June 2, 2008

Life in the Inland NW

Now that we are back in Spokane, in our new house, life has settled down a bit and we are getting a good glimpse at what life will be like long term. School for me is over, residency is over, and fellowship is over. The first few years of practice will be busy, but I personally have tried to settle into life as I'm hoping it will be long term. This means getting a few more ski days each winter and spending more time outdoors and on my bike in the warm months. So far I've done pretty well. An "epic" winter (and I use the word "epic" very carefully, since it tends to be thrown around too much by some dudes) helped me get some great powder days in and really get my tele turn down--until I was sidelined for a while with a rib injury. There were a few solo ski days where conditions were so good I could hardly stand the wait in the chairlift, and a few rides down that were so exhilarating I could hardly keep the expletives in my head. I meant to write about some of these great days on my blog earlier but never got to it. Several days I had the clear impression that in order to move from here I'd have to be literally dragged by my ankles while clawing at the ponderosa bark and basalt.

Now that it is Spring, and one of the great things about living here is that there are actually four distinct seasons, I'm spending more time biking than I have in past years. And, like with skiing, I've had a few distinct moments while biking where I've had the overwhelming feeling that I'm in the right place and I'm not going to leave. That said, I've made a point of taking some occasional photos while riding to capture the great local scenery I get to see every ride. Another great thing about where we live is the open spaces. I can set off in any direction from my house and ride through wooded valleys or along rolling fields.


This is along Hangman Valley Road, with Latah creek along the right side, below the road. This is my regular daily ride route along the main road by our house. Up the road a few miles is a 2 mile hill where I measure my progress (how fast, how high a cadence, how high a gear I can ride up it). The road eventually hits a highway that is the entry point to an endless combination of quiet farm roads for nearly traffic free riding.


This is along Valley Chapel Road, a classic local ride off Palouse Highway. This photo is at the top of a challenging, sustained draw that exits from a nice wooded valley to the fields of the Palouse. I should have gotten some photos of the valley as well, since it is quite picturesque, but sometimes I don't want to stop riding just for photos.


This is further down Valley Chapel, an attempt to show tower mountain in the distance. Tower mountain is sort of the highest point along the south side of Spokane. The ride, as I like to do it, winds back around closer to this mountain. You'll just have to take my word for it that with the wide open sky and clouds, the scene was very striking in real life. Hard to capture on a cell phone camera.


This final photo was from my ride today, where I skirted the south hill neighborhood. A light rain kept the first half of the ride nice and cool. And as the rain moved on, the same rain graced me with a rainbow. Not a bad day.

So anyway, I just thought I'd share a few good moments that I think are the essence of a good life. I really don't have much to complain about.