Exploring Oregon957 mile loop. Portland- Mount Hood, Bend, Ashland, Eugene,Corvallis-Portland-Trip Rating 10.0We left Phoenix eight days ago with first class upgrades in hand. From thatvantage point I gazed down on the harsh and unforgiving Arizona landscape,happy to escape to a mellower more colorful environment that appeals to allthe senses.Although I have made countless trips to Oregon, I always look forward toreturning. I love the culture. Oregon is the running capital of the world.Oregonians are conscientious stewards of their beautiful state.I have been told that I rate on the superlative end of the scale, however,this tour of scenic, GREEN western and central Oregon was nothing short ofsuperlative! The weather was perfect. We also enjoyed some of the highdesert.Gerry has dreamed of Ashland theater all her life. I dreamed of returningto Hayward field at the U of O in Eugene.The American west is a dream to me. We should not, and cannot let terrorismtake away our dreams.Highlights of this trip include:-Hiking along the Metolius and Deschute Rivers-Slamming down Pale Ales at various Oregon Microbreweries-Tasting Oregon Pinot Noir-Hanging out in Sisters and Bend-Touring the Oregon High Desert Museum-Visiting Newberry National Volcanic Monument and Crater Lake National Park-Ashland Theatre-MACBETH and Cupid and Psyche performances-Walking in indescribable beauty in the park in Ashland-Visiting with the Cornelius family-Running on the track at Hayward field and along the Willamette River inEugene (Track City)-Climbing Spencer's Butte outside of Eugene in thick forests and sword fernOregon High Desert MuseumIf you like the Arizona Desert Sonoran Museum in Tucson, you will love theOregon High Desert Museum. It is Smithsonian class, a wonderful place tolearn about the nature and culture of the High Desert. Having lived in theHigh Desert for many years in Reno, I really appreciated the exhibits,animal habitats/interpretations, and the history. Don't miss it if you arein the area!Cornelius EstateWe had an absolutely wonderful visit with our good friends Rick andMichelle Cornelius and their two young sons, Josh and Jacob. Josh is quitea good 400 runner and Jake is outstanding in Babe Ruth baseball. They bothare good looking young men.The Cornelius family has a beautiful historic home on three acres. They areall doing very well. Rick and Michelle and quite involved and proud of theAshland community. We were treated royally and really appreciate their downhome hospitality. Rick makes the best martinis in the western world!The MECCA-Hayward FieldIn Eugene, my first order of business was to return to-Hayward field.Hayward field is even more holy to me than the old Boston Garden and FenwayPark.Hayward field is where Pre ran. Other legends, including Mary Decker andAlberto Salazar still work out on the track. Nowhere, is more important toNike, than Eugene and Hayward Field.The women's hurdle team was working out on that morning. They gracefullyglided over the hurdles, a beautiful sight.As youths, both of our boys won National TAC/AAU events on this field.I stretched and laid out in the infield with my eyes closed. I could hearthe announcer introduce their names and lanes. I could visualize theirfinishes.Exciting times.Track and Field may be losing it's popularity, but not in Oregon. It is myabsolute favorite sport.Hayward field also brought back the memory of golf balls driven by Delta's"Otter" that struck ROTC cadets on the helmet causing Neidemeyer's horseto buck him in National Lampoon's classic "Animal House" movie that wasfilmed at U of O. Unfortunately, the Delta house has now been torn down.This reflection brought tears to my eyes.That was then, Do it now!With that thought in mind and caught up with the spirit of the moment, ElLobo decided to do an all out 400, tight hamstrings and all.It was worth the pain and agony.The last time I ran a 400 was on my fortieth birthday at the UNR track. Inspite of a tremendous hangover I was able to break a minute. I didn'tbother to record my time this time around.I then limped to the OSU book store and purchased a hooded and pouched"Oregon track" sweat shirt. It is a prized possession.The very popular Men and Women behaving badly section.-Who needs a GPS along when Gerry is in the car. She started her driving"suggestions" as soon as we left for the Phoenix airport and continued to"suggest" driving tips for the full 957 miles.Gerry-For wining about being hungry and cold while she was telling me howto drive and then complaining about how cold it was at Crater Lake. Themanly El Lobo wore his sandals in the snow just to get a glimpse of themagnificent lake.El Lobo-For drinking three beers before the MACBETH performance and havingto find the rest room 10 minutes into the performance and then not allowedto return. He was exiled into a room with a television monitor to watch theduration.El Lobo for refusing to apologize to his soul mate on the way to thePortland airport for rude and bad behavior. After all, there werecircumstances warranting such behavior. We were late and there was a hugetraffic backup due to an accident. The helpful motorist advising El Lobothat his rear tire was going flat put him over the top.Home againLifting down into Phoenix, the surrounding landscape reminded me of kittylitter. I love sunny Arizona but it is not Oregon. I will return to theRepublic in August for a backpack with Rick to the Sister's Wilderness andthen in September for a backpack with Sawtooth Steve to the Eagle CapWilderness in Northeast Oregon. In the short term, I guess the canyoncalled the "Big Hole" by Chevy Chase will have to do. In the long term wewill continue to dream of building in Placerville California.