Roaming with the Mosier Misfits

Last weekend we had the chance to hang out with our friends Colleen and Thad up in Mosier, Oregon (about 7 miles west of Hood River).   They are the proud owners of a sled dog team called The Mosier Misfits.  We talked about starting a photography project documenting their team and finally made our way up to Colleen and Thad's 40 acre property in Mosier.  Of course, we brought our home along with us!

I first met Colleen through her work with The Community Project, a non-profit that is working in Debre Berhan, Ethiopia to build a K-8 school, community garden and community center.   It's an incredible project and definitely worthy of a blog post on it's own (hopefully when Bill and I make it back there one of these years to help volunteer on the project!)   Thad is a software engineer and together they spend much of their free time training their 12 (!) dogs for 6 and 8 dog race competitions.    It's a fascinating sport that I was pretty ignorant about so it's been great to see all the different facets of training a team.

They currently have 11 'active' dogs (who believe it or not, Bill and I can now accurately identify!):  Wax, Flow, Rocket, Disel, Guillermo, Rose, Lilly, Comet, Oscar, Fido and Flash.  There are also three pups living the fabulous retired life - May, Becca and Samuel.   So yes, Colleen and Thad are the proud parents of 14 dogs.    And they are very much part of a big happy family - it's not unusual for all the dogs to come inside their house to hang out for an afternoon.  We got to experience this last sunday - all 14 dogs and 4 adults, hanging out watching football.     

We were able to tag along on two training runs - one with a 4:30 a.m. wake-up call to head up to Frog Lake on Mount Hood.  Unfortunately, it was a rather warm weekend so the snow conditions weren't ideal but it still made for some fun photos!  The second run was a short trek on the road by Colleen and Thad's house. Colleen drove the pilot vehicle to make sure traffic was clear (it's a very rural road with minimal traffic), so Bill and I hung out the back and tried to shoot the dogs in action.   It was a blast.    We are looking forward to following The Mosier Misfits and continue documenting them.    

The team is headed off to two races over the next two weeks, so Bill and I are dog sitting the retirees.  It feels weird to be a big ole house after almost 4 months in the Airstream!   

Thad checking out the snow conditions on the trail.

Getting Ready

Some dogs just can't wait to get going!

Out on the trail.

Thad and May

Sometimes training a sled dog team in Oregon requires a little creativity.

Running in the rain.

Big happy family--smiles all around!

Airstream in the mists of Mosier

Airstream in the mists of Mosier

Morning hike with Inga

Morning hike with Inga

Happy New Year from the Crooked River!

We decided to head off the grid for a little New Year’s retreat to kick off 2016.     For the past two Christmases, Bill took the Airstream to the Crooked River in Central Oregon, near Prineville, while I headed to Michigan to see my family.    After an unusually balmy Michigan Christmas, I wanted to see some snow and finally check out Bill’s bachelor pad camping spot.  It did not disappoint.   We stayed at Chimney Rock Campground, a BLM campground right on the river.    While not exactly a hot-spot for winter camping, we had the place to ourselves (aside from a couple of fisherman, our neighbor heron, a bunch of deer and a few beavers).   The views are stunning, incredibly quiet and peaceful, and it is FREE during the winter months.   We tested out the new solar panel, which soaked up the fabulous central Oregon sun.   Eventually all the ice we collected on the drive over melted, but our Airstream definitely is due for a bath.  Between the solar panel and our generator, we stayed toasty warm with temps down to 7 degrees at night.  (Although as I write this, we are trying to thaw out our pipes which froze overnight).

Our first day we did a sunset hike up to Chimney Rock (the trailhead is directly across from our campground) – lightly dusted with snow and a bit icy but gorgeous views from all directions.   On New Year’s Eve day, Bill did a little fly fishing on the river, then we tested out our new snowshoes near the Steins Pillar.  Last but not least, we hit up the local Prineville brewpub Ochoco Brewing Company and a dive bar for some New Year’s Eve drinks. New Year’s Day was wonderfully mellow including– Bloody Marys, black-eyed peas, a campfire, setting plans and intentions for the next year of adventures, naps and finishing off with a viewing of Star Wars at the local old-school movie theater in Prineville.

We originally planned to head back Sunday but luckily, we checked the weather on our way through town to more snowshoeing adventures.   It looked like Sunday would be dicey so we packed up (in record time!) and hit the road Saturday afternoon.   The snow found us around Maupin but luckily it was pretty minor.  We rolled in to Roamer’s Rest and were settled back in by 10 pm.   Just in time for the snow and ice storm on Sunday and Monday!

Stein's Pillars at sunset

Hiking up to Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock at sunset

Bill prepping for a little fly-fishing on the Crooked River

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Chilly morning on the river

Our neighbor

Bloody Marys are essential for 2016 goal-setting

Bill's amazing black-eyed peas stew for New Year's good luck and prosperity

Setting fire to New Year's intentions

Burn baby burn!