#7 – Learn to split firewood. Check.

Years ago, one of my colleagues kept talking about how he wanted abs like Chris Hemsworth. I happened across a “Thor” workout in a fitness magazine and left it on his desk and he proceeded to spend a whole weekend working on his “Thor abs”. Sadly, I can’t seem to find this workout online today, but it had A LOT of woodchopping to prepare for the constant hammer throw downs.


It seems like pretty much every guy I know has chopped some firewood in their life, and I’ve never been given that opportunity. Despite my hearty “let-me-try” attitude, my upbringing was still sexist enough to deny me the opportunity to find my calling in the ESPN Lumberjack games. This is Oregon, aren’t we supposed to be born with an axe in our hand? SandyPracticalAmazondolphin-max-1mb.gif

As “Learn to split firewood” landed on my 2018 Bucket List, my personal trainer helped me prepare for the real thing. Every week, we would practice with a sledgehammer and a tractor tire, and he would graciously hold back his amusement as I muddled my way through the wood chop motions. Maybe it comes naturally to some, but not me.


But over time, the muscle memory set-in and my endurance improved. It was time for the real thing…and who better to take me ACTUAL woodchopping than my husband, Thor.

We settled on his sister’s house, which is more like a suburban amusement camp than a regular house. Their property spans into a natural wooded-setting, complete with a fire pit and zip line. The family gathered around and gave me several pointers, and then proceeded to watch me fruitlessly hack at a piece of wood. But eventually, I got over the fear of blinding splinters or accidentally hacking off my leg.

Here’s my proof:

Unfortunately, the only thing sore today are my hands so I don’t think I’ll be rocking “Thor abs” anytime soon, but it was definitely still a workout. Chopping wood is deceptively hard, IMHO.

Want to see how the real-life Thor chops wood?

Run #6 – Springdale, OR

This week I’m pulled from civilization to accompany 25 students from my school at Outdoor School. Five nights, six days of camp songs, camp food, and really peppy high schoolers. The weather is probably the best I’ve ever experienced in all my years at ODS so I’m trying to take advantage of being outdoors and away from the normal life within my office walls.

On Monday, I snuck out for a little while to jog around and find a running route. Unfortunately, the longest trail loop within the camp is less than half a mile (and littered with groups of students) so the road in and out of camp is about the only thing I could find.

Today, I went out in search of something longer and more exciting. The road out of the camp is about a mile straight up, although I did stop several times to check out the baby cows. At a mile and a half, I made it to the highway but there was no shoulder and cars were ripping by so I turned around and headed back.

The road was well-paved and surrounded by farms so it was an enjoyable three miles, despite the near 400 ft elevation climb.



This run is not as exciting as Barcelona or as nostalgic as the KU campus, and it wasn’t for speed or distance (I stopped to ogle baby cows), but while all the other teachers are filling up on carbs and doing their grading, at least I’ve gotten out there.


This means I’m officially half-way through my goal of running in 12 different cities by the end of the year. Next week, I’m signed up for a 5k at the Oregon State Penitentiary and I’m headed to Greece in June so I’ve got a couple runs to look forward to in the immediate future.

New Goal! #26 – Run an Oregon State Penitentiary Race

You might be saying, Did I read that right?? Run at the penitentiary?! And yes, you did. Just the other day, my friend, Renee, sent me a link to the sign up form for a 5 or 10k race AT THE STATE PRISON. She wrote something like, “I thought of you when I saw this…” Man, did she hit the nail on the head. As a generally law abiding citizen, I’m fascinated with jails and prisons – particularly the workouts of inmates. I fully admit that I once spent a good chunk of my free time at a local bookstore poring over a book called Felon Fitness….61eW1qbpKZL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_
I didn’t buy it, but I sure wanted to.

On a less ridiculous note, I have also been very interested in the programs that work to humanize and rehabilitate inmates since the process of being incarcerated is so absolutely dehumanizing (just today I read a news article about inmates and unwanted pets finding love – awwwwww).

What I have now gathered, with Renee’s help, is that our state prison holds several races a year, where community members come run races with inmates to give them something to work towards, as well as help them feel normal again. Apparently this program was spearheaded by Steve Prefontaine in the 70s, and after he died it continued. (Read more details here).

Running? Prison? A commemorative race bib? I’m sold!

At the beginning of the year I was racking my brain to come up with a creative fitness goal for myself (since the normal stuff never seems to appeal to me). I think a 10k through the state prison is about as creative as it gets.


#2: Throw a Summer Beach Bonfire Party. Check.

Ok, I’ll admit this one was really easy. It’s not exactly the physical and mental fortitude of a burpee mile, or the long term dedication and commitment of getting a new job, but it’s something I wanted to do – so there!

Last summer over Labor Day weekend, a few friends and I thought we would venture out to Sauvie Island and have a bonfire. Technically, you’re not supposed to be there after dark, or have a fire, so we were a little nervous. But if you ever go to the island’s beach, you’ll see plenty of evidence that others have had nighttime fires. And back in the fall when we were in the midst of our Sheriff’s Citizen Academy, we asked one of the deputies if they cared about river fires, and the looked at us with a raised eyebrow and said, “Uh, we have better things to do.” Thus, with a little more planning, I figured I could finish out the summer with my best buds.

For those not totally familiar with Sauvie Island, it’s pretty much all farmland and wildlife preserve. 


The first thing people ask me when I tell them that I like get my bronze on at island’s beach is, “Do you go to the naked beach…??” To which I reply, “Yessss…but fully clothed.” It’s true. A very large section of the beach is “clothing optional” and you’ll see people out playing beach volleyball and bocce ball and partying on their boats completely au natural. Clothing, no clothing, or a little bit in between – it’s your choice; like my friend, David, who dons his speedo. Welcome to Portland.

Several weeks ago I invited some friends to join me, toasting one of the last days of summer (yeah, I know summer technically goes till late September, but for those of us in education, it ends when the school year begins). The weather was perfect and we had the entire beach to ourselves. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire (built by my eagle scout husband, Thor), kicked back a few beers, and did our thing. 



IMG_2726In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m someone who like seasonal traditions, so hopefully this becomes an annual outing. 

Don’t be sad! Summer’s not over yet! You, too, can still do a bonfire of your own! Here was our checklist for guaranteed fun:

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#8 – Learn How to Snowshoe. Check.

Finally! TWO YEARS I’ve been waiting to do this one. Last year, the snow sucked and my knee wasn’t as ready as I had anticipated after surgery, so I postponed my “Learn How to Snowshoe” goal to this year. Then last month, my friend, Frances, and I trekked to Sunriver, Oregon (a total mountain town) thinking that in late November, the mountain would be teeming with fresh powder, but it was dry as a bone. 

This weekend it was now or never. I literally went out and bought snowshoes yesterday in an effort to solidify my efforts. Early this morning, Frances and our other friend, Jennifer, headed with me to Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. Last week it was like -2 degrees up there, today it was above freezing. Go figure. Lucky for us, that meant the parking lot had ample spots and we could easily take their snowshoe trail without a lot of people around.

A little history: I was a frequent skier from about 10 years old till my teens, wherein I took up snowboarding. I consistently had a season pass and even met one of my best friends, Julia, in a snowboard class in college. It wasn’t until my 31st birthday where I blew out my knee playing soccer that my mountain days suddenly came to a halt. I know that I will probably never snowboard again (my surgeon didn’t recommend it, and I’m not willing to take the chance), but not being involved in wintertime snow activities just isn’t an option. Today was a great because I knew I had officially found my new thing.

First off, my new snowshoes fit and I was happy that they strapped on much like a snowboard. Second, SNOWSHOEING IS HARD WORK! I guess I was imagining a gentle walk along a flat trail, but we hiked a little over a mile with a 1,000 elevation gain, not to mention the gale force wind resistance all the way up. It was exhausting, but in a good, safe-for-my-knee kind of way. We even got above the clouds for some sunshine.


I would say it wasn’t quite as fun as snowboarding (I mean, we didn’t get to fly down the mountain after our laborious climb), but it was still really fun. And snowshoeing seems to require very little skill, other than the ability to hike.

Silcox Hut at 7,000 feet


A major upshot of snowshoeing versus snowboarding is it’s WAY cheaper! Beyond the fact that I bought a pair of show shoes for $80, versus my snowboard set up which cost me about $400, I didn’t have to purchase anything other than a snow park. No lift ticket or annual pass. Hel-lo! Wayyyyy cheaper!

So who wants to go snowshoe with me now?