S'mores...where have you been all my life? My encounter with the Oregon coast.
Second week of classes has begun and I am certainly feeling overwhelmed with the amount of work, especially reading, I have up ahead of me. So far though I have found the academics here really interesting, stimulating and already challenging which is great.
Last week we watched OSU play Stanford in the men's basketball which was a fun night. College sports really know how to entertain and between the band, cheerleaders, dancing and competitions, there was also an awesome game of basketball in which the Beavers won by a close margin. We even have an Aussie on the team, #12 Angus Brandt from Sydney (personally I thought he was the best player).
I have finally been able to explore places to run around campus and am stoked about the discovery of Bald Hill which was recommended to me by a guy I met on the hiking trip. It is about 2.5 miles from campus (flat) and has plenty of trails for running and cycling. I ran to the trail head yesterday past a herd of llamas which the OSU vet program has in their paddock.
On the weekend I went on a group backpacking trip with 12 others to the Oregon Coast. We started off in the little town of Seaside, about three hours' drive from Corvallis. Seaside is definitely a warmer-months destination and being winter, it was very quiet. The downtown area has an array of ice cream stores, old fashioned candy shops and all those other gift shops most cutesy tourist towns have.
To begin our adventure, we hiked from in the rain and mud through beautiful forest to get to our campsite 3.5 miles in. The scenery was just breathtaking: tall, slender trees creaking precariously in the wind, lush ferns strewn throughout the low-lying areas, multiple view points of the Pacific Ocean and that delicious smell of nature…fresh air and rain. After arriving at camp, we headed to a view point where we hoped to see the sun set but unfortunately the cloud cover was too thick to see much of the sky at all. It was extremely windy and really cool to see huge waves smother the lonely lighthouse standing brave out in the grey ocean. After freezing our butts off for a bit, we explored a World War 2 bunker which was nestled in the forest close to camp. It was really cool checking it out and guessing what was what and why it was there, making up stories of its purpose and history.
Once back at camp we made a collection of random meals for dinner; freeze-dried camping mixtures of chicken and pasta, one guy had a whole German sausage, block of cheese and loaf of bread, soup, noodles etc. I shared some vegemite which most people liked. The key was not to scare them with too much at a time, just a little bit on some bread spread evenly was the winner.
After dinner we roasted marshmallows on the campfire and the guys showed me how to make s'mores, which were supper yummy! S'mores are basically a roasted marshmallow placed with a piece of chocolate between two Graham crackers. An American camping staple it would seem. We chatted around the fire for as long as our firewood lasted and then headed to bed in our wooden cabins. Now, I was definitely happy to be in a cabin instead of a tent seeing's it was absolute freezing. BUT, the 'beds' we had were just planks of wood. I 'slept' on a plank of wood. The sleep part was minimal as it was so cold; it was more like snoozing on and off. Even with three pairs of socks, my feet would not get warm. Even though this was annoying, it was sort of nice just to listen to the wind in the trees and the crashing of the ocean. There was one point in the early morning that the rain was bucketing down like crazy and it made the most beautiful sound on the roof. I just lay there for ages listening, smiling to myself (like a loser), thinking how good it would be if Mojo was in my sleeping bag to warm me up and daydreaming about home, my family and friends (I may have imagined cuddling the Neffs a lot…).
When we got up around 10am, it was still pretty dark and mist was enveloping the campsite. It looked really eerie and straight from a vampire/teen-wolf movie. After breakfast we hiked back out with a few extra obstacles on the trail due to trees falling in the night from the dramatic weather. Navigating the trail over raised tree roots and fallen tress was fun! Especially when we had to hug the tree and swing underneath it to get past.
After checking out the beach (not my idea of beach weather) and the downtown area of Seaside, we headed back to OSU with smoke in our hair and backpacks full of muddy socks. I really enjoyed the company of the people on this trip…I was a little bit nervous about spending a whole weekend with people much younger than me. But I got along super well with them all and had some excellent discussions, chats and lot's of laughs.
Song of the moment - Can we dance? - The Vamps. It is the first song on my running playlist which I have THANKGOODNESS been getting use of at last!
Food of the moment - S'mores...I cannot stop thinking about their campy, squishy, 100% bad for me goodness.
Missing right now - Mojo still... I need her warmth! Also, really missing Ovatine and Weetbix. I'm looking forward to the arrival of my care package