Sunday, March 18, 2012

High-Wheelin' Around Bend

I try to get out for a "jogging tour" of whatever town I happen to be visiting while doing author visits. It's a good way to see the area and helps get you over jet lag, but I'm notorious for getting lost.

In Bakersfield, CA I wound up climbing a fence and getting snagged on top. Stuck snagged. (Yeah, I was channeling Marissa.)

In Fargo, ND I got so turned around and hopelessly disoriented...and couldn't remember the name of the hotel I was staying in. Or the street it was on. All I knew was it was across the street from a Hooters.

I should probably have waited for a female pedestrian to inquire directions, but there was one pedestrian as far as I could see and so I just asked, "Is there a Hooters around here?"

I was desperate and tired and cold (even though I'd been running for an hour and a half), and yeah, he knew which direction to point me.

There was also that spooky bridge to nowhere in some desolate park in Atlanta, and confusion in the vicinity of the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. (Lesson: Never enter the Tabernacle or any of its extensive side buildings in shorts, even to beg directions. People in white will evict you.)

What contributes to my repeated lostedness is that there is no address on a hotel room key card.

There's also no room number.

All for safety, granted, but when you're in a different room / hotel each night the locations and room numbers become a blur. So even when I promise myself I'll remember, even when I say the number aloud, even when I take a mental snapshot of my hallway and its relative position to the EXIT signs, I wind up in tabernacles getting evicted by men in white.

I tried the strategy of a straight line. Go out for, say, twenty minutes, turn around and go back.

But sometimes a road doesn't go along for twenty minutes. Sometimes freeways pop up. Or roads T. Or there's a really cool park with drakes and herons and squirrels just over there.


So directions change, roads meander, tabernacles appear (and go on forever), and men in white rebuff my desperate plea for their knowledge.

Being someone who tries to learn from past experience, last week while doing school visits  in Bend, Oregon, I tried a new strategy.

I took a map!

Please. A runner with a map? How embarrassing is that?

Well, obviously you've never asked a man for directions to Hooters or you'd understand--not very!

I didn't have it out and open while running, come on. I had torn it down to the bare necessities, then folded and stashed it in my Race-Ready shorts' pocket.

Unfortunately, after I set out it started snowing. So I really should have been wearing SWEATS, but as bright as I am about all this I went out there in bare legs and froze (because my last pair of sweats was left at the beginning of the last marathon I did for ETRTR).

I did, however, have mittens and a beanie and a fat headband for my ears.

And a map!

I'd intended to go on an out and back with a straight(ish) shot through a park, but I did end up taking two detours. One took me through some scary ice by a river and required me to slip-slide through big 'n' nasty patches of goose poop to get back to being simply snowed upon. The other took me past the High Wheel.

I had no idea what a high wheeler was. And since the snow had, at this point, turned into a weird drizzle of ice-rain, and since I knew where I was and how to get back to my hotel, I could just have blasted past this wheeled wonder, but I actually stopped and read the plaque because I couldn't imagine what this giant thing was or had been used for and wanted to know!

Turns out it was used as logging equipment (before the invention of the diesel engine). A "buncherman" would bunch together felled trees, the "high wheel log skidder" would be placed over the logs, a "gopherman" would dig a tunnel under the logs and snake a chain beneath the logs, and then the front end of the logs would be chained to the long post of the high wheel, so a team of four horses or oxen could pull the high wheel (with the back of the logs skidding) through the forest to a collection area.

This is a picture of it in the springtime!

Okay. Normally I wouldn't stand around in an icy drizzle reading about antique logging equipment, but they had me at Buncherman.


And then there was Gopherman! How could I not read a plaque that had Buncherman and Gopherman as key characters? They sound like they belong in a Sammy Keyes book, and I spent the rest of my run back to the hotel chuckling to myself about Buncherman and Gopherman. (Well, except for a little break in that mental action when I saw a cool Beatles shirt in a store window and had to check it out.) (Squirrel!) Anyway, what's a little icy rain and goose poop when you've got superhero loggers in capes flying around in your brain? It was a good run, really, all things considered.

And you can bet I'll remember Bend.


Kylie said...

That sounds like a fun run! The wheel sounds really cool! The random squirrel made me think of the movie Up, which made me think of Doug and Kevin and Russel and Carl, which of cousre me laugh. Squirrel! This guys sound like they belong in a Sammy Keyes book, they really do! The fence hopping sounds a lot like something I would do (an it reminded me of a funny story that happened to me the other weekend!). Maybe the map idea is a gods idea, and maybe a piece of paper to write down you hotel name and room number.

Yusa said...

Your jogs turn out to be way more than just jogs. And like Kylie said, the random squirells reminded me of Up.
Why not use a cell phone to call someone for directions or as a GPS. My mom doesn't have one so whenever we're driving around lost she stops by the side of the road and asks some random person for directions. (I mysteriously reach down for something under the seat everytime she does that). She believs she doesn't need a cellphone and that it has 'rays'. Anyways did the map help?

Shaina said...

HA! This is SUCH a perfect running post. I can identify with so many of those hilarious little experiences. I did a study abroad in Chile back in college, and I got hopelessly lost on my first run there. I got back to the host family's apartment on prayers alone, exhausted and shaky. Then I had to go back out and figure out which bus to catch to get to class. Now I don't travel without my husband if I can help it.
Also, I CRACKED up at the image of you being...removed by men in white! I am LDS, and I've been to Salt Lake City--they can be intense, probably because they deal with SO many people every day.
Thanks for sharing! I love running stories.

Wendelin Van Draanen said...


Yes :-)

I've taken to writing on my hand. When I remember. So seventh grade, but hey!

I have a cell phone, but no GPS on it. Does give me a certain level of comfort. 9-1-1!

Glad you know what I'm talking about when I say men in white Shaina. Lesson learned. I'm keepin' my blue shorts out!

Yusa said...

You getting lost reminds me of Sammy's 'shortcuts'.I can't really get lost because my parents barely even let me off my street without supervision.Apparently its not safe for a 'girl'. The worst part is that my brothers didn't get any of this. BTW were you the youngest, oldest, or middle child in your family?

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Yeah, my shortcuts aren't intended and always wind up longcuts! I'm the second child of four.

Yusa said...

all brothers?
i'm the youngest child of 3 and i hate it. Fist of all since i'm an only girl my parents say i should do all the work while my brothers do nothing. Second, since i'm the youngest i have to listen to all of them. I want ac little sis so bad.

Kylie said...

Wow I feel like I have a large family compared to you all. I have four sister, one brother, two brother-in-laws, one niece, and five nephews, and I am the second youngest of all my siblings! But I feel bad for my brother because he is the second oldest and lived with all girls.

Hey Wendelin do you have a set date for Sammy's Birthday? Because a friend and I want to celebrate it if there is one!

Amanda from Seattle said...

Our hotel in Madrid has a wonderful little lanyard with a jogging map on it, it shows three different jogging routes from the hotel, with different distances and just enough other tourist info to keep you occupied--it is easy to wear tucked into your shirt and you can pull it out when needed. I don't actually RUN, but when walking around, I used it tons to learn the city center!

Anonymous said...

OH MY LORD. The 'squirrel's. I can't even begin to describe my reaction to those. Seriously, I pictured you like a meercat, with you palms hanging up by your face; frantically, suspiciously looking at your dangerous, unfamiliar surroundings and then--"SQUIRREL." LAUGHING MY REAR-END OFF. THIS WAS AMAZING. And, Oregon. Oh, jeez, I never thought that any scrap of amusing story could materialize out of that place (it's stereotype is basically like, "Orehon? Idaho? Wyoming?" No one usually knows or cares to enlighten themselves with the differences of such places)--BUT SOMEHOW, MIRACLE OF ALL MIRACLES, WENDELIN THE GREAT MANAGES TO MAKE ME LAUGH. THAT STORY WAS GOLDEN. Publish it. Do it. Now.

And if you say "squirrel" one more time, I will just die. You should write a movie screenplay or something. P.S: I am being a book nazi and forcing my 8-year-old sister to thrust the spectacular words of Runaway into her naive and naked retinas, enlightening her body and soul and pupils with the glory of YOUR WORDS. In novel format! :)

xoxo xxCLxx

Wendelin Van Draanen said...


Wendelin Van Draanen said...

Seriously, Steph, it's great to have you back.

More soon, promise!!

Wendelin Van Draanen said...

PPS Not ignoring others, just shutting down when Steph's came in. Now shutting down for reals, but back soon for this an previous neglected month of comments. Love all of you! Tata for now!