Buck Wild at the Wild Rogue Relay

Last year I discovered my favorite place to run is western Oregon.  Hands down.  So when Leah suggested we make a whole Buckmaster team for the next Wild Rogue Relay, it wasn't even a question.  I was there.

Team relays are a whole different breed of running, and it takes a very special breed of human being to head these events.  Sydney was on our team last year, but this year she was the captain of the whole operation!

The morning we went to the starting line I got to see her, preggo belly and all.  What a cutie!  {Okay, she's usually a little cuter without the kleenex hanging out of her nostrils, you're gonna have to take my word on this one.}

Kirsten took the first leg, and I had to squash the pang of jealousy, remembering the picturesque trail around the lake she was going to experience.  That was my favorite run last year.

Next was Leah, who quickly fell victum to knee and foot pains she'd been battling during training.  But  she fought through it and made it to the next handoff to this cute little deer.

No, she's not a Buckmaster.  In fact, most of our team members were only honorary Buckmasters.  Before this race none of us knew Jill.  We literally just picked up a complete stranger from a parking lot in Newport and took her to go camping with us.  The sweatiest, stinkiest brand of camping there is.

It took us about ten seconds to decide we absolutely loved her.  I mean, she brought a deer costume.

Ben and Chris were the other honorary Buckmasters in our van.  {Van 2 had Elizabeth and Mark, along with four honoraries.}  These strangers definitely brought up our team in both running time, and party time.

Here's something amazing about team relay races: people are happy.  I mean, really happy.  To the point of insanity.  

Every half marathon I've been in I seem to be running alongside people who look like they want to die.  Honestly, I probably look like I'm already dead.  But having team members cheer you on, coaching you, running alongside you, suffering with you, sweating with you {or on you} gives you this giant shot of adrenaline.  And you take that and cheer your guts out, bringing up the rest of your teammates with weird songs and dance moves and costumes and... basically insanity.

I love it.

Another perk of having teammates?  You run faster.

Two of my three legs I was able to make personal records!  More adrenaline, please.

I'll tell you what my slowest leg was, though.  The first.  Why?  It was the exact same leg that Jamie injured himself on the year before, and it doesn't take a genius to understand why.  The thing was straight up a mountain!  STRAIGHT!  UP!

It was the hardest run I'd ever done, and I was just happy to survive it.

And speaking of survival…
Last year, as the first runner, I never had to run in actual dark.  This year, as the last runner, my second leg was at midnight.  You know, when all the goblins are out snatching up runners and eating them alive.  Eek!

I was a little nervous.  If not about goblins, then how about bears and cougars?  After gentle encouragement from my awesome teammates, I put on a brave face.  I popped my headphones on and blasted my audiobook, hoping it would take my mind off of the fact that I was running in the middle of nowhere in pitch black night with nothing but a dim headlamp for guidance.

The book was captivating, alright.  But I kept looking back, wishing another runner would catch up to me so I wouldn't be alone, and then worrying I had taken a wrong turn and was running into the abyss.

Then the book got a little too captivating.  The main character happened upon the dead body of his friend, floating in a river and bumping against the docks at his feet.

My headlamp went out at that moment.
I came to a dead stop and swore up a storm while trying to get my headlamp to turn back on, and simultaneously trying to ignore the murder scene playing in my ears while I stood alone in the pitch dark.

The stupid headlamp was out of battery.  So I yanked my phone out of the flipbelt around my waist, turned off the audiobook, and found my flashlight app.  Then I sprinted.  One could argue that my personal record was set because I felt like I was running for my life, constantly searching the trees for glowing eyes.

When I caught up to the van they gave me another headlamp, but I spent the rest of the leg with a headlamp in one hand, and my phone shining in the other.

Freakin' scary.

After my second leg it was time to drive to the next major exchange, which took forever last year.  This time was no different.  Except that we didn't have the enormous 15-passenger van.  Lucky for us, Dennis allowed us to borrow his huge truck.  Lucky for him, I didn't high-center it precariously on a cliff.  Reeeeal lucky.

But the bed of the truck made for some great sleeping.  I got to wedge myself between my two sister-in-laws, who kept me warm all night.  In the morning it took me a while to realize that I'd woken up and wasn't, in fact, still dreaming.  Fog hung low in the trees, and dew covered us completely.  It was like a frosty fantasyland.  Gorgeous, but freezing cold.

We all got up for our last legs, which were awesome.
Shout-out to all the runners who had to deal with the road dust.

Team picture by the waterfalls!  It was Leah's leg, and we told her to run through our picture without stopping.  It couldn't have turned out more perfect.

My last leg was my favorite.  I guess because I wasn't scaling a mountain, and I also wasn't peeing my pants.  But on top of that, it was a gorgeous, mostly shaded road lined with evergreens.  This amazing lady that was around my mom's age totally killed me.  But she didn't just pass me up, she slowed to keep pace with me, offered me some of her water, and we chatted it up for a few miles.

After our chat she kicked it into gear and outpaced me.  And I thought to myself, that's exactly what I want to be doing in my fifties.  Making younger people look like wusses, but being totally nice about it.  ;-p

Just like last year, after our final legs we got to take a break for a few hours.  This time Dennis and Laura rented a beach house for us to stay in for a night, complete with a hot tub that I was looking forward to soaking my muscles in.  It had a beautiful view of the Rogue River, where Kelsey was able to fish.

We showered and dragged Camden and the rest of the family down to the finish line, where we waited to cross with the rest of our team.

Big Foot was a kind of theme this year.  But this guy just crossed the line...

Coming back to the beach house was great.  Laura and Dennis had dinner for everyone, which was great because the "vegetarian option" at the end of the race was actually just less food.  All I got was a plate of rice!  Thank goodness for Laura.

Of course the boys were busy getting into things.  But they looked cute in their matching pajamas from Aunt Kirsten's adventures in Alaska.

The boys were put to bed and I put myself in the hot tub, fully clothed.  We all sat on the porch talking and swapping stories with the other van.  Our team did remarkably well on time, and no one sustained life-altering injuries!  A huge success in my book.

Relays are just the best, and the Wild Rogue can't be beat.

To Grandmother's House We Go

With everything so up in the air with Roy's employment, it was clear he wasn't going to be able to make it to visit his family this summer.  Sad.  But that wasn't going to stop Cam and I from heading up to Oregon.  Have I ever mentioned that Newport is one of my favorite places on the planet?  And that I have the best in-laws on the planet?

It was sure to be an awesome trip, as long as we could survive the plane ride.  And I wasn't sure if we could.  I was freaking out.  I researched every article online about toddlers on airplanes, gathered as many tips from friends as I could, scoured Pinterest for more ideas, and packed my carryon with enough snacks and toys for about twenty children.

That carryon was so loaded, I had to use both feet to smash it under the seat in front of me.  It was a spring-loaded disaster waiting to happen.  And guess what?  It stayed down there the whole flight.

Had to take this shot to prove the miracle was true.  He slept in my lap!  And when he woke up toward the end of the flight, all he wanted to do was slide the window shade open and shut, open, shut, open, shut.  It probably annoyed the people around us, but I figured that was preferable to screaming and crying so I didn't stop him.

Aunt Kelsey and our cousin, Calvin, picked us up from the airport, and soon we were driving through the lush landscape toward the coast.  Every time I looked back Camden was just mesmerized by the greenery.  He'd never seen so much color flying past his window.

He fell asleep toward the end of the drive, and I was sure that if we woke him up he was going to be cranky.  Hesitantly, I got him up and brought him inside Grandma and Grandpa's house to say hi to everyone who was awaiting his arrival.

The kid must have known he was among family. Instead of being cranky, he switched onto hyper-mode and ran circles around everyone and everything.  He immediately re-fell in love with "Grrrrandpa" and Grandma, and had the time of his life throwing balls around with all of his aunts and Uncle Jamie.  I guess it's pretty easy to be in a good mood when everyone around adores you.

We got to stay in Newport for a week and a half.  Although we missed Roy, we had such an awesome time.  I know Camden is always going to be so excited to visit our Buckmaster family.

Even though Camden is enormous, he's something of a gentle giant.  Danny Jay, on the other hand, tends to be a bit of a firecracker.  Nine months younger, and many pounds smaller than Camden, Danny was still able to not only hold his own, but take what he wanted from Camden.  It was kind of hilarious to watch.

Aunt Kelsey feeding breakfast to two ravenous nephews at once.  Everything was a competition with these boys.

And then there was sweet Millie.  Enduring all of the ear-tugs and tail-pulls for the whole ten days.  Sweetheart.

Camden loved taking Millie on walks.  I think he felt pretty cool.  We took a walk every day because it was too beautiful not to.

It was also on these walks that he learned what the crow says.  They seemed to be everywhere around the neighborhood.  Ever since, Camden will tell you that every fowl says "ca-CAW!"  Even chickens.

What Cam did not love was the beach.  Poor kid was still genuinely terrified whenever we approached the roaring waves.

But he was happy as long as we held him close.

Danny Jay tasting the yummy sand!
{Pictures first, intervening later.}

"A guck!  A guck!"

Hiking to Drift Creek Falls.

Those tiny specks on the bridge are Leah and Jamie.

The water was frigid.  I videoed Kirsten wading through the water and climbing the logs, just in case she fell and we had something to send to America's Funniest Videos.  Just in case.

Cousin bath time!  That sweet smile on little Danny Jay is killer!

Aunt Leah gave Camden a much-needed haircut.  

We took that handsome haircut and Danny Jay out to the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse and visitor's center.

And then there was the best day of Camden's life, the day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  It's the equivalent of Disneyland for an 18-month-old.  This boy was all over the place, Kirsten egging him on every step of the way.


The boat slide, over and over and over and over… that is a good Grandma, right there.

Camden thought this tufted puffin was the funniest thing.  Every time it flapped it's wings and shook it's head in the water, Camden giggled.  Got it on video for the Buckmaster Disaster Video Archives.

We loved it so much we went back for more.  This time with a smaller crowd; Grandma and Aunt Kelsey.

Aunt Kelsey also took Cam on his first fishing expedition.

Most of the time he was more interested in scaling the hills, but by next year I'm sure he'll be dying to reel in his own fish.

We reeled one in!  Cam was obviously concerned for the fish's wellbeing.  I was concerned that the fish squirted blood onto my jeans, but hey.  It's all part of the fun, right?

Driving around the Oregon coast is never dull.  And usual involves chocolate-covered smiles.  And eyebrows.

Grandma and I took Camden to the library for story time, and we visited the cutest toy store called Sandcastle.  Another favorite was going to this park by the beach to feed the birds.

Loves his grandma.



And RUNS ALONG THE BEACH!  All ingredients for a perfect summer vacation.

Including these two dudes.  Can't wait until these two can really start developing a lifelong friendship.  Cousins are the best!

Camden learned how to pick raspberries.

And he ate a ton of them.

We had the best french toast in the United States, and I sent these next two pictures to my family back home, because they know of the goodness.

Some of my friends were surprised that I would be willing to spend so much time with my in-laws without Roy.  That made me realize how lucky I really am to have such great in-laws that I'm not only comfortable around, but love to hang out with!  We could have stayed there all summer.

At the airport we grabbed a hat for Roy, who had grown increasingly depressed that he couldn't be in Oregon with everyone.  Roy is such a mama's boy.

But that state roots deep in the hearts of those who have lived in and love it.  It's easy to see why.

We're ready to go back!