What is it with bees and jam?  This morning we were enjoying our breakfast at Madeleine’s, a cute little French Café in downtown Spokane, when a bee decided that the jam on our scone looked really appetizing.  We had every intent of getting some work done out on the patio, but the bee was making it quite difficult.   He too was trying to enjoy the beautiful sunny morning.

The drive from Spokane to Pasco is the only part of our trip that is a repeat.  We traveled this road yesterday and found ourselves enjoying more of the funnel clouds that were forming on the recently plowed fields today just like yesterday.  We stopped by the NW Country Mercantile for lunch and some sweet treats.  This place seriously lives up to all my expectations and apparently today Anna and I both were having a bit of a sweet tooth.  This proved to be the right stop as we mixed and matched our way into a sugar coma.  And oddly enough the sweets we got today were our first road trip snacks!  Not sure how we’ve made it this far, but we have.

Pasco welcomed us with a balmy 96 degrees this evening as we set up our booth at the Tri-Cities Dust Devils game.  Our sponsor Liberty Mutual provided us with a few giveaway items such as notebooks, pens, and the big hit of the evening, stress-relieving baseballs.  The look on the faces of each kid who received a baseball was priceless.  It was as though they had just been given the best present ever and word quickly spread that the George Fox tent had baseballs.  We felt a bit like Admissions Counselors at that point and were able to have some great conversations with people wanting to know more about Fox and why we were in Pasco.  We might be in WSU territory, but this evening George Fox was in the house.

We had the privilege of watching the game alongside 15 alums, parents and their families.  Hearing about where our alumni are now and how they are using their degrees never gets old.  Unfortunately, the Dust Devils played the Boise Hawks and in the end the Hawks prevailed, but only by 1 run, much better than the ending at the Boise Hawks’ game on Wednesday.

Tomorrow morning is going to be an early one.  We’ll head out around 7:30am and make the trek up to Seattle for our 7th and final Ultimate Road Trip event, watching the Seattle Sounders take on the Vancouver Whitecaps.  As a Portland Timbers fan, it’s going to be a whole different experience than watching a game at Jeld-Wen Field, but I’m looking forward to seeing these two teams battle it out in Cascadia Cup play.

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Note to self:  Don’t accidently throw away your iPhone when tossing your continental breakfast – you’ll have to dig through the trash in order to recover it.  The iPhone survived, despite landing in a yogurt container.

Today we crossed three state lines – Idaho, Oregon and Washington.  It seemed like a great accomplishment considering it felt like we were driving through the same terrain miles after miles.  It’s a different kind of beautiful out here compared to the Willamette Valley and we’ve been soaking in the fields of corn, melons and cattle and noting the many funnel clouds we’ve seen form.

We stopped for lunch in Pendleton and hosted our fourth event – a luncheon with a few alums who work in Pendleton and live in the surrounding area.  At each stop in our trip, Anna and I learn something more about the history of George Fox.  Today we talked a lot about the building-boom that happened in the 80’s.  It’s amazing to think about how far the campus has come in the last 30 years.  Our alums love telling their story and we’re very blessed to have the chance to hear first hand about their unique experience.

Spokane welcomed us with a smile this evening in the form of 22 alums, parents, and friends of George Fox from the Spokane area and Northern Idaho.  We couldn’t have asked for a better end to a day of driving.  We had a great span of alumni ranging from 1973 to 2011 as well as some former parents.

Tomorrow we head back down south to Pasco for a Dust Devils baseball game.  Oddly enough, they are playing the Boise Hawks so we will get to see them play two times in one week. We are looking forward to meeting more alumni and parents tomorrow!

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This morning we woke up to beautiful views of Mt. Bachelor, the Three Sisters, and the Butte.  The scenery quickly changed as we headed out of Central Oregon into Eastern Oregon and on to Idaho.  Someone commented on our Facebook page that “Going to Idaho is like going to the dentist. There’s no real way to make it any easier. Just do it and get it over with.” We couldn’t agree more.  After driving for five hours we were grateful to reach our hotel just off I-84 in Meridian and down the street from the Boise Center.

This evening we hosted our third event at the Boise Hawks for 90 alums, parents and friends of Fox.  On our way out to the stadium we had several people smile and wave at us.  Then it dawned on us that it was most likely because Anna had drawn on the back window of the car “We <3 George Fox”.  All of a sudden we became high school cheerleaders with car paint and people were loving it.  Stay tuned for what Anna the artist comes up with tomorrow.

In the end the Hawks ended up losing in an embarrassing way, but a lot of connections were made within our group.  We may have even recruited our first student. It was amazing to see so many Fox people at the game, even several that weren’t with our group but just happened to be at the game and stopped by our table to say hi.

Tomorrow morning we head to Pendleton for lunch with a few alums and then on to Spokane.

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Our final stop of the day was at Jake’s Diner in Bend, Ore. for some BBQ out on their back patio.  Jake’s is known for their welcoming staff and large portions.  This is the truth!

17 alumni and parents joined us this evening and conversation seemed to always come back to the amazing weather Central Oregon has and how all of them are so thankful to be out of the rainy Willamette Valley.  Yep, the people of Central Oregon like their sun and mild winters

.  Maybe someday we’ll get them to come back to campus, but for now, it looks as though we’ll just keep coming back to the sunny part of the state.

For the night we’re crashing at the home of ’73 alum D.C. and Pam Lundy in Powell Butte.  They are in Ohio for the week, but have graciously opened their doors to us.  Luckily, they didn’t leave any farm chores for us to do – we’ve got a long day of driving ahead of us come morning.

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Note to self: The iPhone doesn’t always take into account that some of the passengers may be prone to carsickness.

While enroute to our evening event in Bend, Anna’s iPhone routed us on the Highway 242, the “Scenic” route.  Well, I don’t know about scenic, but I do know that after just a few miles in my stomach was not embracing all the turns, and I was driving!  After 24 miles of 15mph switchbacks we finally found ourselves at the highest point of the Mckenzie Pass and the lava fields surrounding the Dee Wright Observatory.  I’ve driven to Bend more times than I can count and have hiked in the Sister’s wilderness several times, but never once have I hears or stumbled upon this incredible feat of nature, until today.  65 square miles of lava, and a view of all six Cascade peaks, which were clearly visible today awaited us after our jaunt along a very narrow road.  Was it worth the flutters in my stomach and the near bumper run-in with a very large RV?  You bet, and someday I need to get back to truly explore this magnificent area.  In season of course, because most of the year the pass is closed.

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“The quintessential mom & pop, back-door, hole-in-the-wall, treasured-find, ‘do you know where it is?’ kind of place. Voted one of the best pizza places in Eugene.”

Our second stop on the Ultimate Road Trip found us smack dab in a wonderland of pizza.  The Coburg Pizza Company, owned and operated by Terry Dawson ‘85, boasts over 53 varieties of gourmet pizza using over 100 of the finest toppings.  This place does not leave you sitting unsatisfied and you can taste the quality of the ingredients as well as the long history of family recipes that have been passed down.

Terry was grateful enough to host the Ultimate Road Trip once again this year at their new location in Springfield.  Fifteen alums and their families came together to partake in this wonderful meal which left you wondering what the Coburg Pizza Company was going to come up with next as a unique topping.

If you have the chance, stop on into either of their locations and be sure to sample as many of their pizzas as you can.

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George Fox alumnus Dan Russell ’02 contacted our office a couple of days ago after reading about the Ultimate Road Trip and offered to provide us with a tour of his workplace.  Dan doesn’t have an average job – he is an officer in the Oregon Army National Guard and is based out of the Major Charles L. Deibert Operations Facility in Salem.  Dan recently returned from flight school in Alabama, where he learned how to fly Blackhawk helicopters.  He works alongside the Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) unit in Salem where they have nine HH-60M Blackhawks and respond to search and rescue needs here in Oregon.

Dan gave us a first hand look at the Operations Facility which acts as a command post, shared the history of his unity (some are currently serving in Kosovo), and showed us around the inner workings of one of the Blackhawks.  To say that these helicopters are impressive would be an understatement.  If needed the medical Blackhawks can carry up to six injured passengers and hold a crew of four.  The flying capabilities are astounding and Dan, along with other members of the unit, fly weekly training missions to familiarize themselves with factors they might encounter during a mission.

Our Oregon Army National Guard is fortunate enough to be flying the latest and greatest the Army has to offer.  And we are fortunate enough to have people like Dan who are willing to fly search and rescue missions when people need them the most.  Dan served in Kosovo and Afghanistan and plans to serve until his retirement.  Thanks for all you do for our country Dan and for sharing a bit of your world with us today.

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Getting ready to take off on the Ultimate Road Trip. Thanks to everyone who came by and supported us!

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This year the George Fox University Ultimate Road Trip will take off from Newberg for a 5 day trip with 7 events along the way! We invite all alumni, parents, students and friends of Fox to join us for a time of connecting with the George Fox community in your area and to hear an update from the University. See a map and read more about the stops we will make along the ROUTE.

We would love to hear your thoughts and comments about the trip! Are there places we must stop and see along the way? Are you living along the route but not at one of the event stops? Let us know! We would love to hear your feedback and comments on this exciting road trip of George Fox regional events.

Contact us at the office before we leave by calling 503.554.2134 or email Mary Monahan at mmonahan@georgefox.edu. You can also tweet #gfrdtrp!