|Suited up for the Bend Ale Trail.|
No, that’s not something dirty. It’s an annual statewide celebration of breweries and beerpubs, something many Oregonians consider only slightly less important than major religious observations.
I got outfitted for the occasion in my “girl versus beer” t-shirt and we vowed to hit seven local breweries in one afternoon. We plotted our course along the free shuttle route, budgeting time for lunch and mapping out walking paths between a few breweries.
We didn’t count on the snow.
An irresponsible oversight, perhaps, give it’s wintertime in a freakin’ mountain town. Odds of snow are high in February.
But the storm that blew through on Saturday morning caught even the snowplows off-guard. We had to push the car just to escape my street.
The free shuttle picked us up at the first brewery about 30 minutes behind schedule, which was impressive given the amount of snow on the roads. Our plan called for walking between three or four of the downtown pubs and reconnecting with the shuttle to reach the more distant locales.
Somehow, that didn’t happen. We kept missing the shuttle, so we kept walking. And walking. And walking. With snow flying at us from all directions, I felt bad for my sneaker-clad guests.
“Are you nuts?” they yelled back. “Of course not!”
We had a goal, you see. Those who complete the Bend Ale Trail and get passport stamps at all seven breweries get a commemorative silicone pint glass.
We wanted that prize.
More than that, we wanted to succeed. At some point, our mission had nothing to do with the beer or the prizes. We wanted to reach our goal, and we were willing to sacrifice a few toes to frostbite if necessary.
So we pressed on, stumbling from brewery to brewery with our passports clutched in frozen fingers. Most of our destinations were less than a mile apart – easy distances to cover in ideal conditions.
But these weren’t ideal conditions. These were sidewalks coated with crusty snow that came to our knees in some places.
“The next brewery is just around this corner,” I called as we trudged along. “Or wait – maybe it’s this one?”
We kept marching, our bodies numb more from cold than beer. We shouted with triumph each time we got a new passport stamp, knocking back a few small samples before heading out into the snow again.
When we walked into the final brewery, the fire alarm went off. We grabbed the fleeing hostess by the arm.
“Can we get our passport stamps before we evacuate?”
In the end, we sat in the bar oblivious to the alarm blaring around us, basking in the satisfaction of our achievement. When the shuttle driver arrived to retrieve us, we hugged him.
|Snow, endless snow.|
“That was a lot like writing,” I told my cousin.
“You mean all the beer?”
“That too. But also the fact that success is a lot more satisfying when you have to struggle like hell to get there.”
We all nodded wisely, still too numb too figure out if we’d just stumbled upon something very profound.
Have you ever accomplished anything that felt a million times better than it would have if you hadn’t worked your butt off for it? Please share.
And please don't ask me to take you out on the Bend Ale Trail anytime in the next week or so. I'm still thawing.