Westward Ho Journey Facts

Total Miles Driven:  4390

Hours in the Car:  76.5 (at least!)

Total States Passed Through/Visited:  15

Books on CD completed:  2 (24 hours listening time)*

*Thank you, Lori for loaning to me what the library loaned to you!  I will send them back ASAP!



Life on the Ranch

Yesterday was a big day.  I went into Redmond again to get a few more items, and then it was back to the cleaning project.  When I got back to the ranch, Patrick, the man who was fixing the window, showed up to put the new window in.  Patrick used to live in the cabin, so he was able to tell me about the cabin, the land, and the spiders (YIKES!).  I have got to look up images of Black Widows.  I need to be prepared.  Actually, I am more concerned about running into the rattlesnake that has been spotted on the ranch (double YIKES!!).   Patrick finished the window and was about to leave when I said, “Ummm….Patrick…do you think you can show me how to start a fire in the woodburning stove?”  He was very willing to help out.  He asked if there was any fire wood, and I did not know…he asked me if the ax was still there…and I did not know.  So, we hopped into one of the transport vehicles in order to haul some wood back from the big house (not to be confused with the University of Michigan football stadium!).

photo 1

After we brought the wood back, he started chopping some of the bigger pieces in order to make kindling.  I said, “Can I try?” So, he gave me some good pointers, and away I went.  I took the ax in both hands, pulled it over my right shoulder, and “THUD!” The ax got stuck in the wood.  Patient Patrick gave me a few more pointers, and again, I pulled the ax over my right shoulder, and “CRACK!” This time, the wood actually split.  Many of you received texts about my new wood chopping skill.  I was so proud of myself. It didn’t seem to matter that it took me about 10 times as long as it took Patrick.

The next task was to actually start a fire.  Here is a photo of the stove.

photo 2

The fire is made on the far left, underneath the left burners.  I have to use the special tool (a lid lifter, I think) to take the burner covers off of the stove.  Patrick told me to put in some newspaper (of course I didn’t have any of that either!), then the kindling on top of that, listen for the crackle, then add the wood.  I had that thing going all day!

photo 3

I think that worked pretty well!  Once the cabin heated up, it was easier to do the cleaning and unpacking that was on my to-do list.  One of the first things that I did was climb the ladder so I could make my bed.

photo 4

  photo 5


Shannon (my dog) arrived at about 10pm last night.  I was very happy to see her, and yes, you guessed it, she was happy to see me.  She sniffed around a little bit outside, then she came inside and gave every square inch a good sniff.  Shannon is very used to sleeping near me (or the person she is staying with – thanks Aunt Mary and Mo!).  If she can, she likes to get under the bed.  However, as you probably figured out, there was no way she was going up that ladder.  I did think about it for a minute, but quickly realized that even if she could get up the ladder, there was no chance she could get down (a dog waiter prototype is in the works).  She whined a bit, but then she dug into her nest of blankets, and she was snoring in no time.  I did not sleep very well, but I am sure that will change.

Today was my first day of work.  Well, it was only a couple of hours, but it was my first assignment.  I have been remiss in explaining to you, the reader, what it is that I will be doing here.  I will be working for a family friend named, Dr. Juliana Panchura.  She is an orthodontist who treats patients in Bend, Redmond, and the surrounding areas.  Juliana also spends one week a month in Los Angeles doing orthodontics for cleft palate patients.  I will be doing some work for her non-profit, Kahoot.

Juliana established a program where her patients could volunteer in the community in exchange for up to half off the price of braces.  The whole family can volunteer, and each our spent volunteering is equivalent to $10.  The patients have vouchers signed by the non-profit (or other organization), and then bring those into the office.  A few years ago, Juliana started Kahoot (www.kahoot.org).  Kahoot expands the volunteer idea to include other professionals and services.  The website allows volunteers, business affiliates, and non-profits to sign up, and there is a search component as well.

This morning I spent a couple of hours at Project Connect looking for volunteer opportunities for Kahoot.  Held at the Deschutes County Expo Center/Fairgrounds, Project Connect, “…is a one day event that offers free services to those who are struggling to make ends meet or experiencing homelessness in Central Oregon” (www.projectconnectco.org).  This was really amazing.  They were providing vision screenings, dental services (pulling teeth and filling cavities!), acupuncture, and haircuts (and many other wonderful services!).  This whole event was run by volunteers, and I was able to make contact with many organizations who need volunteers.  What a great introduction to Central Oregon!

When I got home, I continued Project Unpack and Get Organized when I returned.  I have already given one tour via FaceTime, and I am available for more!  Book your appointments now. Better yet, book your tickets to fly into the Bend/Redmond Airport.  The airport is only 15 minute from the ranch, and I already know how to get there.  There are direct flights from Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and San Francisco.  Come one, come all!

For those who are concerned, Shannon is adjusting well.  She had some great walks around the ranch today.  I started her on the leash (especially as we neared the chickens and deer), and then let her off leash to run a bit.  For an 11 year old girl, she is pretty spry.  I love that about her, but I do not love that she still thoroughly enjoys rolling in deer poop.  She barked when Juliana knocked on the door, but she was won over by the big dog bone that Juliana brought.  A happy girl…photo

Thanks for reading!

I Have Finally Arrived!

Day 16:  Ontario, Oregon to Redmond, Oregon

Distance:  280 miles

Time:  5.5 hours

It was a cold start (40 some degrees) in Ontario yesterday.  It rained most of my drive, and I noticed that the temperature kept dropping.  I was especially surprised when I saw that the temperature was 35 degrees!  It was shortly after that discovery, that I spotted snow on the ground.  Several miles later, it actually started to snow.  Maybe the “Chain Up Area” signs that I saw should have been a clue.  I think I am glad that my Westward Ho journey was in September and not December (or even October!).


It was at about 12:30 that I knew I was getting close.  I came up over a hill and this is what I saw.


It was (is!) such a beautiful landscape.  Even though the weather wasn’t great, it was wonderful just to be able to see the mountains.  I was approaching Bend, and I only had a little further to go.  I had the address of the ranch plugged into my phone.  That is what was guiding me.  When I drove through Bend, I thought the directions were a little screwy, but I kept going.  I recognized a few street names and landmarks, but I became a little concerned (I have only been here one other time!).  When I read that I needed to go 4 miles more and the destination would be on my right, but I wasn’t on the right street, I knew this “smart” phone did not know where I was.  In a small panic, I called Juliana (family friend and new boss).  She was able to quickly get me back on track.  Soon, I was driving down the long driveway that leads to the log cabin (follow the red dirt road).

Driveway A few minutes later…there I was!  I was looking at the lovely log cabin that had been so beautifully adorned with welcome mums, other beautiful flowers, and a festive pumpkin.  It felt so good to be there.


I got out of the car and went right into the cabin.  It was very exciting to take a look at where I will be living for the next…however long.  After I checked it out, I walked toward the “big house.”  I was greeted by the 7 chickens who live on the ranch, too.  I did not start unpacking, I just took some time to take it all in.  I had a meeting with Juliana to discuss my schedule, duties, and the like.  A little while later, I gathered kindling and firewood to start a fire in the wood burning stove.  When I say gather, I mean that I went to the pile of wood and box of kindling behind the house and I carried it into the house. We had a delicious dinner, featuring garden produce, Oregon salmon, and a wine from the Pacific Northwest.  There was a window in the cabin that was in the process of being replaced, so I slept in the big house because it was going to be a low of 32 degrees.  That wood burning stove sure kept things toasty.  Since I am still in some other time zone, I was up fairly early.

I spent the morning in Redmond picking up cleaning supplies and other starter items (like toilet paper!).  I did some cleaning so that I could start fresh – literally – before I moved all of my stuff in.  I met 3 rather large spiders who thought they were going to share the cabin with me (don’t worry – I put them outside).  Then I unpacked my car.  It was a nice feeling to get that done in less than one hour (I did some MAJOR downsizing in the past 6 months).

Tonight, we went to a kick off party for the BendFilm Festival.  This was at the Deschutes Brewery Tap Room in downtown Bend.  BendFilm begins on October 10, and ends on October 13.  I will be volunteering for BendFilm, so it was nice to get an idea of what is all about.  The brewery created a BendFilm 10th year brew that needed a name.  You could write down your ideas on a large chalkboard.  Some of the suggestions included: Director’s Cut, Indie IPA, and BendFilm Brew.  I forgot to add my idea…Casting Couch.  Oh well.  We sat with some people (Walt and Gerrie) who were retired and lived in Sun River.  Guess what Walt used to do?  That’s right…he was a 6th grade Math teacher.  It was a fun evening!

Tomorrow I will get some more cleaning and unpacking done in preparation for the arrival of my dog, Shannon.  Shannon left my Aunt Mary’s (Jackson, Michigan) this morning.  My aunt felt good about the transporters, and said that Shannon hopped right in to the very comfortable van.


I called Doug (the driver) this afternoon, and they were in Iowa somewhere.  He said that Shannon was doing well, and that he wished all of the animals he transported were like her.  Doug told me that she did her business, and that when he told Shannon was a pretty girl she was, she wagged her tail.  He also implied that he would like to keep her. Uh oh!  He eventually said, “We will get her to you one way or another.”  Whew!  I have missed my dog, and I really look forward to seeing her.  I cannot wait to walk her around the ranch and let her explore her new territory.  More photos of life on the ranch will follow.

Day 15

Day 15: Salt Lake City, Utah to Ontario, Oregon

Distance: 386 miles

Time: 5.5 hours

Song of the Day: “Dog Days Are Over” (Florence + The Machine)

It was a beautiful day to drive, and it was a beautiful drive.  I had a great long weekend in Salt Lake City with Leslie, John, and Emmett. On Saturday we went to Snowbird to partake in the Oktoberfest festivities. It was a beautiful day for it. We took the tram up the mountain. 11,000 feet to be exact. What a view!  We happened to get on the same tram as the band of alpine horn players. When we got off the tram, they assembled themselves at the top and played several pieces. That was really something.

It was so much fun to spend some quality time with the Patterson Family. Leslie and John moved to Salt Lake City in 2010. After Leslie finished nursing school, I drove from Michigan to Salt Lake City with her to join John. I spent 2 weeks in Salt Lake City that summer. It was very interesting to explore the city. I went to the Great Salt Lake, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, Temple Square (featuring an organ concert at the Tabernacle), and I spent a bit of time at the FamilySearch Center.

I went back to visit in 2011. That time we went to an outdoor production of “The Sound of music” in Sundance. I also visited the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Natural History Museum. So, for this visit, it was nice to spend time with John, Leslie, and Emmett. It was also nice to get out of the car for a few days. My car stayed in the driveway from Friday morning to this morning. Salt Lake City is a great place. I am glad that I am only an 11 hour drive away, or one flight!


I cannot wait to see this little guy again.


I will arrive at the ranch tomorrow afternoon. It is hard to believe

Day 11

Day 11: Green River, Utah to Salt Lake City, UT

Distance: 178 miles

Time: 3 hrs

Song of the day: “Life is a Highway” (Tom Cochrane)

I arrived in Salt Lake City at about 11:30 Friday morning. I am pleased to report that the Precious Prize-winning Pickles have been Peacefully Placed with the Persnickety Pattersons (that alliteration is for all the Language Arts teachers out there!). The pickles are not prize-winning (but could be), nor are the Pattersons persnickety (but they could be). I will be staying with my cousin Leslie, and her husband John until Tuesday. The best attraction, however, is baby Emmett (9 mos). This child is absolutely adorable.


I have realized that there are 2 things that I say at each stopping point:

1)  Can I hop on your Wi-Fi? (The sign of a modern road trip)
2)  Oh, I think have that/some/one in my car! (The sign of a well-organized traveler)

Until next time!

Day 10

Day 10:  Denver, Colorado to Green River, Utah

Distance traveled:  445 miles

Time:  9.5 hours (including 2 hours at Arches National Park)

Song of the Day:  “The Horses” (Rickie Lee Jones)

The sun was shining brightly this morning in Denver (as it does 300 days a year in Denver!).  I was on the road by 8:30ish.  This drive was the most beautiful drive so far.  It was so pretty driving through the mountains of Colorado, and passing so many of the ski resorts (that I couldn’t afford to go to when I lived in Colorado!).  I crossed into Utah at about 12pm.  My first stop was Arches National Park. I did not know what to expect, I just knew that everyone I talked to said that it is a must see (special thanks to my brother, David, who suggested this stop). I was blown away by how beautiful this park is.  It is truly awesome (and I mean the real definition).  I spent about 2 hours there, which isn’t enough time.  I recognized Delicate Arch from photographs, but I had no idea what else I would see.  It is such a beautiful mix of rolling hills, mountains, and unbelievable rock formations.  I cannot use words to describe such beauty.  The best thing that I can say, is that I was totally overwhelmed by the landscape before me.


Unfortunately, I could not stay in Moab due to the Moab International Film Festival and Century Bike Tour.  I was able to find a room in Green River, Utah.  I needed this time tonight to catch up on this blog.  I am off to Salt Lake City tomorrow!

Day 9

Day 9 – Denver

I had a relaxing morning on Wednesday.  Before the girls left for school, Emily told them a story about me.  She told them that when she discovered that I liked to sing, she asked me to sing for her.  I agreed to do it, but I requested that they (Emily and Kelly) turn around and we had to turn the lights off.  Emily recalls that I sang Ave Maria.  I laughed when she told that story, because I know that I have done that to other friends along the way (Mindy? Kim?)! I got to visit with Emily some more after she took the girls to school.  Then I had to leave to meet my friend Forrest (Fo) for lunch.  So, I filled my water bottles, grabbed the precious pickles, said goodbye to Emily, backed out of her garage CAREFULLY and headed to Illegal Pete’s.

Fo and I met Freshman year at Miami in the basement of our dorm during the first few days of school.  I think I had gone down to the basement to do laundry, and I was waiting on the couches.  Out of nowhere, these two guys come bouncing (I mean literally bouncing…LITERALLY!) towards me.  These two Energizer Bunnies were Fo and Rob.  I think they introduced themselves to me before they bombarded me with questions: “Where are you from? What room do you live in? What’s your major? What’s your name?”  I shyly (seriously – I was a little shy) said, “Mary Clare.” He responded, “Mary what? Mary Christ?” I am sure I corrected him, but to this day (yesterday to be more specific) he calls me Mary Christ.    When I asked my college roommate, Katie, if she remembered how I met them, she said, “Not sure – I just remember they were the kings of the dorm!” A true statement!  Fo and I stayed in touch during our time at Miami.  So, when Fo saw my Blog posted on Facebook he messaged me to find out what was going on.  I told him that I was passing through Denver, and we arranged to meet for lunch.  It was so great to see Fo, and meet his wife, Claudia.  They took time out of the house demolition/renovation project to meet with me.  We had a great time catching up.  I am not sure when I saw him last.  I guess it is possible that it was at Miami – maybe 1997 or 1998.  Anyway, it was such fun to see Fo.


Fo and Claudia

After lunch, I headed to Amy and Todd’s.  Amy and I have been friends since the 6th grade.  We were NOT friends right away.  Amy tells a story about one of our first encounters.  Apparently, Amy asked me if she could borrow my eraser.  I let her borrow it, and she broke it (she claims it was an accident).  I became upset immediately (practically in tears) and said something like, “I had to buy that with my own money! It cost me 75 cents!” We did become good friends after that, and we hung out in high school.  We went on trips together, and lived in Denver at the same time.  When I was moving back to Ohio in 2000, Amy drove with me and a truck full of stuff (we were also going to attend a wedding in Ohio).  We thought it would be a good idea to tow her car behind the U-Haul.  It probably was a good idea, but it would have been a better idea to properly secure her car to the car trailer.  Thank goodness the car didn’t slide off, but when we discovered this little problem, we fixed it right away.

Two years ago, Amy, Todd and I (and another couple) went to London for a week and then went on a Seine River Boat cruise.  We had a great time!  Amy and I talk weekly, usually when she is walking her dog, Clyde.  The last time I came to Denver (January 2005!), I saw Amy briefly when she and Todd were living in the burbs.  I was excited to see their new downtown condo in the Glass House.

I drove downtown, and made my way to the Glass House.  I gathered my overnight bag, important documents, computer, and the precious pickles.  Then, I proceeded to the front desk to pick up the key.  Amy and Todd live on the 16th floor of this building.  SIXTEENTH!  It is a beautiful condo, with a gorgeous view of downtown Denver.  However, it is very high off of the ground – I mentioned that it is on the 16th floor, right?  Oh, and the windows are floor to ceiling (hence, The Glass House).  I have just a small fear of heights.  This about did me in.  I tried to go out on to the balcony, but that caused me some unpleasant feelings.


I chatted with Todd, and paid some serious attention to Clyde (the darling Cairn Terrier), while waiting for Amy to get home from work.  As I mentioned, we talk to each other once a week (usually on Sundays), so there wasn’t much to catch up on.  We had a great evening.  It was so fun to get to hang out and chat in person!  We were all tired, and it was going to be an early morning, so it was time to sleep.  I started to freak out a little bit as I thought about how far up we were.  I kept imagining that I would fall out of bed, and then out of the window.  It was totally irrational, but that fear of heights took over my mind!  I have no idea what that was all about.  Despite the height of her home, Amy is a terrific friend, and I adore Clyde (oh, and Todd).  It will be nice to be in a closer time zone.


Clyde, Todd, and Amy