Vacation exercise

Me and the husband at Crater Lake

My former manager Jane is a creative spirit who is constantly on the move. She often regaled us with tales of her extreme vacations backpacking, hiking, and canoeing in remote locations. I was thoroughly exhausted just listening to all the activity and exercise she packed into her time off. I admire her in many ways and wish I had some of her talents. However, I’m really glad we have different vacation styles.

Crater Lake

My vacations are much more laid-back. A tent pitched on the hard, uneven ground of the Mt. Hood National Forest was a one-time experience with the husband and our puppy shortly after we married. We moved up to camping in State Parks with a camper that was so old, it had an ice box, but I was grateful for the softer bed. When our kids came along we went the motel route once, and then bought our timeshare. I love driving just a little more than two hours to the high dessert of Central Oregon, unloading the MDX and just relaxing in our second home.

It’s a long way down from the rim to Crater Lake

That’s not to say we don’t fit in some exercise while we are enjoying our time away from the day-to-day routine. There is a very scenic 3.5 mile walk along the Deschutes River we try to do every morning. The walk down to and along the river is pretty easy, but climbing back up can really elevate your heart rate. We also leisurely walk the paved paths after dinner, which makes indulging in ice cream on our deck seem acceptable.

A view of Wizard Island in Crater Lake

This year we also drove about 2 hours south to Crater Lake National Park. Amazingly beautiful! The best views involved hiking up along trails, using tree roots and rocks as foot-holds. I could feel the muscles in my “posterior” getting a workout. I was feeling pretty good about our activity level until I overheard a man talking about how he pedaled his way to the park and hoped to make it to the Oregon Caves before nightfall.

Whatever your vacation style, be sure to get out and explore. Get a little exercise and enjoy nature with *finesse!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Back to reality

I love vacations, but I really dislike the task of getting back to reality. I try to get as many chores done before we leave, but there’s always something that needs doing when I walk back in the door.

I had two appointments yesterday and also needed to deal with two time-sensitive pieces of mail I received while gone, so that was the first thing on my agenda. The second was sending out a “save the date” announcement for my mother’s 80th birthday party, and the third was scheduling some physical therapy for my tennis elbow (yes, that’s still bothering me). I also want to see my cousin while she’s in town visiting her parents, and I need to attend the funeral of a relative on Thursday. All of these things need to be crammed into a few days because I’m leaving for Arizona on Friday to meet my new granddaughter.

I’m feeling somewhat frazzled and disorganized (which is why I didn’t have a blog post yesterday). However, I’m pulling my self together and knocking things off my “to do” list one at a time with as much *finesse as I can muster.

Do you have a routine that helps you maintain the peace of a restful vacation after returning home? If so, I’d love to learn your trick!

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Oh, deer!

We’ve been vacationing in Central Oregon for more than 20 years and have enjoyed watching the local herd of black-tailed deer. Unfortunately, a few years ago we noticed just how rare a deer sighting had become.

About the same time, we also noticed signs informing visitors against feeding the deer. Apparently several deer had died due to eating popcorn, bread or whatever visitors used to urge the deer to come closer for photos, and even petting! I observed one family exhibiting this behavior and mentioned that this could be dangerous, but they strenuously claimed the deer were tame.

Please understand that wildlife is NOT tame! They may walk through resorts, parks or zoos (such as peafowl once did at Oregon Zoo), but that does not mean they are tame.

As you can see by the attached photos, the herd is once again flourishing and sightings are fairly easy. I sincerely hope visitors continue to resist the urge to feed the deer, allow them their space and quietly enjoy them from a distance.

Central Oregon – Day One

Monday morning marmot visitor.

The husband and I purchased a timeshare in Central Oregon more than 20 years ago. We’ve exchanged a few times to vacation at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, but we truly love vacationing at our home resort. Instead of my regular posts, I’ll be sharing photos of this scenic area we call our second home. Enjoy!

We’re all just enjoying the warmth of the sun!

Galloping with Finesse

This week’s installment of Friends with Finesse features my life-long friend Cindy Metelak. Cindy and I first met in the nursery of our church, although I don’t think either of us remembers the event. Our families vacationed together for many years, water skiing on Lake Billy Chinook in Central Oregon.

I remember Cindy always having a love of horses, and her fondest wish came true when her parents bought her a horse for her 11th birthday. She vividly remembers her dad putting a saddle on Katie to demonstrate how it was done.


“Roughly two minutes after he was sitting on the horse, the saddle slid down the side leaving Dad hanging underneath her,” recalls Cindy.  “Makes me laugh every time I think of it.”

Her love of riding horses has continued over the last 40 years, and she has owned her current two horses, Ctzar and Gracie since 2006.

 Q: What’s the best thing about horseback riding?

A: The best thing about horseback riding for me is being outside. I have traversed through many areas I would have not have reached by foot. I never get tired of the beautiful countryside; the flowers, birds, deer, valleys, creeks, rivers. We are so blessed with God’s great landscape – it never grows old.

Q: What’s the biggest mistake/misconception people make about horseback riding?

A: The biggest mistake/misconception is a fear of falling off, and with good reason. It hurts to hit the ground! However, if you are properly saddled and seated, falling off isn’t an easy thing to do. Additionally, most people believe you communicate by yelling and/or using the reins. Learning how to hold the reins is very important. Pulling hard on the reins (which is a common reaction) can cause the horse considerable pain and miscues for the horse.

Q: What are your top three tips for those interested in learning to ride?


1:  Learning to ride a horse is not that difficult, as long as you approach it in the right way. The correct approach is that the horse wants to cooperate and already knows all it needs to know about being ridden, and that you are the one who needs to learn how to ride. Learning the ‘language’ of horses and learning to ride is a hugely rewarding activity. There’s nothing quite like the sense of command and cooperative action you get once you’ve learned enough to let the horse know what you want.

2: Follow your trainer’s instructions about how and where to sit on the saddle and how to hold your legs (keeping your heels down), as well as what to say. All these things communicate something to the horse. Horses (particularly those used for beginning and casual riders) are often ridden by a lot of different people and it’s a little bit unreasonable to expect them to learn a different set of signals for each new rider. Your beginner horse will certainly have a docile manner, be forgiving, relatively calm and unexciting, and through years of experience, learned to ignore any and all unfamiliar signals without fretting about what you might have meant.

3: You may be genuinely excited about riding and have a passion to learn quickly and excel. However, you must temper your zeal, slow down, relax, think and be patient with yourself (and your horse). Develop an attitude of respect and compassion for your friend and partner, the horse. If you give him a chance and work with him, he will teach you how to ride in due time.
I hope the above has encouraged you to have a go at horseback riding. I think everyone should experience it at least once in their life, as it’s really a rewarding and enjoyable activity.

Cindy and her husband Bob have a blended family that includes five children and eight grandsons (the latest born this week!). Their first granddaughter is due to arrive in October. In addition to their two horses, they also have a cat and two dogs. 

My horseback riding *finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert      

What’s your horseback riding finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Inexpensive cod makes great summer dish

I’ve had quite a learning curve when it comes to choosing and preparing seafood for dinner. My parents were from the Mid-West, so we ate a lot of beef. During my entire childhood I can’t recall having any seafood except that which was breaded and formed into the shape of a stick.

In more than three decades of marriage, I’ve had some great success and horrendous failures fixing seafood, but in the last few years I think I’ve finally hit my stride. We eat salmon almost weekly and recently I’ve been buying cod.

I like the low price (about $5 per pound) and ease of preparation. I ask for pieces that are thicker, as the “skinny” end seems a little tough. I just throw it in a baking dish, spoon some fruit salsa over the top, cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for about 20-25 minutes (it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork). I would think you could fix it in a crock pot or in foil pouches on the grill if you didn’t want to heat up the kitchen. I pair the cod with brown and wild rice and a green salad and call it dinner!

Delicious, nutritious, easy and inexpensive!

My seafood *finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert              

What’s your seafood finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)

Just hangin’

The husband has had back problems since his mid-twenties. He’s been pretty good about strengthening the muscles in his lower back to provide some protection, but sometimes it can still cause him pain. I can tell when he’s experiencing discomfort because he walks a little hunched over.

He doesn’t go the doctor or chiropractor when it’s bothering him, as it usually works itself out. However, a few weeks ago his back started acting up for no apparent reason. The pain and hunched over walking continued for two weeks with only minimal improvement, then we stumbled upon a miracle. Okay, maybe not a miracle, but certainly a way to relieve his aching back.

We were running errands and around lunch time decided to split a burrito at Qdoba Mexican Grill. There weren’t any parking spots in front of the restaurant, so we parked in front of a store called, Relax the Back. I said, “We’re going in there after lunch!”

The sales lady took one look at the husband and suggested he try the Contour L-3 Inversion Table. After just a few moments hanging upside down, his back pain was gone! He knows several people who swear by their inversion tables, so we made the purchase.

His back is pain-free, which is priceless, but since the purchase is covered by his employer’s wellness plan it was truly without cost. The best benefit is to know he feels well.  A totally unrelated, but fun side benefit is how flat my stomach is when I hang upside down!