Top Posts of 2011

Thank you for all of the support this year. I have enjoyed sharing my travels, adventures, photos and thoughts with all you and look forward to another great year as the Joyful Shoehorn continues to grow.

Leaping into 2012

Thanks to your views, comments & likes here are my top posts of 2011:

1. The Final Leap – Jumping Covered Bridges

The big hurrah-hurrah and last two freeze-frame jumping photos to finish off my almost two-year long journey to visit each of the Covered Bridges of Lane County.

2. How to Survive Winter in the Pacific Northwest

11 Tips to get over the rain, wind and constant gray-ish gloom of the Pacific Northwest.

3. Buick Tweet House Road Trip: King Estate

The first leg of my road trip to Napa with the Buick Tweet House crew for the Napa Valley Film Festival. Sipping delicious wine and savoring fantastic food, the first stop of the trip featured Oregon’s largest winery, King Estate.

4. Tasting Wine Older than Me

Sampling wine nearly twice my age at the Buick Tweet House in Napa. From a rich, earthy 1974 Cabernet Sauvignon to a delicate yet sweet 1976 Riesling, this is one tasting experience I will never forget – no matter  my age.

5. How NOT to Cook Nachos

One of my many mishaps in the kitchen. (It makes me smile that this is one of my top posts of year – lol)

6. Best Photos of 2011

A review of my favorite photos from 2011 since I started my blog in April.

7. Worry-Free Waterfalls

Hiking adventure in Oregon to visit three waterfalls just outside the small town of Dorena. Just remember to fill that gas tank before exploring back country roads!

8. Jumping Covered Bridges – McKenzie River

Ventured deep into the McKenzie River valley to jump at two covered bridges as part of my Covered Bridges of Lane County tour.

9. Elijah Bristow State Park: The Ugly Step Child

This muddy and barren State Part just outside of Eugene may not be the pretty site for recreation, but I can find an adventure under any boring rock.

10. Cheers to Being Single

Hey, sometimes it not that bad being alone!

Thanks for hanging in there for the first year at the Joyful Shoehorn

Also here are my top photo posts based on views for 2011:

  1. Eugene Christmas Lights
  2. Best Photos of 2011
  3. Gluten Free Banana Blueberry Muffins
  4. Over the River and through the Fog
  5. Voluntourism in  Cape Town
  6. A Beautiful View Even When Lost
  7. Cold Feet in Eugene
  8. I’m an Aunt!
  9. Planking at the Oregon State Capitol
  10. Oregon Winter Trees

Cheers to an exciting new year!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Christmas with my family

upper right: Our family Christmas tree – upper left: My parent’s house illuminated by Christmas lights

lower right: Christmas dinner – lower left: This was my nephew’s first Christmas & that is his first ever gift!

Best Photos of 2011

Wow is 2011 really almost over?

I can hardly remember what happened last week then last April, so lets take a look back at my favorite blog photos from 2011.

What month’s photo is your favorite? Comment below or on my Facebook page.

April – One of my first photos on my blog

April 20, 2011 - Porch Faucet

May – Explored the Ford Alumni Center at the University of Oregon

May 30, 2011 - Glass Globes at the Ford Alumni Center

June – USA Track and Field Championship at Hayward Field, University of Oregon

June 27, 2011 - USA Track Champs

July – Finally summer, went hiking every week. This photo is from hiking to Trestle Creek Falls.

August 9, 2011 - Cascade Greens

August – Hit up the Oregon Coast this summer for a two day road trip. Day 1, Day 2

Doing cartwheels on the beach - August 21, 2011

September Snapped this photo while training for my cycling adventure along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Day 1a, Day 2a , Day 2b, Day 3

McKenzie View Drive - Sept 21, 2011

October Visited my friend Amy in Washington D.C. and had the opportunity to see the new Martin Luther King Jr. Monument.

Oct. 29, 2011 - Martin Luther King Jr. Monument

November – Found the Pacific Ocean right at sunset on my road trip to Napa with #BuickTweetHouse for the Napa Valley Film Festival.

Nov 11, 2011 - California sunset

December –The weather has finally started to turn cold and dreary. Learn how to survive the winter in the PNW.

Dec 17, 2011 - The Willamette River through the fog and trees

For more photos from the year, review my Photo of the Day archives.

Happy Holidays and New Years!

Meet Mr. Joyful Shoehorn

I have a problem. Leave me with more than an hour or two of free time and I go stir crazy. Leave me with an hour of two of free time multiple days in a row and you get this!

Meet the Joyful Shoehorn!

Green and with an insatiable curiosity for the world around him, Mr. Shoehorn never turns down a good adventure and will explore with anyone wearing two shoes – or one shoe as long as you have a peg leg.

Dressed to impress with bow tie and sunglasses, he couldn’t be more Joyful if his grin was painted on – oh wait it is!

Mr. Shoehorn is just so Joyful about life!

And he just wanted to set the record straight. Shoehorns are way cooler than gnomes – and useful!

Joyful Shoehorn hard at work and loving it!

Just image if I had free time for a whole week – now that could just be dangerous!

Cold Feet in Eugene

With below freezing temperatures this past week in Eugene, Oregon, I’ve learned two new things about myself:

1. I am jealous of people who have car garages

Scrapping the car windows

2. My toes don’t appreciate ice flakes falling on them – It’s time to find some new winter work shoes.

Cold - but cute - feet

I guess I should start following my own tips:

How to Survive Winter in the Pacific Northwest

The Winter Solstice is coming up on Dec. 22, 2011 and those rain clouds are moving in.

Illuminating the Holiday Spirit: Coburg Parade of Lights

Small blubs of light twinkled along the cold winter road at the annual Coburg Parade of Lights last night. With decorated floats created by the community in the holiday spirit, small town charm flourished as children chased after candy with their frozen little fingers.

From old fashion fire trucks, to buggies and a miniature pony, Christmas light strings, props and other decorations illuminated their shapes against the dark night sky as they followed the short parade route past shuttered antique stores and the community Grange.

Watching the parade with follow Eugene blogger @OneStepBigShot and friends, we took in the scene with irises wide to view the artful glow of the season.

A Beautiful View Even When Lost

My second attempt to see Kentucky Falls – my second fail. Short on time and sun, I had to turn around while on my search for this wondrous waterfall. Someday I will make it and it will be epic – but that doesn’t mean this trip was worthless. Look at the beautiful view I stumbled across while kinda lost. High up on the ridge line looking over the Coastal Mountain Range in Oregon, the blues of the rolling hills melted into the sky.

Coast Range Ridgeline

The Final Leap – Jumping Covered Bridges

It’s the end of an era – the big hurrah-hurrah, doors shut, sparklers last glowing flame goes out to one of my favorite adventures since I started this blog.

It has taken 1.5 years, seven seasons, around 300 miles, and who-knows how many calories to complete, yet this weekend, my roommate Sarah and I landed for the last time.

Jumping into the air for a freeze frame photo, we finished the jumping covered bridges tour of Lane County (Flickr). (Bucket List item)

Frozen berries along side Highway 36

While we intended to finish the tour this fall among Oregon’s beautiful scarlet and gold colors, as life goes the trip was delayed – but to our delight the road trip Gods shined down on us once again.

With warm Starbucks coffee as sidekicks, Sarah and I ventured north from Eugene along highway 99 toward Junction City mid-Saturday morning. The care ate fog like thick cream of wheat as we crossed our fingers to actually even see the bridges at best.

Turning on to highway 36 west, we followed the curvy, two-lane road into the foothills of Oregon’s Coastal Mountain range. Frost and freezing fog stuck to the road-lining brush leaving little icicles clinging to the stiff plants. Through the fog you could only see the dim outline of country-houses and property fences, as the flat fields quieted for the coming winter hibernation.

Slowly though as we climbed ever-so-slightly in elevation the fog rolled down the hills – hiding now only in the deep knolls and the sunlight flickered through the trees like fence lattice.

Sun spotlight on Sarah at a rest stop along Hwy 36

By the time we rounded the bend into the small, water front town of Triangle Lake, the sun had broken free – illuminating the clear, flat water and reflecting the cloudless sky – that had been hidden through the morning.

Looking out over Triangle Lake

Perfect bridge jumping weather – especially since the limbs still needed some extra blood flow encouragement against the brisk, December air.

Continuing along Hwy 36, we pulled off at the first bridge of the day – Lake Creek Covered Bridge. Also known as Nelson Mountain Bridge, this white, covered bridge was built in 1928 (reconstructed in 1984) and spans 105 feet.

After 18 jumping photos, we struggled to brainstorm new poses. Yet to our luck,  our foolish lack of grace solved that problem – like this strange karate chop action-shot.

Lake Creek Bridge jump

Only a few more miles down the road, hidden off of Deadwood Creek road (doesn’t it just sound creepy), our last Covered Bridge waited. Deadwood Covered Bridge, constructed in 1932 (restored in 1986), also spans 105 feet and features false end beams and semi-elliptical portal arches with trim.

Surrounded by what else – deadwood – and with dark green-gray moss dripping from their crooked limbs, this bridge’s location while slightly-scary in the winter was also very picturesque in the time-has-stopped-here-forever kind of way. Even the damp air felt like it had been sucked downward into a time-warped black-hole – a few degrees significantly cooler than elsewhere along the drive. The damp air and rain also over time skewed the bridge’s floor surface leaving a creaky, slanted character to the wooden structure.

Going all-in, we clamored down the bridge – setting up the 10 second timed camera on the gravel ground, balanced on my iPhone to get the just right angle, for this last leap.

Deadwood Bridge jump

Lifting from the knees – I got my best height yet in this frogger-style jump – why it took me 20 bridges to finally learn to lift from the knees, who knows! – But what an iconic shot to end this adventure chapter.

I would love to continue the journey and complete all 50 covered bridges in Oregon – but officially Sarah’s friendship-bound contract is up – though I might try to twist her arm. We will just have to see!

Where should I go next for a leap-along adventure? Who wants to join me?

More photos: