Flamingos and dirtbags - Amy Schmitz

The first of many beach walks.


Flamingos and dirtbags

Sept. 22, 2019

If you'd rather click through the photos in a gallery, go here.

When Mikey suggested we hit the Oregon Coast after this year's Hood to Coast relay, I might have groaned a little. We haven't been on vacation in two years, and we're going to the Oregon Coast again?

But once we got to the finish line in Seaside, all I could picture was relaxing on the beach for several days. Hood to Coast beat me up this year, and I needed a week to recover.

This fast flamboyance of flamingos ran their tails off and was thrilled with second place!/Photo by Stephanie Wang


Like last year, I was in Van 1. (Hood to Coast is a 199-mile relay of 12 people. So two vans of six women each. We each run 3 legs of varying difficulty and length.) But this year I had the hardest ranked and longest legs. I have no one to blame but myself for that; I was in charge of leg assignments.

This year Day 1 was way warmer, and I melted on my first leg.

I've never seen such clear skies at Timberline Lodge. We bundled up on Mount Hood for last year's start. This year we wore tanks/Second photo by Stephanie Wang.


I never really recovered from diaphragm spasms and probably a little overheating that first leg but ran a little better my second leg (farthest but flattest). By my final leg, I poked up the 600-foot hill but felt my best. Guess I was just happy to finish.

Passing to Jaime after my first (hot) leg/Heading back to the van after that first leg/Flo the Flamingo hung on for all 545 of Van 1's kills/First photo by Ruby Roberts.


My teammates faired much better, averaging 6:47 per mile over 199 miles. And unlike last year, we had only one slowdown not related to our running performance, when Jill, our first runner, got stopped by a train for about 8 minutes. (Hurray! No one got food poisoning this year!)

So the #GRRLS team placed second out of all women's teams this year in 22 hours 29 minutes and 47 seconds! 


Like last year, Mikey drove down Saturday morning to meet us at the finish line with the mutts. And we again camped at Fort Stevens State Park. We walked on the beach that evening. But my body felt so abused from the race that I didn't go for my usual recovery run the next morning.

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Instead of heading home, we drove south along the coast. I made no reservations beyond that first night, so we stayed wherever looked fun and we could find a place to sleep. Our next stop was Cape Lookout State Park, where the campground was full. But one dog-friendly cabin was still available. So glad we rented it. The front porch looked out to the ocean, and we fell asleep listening to waves.

Two evenings in a row walking in the sand made for some sleepy mutts/Zoodles with veggie balls and canned wine on the porch/The most relaxing sunset.


The trails at Cape Lookout were too tempting to take another rest day, so Tully and I ran 9 miles with 1,800 feet of elevation gain the next morning. But I promise we ran an easy pace. :)

Meanwhile, back at the cabin.


Mikey was thoughtful enough to turn the heat on while we were gone. Tully took full advantage when we returned from our run.


We headed south that afternoon. The viewpoint of Heceta Head Lighthouse was so freaking windy.


Mikey mentioned wanting to stop by the sand dunes in the central coast. So our next night was at Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park. We had time to climb a dune in adjoining Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area before sunset.

Mikey took my two favorite photos of the trip.


Camp looked a little different that night, as Mikey couldn't handle another night in the Land Rover's short bed. After that first night he declared it too uncomfortable for his 6-foot-4 body, and we made a little detour inland for an REI. We bought a tent tall enough for Mikey to stand in and a really nice inflatable mattress. Because of the Element's and Rover's setups, I hadn't car camped with a tent in eight years!

Tully and I went on a short run the next morning.



Then a return to our old favorite, Humbug Mountain State Park. It was Tully's first visit and I think the fourth for the rest of us.

We stayed two nights, and I took Tully on one my favorite running routes. And we tortured Winston with a little night photography. (He whines every time we stay up to shoot starry skies but put up minimal protest this time, probably because it was a little warmer.)


While we hung out under the awning, this large quail family ventured by. We had a hard time counting all the chicks. So many!

I finally had my beach fix, and we headed inland to Willamette National Forest. We had a forest service campground to ourselves for most of two days at the start of Labor Day weekend. 

The next morning, Tully and I ran the short trail to a nearby lake, and Mikey walked Winston on the same trail. They caught up to us at the lake, and we hung out for a bit before running back to camp.

Washing dishes at camp/Forced cuddles after trail time.



After two quiet nights in our most remote campground, we headed toward Sisters. Mikey dropped Tully and me at a trailhead several miles outside town. He headed into Sisters with Winston and picked us up at the town end of our trail. It was a touch warm in the high desert and by far my favorite run of the trip. It was just relaxing, and we barely saw anyone on the single track.

After a fantastic lunch in Sisters, we headed to Portland for much-needed showers and pizza. Tully and I went on one last run before heading home.

I truly enjoyed being on the road again. I missed our travels. Mikey is finally able to step away from a work project he's been on for more than a year and a half, so we have more trips planned for the rest of the year. In fact we just got back from a long weekend near the Canadian border. 

Also, this was Winston's first trip after we officially retired him from running. The 13-year-old could still put in the miles, but he was consistently gimpy. He's taking the change much better than I, but at least I have Tully. And Tully has gotten soooooo much better at single track. He used to fall back hard if no other dog was with us on dirt. Winston was his big motivator. I was thrilled he ran that 9-miler at Cape Lookout without any protesting!



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