipping carpet, flooring and sub-floor; forget about just the rug. You know you are on a journey of self-discover when the floor you had been standing on melts beneath your feet as you struggle to stay standing.

So that’s where I’m at. I’ve gained my footing, I’m standing pretty straight again, but things will  never be the same. The floor may get rebuilt, but the cracks that will remain will forever be a reminder that life sometimes comes crashing down upon us. It is how we handle these situations that show us what we are truly made of. I know for me it really wasn’t that pretty. I was scared, I was angry….really angry, resentful and definitely felt the love drain from my body. But I’m back now, the floor is still in pieces and lays crumbled beneath me, but it doesn’t look as scary as it once did. I feel like a six-year-old playing on a pile of rubble and making the best out of the sticks, splinters, sawdust and nails. I have no idea what I am creating, but at least I’m not just sitting on top of the pile crying my eyes out….not that I haven’t done that from time to time, but for the most part I’m enjoying the process of building something from the pieces.

I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn. About life, death, being a good person, being a good friend, being someone the world needs.

What I know is that I have amazing friends, that I am loved, I have a fabulous community to call home, and the words family and friends are interchangeable in my life.

I have also learned that I love deeply and believe it or not, that isn’t always a good thing to all people, but I also know that the love I have inside of me has the ability to make a difference and for that I am truly grateful.

My journey to the Camino de Santiago is paved with the encouragement of great friends, both new and old. Time and again the Camino has come into my existence. First with the movie The Way, by Emilio Estevez. I watched it once and was slightly intrigued. Then at two different conferences El Camino came up again. It was after the first conference and before that second that I felt as if I was to go on El Camino. Then I met someone who had actually been on the pilgrimage, he convinced me to go alone. Me?….alone? In Spain? On El Camino? A former Me would have laughed knowing there was no way I could do that, but the moment he said I should go alone, and with his encouraging words of ‘you can do this’, I knew to the depths of my soul that he was right. I will be going alone…with the 1000’s of other pilgrims that are going alone of course….so, at least I know I will be in good company. I know there will be good friends waiting for me on the Camino de Santiago, I wonder if they are as excited about the journey as I am.

Yes, this will be an amazing, life-changing trip and I am looking forward to the challenges it is going to bring, as well as the clarity and inspiration that will surely accompany me along The Way.

I have to let you know though that this is more than just a vacation to a country rich in history and beauty. This trip is more than the planning, the itineraries, the packing of my backpack and the goodbyes I will say before I go. A higher power and the Camino are pulling me to it. Something is there, waiting for me to discover. It is hard to explain, but me not going is not a possibility, it is as if the road to Santiago craves to have my feet step onto its dusty path and it won’t stop nudging me until I arrive. The nudges have continued as the Camino continues to come into my existence, time and again, and as many times that is has happened over the past four months it is hard to believe I had no idea this walk existed before that.

The life changes that are in store for me are unknown and a bit worrisome, but the road to Santiago holds promise of emotional healing for what lies ahead between now and then, and for that I am already grateful.

Ready to Search My Soul in Spain

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I was looking at the first post I wrote for this blog back in 2011. I talked about my love for Vegas….I really do like Vegas, it’s been a long time since I’ve been and I’d like to see all the changes that are constantly taking place.

Now, however, the person I am now, really has no desire to go to Vegas. I think I’m ready for a trip to Spain. I know it will be a life changing experience and I am ready for the clarity it is going to bring. I am finding it very refreshing the lack of fear that I have when I think about going. Just the thought of the trip has made significant changes in who I am.

 

My View – May/June 2016

Have you ever had on of those weeks where everything just came together? I had the good fortune of spending five days in Pendleton, Oregon, home of Eastern Oregon’s signature event, the Pendleton Round-Up. The Round-Up wasn’t happening at the time, but good old fashioned Pendleton hospitality was alive and well at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
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As I sat with 450 of my newest friends on Tuesday morning I had time to reflect on the events that had taken place over the course of the last five days. I was amazed at the chance encounters that will no doubt turn into solid, meaningful friendships. Equally amazing was the sense of family I encountered. This group of people, who are all part of the travel industry in one way or another, are all there and held together with a common thread, the love of Oregon. I could have not been more thrilled to be surrounded by hundreds of people who love this great state as much as I do.
 
The conference itself was one of the best conferences I have ever gone to, but it really was so much more than that. I have been going through some pretty significant life-altering events lately and to take some time to connect with both new and old friends was invaluable at this stage of my journey through life. Not to mention I was able to visit with my all time favorite TV personality, Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel. I was completely star struck, but tried not to let it show as I welcomed her to Oregon and asked her to come back again soon.
 
In addition to the great time I had with all my new Travel Oregon friends I also had a wonderful time watching Ring of Fire at the historic Elgin Opera House. Once again this group of volunteers really knocked it out of the park.
 
I also had the pleasure of watching the dedication ceremony for the solar carports at Tamástslikt. It was a beautiful ceremony and I am honored to have been able to experience it.
 
Also, the Eagle Cap Excursion Train has their 2016 schedule set, so be sure and catch a ride with them sometime this spring, summer, or fall.
 
Until next time…..Carpe diem
(Seize the Day) Lori

Be Pleasantly Surprised at Fringe Salon and Boutique

By Lori Kimbel
 
Emily Hendricks
Cosmetologist, Emily Hendricks stepped into a former beauty salon at 612 N. Main Street in downtown Milton-Freewater and her imagination took over. For decades the building had welcomed clients to come, sit, get beautified and rejuvenated under the name Vera’s Beauty Salon; Hendricks decided she would make that happen once again.
 
Her vision became a reality after significant remodeling and painting. She opened Fringe Salon & Boutique on April 17th, 2015 and since then her client list has continued to grow. Working alongside Hendricks is Kim Ellis who has been a hair stylist for 17 years.
 
In addition to haircuts, styling, and coloring the salon also offers waxing, tanning, all natural pedicures, along with gel pedicures, and massage by Chelsea Davis.
 
“I love the creative aspect of hair styling. I am a people person and I really like business, so this meshes all of my passions into one,” said Hendricks who is no stranger to the business side of life in Milton-Freewater. Her grandfather was one of the first to plant wine grapes in the area, and of course Milton-Freewater is now home to a plethora of vineyards.
 
The boutique itself offers a wide variety of unique, local and regional beauty and gift items from an array of artists. Papaya Art has a full line of clutches and hand bags. Farmhouse Soaps from Miles Away Farm offer handmade moisturizers, hand soaps and lotions. Peekaboo Chic has adorable slips and stockings. Aggies candles are made with all natural soy with cotton wicks and quality fragrance oils. Chubby Chap is oversized chap stick made with coconut oil, beeswax, honey and fragrance. Fringe Boutique also has a line of cards gleaned from Etsy.
 
Born and raised in Milton-Freewater, Hendricks, after being gone away from home for eight years, is excited about the opportunities her home town is giving her.
 
Fresh out of high school Hendricks decided to be a nurse; she went to school in southern Oregon, but soon realized something about her choice of careers was missing. She ended up going to beauty school instead and this is where she truly found her passion. She graduated from the Oregon Institute of Cosmetology in Medford and could not be happier about her decision to become a cosmetologist.
 
Her career has taken her to Reno, Winnemucca, and McDermitt, Nevada where she was given the opportunity to work with diverse clientele.
 
“It was a really good learning experience,” said Hendricks.
 
She attended an intense year-long training program that according to Hendricks, defined who she is as a hair stylist.
 
Life ended up throwing some curve balls like life sometimes does and Hendricks ended up back in Milton-Freewater. She waitressed at Wildhorse for a time, and became a 911 dispatcher.
 
“I liked the job, but I wanted to be my own boss,” said Hendricks. “I knew I wanted to get back to my passion and there was a need for a full-service salon in Milton-Freewater, so I quit my cushy job. I knew 100 percent I wanted to do this; I knew I had to do this.”
 
Stop in at Fringe Salon and Boutique to see what catches your eye in this eclectic shop. Make an appointment to get your hair done, or your nails done, or maybe even to have a massage. You will be pleasantly surprised.

Community Focus: Milton Freewater

By Lori Kimbel
 
Located at the base of the Blue Mountains is the city of Milton-Freewater, which has a lot to offer whether you are a resident or someone just passing through.
 
With a growing season that lasts from May until October, Milton-Freewater is a favorite among those in one of the many agricultural fields. Orchards, wheat fields, canola fields, and vineyards are a common sight and provide an economic boost in the northeast Oregon city. Apples, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, peas, alfalfa, and corn are also grown here, and Milton-Freewater is the largest shipper of apples in Oregon.
 
With 19 wine producers, three winery facilities and a new AVA, The Rocks District, Milton-Freewater will continue to be a force in Oregon’s wine industry. If you are passing through be sure to visit one of the fine winery’s, which include Don Carlo Vineyard, Tero Estates and Flying Trout Wines, Tulpen Cellars, Watermill Winery, and Zerba Cellars. Milton-Freewater also has the Blue Mountain Cider Company and Dragon’s Gate Brewery.
 
If you are looking for a little rest and relaxation be sure to stop in at one of the wonderful parks that are found throughout Milton-Freewater. Yantis Park, Marie Dorian Park, Freewater Park and Orchard Park are all well taken care of and will offer you some peace on your travels. If you come through on a Wednesday’s from June to September, be sure to check out the Farmer’s Market at Orchard Park.
 
Fraizier Farmstead Museum is also a great place to spend some time learning about Milton-Freewater’s past.
 
Some of the unique businesses that call Milton-Freewater home are Sager Shoes, Clay in Motion Pottery Studio, 3 Diva’s Beads, Fringe Salon & Boutique and Shangri-La Boutique & Gift Store.
Shangri-La Shopportunity Sales The One!
 
Of course we can’t forget to mention the chocolate. Petite Noirs has some of the finest hand-made chocolate in the northwest. Do yourself a favor and stop in and have a taste. I am sure you will purchase extra to take home with you and share with your friends….well…maybe you will want to keep them for yourself, it’s up to you.

Oregon Maverick – Lars Larson

By Lori Kimbel
 
Lars LLars Larson is well known around the Pacific Northwest; some people hang on his every word, others are known to disagree with him adamantly, this is what makes his local talk show the most listened to radio talk show in the northwest. He does not hide from controversy and seems to thrive on those who disagree with him.
 
“You have to have the courage to go toward a purpose, not just walk around being a jackass,” said Larson. “Once you decide you have a particular set of values it is easy to have a strong opinion.”
 
At just 16 years old, Lars Larson found his calling at the Mighty 1590 KTIL radio station in Tillamook; radio has been a part of almost his entire adult life. He currently works at FM News 101 KXL from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. through Alpha Media’s Radio Northwest Network. His local show airs on 19 stations in the Pacific Northwest. He has also hosted the National Lars Larson Show since 2003, which is syndicated by Compass Media Networks to more than 100 stations.
 
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His tag line is ‘honestly provocative talk radio’. He doesn’t hold back, is not known for his shyness, and always allows ‘nay sayers’ to go to the front of the line. He touches on subjects others would rather avoid in a day-to-day conversation, such as racism, government corruptness and cover-ups as well as the subject of transgender restrooms. No topic is off limits. For a sample of a typical day be sure to visit his website at Larslarson.com where podcasts of previous shows can be listened to.
 
One of the hot topics that he likes to touch on during his talk show is the divide between urban Oregon, and rural Oregon.
 
“The numbers are in favor of the urban areas and the urban areas have no reason to attempt to understand what is going on in rural Oregon,” said Larson. “You could understand it, but I don’t think there is any incentive for people in the cities who are in positions of government to give a damn about what goes on in the rural areas of the state. They don’t see it as their constituency, and so they think they don’t have to care about it, so the result is, since they outnumber the rural side of the state, the rural side does not get represented.”
 
“There is a solution, and I can apply this to the forest at the very least, and I have proposed this for a long time. It is to have a timber dividend, to do kind of what Alaska has done, and that is when there is oil taken out of the ground in Alaska, some of the money flows into what I think is called the Alaska Permanent Fund, and that permanent fund pays a divided to every Alaska resident. At times it’s been as high as $1000 per person so a family of 4 gets a check once a year for $4000 from the permanent fund. Oregon could have same kind of dividend idea, so that every year, every person in Oregon, that was considered a permanent resident, would get a check. Now let’s say one year the check is $500 and the next year the check is $300 and you say ‘how come my permanent divided went down because I was used to getting it’ and they say ‘it’s because the politicians in Salem decided to reduce the timber that was cut’. That would have an effect on the point of view of somebody living in a city as much as it does to somebody living in the rural areas, they would say ‘hold on, why did they decided to cut back on the number of trees’ and they would say, ‘oh, because the tree huggers don’t believe in cutting trees’. I think the reaction would be ‘well hold on a second, are there plenty of trees? Could we cut at this rate forever?’ ‘Yes!’ ‘Why don’t we cut more trees so my dividend check can go back to $500 next year or to $1000’. So you can imagine some urban legislature that goes to a town hall meeting and half the people stand up and say ‘hey, how come our dividend checks are down?’ And the urbanite is used to only thinking of the problems of cities says, ‘Well I voted against the timber harvest plan because I think cutting trees is wrong, trees are beautiful.’ To which some people, sensible people, would say, ‘trees are beautiful, but you can cut them down and grow more and we get a better check’. It causes the constituency to care about it. Believe me if you go to Alaska and say let’s cut oil drilling in half in Alaska, the first thing people in Alaska are going to do is ask what is that going to do to my permanent dividend check, ‘Well it’s probably going to cut it in half, ‘Well forget that, we aren’t doing it.”
 
According to Larson, this type of dividend would affect those in the urban areas of Oregon just as much as those in the rural areas. This would cause those in the urban areas to take a new interest in what is happening in the rural portions of the state, where industries such as logging are more prevalent.
 
“I tend to disagree with an awful lot of the conventional wisdom of the state which makes me sad. I think the state has so much potential, but I think the potential is being wasted. Because there are politicians who have their own idea of how things would work best here, and it’s unfortunate, but an awful lot of what they’ve been doing, that they think works best, demonstratively works terribly, so we have a state that has an abundance of timber we don’t cut, we have an abundance of minerals we don’t dig out of the ground, we have an abundance of farming activity that we could be doing that we are not, and there is really nothing that stops any of those things from happening except politics. There is a guy named Mike McClain from central Oregon who points out that there’s an allocation of water from the Columbia River that Oregon could be taking, but the state, for some reason, chooses not to take, and he’s tried to get the legislature to sign off on increasing the allocation. He says we could open up 30,000 acres to agriculture and be growing more food, and for some reason the powers that be in Salem have decided they don’t want to do that. To me there is no sensible reason for not doing it, because if you say why shouldn’t we grow more food, more crops, and afford more employment for more people, the only reason would be that there are some people that eat a meal three times a day, but they don’t believe in agriculture, they don’t believe in growing food, they think the land would be better off if humans didn’t touch it. And I think that same logic applies to the ocean would be better off if we didn’t fish it, the forests would be better off if we didn’t cut it, and the land would be better off if we didn’t farm it, leaving Oregon to be one giant national park.”
 
At the young age of 10, Larson lost his mother, who was killed by a drunk driver. “I certainly love my mom,” said Larson. “She’s been gone now for 47 years. I think I feel responsible to live up to what I think would have been her expectations of me. I do literally think about that from time to time. I think about is what I am doing now, would that have made my mother proud.”
 
In 1983 Larson made a break from radio and went to work at KVAL television station in Eugene where right from the beginning he covered the Diane Down’s murder trial. After his stint at KVAL he began working at KPTV 12 in Portland as a reporter, and an anchor. He also produced documentaries and the NW Report. During his television career Larson worked at five different stations.
 
Radio was in his blood however and he couldn’t seem to stay away from it, so he began working at KXL radio, having a talk show during the day and then anchoring on the evening news on television at night.
Finally Larson knew he had to make a decision. He also knew that radio was so much a part of who he was, so it was an easy decision to make; he left television and began working on the radio full-time. Over the years he has work at a dozen radio stations.
 
In his personal life he has been married to his wife Tina for 19 years and they have just welcomed their first granddaughter into the world.
 
“It’s exciting, it’s wonderful, it’s fantastic, there’s nothing better,” said Larson about his new grandparent role.
 
Larson has accumulated 70 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Club. He has also received two Emmy’s and one Peabody.
 
He is currently a weekly guest on Fox News and has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, Larry King Live, Scarborough County, Fox and Friends, BBC Radio and has been a guest on countless local radio shows around the United States.

Ring of Fire Sizzles with Talent

Ring of Fire debuted this weekend at the Historic Elgin Opera House. It depicts Johnny Cash’s remarkable life story, and is told through his music.The cast and crew at the Elgin Opera House once again put on a performance that will be hard to beat. I don’t know how they do it, but they manage to improve on perfection time and again. It really was an unforgettable performance by each and every member of the cast.

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The multi-talented Ashley O’Toole. His rendition of ‘A Boy Named Sue’ was so good.

My mom always had music playing when I was a kid. Elvis, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Pardon, The Oak Ridge Boys, Alabama, Charley Pride and of course Johnny Cash. Family legend has it that my dad watched Johnny Cash perform in a wheat field before he became famous, so Johnny has been a part of my life my entire life. To experience this man, who was so troubled, so loved, so generous, and so talented, in an entirely new way was a highlight of my week, and I’ve had a dang good week.

When I know I am going to write something about the plays at the Elgin Opera House I look for the stand out actor, the one that really steals the show. Right away I knew who it was….at least I thought I did. As the show continued I realized they were all stealing the show; each and every actor gave a stand out performance; there was no best of the best. It was that good and the talent was that strong. I was however personally moved by I Still Miss Someone, performed by Jocelyn Berado and Ashley O’Toole, and Janis Carper’s rendition of Sunday Morning Coming Down was also absolutely beautiful.

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Brent Smith’s gut-wrenching rendition of ‘I Hang My Head’.

Brent and Jeannette Smith are both so talented and the Opera House is so blessed to have them as part of the Opera House family. Jeannette is always a ray of sunshine on stage and Brent’s version of Johnny Cash was completely believable. Ashley O’Toole portrayed the younger version of Johnny, and he owned the stage whenever he stepped onto it. Lyle Witherite did an amazing job with 25 Minutes to Go, and for a guy about to die he was full of energy and really left it all out on the stage.Ted Hays soulful performance of Why Me was incredible and very touching. Cry! Cry! Cry! performed by Staci Lynn Elguezabal was truly fabulous. Tucker Murphy was the master of music whether he was singing, or playing whichever instrument that happened to be in his hands. Steve Tognoli also did a stand out job each time he performed. Gia Tognoli was adorable as she sang Tennessee Flat Top Box alongside Jeannette Smith. Teresa Zyla, Maddie Hale, Abby Hale, Naomi Medly, and Gia Tognoli were great as the Carter family and Brady Morgan played the fiddle like a pro and left the audience wanting more.

The chorus was also simply amazing. This group of people sang their hearts out and they were spot on time and time again.

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Of course I cannot leave out the band. Andy Steele on drums, Roger Barnes on bass, and Luke McKern on guitar tied the performances together as they gave just the right amount of accompaniment. Their solos were amazing and I’m looking forward to watching them play again before it has run its course.

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I cannot say enough good things about Ring of Fire, or the Elgin Opera House. If you haven’t seen the play….you really need to call Carol at 541-663-6324 to reserve your tickets, and if you have seen it, for goodness sakes…go see it again, I know I am going to. Speaking of Carol, she really is an amazing woman. She works hard to make sure the seats are filled for every performance, even on those days when the world seems to be crashing down upon her. Thank you Carol for all you do for Elgin and the Elgin Opera House.

Terry Hale….Kudos my friend. You have taken this brick building that holds so many cherished memories to so many people and turned it into something even more spectacular. The play tonight was world class and I believe it is only a matter of time before the Elgin Opera House really gets discovered and become a must see Oregon destination. I am so glad that you and Stephanie decided to move to Elgin and raise your family here. You have changed the course of our beloved town and I could not be more thrilled. I’m proud to call you my friend and I am excited to see what the next ten  years brings.

Rambling Wanderer Rose

 

 

Let’s Go To Green Bridge

Eagle Cap Excursion Train 72 dpi

I love living in the place I grew up in. Sometimes I’m ready to move on, I crave some new scenery, and maybe even a new way of looking at the world, but then I have a day like today where I got invited to ride the Eagle Cap Excursion Train, and I know I’m in the only place that will ever truly be home.

The Eagle Cap Excursion Train follows the Grande Ronde River. My favorite part is when it rumbles past Green Bridge; that structure alone holds many great memories for me, from my youth, to my teenage years and as an adult. To top it off I will be heading to the Elgin Opera House tonight to watch a tribute to Johnny Cash. I am blessed to live in a town that has so much to offer and gives so much to those who come and visit us here.

From time to time when I was growing up my brother would invite me to tag along with him and his girlfriend or his friends. We traveled the back roads for miles, swam in several rivers, and hiked mountains through snow that was up to my 12-year-old hips. Memories of the green bridge and swimming in her shadow as a young girl pop into my mind as the train saunters by it. Of course so does the more recent adventure that my daughter and I had when my pickup wouldn’t start after we decided to park and take some pictures. It was getting close to dark, so we walked to where we were supposed to meet my brother who was rafting the river. He wasn’t there. We knocked on a door to one of the few houses that are in Palmer Junction. Thankfully the gentleman there gave us a ride back to our truck and even got it started for us once again.

Green Bridge and Hannah

Hannah trying to scare me. I just knew a cougar, bear, or wolf was going to come and get her. She thought I was crazy. Eighteen year olds do not listen as well as their 3-year-old selves used to. Of all the memories I have of Green Bridge, this is my favorite. One of our last adventures together before she headed of to college at WSU.

During the train ride we went as far as the primitive park in Palmer Junction. I pointed out to a friend the large fence post I usually stand behind to keep from getting trampled by one of the horses that are robbing the train during the Elgin Stampeder’s Train Robbery. For five years I’ve been going along to record the wild event on film, not actual film, but you know….digital. Half of the people ride the train, the others rob the train. When all is said and done and the train whistle has faded into the distance we all get together, in the middle of our beautiful woods and share all of the fun that has taken place in the hour or so that the group has spent in two different places. Gone are the thoughts of the morning that ‘this will be our last train robbery’, the reaction from the passengers makes all the hard work worth while. After an hour or two together the group heads back to town. There is food to be cooked for the annual Elgin High School Alumni Banquet, and these rough and tumble cowboys and cowgirls are the ones that do it each and every year.

Stella Rose

On the trip back today I was lucky enough to have the open air train car to myself. That sentence doesn’t even sound like me…I really enjoy people, but the solitude, the rocking of the train as it made its way down the tracks, the sound of the river and the wind in my hair was just what I needed. My thoughts were filled with melancholy moments of my youth. I find it funny that youthful memories are so memorable. I’ve had a lot of memories since the time I was 18, but I find time and again as I walk around town, or drive in the woods, it is those memories of my youth that stir my soul and awaken new thoughts and ideas about life in the past, life in the moment, and life in the future.

Me on the train

I’m truly blessed in my life. I have a wonderful family, the absolute best friends a girl could ever hope for, and a community that’s sole purpose is to bring joy to the people passing through. Elgin, Oregon, where you enter as a stranger and leave as a friend.

Rambling Wanderer Rose

Friendly Encounters

 

Have you ever had on of those weeks where everything just came together? I had the good fortune of spending five days in Pendleton, Oregon, home of Eastern Oregon’s signature event, the Pendleton Round-Up. The Round-Up wasn’t happening at the time, but good old fashioned Pendleton hospitality was alive and well at the Oregon Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

As I sat with 450 of my newest friends on Tuesday morning I had time to reflect on the events that had taken place over the course of the last five days. I was amazed at the chance encounters that will no doubt turn into solid, meaningful friendships. Equally amazing was the sense of family I encountered. This group of people, who are all part of the travel industry in one way or another, are all there and held together with a common thread, the love of Oregon. I could have not been more thrilled to be surrounded by hundreds of people who love this great state as much as I do.

The conference itself was one of the best conferences I have ever gone to, but it really was so much more than that. I have been going through some pretty significant life-altering events lately and to take some time to connect with both new and old friends was invaluable at this stage of my journey through life. I learned so much about the way the universe works and God’s role in my life. I’ve realized I am racing through this stage as each day brings completely new experiences, both good and bad; it is as if my life is on fast forward and I don’t know how to slow it down, if I should, or what is coming at the end of this particular road.

Rambling Wanderer Rose

It was great to be able to go to the home of one of my very best friends and relive the moments of each day, as she graciously allowed me to sleep over at her house, so I did not have to make the trip back to Elgin each night. We stayed up too late, laughed just as much as we normally do, cried a few tears, talked about how angry life can make us and once again became closer friends. I cannot imagine her not in my life, friends since second grade, she has been the one constant in my life through every single stage….I don’t think I would even know how to do life if it weren’t for her. Of course we talked about ‘Sharing the Laughter’ tour….and I believe we are going to start a podcast soon……stay tuned, it should be entertaining, at least to our other friends that are as crazy as we are and love us no matter what kind of fools we might make of ourselves….so you four friends, you know who you are, be ready with your words of encouragement. I’m still working on the title of the podcast, but I was thinking about ‘Sharing the Laughter, a business podcast that will make you smile.’ …..hmmm, it might still need some work…How about ‘Sharing the Laughter – A Uniquely Oregon experience’…. I like that one better.

Since graduating from EOU last month I have been trying to live exactly how life comes at me….that’s not the right way to say it…as life envelopes me. It has been nice to walk in the right direction, without realizing what the right direction is until it is laid out in front of me…one step at a time.

One of my newest friends recommended a book to me this weekend, The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho. A quote from this book sums up the last five days, and the new friendships I am so honored to be a part of: “Important encounters are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other”.

The photo above is one of my favorites from the weekend. A tribute to Prince by Dan, along with a dance floor full of   new friends.  The photos below are Susie, Cristie and myself along with Brooks, me, and Liz. Great people that I am looking forward to a lifetime of memories with.

I do want to give a special shout out to Todd Davidson and his team from Travel Oregon. What an amazing group of people. You all put on one heck of a conference. Also, thank you to all of the wonderful people from the town of Pendleton, you are NE Oregon and I am proud to call you my neighbors, as well as my friends.

Be sure to check out my new logo in the middle of the page. I have had this in my mind for months and finally got it created this morning. I am very excited about it. Have a great day, cherish your friendships and love one another.

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My View – 2016 is in Full Swing

These first couple months of 2016 have proven to be quite eventful to say the least, and we are covering some of those events on the following pages.
 
I hope you enjoy the article on the situation in Harney County, written by University of Oregon professor, Peter Walker, for Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I think his article covers it well. I know the issue of ownership of public lands runs deep and wide and has many facets along the way, I hope those on both sides can find common ground someday. As for Harney County, which is known as a model for the public and private entities working well together, my hope is that they can put the pieces back together, mend friendships, and relationships, and continue working together for the greater good like they have in the past. As for the occupiers, it is my view they went so far over the line they lost all credibility.
 
Other items in the news lately include the minimum wage increase in Oregon. This is one of those issues that everyone also has very strong opinions about. Many businesses believe it will ruin them, while others see it as a challenge to make their company that much stronger. I hope it bolsters an economic revival in Oregon, but it seems like that might be a long shot. Only time will tell.
 
While attending the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Economic Luncheon I was able to visit with one of the gubernatorial candidates for Oregon, Bud Pierce, M.D., Ph.D. He was raised in a close-knit family in a farming community and now resides in Salem. When he was just 14-years-old his father passed away from a heart attack, an event that would indeed change his life. As a teenager Pierce got a job at the Air Force Base Market working as a bagboy only for tips. For Pierce this solidified how important work is, and he realized how much bagging groceries and being a doctor has in common. “You need to know your craft, the more you work the more you get paid, and you need to be nice to people,” he said. Pierce feels as the time he spent working as a teenager was invaluable and believes teenagers today need those same opportunities. Our visit was relaxed, yet packed with vision, and insightfulness. Pierce has four key motivations in his life, building his business, serving his community, his children and philanthropy. If Pierce becomes the Governor of Oregon I do believe he will accomplish a lot for the good of our State. “I’m not running to be governor, I’m running to govern,” he told me.
 
I would like to invite any political candidate who would like to share their vision with me to please contact me at lorikimbel@neobn.com
 
Another interesting life story is that of Tim Sieber, the new president of SeaPort Airlines. Like Pierce, Sieber also began working at the age of 14. He went from scrubbing airplanes to becoming the president of an airline. Amazing situations can happen when a person has a strong work ethic. Be sure to read all about Joseph Hardware and Kruse Family Dentistry as well, more fine examples of strong work ethics.
 
On pages 14 and 15 you can read about some great things happening in the art community here in NE Oregon. Kelly Ducote has just become the new executive director for the Liberty Theater Foundation in La Grande and the NE Oregon region joins Americans for Art’s National Study of Economic Impact. Arts are so vital to the health and well-being of an area and I am so glad that so many Oregon Historical Theaters are being pulled back from the brink of destruction. Thank you to the Liberty Theater Foundation for all the hard work that has gone into saving and restoring this gem.
 
Speaking of theater, my husband, Mark, and I attended the live production of My Fair Lady at the Historic Elgin Opera House last night and I was completely blown away, once again, by the talent that graces this stage play after play. Rene Wells played Eliza Doolittle and did an amazing job. Let me tell you, this lady can sing! And dance, and perform. Great job Rene Wells. Then there was Brent Clapp of Brent Clapp Media in La Grande, who played Professor Higgins. What a fabulous actor from start to finish. I am looking forward to him playing a part in many plays to come. Kenn Wheeler played Alfie Doolittle, and there has never been a more charming intoxicated gentleman. Colonel Pickering, played by Terry Hale, was comical and delightful. This list of great acting does go on and on. In addition to the acting I must give a ‘shout out’ to the costume designer of this production, Denise Wheeler. The outfits were beautiful and the ladies hats were amazing. Of course I cannot leave out the sets. They seemed to be straight out of Broadway. To the cast and crew of My Fair Lady, great job all the way around. Oh, I guess I better not leave out the director, Michael Frasier, for without him there would just be a lot of people, dressed up wonderfully, wandering aimlessly on stage.
 
As for myself, I am finally drawing close to the end of my educational journey at Eastern Oregon University. Just three weeks to go and I will have earned my Bachelors in Business in Leadership, Organization, Management and Marketing. It has been an amazing process and I am ready to put all I have learned into making Studio 6 Designworks the best publishing and marketing business it can be. I am looking forward to not having homework, which competes with what I am trying to accomplish with Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I want to spend more time updating my blog as well. With the time I spend traveling and attending great events I would like to share some of my experiences with those that follow along at www.ramblingwanderer.com
 
Until next time, Carpe Diem…….Lori

My View for March-April Issue of Northeast Oregon Business News

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This is my letter to the readers of Northeast Oregon Business News.

 
These first couple months of 2016 have proven to be quite eventful to say the least, and we are covering some of those events on the following pages.
 
I hope you enjoy the article on the situation in Harney County, written by University of Oregon professor, Peter Walker, for Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I think his article covers it well. I know the issue of ownership of public lands runs deep and wide and has many facets along the way, I hope those on both sides can find common ground someday. As for Harney County, which is known as a model for the public and private entities working well together, my hope is that they can put the pieces back together, mend friendships, and relationships, and continue working together for the greater good like they have in the past. As for the occupiers, it is my belief they went so far over the line they lost all credibility.
 
Other items in the news lately include the minimum wage increase in Oregon. This is one of those issues that everyone also has very strong opinions about. Many businesses believe it will ruin them, while others see it as a challenge to make their company that much stronger. I hope it bolsters an economic revival in Oregon, but it seems like that might be a long shot. Only time will tell.
 
While attending the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce Economic Luncheon I was able to visit with one of the gubernatorial candidates for Oregon, Bud Pierce, M.D., Ph.D. He was raised in a close-knit family in a farming community and now resides in Salem. When he was just 14-years-old his father passed away from a heart attack, an event that would indeed change his life. As a teenager Pierce got a job at the Air Force Base Market working as a bagboy only for tips. For Pierce this solidified how important work is, and he realized how much bagging groceries and being a doctor has in common. “You need to know your craft, the more you work the more you get paid, and you need to be nice to people,” he said. Pierce feels as the time he spent working as a teenager was invaluable and believes teenagers today need those same opportunities. Our visit was relaxed, yet packed with vision, and insightfulness. Pierce has four key motivations in his life, building his business, serving his community, his children and philanthropy. If Pierce becomes the Governor of Oregon I do believe he will accomplish a lot for the good of our State. “I’m not running to be governor, I’m running to govern,” he told me.
 
I would like to invite any political candidate who would like to share their vision with me to please contact me at lorikimbel@neobn.com
 
Another interesting life story is that of Tim Sieber, the new president of SeaPort Airlines. Like Pierce, Sieber also began working at the age of 14. He went from scrubbing airplanes to becoming the president of an airline. Amazing situations can happen when a person has a strong work ethic. Be sure to read all about Joseph Hardware and Kruse Family Dentistry as well, more fine examples of strong work ethics.
 
On pages 14 and 15 you can read about some great things happening in the art community here in NE Oregon. Kelly Ducote has just become the new executive director for the Liberty Theater Foundation in La Grande and the NE Oregon region joins Americans for Art’s National Study of Economic Impact. Arts are so vital to the health and well-being of an area and I am so glad that so many Oregon Historical Theaters are being pulled back from the brink of destruction. Thank you to the Liberty Theater Foundation for all the hard work that has gone into saving and restoring this gem.
 
Speaking of theater, my husband, Mark, and I attended the live production of My Fair Lady at the Historic Elgin Opera House last night and I was completely blown away, once again, by the talent that graces this stage play after play. Rene Wells played Eliza Doolittle and did an amazing job. Let me tell you, this lady can sing! And dance, and perform. Great job Rene Wells. Then there was Brent Clapp of Brent Clapp Media in La Grande, who played Professor Higgins. What a fabulous actor from start to finish. I am looking forward to him playing a part in many plays to come. Kenn Wheeler played Alfie Doolittle, and there has never been a more charming intoxicated gentleman. Colonel Pickering, played by Terry Hale, was comical and delightful. This list of great acting does go on and on. In addition to the acting I must give a ‘shout out’ to the costume designer of this production, Denise Wheeler. The outfits were beautiful and the ladies hats were amazing. Of course I cannot leave out the sets. They seemed to be straight out of Broadway. To the cast and crew of My Fair Lady, great job all the way around. Oh, I guess I better not leave out the director, Michael Frasier for without him there would just be a lot of people, dressed up wonderfully, wandering around on stage.
 
As for myself, I am finally drawing close to the end of my educational journey at Eastern Oregon University. Just three weeks to go and I will have earned my Bachelors in Business in Leadership, Organization, Management and Marketing. It has been an amazing process and I am ready to put all I have learned into making Studio 6 Designworks the best publishing and marketing business it can be. I am looking forward to not having homework, which competes with what I am trying to accomplish with Northeast Oregon Business News and The Gorge Business News. I hope to spend more time updating my blog as well. I spend a lot of time traveling and attending great events and would like to share some of those experiences and photos with those that follow along at www.ramblingwanderer.com .
 
Until next time, Carpe Diem…….Lori

My Fair Lady

My Fair Lady

I attended the live production of My Fair Lady at the Historic Elgin Opera House last night and I was completely blown away, once again, by the talent that graces this stage play after play.

Rene Wells played Eliza Doolittle and did an amazing job. Let me tell you, this lady can sing! And dance, and perform. Great job Rene Wells.

Then there was Brent Clapp of Brent Clapp Media in La Grande, who played Professor Higgins. What a fabulous actor from start to finish. I am looking forward to him playing a part in many plays to come.

Kenn Wheeler played Alfie Doolittle, and there has never been a more charming intoxicated gentleman.

Colonel Pickering, played by Terry Hale, was comical and delightful.

This list of great acting does go on and on. In addition to the acting I must give a ‘shout out’ to the costume designer of this production, Denise Wheeler. The outfits were beautiful and the ladies hats were amazing.

Of course I cannot leave out the sets. They seemed to be straight out of Broadway.

To the cast and crew of My Fair Lady, great job all the way around.

Oh, I guess I better not leave out the director, Michael Frasier for without him there would just be a lot of people, dressed up wonderfully, wandering around on stage.

The MAX, What a Pleasant Surprise

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Portland, Portlandia, The Rose City. I was here. All day long, I was here, in Portland, the Rose City, and once again she made me proud to be an Oregonian.

It was amazing day in the city, even when we stepped out of the Smith Memorial Student Union Building and felt as if we had entered a recreation of the movie The Birds, it was still amazing. The onslaught of ravens was short lived and until I began writing this they had drifted from my consciousness. It was the only piece of the day that was a bit odd, the rest was wonderful.

People were friendly, the food was delicious, and the transportation system in Portland was not the one I had imagined, the one that is depicted on the news. I was so pleasantly surprised at how clean the trolley and the MAX were, and how normal the people looked that shared this mode of transportation with me throughout the day. It wasn’t scary, not even in the evening as we made our way toward our final destination for the night. What a great way to explore the city.

It was my first experience with the MAX, but it will not be my last.

Oh, and the young men in the photo, I have no idea who they are, but wanted to capture them on ‘film’, so I did.

My Cup Runneth Over

Wallowa lake Fountain

Today was one of those great days when I really appreciate the work I do. I was able to drive to Wallowa County, which a visit to Wallowa County is a blessing all in itself, and visit with a few of the people that make this corner of Oregon special.

My ‘job’ allows me to make connections time and time again. Connections that start with a simple conversation and turn into lifelong aquaintenceships, and often times life long friendships. I am truly blessed and completely felt as if my cup runneth over with the joy of meeting new friends along this journey I am on.

I feel so honored that people let me in, and share with me some of their most private thoughts and dreams. Over the years I have had so many people share their triumphs with me as well as their heartaches. I always walk away from my new found friendships with a deeper perspective on life and a new appreciation for what entrepreneurs endure as they start, maintain and keep their dream business afloat.

As I wandered and rambled today I met with five people who shared their stories with me. I encountered joy, enthusiasm, pride, humbleness, warmth and friendship. Today was a good day, a day where my cup of friendship most definitely runneth over. Thank you to the 5 that added so much to my life today.

A Waddling Wanderer

bird prints

I came across these little bird foot prints as I was rushing to a community meeting this week. They were little and cute and seemed to trample the snow that I seem to despise this year. They took away some of the hatred for the white stuff I’d been feeling this winter.

I don’t always hate winter, but this year I did, I do, I am….hating it I mean. I’ve felt trapped by it when all I want to do is be able to venture out into a more exciting world. It’s holding me back, but I resent it less with each passing day that takes me closer to spring.

I am glad the little waddling wanderer happened to stop by. 🙂

From There to Where….Only Time Will Tell

The pictures in today’s post are a bit haunting to me. I’m sure we all have those times in our lives when we feel a little Twirly Treesempty and stripped of our warmth for life. Why was I put into this world on the day I was born? Why not a century sooner, or later? Why wasn’t I born in a third world country, where food is scares and loves is even more so? Why was I chosen to live the charmed life I have lived? Questions…there are always a million questions in a day.

These images somehow captured what I was feeling in some of the moments of today; tomorrow it will be sunshine and roses that will capture my mood I am sure, but today these are it.

I live in a house empty of children. I became an empty nester this year and I am finding it strange and a little hard to get used to at times. Like today, when I captured the image of the old, empty, beaten up house, with broken windows and no love inside.

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Almost my entire adult life I have spent raising kids. Good kids, sad kids, wonderful kids, bratty kids, sporty kids, beautiful kids, noisy kids, quiet kids, sneaky kids, funny kids, rambunctious kids, troubled kids, wet kids, party-going kids, Jesus worshiping kids, hell-raising kids, basketball playing kids, softball throwing kids, prom-going kids, racing up the stairs kids, running around in circle kids, kids that woke me up at night, kids that woke me up in the morning, kids that wouldn’t shut up, kids that wouldn’t talk, kids that loved me, kids that hated me, kids that I will never stop loving until the day I die and probably not even then. I actually only have five kids, but throughout the past 29 years I’ve experience all those kinds of kids within my five.

And now they are done at my house. Sure there are visits, but come on, we all know that a two day visit is nothing like living together. We can’t get under each others skin that fast, we can’t really get to know whats going on with each other that fast…..but that’s okay. This is the way life is supposed to be. Kids grow up, they move on and with any luck at all they have become decent human beings, ready to change the world, each in their own individual way.

For me I could not be more proud. I was blessed to be a mom to five wonderful children. And even though each and every day had it’s own set of struggles, triumphs, and challenges, I would not change the choices I made when I decided to become a parent. It was, and still is one of the greatest decisions of my life.

But now I’m left with these, these haunting images that compare to a life that  was once so full and is now so quiet, and  trying to learn how to navigate a new path; One that is not near as noisy, or as exhausting, but one with its own set of challenges just the same.

I know this is a temporary feeling, my life is beyond full of other things like school, a business, friends, community, the list goes on. But for today I will embrace this feeling of emptiness, only because I know new things are coming, new ways for my life to fell complete are just around the corner. I just wanted to acknowledge this place I am at as I transition from my past role in life into my next.

Oh, and just so you know…my next role… the one coming up… the one I’m about to step into….it’s going to be fabulous. Stay tuned.

 

Prayers for Peace for Harney County

 

Rysdam House Flag With Harney County

I’ve had mixed emotions today over what transpired on Hwy 395 last night. The leaders of the armed militia group have been taken into custody, unfortunately one of them was hell bent on dying in Oregon. He vowed to take his last breathe here. I feel sorry for his wife and his children. I feel sorry for the person who pulled the trigger when the man, who seemed to want nothing more than to die for the cause he believed in, rushed at them because he would rather bleed to death than go to jail.

I realized today that it was like they had taken Oregon hostage. Why they decided to fight in our backyard and not their own I will probably never know.

My heart aches for the people who live in the communities of Harney County. I cannot imagine what their life has been like for the last three weeks, when these people, most of which are not from Oregon, decided to take over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge buildings.

I live in a small town in NE Oregon. I love my community. I have wonderful friends here, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I have different ideas of how things should be compared to my neighbors and friends, and that is okay. We go to the same functions, attend bar-b-ques together, care about the same people, and our discussions about our differences of opinion are few and far between, but we’ve never had to face what the people in Harney County are facing. We haven’t had armed people camping in our backyard. We haven’t had to voice our opinions and our support for or against a group of people that are trying to make a stand for what they believe in. I can’t imagine the sleepless nights, the stress of having armed men, on both sides of the law, traipsing about town, the harassment of towns people who just want the occupiers to go back to their own home towns, and the heated discussions that have taken place on all sides of the issues that lead up to the occupation in the first place.

My hope is that once this is over the people from Harney County and the surrounding areas can go back to the way of life they know and love. I hope friendships heal, I hope the stress slips away, I hope they will continue to feel proud that they live in Eastern Oregon, and I hope they know how many of us on this side of the state have worried and prayed for their safety. And above all else I wish them the peace that comes from living in Eastern Oregon. The peace that surrounds us with a cool evening breeze after a hot summer day. The peace that comes from the beauty we see each and every day. The peace of knowing that through it all we have friends that are still standing by our side.

My prayers are with you Harney County. May you be safe, may you be strong, may you soon find peace.

Walking in Winter

Elgin Opera House

The middle of January doesn’t always mean weather nice enough to go for a walk in, so when the sun popped out and the warmth came along with it, it was a perfect recipe for a walk around our small town.

We chit chatted while we walked, checked the mail, talked about the nice weather and wondered where our life is taking us.

Change is in the air. It’s uncomfortable and awkward….that’s a weird word….awkward.

Tomorrow’s a new day. The beginning of my fourth week of my very last term for college. I’m so ready to finish! Yes, change is in the air.

Elgin PGG Building

Hood River at Night

Hood River Hotel
 
 
I don’t know exactly what it is about Hood River that I love so much, it just has that special something. It seems like I always arrive in Hood River after most of the shops around downtown are closed for the evening, but that doesn’t stop me from walking around looking through their windows. It’s peaceful in Hood River, and I have had so many good experiences there that it just soothes my soul to be there.

Tonight was not any different. We arrived to late to visit any shops, but it was perfect timing to grab a quick bite to eat at El Rio before heading over to the Starlight Theater.

It was our first time going to the Starlight. Chalk up another great experience to Hood River. Not sure what to expect, we walked in and were surprised at what we saw. Comfortable recliners in place of regular theater seating. People were enjoying pizza, wine and beer. The atmosphere was contagious. People were chatting and laughing, everyone was having a great time enjoying each others company before the movie started.

We actually went and saw Revenant, and even though it was pretty intense and beyond my threshold for gore, I enjoyed the movie. It was one of those that really made you think about life, injustice, revenge, dying, and acting. It certainly deserves the awards it has received.

After the movie we strolled, yes, strolled through town. I love taking pictures of store window displays and Hood River has some great ones.

We finally turned in for the evening. Making our way up to the 3rd floor of the Hood River Hotel for a quick nights sleep before heading toward the Oregon Coast in the morning.

Chance Meetings

Chance meetings are always so much fun. While delivering the Jan/Feb 2016 issue of NEOBN I happened to walk toward a young man on my way back to where my car was parked. I smiled and said, “Hello, how are you?” He smiled back and said he was cold, he acted like he wanted to say more. I asked where he was from as I spied the Arizona license plate on the rig he was standing near. I’m from Europe, but I live in Hawaii. We talked more, I found out he was heading to Utah. I gave him a copy of my paper and said, “maybe you will want to write an article about your travels.” “I am a writer,” he said. “I have a blog.” Chance meetings are always so interesting and they never seem like chance by the time they are through.

 

Happy New Year – I’m Ready for 2016

The beginning of a new year is always so exciting to me. I’m never sorry to see an old year go, sometimes I am sentimental about it, other times I’ve been ready to put the year behind me without so much as a small glance back, but I have never felt the need to hold onto a year so much that I don’t look forward to the promise of what the bright shine new one holds. I always enter the New Year with all of the excitement of a 6-year-old on Christmas morning.

2016 holds much promise. In spite of what many would like us all to believe, violent crime is down 16.2% since the 2005 level, according to the FBI’s Crime in the United States data. It is easy, in an election year especially, to start feeling as if our world is falling apart. Yes, bad things are going to happen, but I plan to keep marching on, without listening to much of the rhetoric, as I try to make a difference in our business community.

I live in a small town, so the police, the firemen and the emergency medical personnel are more than the heroes that keep us safe, they are my friends and I would like to express my most sincere appreciation for the work they volunteer to do. For more than 60 years the Elgin Fire Department has given Santa a ride through the streets of Elgin, so he can stop in at each house and pay a quick visit to all the little people in town. It is a very special tradition and I appreciate those that still make this happen year after year.

I hope that 2016 finds each and every one of you with a new sense of excitement on what the New Year holds for you. May your friends be many and your troubles be few. May your business prosper and your life be full of all the things you love, whether that be travel, fishing, camping, socializing, or just relaxing. I hope our paths cross along the way and until then Happy New Year.

I am who I am because of the people I grew up with

Jul 22, 2015

Thirty years ago a group of us graduated from a small town school in NE Oregon. There were 38, 39 or 40 0f us, the actual number has been debated every time we get together. As with all classes across America, some of us were there from the “get-go”, others joined along the way, but each and every one had an impact on me in one way or another.

I’m a pretty positive person. It takes a lot to bring me down and even less to give me a high. During our get-together I mentioned that I thought one of my classmates husbands thinks I’ve had too much to drink at our annual Elgin Stampede each year. I just explained that is just me and I am just high on Stampede. The amount of friends gathered in one place is amazing and makes me feel as if I am on cloud 9 all weekend long.

Many of us attended our reunion this year. Far more came from miles away while only a few came from the town we grew up in, a phenomenon I have yet to understand.

As I visited with these adult versions of the kids I went to school with I noticed a common theme; everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. No one seemed to be judging anyone, or wondering what they were thinking behind the smiles, or thinking about the quickest way to leave the bbq. People were happy to relive the memories that were made 30 and 40 years prior.

The quiet ones were still a bit quiet, and the loud ‘one’ was still the loud ‘one’. LOL.

These people, from the time I was 6 years old, taught me how to cry, how to laugh, how to lean on someone, how to run from someone, how to dodge a dodgeball, how to be mean and spiteful, how to be loving, how to be forgiving, how to be jealous, how to be hurt, how to grieve, how to forgive and how to live. Without their guidance through life I would not be the person that I have become and I will be forever grateful.

In Loving Memory of Forrest Andrews

Forest Andrews 2

Forest Andrews
My husband and I were visiting Hood River Tuesday night and while we were walking through downtown we heard a commotion of sorts, so I convinced him to go exploring with me to see what was going on. We walked into a parking lot that overlooked a side street. The street was lined with young people. For a few moments I thought this was a normal gathering of Hood River young people, something they did each summer night. I was fascinated and took pictures of this mini culture, one I obviously knew nothing about, but it seemed special and most definitely picture worthy. I worried they might get angry at me taking pictures, a few glanced my way, but let me intrude without saying a word. After taking about six pictures I suddenly realized this was not a normal gathering. A young lady with a bouquet of flowers welcomed a hug from a friend as she wiped away her tears. I immediately put down my camera and told my husband it was time to go, we had intruded long enough on something we knew nothing about, something so special to the people involved and I had a feeling it was something tragic. The next morning we drove down the street before leaving town, it was then we learned about Forest. I found this page on Facebook and wanted to share the photos I took. I hope they are special to all of you, but by all means if you do not want them on here then please take them down. I have been out of high school for many years, and unfortunately, like you all, lost a close friend just after high school. We still toast him at every reunion, tell stories about him, laugh at his memory and cry because we hate it that he isn’t here with us today. I will forever be changed by the sight of all of you sharing your love for Forest, spending time together in his honor and helping each other through the pain. I wish you all peace. Sincerely, Lori.

Wheatstock

>Wheatstock was amazing! Is there really anything better than live music on a Saturday night?

Okay, it may not have been woodstock, but look out Oregon, I think Wheatstock has the potential to be one of Oregon’s signiture events in the coming years.

With a love for music, a love for a small town in northeast Oregon, and the kids that call Helix home, the volunteers of Wheatstock will continue to make this event better and better each year.

Now back to live music on a Saturday night, how could it get any better? Well, throw in a beer garden, the smell of fresh cut wheat, a grass lawn to dance into the night on, free camping, and headliner Stoney LaRue, and you have got yourself a Saturday night, northeast Oregon style.

Great local bands played into the night at the Helix arena, a precurser to Stoney LaRue, whose album, Velvet will be released August 30.

If you weren’t able to make it to this years Wheatstock, be sure to put it on your calendar for next year. You will not be disappointed in the amount of entertainment the fine people of Helix have in store for the 2012 event.

Wheatstock came about like so many great events, a couple friends got to talking, and while sitting in the Rainbow Tavern, in Pendleton, Oregon, those two men began to dream.
Those men were Duane Dunlap and Jef Farley.
Both with musical backgrounds, both from northeast Oregon, the two men chatted.
“Hey, let’s put on a music festival,” said Duane Dunlap. “I think we could make it work.”
The dream became a reality and they called it Wheatstock.
Dunlap, who was coaching the Helix basketball team at the time, knew there were a lot of great people in Helix. People that would help put on a great show for the people who came to watch.
Helix High School has roughly 60 kids enrolled. It is a 1A school which has a pep band as well as a full band program, thanks in part to the people who have put on Wheatstock for the past five years.
“Music is important to young people and we are going to do our best to keep it going,” said Dunlap.

If Winter is Around the Corner…Don’t Go Swimming in Wallowa Lake

One of my very favorite places to visit is Wallowa Lake. Whether it is summertime, when the place is buzzing with activity, the spring, when the snow is still on the ground, the dead of winter, when the entire lake sometimes freezes over, or in the fall, when the crowds have gone and peace and quiet once again descends on the area.

For those of you who have never been to Wallowa Lake I urge you to go. It is such a unique place and every season is so different from the next, that no matter when you go it will be a unique experience.
For those of you who have only visited in the summer, I highly suggest going in late fall or early winter. The lake, always a beautiful sight to see, is amazing when the nearby mountains are covered in snow.

Any time of year there is plenty to do while visiting Wallowa Lake. The nearby shops are always enjoyable to visit, and the restaurants offer a variety of delicious dining opportunities. Mini golf, para sailing, fishing, boating, horseback riding, and hiking are some of the most popular activities to explore while at Wallowa Lake.

The Wallowa Lake Tramway, which first began in 1970, will take visitors 3700′ to the top of Mount Howard.

The Wallowa Lake Lodge is an excellent place to turn in for the night after an active day around the lake. Built in the early 1920’s Wallowa Lake Lodge offers 22 rooms and also has eight cabins on the property.

 

Last fall, Mark, Hannah and I decided to take the boat to Wallowa Lake. Hannah wanted to swim one last time before winter, and I thought it would be great for Mark to drop us off at one of the many floating docks that are on the lake.

Now I’m not sure if these docks are for public use or not. I always thought they were, but when I came home and told my son about our adventure, he assured me these docks were privately owned. So if that is the case then I assure whoever owns this dock we lounged on, we did not in any way cause any damage, and we really appreciate you letting us borrow it for that hour.

Now it would seem that Hannah and I would have a great time swimming, and visiting, and just hanging out together on this day, but we didn’t! Furthermore, that lake is so dang cold I don’t know how I didn’t come out of it without frostbite for as long as I was trapped in that lake! Yes, trapped! I was trapped in Wallowa Lake, while Hannah stood on the dang borrowed dock laughing her head off at her mother, who was freezing her fanny off!

It all started off so great. Mark dropped us off at the dock and sailed away, he most likely was looking forward to some peaceful fishing.

Hannah and I started talking about getting in the lake. We knew it was cold, which meant the only way to go swimming was to jump right in. There was no getting used to it little by little, because we were in who knows how many feet of water, we could not see the bottom at all. The dock sat about two feet above the water, which let us dip our feet in, but that was about it. We knew it was all or nothing.

Hannah began explaining to me that the way she gets used to water is she jumps in and makes sure her head goes under, because once her head goes under she is instantly used to it…..uh huh!

I decided to go first. Now if it was twenty years ago, you bet I would have dove in, head first, but I’m not that skinny little, in shape, young lady I once was, so I scooted to the edge of the dock and began lowering myself in, then took the plunge.

Oh….my….gosh!!! I have never felt anything so cold in all my life. It sucked my breath away in an instant, to the point I could barely talk. All the while Hannah is screaming at me “Put your head under. Put your head under.” I wanted to smack her. I tried putting my head under, but the life jacket I had decided to put on at the last second before entering the water, prevented me from doing so. By this time Hannah is dry, warm, and dying laughing. I reach for the dock, because I have decided that this isn’t any fun, I don’t want to swim anymore and I’m getting out. Only…..I can’t get out. The dock is to tall and there are no foot holds to help a person, who is in the beginning stages of hypothermia, climb back up onto the dock. As a suggestion to the people who own these docks, who are probably young, skinny and in shape, maybe you should put a ladder on the dock just in case some chubby ol’ lady decides to go swimming from your dock in September and can’t get back on the dock….Just a thought.

“I can’t get out Hannah, call your dad,” I tell Hannah.

“I don’t have cell phone service,” she says, still chuckling.

“No, just yell, ‘Hey Dad’!”

So she yells, he asks if he needs to hurry. I tell her to tell him no, he doesn’t need to hurry. Well he took that as he could just finish fishing.

By this point I’m just not a happy camper, oh and Hannah decided to jump into the lake too. So now she too is stuck in the lake and cold, but still can’t stop laughing at her mother who I’m sure was turning blue by this time.
Finally Mark arrives at the dock and saves the day.

The bruises I got from being dragged up onto the dock lasted for more than a month. I told my story for two weeks. Hannah laughed every time she thought of her mother stuck in Wallowa Lake for at least three days, and the Pendleton Whiskey I drank after my ordeal, was gone in minutes.

So if you go to Wallowa Lake remember, the water is cold, the docks might not be for public use and the memories you make will last a lifetime.

Stella Rose Gang Rides Again

“There’s gonna be blood,” Midge Baker sneered as he stared down the railroad tracks at Lookingglass Crossing. His knuckles white from the grip he had on his rifle.

            “Midge, relax,” Creb Baker said. Creb knew Midge was like a loose cannon and knowing there were innocent men, women and children on the trailer set Creb on edge. “You’ve got to stay focused Midge. We are here for one reason and one reason only, to get Stella away from the Marshall and off of the train. There does not need to be any senseless killing! Ya hear?”

            Midge kicked the dirt. With 15 years of experience on God’s green earth, he knew his way around. He was getting sick and tired of his older brother’s constant advice. If someone on that train tried to stop him from getting Stella, well, they were going to die.

For several years the Stella Rose Gang has been robbing the Eagle Cap Excursion Train, and for the last two years I have been lucky enough to be invited along to take pictures of the event.
I am currently working on a book about the Stella Rose Gang and will incorporate all my pictures with it.
The Eagle Cap Excursion Train’s 63 miles of track, meanders along the Grand Ronde and Wallowa Rivers, connecting the small communities of Elgin, Wallowa, Enterprise and Joseph.

Ellie’s Day

The first annual Ellie’s Day was held at Inkwood Iron and Gifts on Saturday, January 22, 2011. Ellie has been at the Boise hospital for more than two weeks. She has been very ill and of course the expenses have been growing every day. So we at Inkwood decided to have a day just for Ellie. We invited everyone we saw, and all our friends on facebook, and we hung flyers around town. All profits on this day will go to Ellie and her husband.
 
Ellie’s Day at Inkwood Iron & Gifts went great! We had such a great turnout. So many of Ellie’s family and friends showed up to help support her, it was just amazing.

Debi and I were busy all day long. People came in and visited, and we talked about how Ellie was doing. The atmosphere was very uplifting and I hope that Ellie was able to feel the positive energy heading her way from Elgin to Boise.
We had a scrapbook on the table and everyone was able to sign it and leave their well wishes in it. It was an amazing day. When all was said and done, all of Ellie’s friends and family bought enough items in the store that they raised $442 for Ellie in six short hours.
 
More of Ellie’s friends have been organizing a steak feed and auction, which will be held at the Elgin Stampede Grounds on February 26, 2011. Auction items can be dropped off at Inkwood Iron & Gifts.
 
Elgin, Oregon is a great place to live. The people are warm, caring, and some of the greatest people I know call this place home.
 
Inkwood Iron & Gifts is located at 825 Division Street in Elgin, Oregon.

Mackenzie River Pizza Co.

Our first experience with MacKenzie River Pizza Co. was in Missoula, Montana. The atmosphere was great, the waiter was enjoyable to visit with, and the food was outstanding.
 
We started off with their blue corn chips and salsa. Before we got filled up on chips our pizza arrived, and between the three of us, we ate every last morsel.
 
That’s all it took, we were hooked. We live in a rural area of northeast Oregon, so, we really don’t get a chance to have delicious pizza brought piping hot to our table very often, so this was a wonderful treat.
 

Hannah with the Moose outside of the
Kalispell MacKenzie Pizza Co.

Now, whenever I am in one of the areas where MacKenzie River Pizza Co. calls home, I search them out, and treat myself to some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.
As I sit here at my desk, craving pizza, I realize it has been a while since we’ve had the pleasure of visiting any of these fine establishments.
 
During a trip to Billings, Montana  we stopped in at MacKenzie River Pizza Co. for dinner. We had been traveling all day, and we were ready to stop for the night, and to get something to eat. As usual, we drove through the main part of city, so we could get an idea of what the city was like. This was Mark and I’s first time in Billings, so we drove around for a bit.
 

View of thick, crazy cloud  from  MacKenzie River Pizza Co. in Billings

A storm, which we had been watching for more than an hour, continued to grow over Billings. Finally we decided to have dinner atMacKenzie River Pizza Co. and see if the storm would pass on by.
 
The hostess sat us near the window. I found the warmth of the place comforting, the entire staff, however, seemed as if they were ready to bolt at a seconds notice. Billings, you see, had just had a tornado the week before. From the looks of the torn up buildings nearby, it came with in a quarter mile of the pizza company, and these people working on this night were anything but comforted.
A huge ominous cloud hung overhead, and hailstones pelted the pavement beyond our window.
 

MetraPark arena in Billings after the June 20, 2010 tornado

The patrons in the restaurant were calm, most probably travelers that were unaware of the underlying tension that I thought radiated from each and every employee there. They still did their job, they were all friendly and attentive, but they were very nervous. Not a one seemed to be older than 25, and I am sure they were thinking, “what if”, but it was fine. The cloud rolled away, their tension eased and once again we were able to cure our craving for MacKenzie River Pizza Co. pizza.

Sommers Bay Cabins

We pulled into St. Regis and decided it was time to eat dinner, so we went into BLANK and I had teriyaki chicken dinner. I’d had it the last time we were passing through, so I knew I didn’t even need to open my menu. It was delicious and so was the baked potatoe soup, mmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, I highly recommend stopping in and treating yourself to these tasty items. They serve really nice portions and even though the dining room is rather small, it is a comfortable atmosphere. However, the last time we had stopped in they had just gotten done having tricycle races, yes tricycle races, and the bar side of this establishment was overflowing with tricycle riding revelers. Who knows if it got rowdy as the night wore on, but it seemed to be a happy crowd while we were there.
 
The weather held out for us as we made our way from St. Regis toward Kalispell. Within a short time we were getting close enough to our destination, (Kalispell), that I began searching for a place to stay. I grabbed the GPS and started searching. After several calls to motels that were either to high priced or to off the beaten trail, I foundSomer’s Bay Log Cabins. I almost didn’t call. Just the name screamed “I’m gonna be expensive,” but we were pleasantly surprised with the price, not to mention the gentleman on the other end of the line was very friendly. I had explained that we were hauling some trailers behind our pickup, that we would be delivering to Gardner RV in Kalispell, the following morning.
 
“What kind of trailers?” he asked.
 
“We have a stack of five utility trailers, so we need extra room to park, will you have a parking space for us?” I asked.
 
“Five trailers, thats against the law, you can’t haul five trailers in a line behind you.” He was in shock.
 
“No, no, it’s just a stack of trailers, one on top of the other. A stack.” I tried to explain.
 
Evidentally the picture he had in his head of us pulling five trailers like a train was hard for him to shake. Finally he understood and was outside waiting for us when we arrived at his place. It was rather funny. I think he was thinking we were crazy people trying to get away with pulling a trailer train down the Montana highway.
 

These adorable scarecrows were sitting on the front porch of the office.

The cabins were adorable. Each one had  a front porch. There was plenty of room between each one that a person would not feel like their space was being invaded. The road that led to each cabin was paved and there was plenty of green grass to contrast with the light wood logs of each cabin.
 
Once inside, again we were pleasantly surprised. There was a living room, a very small living room, but a living room. There was a kitchen area and bathroom and a bedroom. All of it was quaint, cozy and above all clean. Yeah, I just love it when a place is clean.
 

This is the view from our cabin. It looks out at Flathead Lake

http://www.somersbaycabins.com/
http://www.flatheadlake.home/
http://www.gardnerrv.com/
http://www.lori-kimbel.artistwebsites.com/
http://www.kimbeltrailers.com/

Somer’s Bay Log Cabins
5496 Highway 93 South
PO Box 447
Somers, Montana 59932
Telephone: 406-857-3881
Toll-Free: 888-443-3881
E-mail: stay@somersbaycabins.com

Historic Hotel Lincoln

When we travel we don’t always book our motel room before our trip, simply because we never know when we are going to get where we are going. We do pretty good about getting in the rig and heading on down the highway, but from time to time we ignore the time and spend time enjoying things along the way. I’m not sure why, but one place in particular pops into my mind whenever I starting thinking about traveling.
 

Mark and I were on a sales run. We build trailers, yeah, trailers. Interesting huh….well it can be, but it can be pretty boring too after five years of constant struggling and trying to make enough money to survive. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, because it has been a great outlet for Mark, who absolutely loves to design and build trailers. We have met many great people that we simply would never have met had it not been for the fact that we build trailers. It has taught us a lot about ourselves and how to handle a thousand issues that we would never have had to deal with had we not decided to build trailers.
 
Aside from the wonderful people that are now in my life that wouldn’t have been the travel has been the greates gift this trailer business has given to me.
 
On this particular trip we finally decided to call it a day near the town of Lincoln, Montana. We drove into town, glanced at the city center, which happened to be the entire city, right there in the center with a highway going straight through the middle of it. Before we knew it we were driving out the other side. After going about a mile beyond the city limits we decided to turn around and find a place to stay for the night. There were a few motels, but the place that caught our eye was an old log inn. There was one car in the parking lot, which turned out to be the owners. One car, to me, was a sure sign that would not be clean enough to stay, but it had something about it that drew us in.
 
We noticed a sign as we walked in. It had instructions for all of the bicyclist that seemed to be passing through the area just as we were. The hotel was booked with bicyclists, that explained the absence of non-green mode’s of transportation in the parking lot.
 
After taking our luggage to our room, which had an obvious tilt. So much so that if you sat on the bed you would be compelled to place your foot on the wall so as not to tumble forward. It added to the charm. The inn was welcoming, inviting and had offered its walls to weary travelers for many many years.
 
I’m not sure what it is about this place that it pops into my memory so much. I almost hate to revisit it for fear of ruining the comforting memory I have of it.
 
I find it strange that it jumps into my memory from time to time, because there really wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that happened during our stay. We walked to the local grocery store and bought snacks for our dinner. We set up our lawn chairs on the side yard and had a drink along with our snack lunch. The owner of the place came out and visited with us as we were fixing our dinner and drinks on the tailgate of our pickup. He was nice and was very interesting to talk to. We talked more with him the next morning before we headed on our way.
 
I highly recommend stopping in for a night or two. It was very clean, and very quiet. There was a small bar downstairs, along with a breakfast room and a larger living room, which was decorated with saddles and western decor. The owner was friendly and enjoyable to visit with.

M&M World Las Vegas

M&M’s World Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known for its glitz and glamour. People from all over the world come to Las Vegas everyday just to experience a portion of what the city has to offer.

  Now I love Las Vegas just as much as the next person, maybe even a bit more, it is actually one of my very favorite cities to visit. I love the lights and all the people from all walks of life and the architecture, I absolutely love the architecture! Amazing the calibur of designing that goes in to every single detail in Las Vegas. Vegas has so much to offer on so many different income levels and intellectual levels, a person could stay for six months and still not experience everything.
Out of all of the adventures Vegas has to offer I am here to tell you….”Do not miss M&M’s World!”
M&M’s World is located at 3785 S. Las Vegas Blvd., right next to the MGM.
At M&M’s World there is something for everyone and for every budget. It is a chocolate candy paradise, and not just any chocolate candy, but everyone’s favorite character chocolate, M&M.

M&M World Las Vegas has four floors of M&M candies, gifts, memorabilia and even 3D movies staring, yep you guessed it, M&M candies. Anything and everything M&M can be found at M&M World Las Vegas. Pens, paper, purses, and pajamas, cooking items, clothing, magnets, toys, games, jewelry and so much more.
This shop is a real must-see while visiting the bustling city of Las Vegas. You will not be sorry you stopped in.

What could be better than a wall full of colorful M&M’s!