Oregon Trail

When I was in elementary school the game to play in computer lab was Oregon Trail. The jist of the game was you were traveling west from Missouri to Oregon in a covered wagon in the year 1848, using the resources you had to make it to the promised land. Sometimes you would make it, other times tragedy would strike your wagon and you would not.

While in school at St. Scholastica, I always heard about how awesome Oregon was, especially the city of Bend. Two of my teammates were from Bend and they always talked of this magical land where you could ski on snow until June, mountain bike until your legs fall off and enjoy sun almost everyday of the year. I wanted to experience this land for myself, and every spring would try and figure out a way to make my way west. It never quite happened as different things held me back and my covered wagon never made it to Oregon.

This year was my year as I finally made it to Bend. I finally figured out a way to finance a reliable covered wagon for the journey, and a group of others to travel with. My wagon of choice was a Boeing 737, equipped with WiFi and entertainment options. For the final crossing from PDX to Bend, we used the Toyota Sienna Vagon. It was a long day of travel, but thankfully no one contracted pneumonia or typhoid as we journeyed to the promise land of Bend, OR.

When we woke up the first morning, it was pretty much a Nordie Nirvana. Blue bird sky, perfect snow conditions, and temps that steadily climbed into the 60’s. After all the years I finally got to experience what I had been missing every spring, but it made it that much sweeter. Bend is this magical place where you can ski, mountain bike, rock climb, and paddle all in the same day. It is an adventure playground perfectly situated in the high desert that has practically all seasons at once.

Thankfully I was able to be in Bend this year for the first camp of the year with the US Biathlon team. Training here for the last week has been incredible and has been a great opportunity for me to really work on ski technique on snow. We work a lot on technique during the summer months on roller skis, but it really is not the same as being on real skis. By the time we get on snow in the fall, we are pretty concentrated on preparing for the race season and don’t have the opportunity to really take the time to analyze and fix technique. Being able to analyze and tweak my technique this week has been great and hopefully will carry through the summer until I get back on snow.

The real problem this week has been with my new mountain bike. A few weeks ago I picked up my new mountain bike from Continental Ski and Bike in Duluth, MN. I used to work at the shop when I was going to school in Duluth and they helped hook me up with a sweet Santa Cruz Bronson for the summer. I decided to ship the bike out to Bend for the camp for my afternoon workouts. The problem has been that the bike is too much fun and I don’t want to stop riding it. It pedals and handles like a champ, and when my training plan only has two hours, I want to just keep riding it for three/four hours. There’s so many trails in Bend and I want to explore them all, but I just don’t have enough time. It’s a real tragedy, but just like I learned back in elementary school, the Oregon trail is full of tragedy and hardship.

So after many years of dreaming of coming to Oregon, being able to finally taste the flowing milk and honey has Bend sweet. Our team camp is coming to a close tomorrow, but I am staying to race the Pole Pedal Paddle on Saturday, a race comprised of 5 different events: Alpine skiing, cross country skiing, biking, running, and paddling. The hype for the race has caused similar symptoms to Birkie Fever, but thankfully not quite as severe.

So to close out this post I am going to talk about never assuming. Last night I told my two teammates I’m rooming with I’d make Chili for supper. It’s a relatively easy thing to make and I have made it before. So I gave them a list of the things I needed to make chili and they headed off to the store to grab them. After our afternoon workout yesterday I started to whip up a pot of chili. When it came to adding the chili powder, they had only grabbed about a tablespoons worth. I thought it wasn’t very much, but I figured I could use some other available spices need be, so just dumped the little bit in. After stirring it up and letting it cook for a little bit, I tasted a spoonful to see how much more spice I would need to add. About 3 seconds after my initial taste my nose cleared and I felt the heat of the chili hit the back of my throat. I cough a little and wondered, “Where did all that heat come from?” Like I said, I had only put at the most a tablespoon worth of chili powder and some salt and pepper in but the chili made me feel like a fire breathing dragon. Needless to say, we didn’t need any more spice. We tried adding milk, cheese, and whatever else to tame the chili and each choked down a bowl. Afterward, my stomach felt like it was on fire as the chili sat smoldering like hot coals. So when I took out that little baggy of chili powder, I assumed it was just your standard chili powder. It wasn’t. It must have been cayenne chili powder because it brought the heat. So never underestimate how much heat something or someone may be packing just based off size. It may end poorly for you.

Out shredding the trails

Skiing Perfection

Getting a run in at Smith Rock State Park

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© 2017 by Paul Schommer