September Adventures

(Posted September 13, 2010)

so here i was, sitting in starbucks yesterday, of which there are apparently two for every block in the northwest or something equally obscene, getting ready to settle in for a nice blog update and they come over and tell me they’re closing. it’s 530 on a sunday! how dare you close.. i’m a volunteer.. i don’t have internet access except when i come here to your overpriced coffee establishment with funny music and now you’re kicking me out? the nerve..

but when i think about it, this whole not being chained to the internet thing is quite a departure.  its been a month and there are still times i crave an internet fix but it makes for much more creative ways to fill my free time.  speaking of which, its time to update on my life over the past two weeks.

so my housemates and i hiked saddle mountain in seaside oregon, 10 miles inland from the coast with some of our support people, fred and tina.  its a 5.5 mile round trip hike and it was quite steep at times.  not quite a hiking expert yet and the still lingering bruises from not one, not two, but three falls on the hike prove just that.  but the views were spectacular, even though the fog and clouds were so thick around us it was hard to see just 200 feet in front of us.  by the time we reached the top, we were exhausted but through breaks in the clouds, we were able to catch glimpses of the surrounding eight peaks and the pacific ocean..

it was back to work that monday and i had some great meetings with some community members and leaders of their own established friends groups to sustain SOLV sites after we finish with them.  one such group is friends of baltimore woods, with whom i will be working closely this year to see how these groups work and attract new members while sustaining their precious environment.  miles and i also went out to eagle fern park on that friday with our green team supervisor meghan to do some macroinvertebrae testing.. in other words, we forged into a streambed in waders and examined the types of bugs within the water system to determine how polluted the water was.  this is something we’ll do with our classrooms so it was nice to have some quiet practice time.  and let me tell you, i’m not the most graceful person to begin with and then put me in rubber soled waders on slippery rocks in a stream? you’re just asking for trouble!

the first weekend in september marked our first big trip: seattle! christie, elena, ted, chris and i piled into the jetta and took the three hour car drive up to seattle to visit with some other jesuit volunteers (jv’s) for the weekend at the seattle mercy house.  we arrived at 10am on saturday morning, dropped our things off at the house and proceeded to head right downtown to see the city.  now, i have always been a fan of seattle if only minimally exposed due to sleepless in seattle and the city did not disappoint.  we had great weather and started our day off by the water at pike place market.  it was so crowded but the sights and colors and smells were unrivaled.  we saw the famous pike place fish market where orders are literally called out and fish are thrown to be wrapped every which way.  i stood far enough away not to be queasy and started snapping pictures, a photographer’s dream.  we moseyed through the market, looked through the farmer’s market just outside, passed by the original starbucks, with the longest line ever and continued on to the international district, where we got phenomenal pad thai for just $5; very affordable, even for a jv.  we stumbled upon a wonderful little street market, where legos were spread out on a tarp for kids (and nonkids) to play with as well as great local vendors.  i was able to meet up with my friend joey who i studied abroad with in paris; she lives in seattle now after she graduated this may from whittier in LA.  it was wonderful to catch up with her and it felt like no time had passed at all as we reminisced and filled each other in.  she became an impromptu tour guide and took us up to queen anne’s hill for an amazing view of the city, including the space needle.  there were no less than 3 wedding parties up there taking pictures, the view was glorious.  we even had a groomsmen from one of the parties play ninja with us, a game we learned at JVC orientation.  its just a lot of hand slapping and evasive maneuvers.. we played it all over the city and gathered crowds every time.  joey saw us off and we went back to the JVC house, where we were treated to a wonderful potluck and a labor day weekend party.  we all had a great time catching up and enjoying each other’s company for a fun weekend.

we were off the next morning, after stepping over 60+ sleeping bags, to see some more sights.  we went to the fremont street fair, where i bought a fabulous hat and elena, christie and i invested in a pair of earrings to share.  we went to a fair trade, organic chocolate factory called theo and tasted chocolate until our stomachs hurt.  we were then off, after a game of ninja, to see the fremont troll, which was an amazing sculpture created under the aurora bridge in seattle.  we stopped at a mcmeniman’s restaurant for some cheap tater tots to refuel and then went back to the house to rest and meet up with other jv’s for the evening.  we went to a local bar and made it an early evening as we were all exhausted and had long travel days ahead.  i’ve made plans to head back to seattle to have a long weekend to spend wit joey, really looking forward to it!

a short work week last week but pack to the brim! facilitated my first real community event with miles last wednesday with 30 students and professors from George Fox University.  we pulled blackberry out and coffee bagged native plants to impede weed growth; it was a long but really productive day.  it was a part of their school’s SERVEday, which involves closing the school offices, cancelling classes and getting over 2500 students and teachers out to volunteer in their communities.  met some really great kids and it was a wonderful way to kick off a year of working with students.

we met with an elementary school teacher in oregon city last thursday and are hoping to pilot a green team program with her 2nd through 6th grade after school club.  SOLV has never worked with elementary school age kids but i expressed real interest in it and meghan did as well so its looking like we’ll be working with them after school one friday a month!  the week culminated in scoring some free tickets to a chopin showcase at the concert hall here in hillsboro, thanks to my housemate sean and his connection at his agency, homeplate, started by a former JV.  it caters as a drop-in to homeless youth in the area and does really wonderful things.  we got seven free tickets to the concert on friday night and it was lovely to dress up and have a night on the “town” and listen to some truly beautiful music and experience wonderful dancing.  it was a low-key weekend, caught up on some sleep and cleaning around the house.  had a relaxing saturday evening with elena and sean, with dinner and a few local beers. christie and i rode our bikes to mass on sunday morning and went to the ministry fair, where i signed up to help with the youth ministry on sunday nights for high schoolers as well as becoming a lector! it was so nice to be at mass and it really dawned on me how much i miss the presence of mass and the calmness of it all when its a hectic week or i’m travelling and i don’t get to mass.  its a wonderful way for me to decompress on the previous week and prepare for the week ahead.  will start lectoring quite soon after a bit of training, but i’m a pro after three years with Fairfield U. campus ministry!!

our area director for JVC, jillian, is here with us this week and we will be sharing with her about our community life.  here’s to a great and fulfilling week!

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