When Jack sent out an invite a couple of months ago for the Oregon Wine Country Half-Marathon, I knew that several of our friends would be up for the run; I knew that even more of our friends would be up for the wine (I’ll give you one guess as to which category Shane fell into and which category I fell into). Runners were registered, an awesome house on the Willamette River was booked, and we were off! We arrived at the house on Friday night to join the Rust clan, who had set up camp there earlier in the week. And from the moment I set foot on the wide open wooden deck, I knew we were in for an epic weekend. When I said that the house was on the river, I wasn’t kidding – our party pad was literally floating on the waters of the quiet Willamette, with a big deck (complete with a firepit) and a shed stocked with numerous floatation devices. Even though it was well past sundown, I was already thinking about where exactly I’d spread our my towel the next day for an afternoon of sun-soaking. And I knew that the firepit held some definite s’more-making potential.
We were up early on Saturday to grab breakfast in Lake Oswego and then head to Portland, to hit the famous Saturday Farmers Market that fills the Park Blocks. Agenda: check out the food stands, lay on the grass, and grab a weekend supply of fresh fruit.
The nectarines were ripe and juicy – like summer wrapped up in a pretty, round, red-orange package. And the raspberries…O.M.G.
The market’s entertainment offerings weren’t bad either – the Rust boys were entranced by a man playing the didgeridoo – if only I had a video of the way little G was stomping along to the music…
After the farmers market (and a quick stop at Barista – so, so good), we headed back to the house and spent the rest of the afternoon swimming, sunning, and making sure our runners were hydrating and carbo-loading with cold beer and home-made pizza. The daredevils decided to use the second story porch as a launch pad into the river – Jack takes the prize for ‘best kung-fu dive’.
And Nancy easily won ‘smallest splash’.
As we all gathered on the deck to watch the sun go down, I was struck by how much I have to be thankful for – good friends, good food, and such a good, good life in the Pacific Northwest…
And good God, 10 hours later, I was up to see the runners off and watch the sun come up! 5:30 is way earlier than I’d ever choose to wake up on a Sunday morning, but this sky almost made it worth it.
A couple hours after our seven half-marathoners hit the road, the cheering squad set out for the finish line, ready with signs and grins and plenty of ‘wooooo-woooooo’s!”. The runners had registered together for the race under the team name, ‘tuna kambia’, which means ‘we are running’ in Swahili.
And indeed, they were running. Ten minutes before we expected to greet any of our friends at the finish line, Jason appeared on the horizon. This man has a gift – he’ll swear he’s never been a long-distance runner, and yet he ran 13.2 miles in 1 hour and 35 minutes. Insane!
Chris finished just a few minutes behind Jason, and then Shane trotted by, a tired-but-proud smile on his face.
Jack, Megan, Brian, and Nicole weren’t far behind. Everyone ran a really stellar race, and there were high-fives and sweaty hugs all around. It’s not entirely surprising that while most of the runners rejoined the rest of us with a water bottle in hand, Jack appeared out of nowhere carrying a glass of Rose. He’s been telling Shane for years that studies have shown that the best way to re-hydrate after a run is with a pint of beer, and so I don’t doubt he’ll soon be be singing the praises of wine’s post-exercise restorative properties.
So proud of them all!
After a few visits to the wine-tasting booths that had set up shop near the finish line, we decided to head back toward the house. But first, one short-but-essential pit-stop:
We had been wanting to checkout Winderlea Winery for awhile – we tried to visit this place when we visited Oregon wine country with Jack and La Verne last summer and were bummed to find that it was closed for a private event. But this time, we made sure we were the first ones in the door – we gathered around the big table and began to watch the Pinot flow.
The wines were tasty, the setting was gorgeous, and everyone was just so…merry.
Although I could have spent all day sipping and sunning on the winery’s patio, the runners were tired and hungry (and in need of showers…), and so we headed back to the house for an afternoon of swimming, lounging, eating, drinking, swimming, lounging, eating, drinking, and so on. That day will go down as one of my favorite days of this summer.
And just when the day felt like it couldn’t have gotten any better, Jack busted out this:
Yes, that’s a 3-liter bottle of wine. When Jack uncorked it, I thought, ‘There’s no way we’ll finish that thing.’ I was wrong. The rest of the night was spent stuffing ourselves on homemade chili verde, followed by roasted marshmallows for dessert. We were one tired, fat, happy group by the time bedtime rolled around.
On Monday morning it was time to bid a sad farewell to our riverside home. We ate a killer home-cooked breakfast together (seriously, our friends don’t mess around when it comes to eating), I soaked in the view from the deck one last time, Shane enjoyed a few more minutes of quality time with little Zebo.
And then we said our good-byes, not wanting to believe that the weekend was really over. Life on the water was so good while it lasted…