Blogging, humor

Ride or Die…Ski Lift Style

Go Jules Go Title Graphic Ride or Die_ Ski Life Style 29JAN20

This doesn’t look good. I should probably make the prudent choice and turn around. I’ve still got all week before the new job starts.

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Rain turned to sleet, then snow, as I wound my way from Bend, Oregon to nearby Mount Bachelor, the city’s crowning jewel. Every winter, thousands of locals and tourists flocked to the snow covered mountain to…shred…powder…or something.

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I don’t understand half the things people say and do here.

When I moved from New Jersey to Bend last June, I made several promises to myself:

  1. Cultivate friendships that felt like family.
  2. Pretend being naked in the middle of the woods was normal.
  3. Go backpacking.
  4. Start dating running again.
  5. Tour the west coast.
  6. Ramp up The Vegan Dollar’s YouTube channel.
  7. Try all of the winter sports: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing.

In other words: Do all of the things that petrify me. As of this month, the only two left on my list both involved skis. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), Mt. Bachelor rewards new skiers with an incredible deal via their “Ride in 5” ski lesson package, complete with equipment rental.

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Gulp.

Because people swarmed to the mountain on weekends like Go Jules Go to compliments, I decided to attend my first lesson on a Monday. I had already talked myself out of it for two weeks. The memory of my one and only other downhill skiing experience was still powder fresh in my mind.

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Jules: Before [ski lesson, hiding in yurt].
I was 11, and somehow, in the course of two hours, managed to: drag my mother off the chair lift, crash into a fence, and fall down a ditch, requiring a pimpled, teenage rescue team. I’d always been considered an athletic kid, but apparently this was limited to swimming pools and soccer fields.

This past Monday, I turned left into the Sunrise Lodge parking lot, clenching and unclenching my jaw. Ten foot high piles of snow blocked any form of signage.

Seriously? They don’t tell new skiers where to go? This is a sign. I should just go home and hug my dog. 

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Snuggly dogs: a solid reason to stay within your comfort zone since forever.

Eventually -on the third attempt- I made it to the proper parking lot and found the check-in and rental office.

“You look excited!” the check-in employee exclaimed. He had clearly been born with a snowboard attached to his feet.

“That would be the sheer terror,” I retorted, feeling the wild look in my eyes.

“Oh no, you’ll be great! Let me just make sure I have all of your information… And what is your weight, my dear?”

I swallowed. I knew this was coming. I didn’t even lie, lest I increase my chances of death from 99.9% to 100%. Besides, it was printed right on my new Oregon driver’s license [because despite the endless smiles and generosity, they are MONSTERS here].

I was sure to tell everyone at the outfitting station that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, my eyes darting frantically from the rows of skis to the exit sign.

“I think Matt Damon wore these in The Martian,” I marveled at my borrowed ski boots. They were harder to get on than pantyhose after a steamy shower.

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Right?

“NASA actually used ski boots as the model for their latest expedition.”

My head shot up and I looked at the guy who’d just made the remark.

“I don’t care if you’re yanking my chain,” I said. “I choose to believe you.”

“Do you want a helmet?” he called as I headed outside, shockingly heavy skis in tow.

I stopped dead in my tracks.

“You mean we’re not just practicing how to take these on and off today?”

I’d been certain that, in a package of five lessons, lesson one was simply: These are skis. See you next time!

He laughed and walked over to a giant wall of black helmets. “I think it’s a good idea.”

“I’m not gonna argue! Safety first,” I replied as he jammed a 47-pound bowling ball on my head. I had flashbacks of a similar moment preceding my epic mountain cycling fail. He tightened the chin strap and I waddled outside, almost an hour early and feeling utterly ridiculous.

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My helmet, in all its bowling ball glory.

By the time my Australian instructor, Rohan, introduced himself, I was so antsy to get moving that I shouted,

“I’m Jules! It’s great to meet you!”

Because it was a quiet Monday on the slopes, there were only two other first-timers in my class, a couple from Brazil, who chose to spend their week-long vacation away from their hometown beaches and…learning how to ski in central Oregon. I sized them up. We were all going to die.

The lesson was two hours long, and much to my dismay, in under an hour, our downhill ski instructor announced that we were going to ski downhill.

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For the first round, that meant riding this escalator death trap. Oh sure, it looks like it’s barely on an incline in this picture. WELL LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING IT WAS AWFUL. AWFUL!

After nearly falling on Satan’s conveyor belt, which jerks you forward as soon as you place your skis on it, Rohan decided it was time for the real deal. The ski lift. The part I had been dreading since my summer ski lift tour.

Mount Bachlor summer ski lift Aug 2019
Hey fellow family members with an irrational fear of heights, let’s soar over a mountain of lava rocks to the (near) summit with only a flimsy bar between us and the open air! It won’t be scary at all!

“I’m not gonna lie,” I confessed to Rohan as we boarded the lift. “I’m glad these snow pants are waterproof.” I glanced skyward and said a prayer.

Rohan held my arm as we disembarked and miraculously, I didn’t fall. By the second and third rounds, I was launching off on my own with all of the confidence of a newborn giraffe.

“Looks like you two ah friends nowah,” he said in his Australian accent, nodding towards the chair lift.

“I might even let it take me out for dinner,” I grinned.

At some point, Rohan had to tell me to slow down and prove I was still in control on the turns.

“Wheee!” I cried as I flew past him and he laughed in spite of himself. When we hit the bottom of the hill, I said, “Admit it. We’re the best class you’ve ever had.”

“I’m very impressed,” he smiled indulgently. “It helps that you’re all athletic.”

And suddenly, 26 years in the making…

REDEMPTION. Turns out..

…I LIKE TO SKI.

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Jules: After [ski lesson, manic in car].
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Food, PSAs

This Year’s Must See Movie: The Game Changers

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What would you do if you found out there was an action you could take, this very second, that would:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve boners circulation
  • Drastically cut your carbon footprint
  • Save lives
  • Make me very happy?

The Game Changers, a much-anticipated documentary brought to you by some guy you might have heard of, James Cameron, masterfully illustrates just how much a plant-based diet can improve your health – and the health of the planet we share.

Starting today, you can watch this life-altering documentary on Netflix.

 

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Photo credit

Someone asked me, ‘How can you get as strong as an ox without eating any meat?’ And my answer was, ‘Have you ever seen an ox eat meat?'” -Patrik Baboumian, Germany’s strongest man

I was fortunate enough to catch the world premiere of The Game Changers here in Bend, Oregon last month, along with two friends and wonderful humans who worked on the film and live locally. There isn’t a single soul to whom I wouldn’t recommend this movie. It’s entertaining, funny, and chock full of information that will change your life, and our collective future, for the better.

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When I went plant-based back in 2016, not only did my health and recovery time [in athletic pursuits] improve, so did my entire outlook on life.

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Taking actions that align with your values can have that handy little side effect. (After a very serious 10-mile run at Smith Rock State Park last month.)

In fact, I was so moved by what I was learning that I went back to school for a Masters degree in Humane Education, which helped me focus on developing solutions to address human rights, animal rights, and environmental protection.

Excitingly, The Game Changers launch coincides with the continuation of my thesis project, The Vegan Dollar. Now that I’m done with school and settled in my new home, I’m doubling down on my ‘vegan food hack’ video series.

Once James Cameron and Ahhhh-nold have you stoked about your new lifestyle, I hope you’ll come check out some cheap, easy recipes that’ll make plant-based eating a breeze!

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Have you seen The Game Changers? What do you think?

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humor

This Wasn’t the Plan

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“We’re just gonna gun it,” Erin said.

The three of us stared up the hill from the safety of Erin’s Jeep.

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“If that Sprinter van could do it, we can do it,” Other Erin said.

Less off-road-worthy vehicles lined the road, their passengers watching to see who would tackle the beast next. On the other side of the cavernous potholes sat one of the best hikes in the area.

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And in central Oregon, that’s saying something.

Erin floored it and in a matter of seconds we knew: this wasn’t happening. Other Erin hopped out of the car.

“Okay, turn your wheels this way!” she shouted, motioning with her arms. My heart raced. We were dangerously close to rolling off the edge of the road.

“Don’t worry, the trees will stop a fall,” Erin assured me.

I peered over the side of the car, clutching Uncle Jesse. I am not ready to die.

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Well, you’ve done it again, Mom.

By the time Other Erin said, “Okay, your front wheel is off the ground,” I wanted to cry.

“I’m sorry, I need to get out,” I blurted and quickly grabbed Uncle Jesse’s leash, fleeing for solid ground.

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As I scurried down the hill to join the other onlookers, overhearing Other Erin say, “Okay, now three wheels are off the ground,” I thought back to the weekend’s adventures. It was Monday, Labor Day, and I was certain I couldn’t have crammed anymore excitement into a three-day period.

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I’M GOOD.

First, there was Uncle Jesse’s inaugural 10k, after which I drank a free hard cider (because this is Oregon), promptly vomited, then hiked uphill to a picture perfect lake where a new friend floated in a unicorn raft while I watched from a hammock strung between two Ponderosa pines.

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Then I picked up some Pacific Crest Trail hitchhikers who needed a lift and ran into a family whose raft tipped in the Deschutes River rapids, waiting with them until help arrived, followed by an impromptu sing-a-long at a friend’s house. That was Saturday.

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Uncle Jesse post-10k. Show off.

Speckled between those moments were more live music, planning my first backpacking trip, skinny dipping in a lake (okay, maybe that was a spectator sport for some), and hard cider – that I did manage to keep down.

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A year ago, I was slogging away on a Masters thesis, working full-time in Corporate America, hauling my $25-a-week Trader Joe’s groceries to a third floor walk-up into a 350 square foot apartment in suburban New Jersey, scrimping and saving every penny I could. I had planned to stay in my hometown for at least three more years, until I had just the right number stockpiled in my checking account.

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Uncle Jesse finds the only place he can spread out in the tiny apartment.

A year ago, the idea of living in a place where I could hike to a new lake every day, make instant friends, and bump into neighbors on the top of a mountain (more than once), was unfathomable.

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Hey, I know you!

A year ago, I hadn’t even met the friends who would help convince me to move to Bend, Oregon, sight unseen.

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They’re very persuasive.

As I watched Steve, a stranger and Patron Saint of Pothole Navigating, climb into Erin’s Jeep and expertly back us away from certain death, I knew life had many more twists and turns in store.

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Did someone say “twists and turns”?

A short while later, the Erins and some of my other new friends toasted on the shoreline of a beautiful, almost completely private, lake. While it wasn’t the hike we’d set out to do, we couldn’t argue against our good fortune.

“To Plan B,” we said in unison.

“And Steve!”

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Steve, you really missed out. (They’re naked.)

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How has life surprised you?

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Dating, PSAs

I’ve Hit the Shallow End

DISCLAIMER: Names have been changed because this is a very, very small town.

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What’s that? How’s my dating life going, you ask?

Well, after the guy who yelled at me and the guy who scarred my friend for life, things started looking up. A few days ago, I attended a community event and an attractive man looked very familiar. Had he been there last month? Was he someone I might have briefly met through an acquaintance?

“Hey Carrie,” I whispered to my friend. “Who is that guy? I swear I know him. Oh my god, wait, I think he just ‘liked’ me last week on my dating app!”

What were the chances? Maybe this small town thing could work for me after all! The fact that we were at the same event meant we already had a few key things in common. Score!

Carrie, in typical Carrie fashion, smiled demurely and said between her teeth, “I’ll tell you about him later.” Her eyes widened by a fraction of an inch and I nodded conspiratorially.

I kept my distance and Carrie texted me after the night ended, including a link to a social media frenzy.

Turns out my latest prospect was suspected of first degree murder.

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Oregon is a lot bigger than New Jersey, from where I just moved. The dating options, however, ah, well, may not reflect this.

“Make sure you text all of your friends before you go on any dates!” Carrie reminded me warmly.

Thankfully, I’ve been too tied up with visiting friends and family to fraternize with Oregon’s Most Wanted.

I thought back to the prior week, when I’d invited another dating app fellow, Adam, to join me for happy hour with a few friends. He had been visiting to see if he’d like to move here, and we had all regaled him with our own Relocating Success Stories. Adam had been smart, laughed at my jokes, had had an adorable rescue dog, and looked like Darren Criss.

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For those of you who are new here, I’ve been blogging about my Darren Criss obsession infatuation totally healthy crush since 2011.

Adam had texted a few times afterwards, but I’d suspected wasn’t going to move here. Would I ever meet someone swoon-worthy who actually lived in my town? Or did I just keep upping my sidewalk chalk game with the neighbors?

This picture really doesn’t do us justice.

Then there was the Australian gentleman who bought my groceries for me this weekend when my debit card acted up. Yes, that’s a thing that happens here, because I live in Shangri-La. Unfortunately, he was my father’s age.

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And I’ve had enough therapy for one lifetime.

So what’s my next move? Well, considering I signed a year lease, it won’t involve another physical move.

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And seriously. Who the f&@* would ever leave this place?

You know what? I think I’m just gonna hold out until Darren Criss gets a divorce.

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Has your dating life ever been so rife with the criminal element? That, much like, “Are you, grooming facility, accepting new dog clients?” is a question I never thought I’d ask until I moved to central Oregon.

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Dating

I Dodged a Bullet. Possibly Literally.

DISCLAIMER: Names and identifying features have been altered or hidden to protect… ME. TO PROTECT *ME*! ME, okay?!

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“It was the best first date I’ve ever been on. …Not that that’s saying much,” I shouted in my friend’s ear.

Sara turned away from the stage and grinned at me.

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I swear. There’s live music EVERY. NIGHT. in this town.

“Let me see his picture!”

I hesitated. “They don’t really do him justice… He’s REALLY cute. And tall! And has great teeth.”

I thought back to the previous evening. I had walked into a popular restaurant, the usual butterflies-or-is-that-just-dread filling my stomach, and a handsome guy had grinned at me expectantly.

Nope. Wrong color hair. Not him. …Shoot.

Further down, I had spotted a familiar face.

“Jules, hi!” the man had greeted.

I had been pleasantly surprised by his, well, everything.

“So you just moved here?” he had begun, and the conversation had flowed from there.

I had been in shock. A tall, attractive man, in his 30s like me, financially and hygienically sound, AND he had known how to ask questions? Well, I’ll be. A normal first date!

I had had to shake off the memory of my only other first date in my new hometown. Maybe the Oregon dating pool really would put New Jersey’s to shame! Please don’t do anything weird, please don’t do anything weird

The date had lasted a record-breaking four hours, and ended on the promising note of future hang-outs.

“But my gut is still saying no,” I had texted to a few friends. “It was like hugging my brother goodbye.”

I had wanted to slap myself. What was wrong with me? Over the next 24 hours, I wrestled with whether or not to text him. He had left the ball in my court, and the decision to reach out felt like trying to decide between Oreos or Nutter Butters.

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Don’t make me choose my own Fate! DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE MY OWN FATE!

“Come on, show me his picture!” Sara insisted.

I reluctantly pulled out my phone and found his online dating profile, holding it out to her.

“JULES. OH MY GOD. NO. NO!” she shouted, staring at me with wide eyes.

“What. What?!” I replied, my heart stopping.

“THIS IS THE GUY I TOLD YOU ABOUT,” she said. “HE’S. CRAZY.”

Sara started recounting details – details fresh in my mind because she had indeed told me the tale several weeks earlier when we’d first met and exchanged dating war stories.

Yup. She too had been out with my tall, handsome, “normal” guy.

“He’s the rage-a-holic who told me to buy Magnum condoms and badmouthed his ex the ENTIRE TIME! MY WORSE DATE EVER! ”

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I found this while walking home from another local concert. Apparently I’m not going to need it.

I scooped my jaw off the floor. “Oh my god! I’m showing you every photo from now on! Jesus. This IS a small town.”

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“What? Are you kidding? HE HAS GUNS. You saved me!”

Her face crumpled a little more.

“I’m so sorry that was your best first date!”

I burst out laughing. “I told you it wasn’t saying much.”

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What do you think? Should I give him another shot (pun, um, actually NOT intended, but now that it’s out there…)?

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Blogging, humor

The Dreaded Friend Zone

“Follow through.”

Chelsea, my friend and better half of the duo behind Traipsing About, was explaining the key to forming and sustaining friendship.

“You and Dakota are the ultimate Friend Makers,” I gushed, thinking about their impressive social circle. Somehow they managed to make everyone feel included and important. Their seemingly natural ability to link people together based on common interests was truly a thing of beauty.

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Did someone say “thing of beauty”? (I told Dakota I knew I was risking our friendship by using this photo, but doesn’t it make you want to check out his blog?)

“If you meet someone for the first time and want to build a friendship, you have to take the initiative and reach out,” Chelsea went on.

“That makes total sense,” I nodded. “I’m still afraid to send people Facebook friend requests for fear of rejection, and I feel the same way about being the first one to reach out. I wonder if that’s what holds other people back, too…”

I thought about my move to central Oregon (from New Jersey) a little over a month ago. I landed here with a few built-in buddies, including Chelsea and Dakota, which gave me a definite advantage in the Friend Game, but how was I going to reach that deep, comfortable, Real Deal Friend Zone with people I had yet to meet? It seemed almost impossible.

“Follow through is the number one thing people miss,” Chelsea’s words echoed in my ears even weeks later. “And why everyone thinks it’s so hard to make new friends as an adult. That’s really all it takes.”

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Being a baller plant-based chef like Chelsea helps, too.

I realized earlier this week that I’d been hiking every day and it had never occurred to me to invite other people. “No one cares about doing this,” I told myself.

In fairness, some of this royally sucked.

Really, though, I was just scared. Childhood bullying and a few failed friendships haunted me. The same tape I replayed in my mind when it came to dating wound ’round and ’round.

It’s SO hard to click with someone… Even if things go well this first time, what happens next? …If I look or act a certain way, they won’t like me… No one wants to spend that much time with me… And my #1 go to: S/He has so many other people who are cooler to hang out with…

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Hang on. Who’s cooler than this?!

No matter how many positive experiences I rack up, the old insecurities rear their ugly heads with a flaming vengeance. In fact, it’s fair to say that recently spending three days off-grid with a group of (then) strangers was even scarier than moving 3,000 miles from the only place I’d ever called home.

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See? Terrifying.

Every fear of failure and rejection I’ve ever had has danced through my mind during these last few weeks of whirlwind change. The fact that I feel happier and more alive, too, has me wondering if the two just naturally go hand in hand.

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Tim Urban (my bloggy hero) might depict it something like this.

After all, if you keep doing things that scare you, you eventually start upping the ante. So the fear never really goes away.

Hey, I wonder if anyone is actually reading this… They probably have cooler things to do.

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Have you found it difficult to make new friends as an adult? (Have you tried offering them homemade potato salad?)

I’m just saying it can’t hurt. (Photos from VegNet Bend‘s monthly vegan potluck.)

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P.S. – Speaking of friendship… special shout out to the woman who makes my world go ’round. Jenn turns (cough) 29 today!!

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Giveaway Junkie

GIVEAWAY: 10 States in 10 Days and All I Got Was This STUNNING BEER KOOZIE

Go Jules Go title graphic 10 States in 10 Days Beer Koozie Giveaway 20JUN2019

Ohhhh chipmunks. Things are so real right now. On Monday afternoon, after 10 days of driving across the U. S. of A.

Okay, so five were for a hiking break in Salt Lake City with Janeen, Renaissance Woman and Lover of Breakfast Pizza.

…I landed in my new home in Bend, Oregon!

Before I was allowed into town, they checked my resting heart rate, “Oregon” pronunciation, and facial symmetry.

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What I’m trying to say is everyone here is insanely fit. And hot. And smart. And nice.

I haven’t sat still for a minute, and I’m not sure I have enough years left to do all of the fun things on my Oregon checklist.

Completely unpacked and settled in by hour eight. Project manager 4 life.

I’m ticking one of the boxes next week, sans cell service, which means I won’t be putting up my usual Wednesday blog post, but I promise -PROMISE- the following post will make up for it. I mean it’s probably going to be the best thing I’ve ever written. Because it will involve your very favorite topics on this blog, based on the search term analytics that led you here: my suffering, sweating and -possibly- nudity.

To help the time fly, I’m going old school Go Jules Go-style and doing ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

Did you know that all you have to do to acquire THE BEST BEER KOOZIE (and deck of cards) EVER was drive 2,777 miles? Somewhere in the land of…well…LAND, I started to spot curious signs.

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Forget your Exxon Mobil. Forget your BP gas. I bring to you…

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Naturally, I couldn’t walk away from Kum & Go without a trinket or ten. And because I’m living the dream, I want to pay it forward. To you, dear reader.

ALL OF THIS CAN BE YOURS:

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Not the flowers. Sorry.

To enter, simply leave a comment describing your worst road trip (or other car) moment by 12 midnight PST (awww yeah, my first PST deadline!), Tuesday, July 2, 2019. The winner will be extremely subjectively chosen by whatever cute Oregonian is jogging (or stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking or mountain biking) by at that moment.

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