The transition from Oregon to Washington was one of extremes. Our 4 day stay with the Phillips in their house just outside of Portland was both incredibly fun and short lived. It seemed no sooner had we arrived than we were packing up our belongings early on the morning of our departure from the Portland area.
As one of the highlights of the trip, Portland proved to be one of the coolest cities I have ever seen. Riding the gondola, exploring downtown and experiencing some of the local bookstores and coffee houses were just a couple of the many adventures Cameron and Mallory took us on. All a prelude to the beginning to the most difficult and demanding stretches of the entire trip. I wish I was exaggerating for the sake of an exciting story, but there had not yet been a point along the trip where we had questioned the ability to complete the run on time until now.
As Zac described, we have eliminated rest days and shortened some of the runs to minimize our heat exposure. What you did not hear is how we arrived at this decision.
Our trek towards Washington began just as any of the other runs had started, an early morning and light traffic greeted us as we set out to conquer the Columbia. Within a few hours, the sun had burned away any remaining traces of fog or haze and what remained was much like running on a lava plain with no shade other than the occasional grouping of trees which we longed would last. The scorching heat wasn’t like Phoenix heat which I would describe as being grilled on a barbecue. No this heat was like being inside of a microwave, leaving us feeling almost claustrophobic from the stifling and stagnant air. Our 8 litres of water was rapidly depleted as we struggled to stay hydrated.
Then came the test. Our final mile and a half was the bridge that passed into Longview/ Kelso. Once again, the shoulder disappeared, the road ahead of us ascended into a steep climb, and the heat was on. Our path was cluttered with tons of debris from all the local logging trucks dropping large chunks of bark. I found myself struggling just to keep the baby jogger from shooting out into traffic. “Zac, I think this is our only chance to get a picture of us entering Washington. Let’s get a picture!” I cautiously handed Zac the camera, not wanting to stop moving for fear of fully realizing the gravity of the situation we had put ourselves in. I don’t think I’ve ever gripped the baby jogger that tight. A couple of shots of the sign “Entering Washington” and a couple of the mighty Columbia hundreds of feet below us fulfilled our need to document our “safe” passage into our next and final state.
For us, it was a bit of a dissappointment to realize that we had more runs to do. We had gone from having 9 runs to complete to 10, which may not sound like a big deal, but it was a huge accomplishment just to get down to the single digits of remaining legs.
But our dissappointment like many things on this trip was short lived. There is just to much adventure and unknown to really worry about the future. When we focus on the day at hand, it always seems that the day passes before we even have time to appreciate it. Our good friend Babe shared some pretty insightful wisdom with us that has been rolling around in my head since we left her home back in Eugene. Those of us who have grown up in or around church have always heard about trusting in Christ, about not worrying. It was a phrase that somehow for me had almost lost its reality through its repetition. Babe told me that faith and worry cannot exist simultaneously. They are not only opposites, they are fiercely opposed to one another, and if I find myself worrying, it should always be a reminder to remember who it is who I trust. Immovable, unshakable, sovereign and loving; that is the One whom I follow. It is not faith in faith that empowers us, but drawn directly from his Spirit that moves us daily.
It was this strength that took us to our next stop, one we had been looking forward to since we learned about it. Tucked away in the forests near Tacoma Washington is headquarters of the boating and watersport company “Active Watersports”. Set upon a beautiful man made lake, our afternoon was a much needed day of relaxation, as we would watch wakeboarders zip by just feet from the house. Although we opted out of spending the day out on the lake wakeboarding and waterskiing, the family understood that after running 20+ miles we were a tad short of energy. Early to bed and early to rise put us back out on the road, as we were yet to encounter our next obstacle, or should I say, adversary.
Now in all of our other runs, through many a rural setting we had always been wary of stray dogs. We had been lucky to not encounter any along any other stretch of road, but for some reason, I think the majority of rural Washington enjoys leaving their dogs in their frontyards. Our run from the lake took us past a number of dogs who seemed to be rather interested, or should I say angry at our running. One encounter was particularly unnerving in which Zac and I fought off a pretty aggressive dog who would have probably enjoyed our hamstrings for breakfast. Fortunately, swift feet prevented us from being dog food for the morning.
I will bring you all further up to date in my next post, which I promise will be much sooner than the last! Keep praying, we are just 3 days away!