Cold Weather Biking and Sewing

Oh my goodness it has been cold!

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Temperatures in the teens and “real feel” temps in the single digits and lower – I’m sure we’ve had this weather in the years since I moved to the East Coast, but I can’t remember when. I’ve lived in New York City and the Washington DC area since I moved from Sacramento, CA at the end of 1999, but I still haven’t acclimated to these cold temperatures.

Because of this, over the years, I’ve slowly added warmer and less fashionable clothing to my collection. I’m in awe of the women who can wear cute flats and no socks or skirts with tights and boots in these temperatures, but I can’t do it. I need thermal underwear and down coats. I can’t wear wool so I have to manage in synthetics and I love the Lands End Thermaskins – no, not paid by them to say that! But no matter what I do, I still can’t keep my fingers and toes warm.

So this year I broke down and bought a pair of sheepskin-lined boots. The Mechanic talked me out of getting boots with a synthetic fur, because real sheepskin would be warmer. After much research, I finally about a pair of Ugg Niels motorcycle boots. I think it’s the most money I’ve ever spent on a pair of shoes! But I have to say, my toes have been so warm!

Okay, confession – I haven’t been biking in this extreme cold. Seriously, I can’t. Props to those who do!

I have done a bit of sewing, though. I spontaneously made a new tee shirt with some Spoonflower fabric I ordered ages ago. I had intended it to be a Breton shirt, but thought this would work out better with the yellow striped knit as the sleeves, back and neckband. I love it and can’t wait to wear it – months from now, when it’s warm again!

Kwik Sew 4027 – the third time I’ve made this! I think it’s getting closer to perfect as I tweak it each time.

I also finally basted the muslin of the McCalls 7667 coat I’m dying to make. I made it out of a corduroy fabric I’d ordered then didn’t like once it arrived, which means I don’t like the muslin and won’t finish it as a wearable coat. I hate to share photos of it, but I actually am really happy about how it fits. A bit more length in the sleeves and it will be perfect. I can’t wait to cut this out of the real fabric! With reflective tweed collar, sleeves and back belt, I hope this will be my best winter coat. I decided to play along with Instagram’s #2018MakeNine challenge. I hope I make more than nine things this year though! I am sort of obsessed with outerwear right now, since reflective details seem to make more sense than on winter dresses and so on. So after I make the coat above, I plan to make a brocade bomber with reflective trim and then this Simplicity 8055 coat is calling to me – I think the front and back yoke is perfect for reflective fabric. I’m in love with the Nell Shirt by indie company A Verb for Keeping Warm, and everyone seems to swear by the Vogue 8772, so of course I need to try that as well. The McCalls pants remind me of my high school years in the late 80s but I somehow still want to make them. The McCalls 6742 dress has the perfect seaming for some fun reflective detail, as does the Deer and Doe Azara skirt. I should try to make all these things coordinate, if I was smart. The weather is supposed to be warming up a tad (thank goodness!) and I can’t wait to get back to biking. What are you looking forward to this year?

Reflective Gift Ideas

‘Tis the season to think about holiday gifts *and* being more visible, as we approach the longest, darkest days of winter. As a fan of all things reflective, I thought I would share two businesses making some really great reflective accessories that are perfect for gift giving – and hey, who says you can’t give yourself?!

First up is Firefly Reflectors, a company started by two Swedish women living in New York. They specifically created their company to help people be stylish as well as visible. I ordered several of their adorable and fun soft reflectors from them a few years ago for gifts and for me. But now, they’ve expanded quite a bit and now have gorgeous tassels, stickers, clips and even accessories like charms and D-rings. It’s so fun to build a key chain with a D-ring, add an initial charm, and then pick a tassel color. The problem is, I can’t decide on just one color! And then, which bag would it go on? This calls for serious consideration before purchasing.

Leopard print, the perennial classic, even as a reflective tassel! (image from http://www.shop-firefly.com)

A new discovery for me is Reflective Society, a small business in Portland run by the talented and creative Iris Vondell. Iris was inspired to start her collection of reflective accessories when she was hit by a car while on her bicycle. Recovered, inspired and determined, she turned her sewing and knitting hobbies into pins, earrings and necklaces made with 3-M fabrics and reflective yarn. A woman after my own heart! I love that she’s worked out how to stamp the images on the fabric. An early childhood educator by training and a lover of the out-of-doors, nature themes pop up frequently on her pieces; she even said a bunny is on her list (of course I asked!).

I couldn’t resist asking Iris a few questions about her art and she was gracious enough to tell me some details. She admitted that it took years of testing and prototyping and hunting for sources before she found things that work best. Iris also said that moving to Portland in 2014 really kicked off her line, as she found people who understand and appreciate what she is doing. Iris’s collection of button earrings, small and large buttons, bolo ties, pendants and earrings make perfect small gifts for anyone. I think her collection could do really well here in the DC area, so I need to figure out how to lure her to town some day. In the meantime, I ordered a few things from her, and promise to show them off when they arrive.

These two different companies have enough different styles to fit the tastes of everyone, so you should be able to find some last-minute small gifts for anyone on your list. Remember, you don’t need to be a cyclist to benefit from reflective accessories – everyone walks!

 

Helmet Hair – The Struggle Is Real

I am a low-maintenance hair person. I really don’t want something that takes too long to mess with, requires a ton of products and equipment, but I still want something that looks good when I take my bike helmet off. I’ve had short hair in a range of lengths since I chopped off my waist-length hair in junior high, not because I want something easy, purely because I’m vain. I just look better with short hair. Consider, then, the irony of ending up with a hairstyle that requires 15 minutes to properly style, plus hairspray, and being 100% okay with it because I LOVE IT so much.

My hair stylist is a genius. (She also took this photo – still a genius)

I’ve switched up my routine for this hair style – I now curl it at work, so I can wear my helmet in the morning and not smush the hair. This is important, especially on days I have client meetings. I want to look good, and smushed curls are not the “good” I’m going for. I didn’t really quite appreciate how much this hairstyle has changed my attitude on wearing a bike helmet until recently, when I really loved how it turned out, and didn’t want to put my helmet on to bike home.

Curl mastery – before putting on my bike helmet at the end of the day.

I was only going home, so it shouldn’t have mattered, and yet, this particular day, I felt especially pained by having to smush my hair. I didn’t consider not biking home because of it, but I would definitely reconsider biking TO work, if I couldn’t do my hair once I get to work. So there I was, suddenly realizing that I was letting my hair dictate my commute mode.

I love my Nutcase helmet but I may love my hair more…. #vain

Okay, to be fair, it didn’t look terrible when I got home 25 minutes later.

Slightly flattened curls. Not bad, I guess.

So it was with great awareness and recent experience that I was interested to read a pair of BikeArlington’s recent blog posts about a study they recently conducted for Arlington County’s Master Transportation Plan Bicycle Element Survey. Arlington is polling people to see what they think about bike lanes. (You have to download the report, but don’t worry, you’ll get awesome emails from BikeArlington in exchange!) Of the 1206 people they spoke with, 89% reported wanting to bike more often. Yay! Fitness ranks high on the list of why people do bike, but biking taking more time also ranks pretty high for why they don’t do it more often. (People, think of it as spending less time in the gym! You’ll come out ahead, I promise.) There are a lot of really good details in this report, most of which has to do with existence (or lack thereof) of bike lanes, and I strongly encourage you to read it. Although this is Arlington, VA, specific, I’m sure the responses are not much different than you’d find elsewhere.

More like this, please!

What I found most interesting is the list of barriers that prevent people from walking and biking more. Of the women polled, concerns about appearance ranked high on the list of reasons why they do *not* bike to work. I hear this frequently as well, especially if a company does not have showers, a decent sized restroom, or a culture that supports biking and making looking a little less than 100%. I know I’m spoiled at my job, where many of us bike and finish our looks at work. We have to look just as professional as the executives we work with, so it is important to us as well.

Bunny bike style! Hated the way my helmet made my hair flip out, though.

I know that Arlington has less control over what individual companies or buildings do compared to the control they have over installing new bike lanes. And because so many respondents want more and better protected bike lanes, I hope that Arlington moves forward with plans to put in what the residents clearly want. But more importantly, I hope that planners and designers and company leaders and everyone realize that if we want to get more women on bikes, the helmet hair struggle is real. It’s not something that should be dismissed or belittled.

Ugh, I can see here how my bike helmet is smashing my hair here. #dislike

If I, who bikes pretty regularly and proudly, reconsider it because of my hair, think about what someone might think who has *never* tried biking to work. I know, from experience, how great it makes me feel, how much easier it is to be traveling on my own time frame and power, and how much more community spirit I feel from biking past the same houses and businesses every day. I am willing to have less than perfect hair (and a bit of sweat) for the benefits I receive from biking. So how do we get women to enjoy the same experience? I guess I’d say build more bike lanes.

Mindful, Perhaps Green, Shopping

Thanksgiving now over, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas! My parents, brother, sister-in-law, aunt and possibly cousin are visiting us this year, to see our new home and bunnies. I am so excited to celebrate with the whole family this year, and I’m already making a list of things that need to be done – enough Christmas stockings for everyone, where and/or what do we eat, what fun post-Christmas things can we do…?

This year we all managed to agree to *not* buy each other Christmas presents. It’s something we discuss every year, but this year, we are committed. None of us needs anything, and besides, it’s more about being together. Since they are all flying here, we are gifting them an overnight stay in the Shenandoah Valley, which will be more fun in the long run. If nothing else, we’ll roll our eyes for years over the fact that any restaurant we go to there won’t be prepared for four vegetarians! (There is one small caveat – we are each getting each other one $5 stocking stuffer, something edible, handmade or eco-friendly.)

On the heels of this agreement came a report that talks about the high environmental cost of delivery. In “The Environmental Cost of Free 2-Day Delivery,” published on Vox on November 17, the authors of a study done at the University of California Davis tell us that the emissions from delivery trucks are worse than the emissions of individual cars driving around to malls and stores to buy things. The big challenge is 2-day shipping – that rush to have things immediately is killing our environment. Erk. One of the ways I manage to be car-free is to have as much delivered as possible. Josué Velázquez, director of the MIT Sustainable Logistics Department, says in a related article on Huffington Post that getting companies to add buttons sharing the impact of free 2-day shipping might inspire consumers to opt for slower delivery options. Knowing that choosing 4-5 day delivery will only kill 10 trees, compared to killing 3,000 for 2-day delivery would work for me! In fact, it already has.

I would hate to lose these trees, so I will think differently the next time I place an order.

Part of my plans for the holidays involve sewing projects that require fabrics and patterns I can’t buy locally, on my bike or otherwise. So now I really need to think about it – how much can I order from one place? I should order it all now, so that I can pick the slowest delivery option available, and not need it in a rush. And while I’m thinking about that, I need to be mindful of everything else we need this month, and moving forward. How to we continue to reduce our impact? Do we wean ourselves off Amazon? <gasp!> I think this means more trips to NYC to stock up for my sewing projects!

Started my McCalls 7667 coat, using corduroy as the “muslin” to test the fit. I still need to order lining and interlining.

If the thought of giving up free 2-day delivery right before the holidays stresses you out a bit, here are a few positive, encouraging stories about how the fashion world is trying to help the environment.

Swedish Plant Burns H&M Rags Instead of Coal, on The Business of Fashion website

How C&A Created the World’s First Cradle to Cradle T-Shirt, on Greenbiz.com

Bunnies, Biking and Building

It’s been a busy few weeks, from a friend’s visit to a marathon IKEA-Home Depot-Beth Bath & Beyond day to building more and more IKEA pieces. In between, I am getting used to a new bike commute and we are all still adjusting to the new rabbits. Whew! We can’t wait until the long Thanksgiving weekend when we can hopefully finish and relax.

First, the bunnies. We have begun to let them out into the living room and watching their antics as they explore is highly entertaining. Quinn is the explorer of the bunch (girl power!) and is always out hopping onto things.

Er – on the tub on the bookcase – probably not a good place to be…

Sully is less excited to explore but has his moments.

“Didn’t you put the treats over here?”

Gaston has been happy to return to having lengthy pet sessions. I am more than happy to comply. Love this little bunny! Speaking of bunny love, I stumbled upon a Kate Spade ring on the Rent the Runway site and decided I had to have it. Thankfully it was on eBay at half the original price. This is 100% what my mom and aunt call an “F&M” – as in, “a fool and his money are soon parted.” And you know what? I totally don’t care. I bought another bauble at the Coach store, a personalized embossed leather tag for my super old Coach bag. They had the embossing machine in the store so I got to watch it get made. This is also an F&M – I need to start sewing again to keep me focused!

This is the closest to sewing I get these days – I am attempting to participate in #BPsewvember on Instagram, a sewing photo a day challenge during the month of November. As my sewing space is still in piles and my machines still packed up, it’s not been an overwhelming success so far.

I am getting some baubles that are not F&Ms – I ordered progressive sunglasses. I’ve reached the point where I want to be able to read my phone, menus, labels, and anything else in a small print when I’m out and about. Its annoying to carry glasses around and put them on when I need them (maybe I’m lazy), so my regular progressives have become super useful. But maybe I’m delicate – I need some sun protection too! So with a balance in my FSA account, I visited a new eye glasses shop and picked out a swanky pair of tortiseshell frames. Can’t wait to get these babies back!

My new bike commute is almost a mile longer; that is, the route I prefer lengthens the commute about a mile. I could go another direction and it would probably be equal to what I’ve been doing. But I like going through the neighborhoods, not on the main streets, and who doesn’t need a little extra exercise?! So now I’ve got 4 miles each way, slightly uphill in the mornings. I need that too. I have been on the bus a lot, due to a variety of reasons, and now it’s *cold* in the mornings again, and I’m having a hard time adjusting. It will come, but I’m not as excited when its around freezing when I wake up.

I had a lot to carry with me this day, so those morning hills were even harder!

About the house – this should say it all:

This just happened.

So check back in with us in a week or two, and hopefully by then I’ll be SEWING!

Hoppy October!

No, that’s not a typo – this is really a hoppy October. I’ve been MIA the last few weeks because Gaston has been dating, and that has honestly taken up all my free time. My sewing projects laying neglected, but I have had some fun reflective fashion arrive. October will be all about the bunnies. Sounds like a hashtag, doesn’t it?

The Mechanic and I decided this summer that Gaston needed a friend. I love how much time he wants to spend with us, but feel bad when we don’t have the time. Rabbits are very social animals and wild rabbits live in warrens with dozens of family members. Why shouldn’t Gaston have a companion? So after much discussion and research, we approached the local rabbit rescue about bunny dating.  We took Gaston two different times to meet some eligible bunny bachelorettes.

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After Gaston met eight females (missed a photo of one) and pretty much ignored most of them, we joked about introducing him to a pair. And of course – he fell instantly in love with the largest, fluffiest angora siblings, Sullivan and Quinn. The Mechanic and I were in shock – we were not really prepared to bring home *two* more rabbits! But Gaston seemed so happy, and after having seen him with the others, well, how could we deny our bun-son? These English angoras are about 7lbs, compared to Gaston’s 3lbs, and just as fluffy and sweet as can be. Their foster mom said that Sullivan, the boy, loves to be held. Good thing too, since we’ll need to brush them every day! The angora’s foster mom took all three rabbits home with her to do the bonding. We hate not having them with us, but luckily, she lives nearby and we have been able to visit. It seems like it is going well, faster than the average of four weeks. Hopefully they can come home soon, one big happy fluffy family.Be sure to follow their adventures on Instagram @fluff_and_ears

In between driving Gaston around on his dates, I’ve lined up my fall sewing projects. I’m only planning two, since there will be so much other stuff going. The first will be a black floral peasant dress with reflective ribbon on the sleeves and hem, and reflective bias in the yoke seams.

The second, largest and most exciting project will be a coat with the Dashing Tweeds fabric I bought in London this past May. I’ve never made a coat, and will for sure be making a muslin first for fit. I don’t have enough for the full coat, so I’ll use it for the sleeves, collar and back belt.

And I finally achieved one of my sartorial goals – I finally purchased a Vespertine NYC blazer (I think I got the last black one). It’s so cool! I love it!

Fits great, good for work, and reflects perfectly on the bike! (sorry for the blurry image…)

I also ordered some reflective fabric, elastic and grosgrain ribbon from Mood Fabrics. That stash arrived the same day as the Vespertine blazer. #reflectivelove !

This isn’t reflective but also super cool – my Lorica Scudamore printed armor leggings finally arrived! I backed these  on Kickstarter months ago and they finally arrived. I can’t wait to wear them (I’m just not sure where….)!

So Hoppy October, everyone! Stay tuned for further adventures of bunnies, sewing and reflective fashion!

Revisiting Bike Fashion Options

I recently realized that I haven’t done much with women’s bike fashion outside of my own sewing projects (and admittedly I’ve gotten a bit away from making *everything* reflective and/or bike friendly). I haven’t done much non-commute biking a far too long, either, so it’s been a bit off my radar. I thought that maybe I’d be inspired to both bike and refocus my sewing if I found some great resources out there, so naturally I poked around on the Internet a bit. However, I found what I sort of suspected – there isn’t much going on.

Well that’s disappointing.

It’s not like there isn’t anything going on, of course. Here is my round up of options for the stylist city cyclist.

Resolute Bay

Resolute Bay recently released their women’s cycling jeans. Naturally I love the reflective details! (Resolute Bay is working on a really cool reflective jacket too – for men.) But man, these jeans look tight on the model – how are normal sized women supposed to feel about that? Maybe I’m feeling overly sensitive after realizing how much weight I gained this summer (oops, not biking enough) but I can’t get excited about tight jeans.

Ligne 8

Ligne 8 is still around and has added more pieces since I looked last time, including “cycling gear,” which seem to be geared towards the road bike crowd – jerseys, padded shorts, bibs. I love the “urban” collection of A-line skirts, basic shirts, and several non-jeans pants.   I wish I could afford to order some of these pieces to see what they feel and wear like, but alas, they are out of my price range. That is – I’d rather spend the money on fabric! Still, it’s a nice collection of wardrobe basics for the woman (or man) who likes to look classic and classy on the bike and at the destination.

Reid Miller Apparel

I met Reid Miller in DC a few years ago and backed her cycling jeans on Kickstarter, which are my favorite cycling jeans. Reid has been busy with her company and blogging about the the sustainable manufacturing journey she has been on over the last two years.  I’ve read her updates with interest as she examines fast fashion and it’s negative impact on the garment industry in the United States. You can still order her Riding Jeans, and she is relaunching the Riding Jacket this fall, but if nothing else, I recommend reading some of her blog posts.

Here I am in August 2015, trying on the Reid Miller jacket and jeans

The Willary

The Willary is a new company that has gained many fans among the women I follow on social media. The company’s tagline is “A wardrobe that works” and each piece of the Core Wardrobe is made of stain resistant, stretch fabrics in classic shapes. I love the dress, the Core Dress, which to me is one of those perfect travel pieces (I live in this fantasy that I travel alot and need things that work for every destination, haha!). It’s short and doesn’t seem quite bike-friendly enough, but that’s no reason to not like it! I do like the way they have approached different body shapes, as explained in their video. I hope they have the opportunity to expand their collection; I’ll be keeping an eye on it.

The Willary Core Dress (Image from The Willary website)

 

REI

REI seems to have redone their Novara brand because the cycling clothing has moved away from the casual, everyday clothing I used to like and now only seems to have “biking” clothing. That’s disappointing, and makes me like the pieces I still have, like my Whittier Dress from 2014 (!!!).

When this dress was new – THREE years ago!

Anything Else?

There must be more out there for the everyday person who happens to ride a bike and not want to wear spandex. I do like T Athleta and Title Nine , but most of their things are still pretty sporty for my tastes. Terry Bicycles often has some non-spandex options. And since I don’t wear jeans often, cycling jeans aren’t what I’m looking for. So help me out and introduce me to collections I have missed!

Summer’s Last Gasp

We all know that at least here in the DC area, there will be a random week at the end of September or mid-October when summer roars back to life and brings on the heat. However, Labor Day weekend is pretty much the end of summer for everyone, even if you don’t have kids going back to school.

And I spent some time last week with local teachers gearing up for back-to-school, which gave me the “summer’s over” feelings even more. However, I did get to see the eclipse with the teachers. Nothing like watching a scientific event with a bunch of educators! I didn’t have a pair of glasses, but teachers shared, and anyway, I almost enjoyed the low tech ways of seeing it anyway. The shadows on the ground from the tree leaves, a colander and a pinhole were really cool. The tree leaf shadows made me think of fabric prints.

I didn’t plan this for back to school but I do have a fun new hairstyle for it. I didn’t realize I had a hair cut scheduled for this weekend, fun! My salon has a light that makes me look amazing, so I snuck a selfie while my stylist took photos for her portfolio. I love changing up my hairstyles.The Mechanic and I took a field trip to IKEA over the weekend as well. And look! They had the IKEA bikes set up! Naturally we spent some time playing with them and analyzing the features. I almost bought the pannier/backpack they sell but as it was plain black, I decided against it. But it’s great that they offer everything from that to helmets to small pumps to U-locks, as well as the bikes and all the accessories. We didn’t buy anything at IKEA, well, not much. I bought a jar and some fabric. That’s right, fabric! I’ve always studied the fabrics when we go but I couldn’t resist this print. It’s on a rather heavy twill so I think I will simply box pleat it onto a waistband and see how it goes. Maybe I’ll line it as well, but I’m not sure. Looking ahead at the calendar for the next few months, I’ve realized that I won’t have much time to sew <weep>. Time to focus on the fall/winter projects. I have several lined up, so I have to make sure I FOCUS on what I really want to get done. I’m taking classes two weekends in a row from the store where I purchased my new sewing machine. They offer “getting to know your new machine” classes, and although I’ve already made a bunch of stuff with it, I’m sure there will be plenty to learn. Then I can focus on my winter coat and a brocade jacket. But first, I just need to finish this blouse, made with the Liberty of London print I purchased in the spring when we were in London. Then the IKEA skirt. But then no more distractions! Winter is coming and I need to be prepared!The other thing that happened this past weekend has nothing to do with summer – it was the first anniversary of Gaston’s Adoption Day! Although he wasn’t feeling well for most of the day, he eventually bounced back and has mostly forgiven us for picking him up and shoving meds in his mouth. It’s amazing how a little fluffy 3lb rabbit can change our lives in one year. I look forward to many more.

Love this sweet fluffy boy!

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From New Orleans to New Apartment

A week again I was in New Orleans for work. The Association for Commuter Transportation held its annual conference in the Big Easy, five days of greeting industry friends, meeting new ones, learning a lot and being inspired.

One of the highlights was hearing Elizabeth Levin and LaVerne Reid talk about women in transportation and different experiences breaking into a traditionally male industry decades ago. I bought the book “Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” and am looking forward to reading it. Hopefully someday soon….

I didn’t do any biking while in New Orleans but saw the brilliant (and I do mean that literally!) Social Ride, with at least 20 people riding bikes almost entirely covered in lights. That was on Frenchmen Street, where we also enjoyed some local music and beverages.

One of the conference vendors was Lime Bike, a dockless bikeshare system. I love the bikes for their design, but also the solar panels in the front baskets that power the digitally-connected ring locks that unlock the bike for you. I think they mostly cater to the university transportation people at the conference. 

Upon my return from the conference, I jumped in to help The Mechanic finish our move. It sounds like everything that could possibly go wrong did, and we are only now digging out from the chaos. It will be a relief to get settled. Gaston is already quite comfortable in the new place, but then again, he is still in his same place. 

I shall be back to my regular blogging schedule but alas, I doubt I will get any sewing done. It’s just as well – nothing like moving to make me feel like I have too much stuff. I’m trying to purge as I unpacked. Do I really need 6 lipsticks in almost the same color?!?

Let me leave you with some photos from Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street. This hot dog place (yes they have vegetarian/vegan options) is being redecorated in an intergalactic style – complete with Chewbacca over the bar. I love this place. 

Surprises in Northeastern Oregon

I missed a regular blog post earlier this week because The Mechanic and I were in Northeastern Oregon on a family trip. My dad’s side of the family gathered to say goodbye to my grandparents with a celebration of life and scattering of their ashes. I hadn’t been there in seven years, for my grandfather’s 90th birthday, and enjoyed exploring with fresh eyes.

Thirty-five years ago, my dad’s dad and his second wife moved to Lostine, Oregon, a small town in Wallowa County, Oregon. Their property, titled Big Foot Ranch (no idea why), is tucked in a narrow valley between Lostine and Enterprise. I was ten when they moved, and got to travel with them in my great-grandmother’s fifth wheel trailer – a huge adventure to me. Every summer thereafter we drove up to visit them. I rode their horse, swam in the irrigation ditch, and learned to drive on a Model A Ford pickup and an old John Deere tractor. (There goes my city creds – The Mechanic now has plenty of ammo to call me a country girl!)

Enterprise, in the far northeast corner of Oregon

To get there, we flew into Boise, the closest airport, and after meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law (who flew in from Texas), drove four hours to Enterprise. After being greeted by the beef industry in the Boise airport, we joked about what the cattle-raising locals would think when four  vegetarians rolled into town.My grandparents’ property is so lovely, with the rushing river and fields on either side. Marching up the hillside through the weeds is still the same, returning with socks and shoe laces full of burrs. This is my kind of wilderness! Also, the low humidity was sooo refreshing, despite the high temperatures.

I have changed in the seven years (!!!) since I’d been to my grandparents’ – then I was single, newly moved from Manhattan to Washington, DC, and unhappy with my job. Wanting to show The Mechanic all the things my brother and I grew up doing in Oregon made everything new. The biggest surprise was how bike-y the area is – whaat? Bike lanes through the middle of Enterprise?! And Joseph, OR, not only had bike lanes, but bike racks shaped like bikes, and one store had a large “Bike Friendly” sign out front, notifying all that not only were there bike racks, but drinking fountains, public restrooms and package shipping. I’ve never even seen this on stores here in the DC metro area! The Mechanic and I chatted with a woman who had been biking 65 miles into Enterprise, to get to Terminal Gravity Brewing. She said that for the most part, cars were pretty respectful of her and kept their distance, because not all the roads have decent shoulders and space to bike. I had heard that the area was trying hard to promote cycle tourism, and now I believe it.

Another surprise was just how much we loved the town of Joseph. It’s Main Street is maybe 5 blocks long, but it packs a ton of cute into those blocks. Famous for the bronze foundry, Joseph has a huge arts scene. Every corner had artwork in brilliant floral beds, every other store was something related to the arts (a wonderful quilt store too!), not to mention the artisan chocolate shop, the bistros and restaurants, and the murals. If you are looking for a relaxing, small town getaway with tons to do and see, this is your destination.

Wallowa Lake was also a surprise – having been in the area for so many years, I don’t know why we never hung out at the lake. My parents, brother, sister-in-law, The Mechanic and I ended up spending a very, very relaxing afternoon reading in the park by the lake. We had gone up to the top of Mt. Howard on the Wallowa Lake Tramway to admire the mountain views, and had planned on renting kayaks. Instead, we enjoyed the beautiful weather and gorgeous scenery around us. Ah….

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All around are remembrances of the Nez Perce tribe, native to the Wallowa area. As obsessed with Native Americans as I was as a child, I don’t remember exploring any of their history while visiting my grandparents. So I was pleased to be able to see a small bit of their history at the Old Chief Joseph Gravesite and Joseph Canyon from the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Viewpoint.

It seems like we packed a lot into a short trip; this doesn’t even include our evening at Terminal Gravity (their grassy front lawn will make you stay far longer than you planned!) and the day we spent with extended family and friends remembering my grandparents. I will leave you with more photos of the area. It is just so beautiful that photos don’t do it justice. I’m glad I got to visit one last time and have these images to share with you.

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But now we are home and I’m back to embrace my kind of outdoorsy –

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