Monday, February 21, 2011

Will walk for beer

Suited up for the Bend Ale Trail.
My cousin and his wife came to stay for the holiday weekend. As luck would have it, their visit coincided with Zwickelmania.

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.

“Do you want to stop?” I called.
Chilling beer with snow at Silver Moon.

“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.
Later as we sat by the fire at my house eating chicken and dumplings, we commended ourselves again for our fine achievements.

“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.


Sarah W said...

Childbirth comes to mind, as it frequently does when "almighty struggle" is mentioned.

So do weddings. When I get the bugs worked out of that time machine in the basement, I'm going back and locking my mother and my pre-husband in a small, padded room while I make the wedding preparations.

In both cases, the struggles were completely worth it.

Unknown said...

Jeez that is determination :o)! And like anything - the more you want something the more you work to get it. Fact is, we only here about the successes, and usually they take a long time.

And yep - it's all the more satisfying when it comes!

Anonymous said...

I guess getting my massage certificate would qualify. I have a thousand hour certificate accompanied by 2000+ hours of actual massage done in the clinic. I took five years to do it. A big part of the struggle was maintaining myself in very expensive Southern California for five years while doing it.

Funny thing, while proud of the certificate, I now do nothing with it. Somehow during all that work I soured on the whole idea of being a massage therapist.

Still it was a good five years.

Bryan Russell said...

Easy is boring. If you're not bleeding at the end of the task at hand, well, it will be, at best, only mildly satisfying. Though raising the beer quotient may help level the field.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I want a "Girl vs Beer" t-shirt. Or maybe one that says, "Girl vs Red Wine." Or maybe both.

And, yeah, I just finished Draft #7 of my YA novel. There's nothing better than the mixture of pain and pleasure. (Did I just say that out loud?)

Danica Avet said...

This sounds like something my friends and I would've done in college. If there was "free" beer and a prize to be had, we were there. Yes, we would've trudged through the snow singing Neil Diamond songs and insulting each other.

For me, it was passing my Math 101 class. *laughs* I took it 5 times before I finally passed it (because I'm not a numbers person, people!). When I finally did pass (since five classes of the same stuff took a while to soak in), I think I might've cried with relief. Yeah, it was hard as all hell for me and I did it.

Trisha Leigh said...

I wish I had been there for the beer thing. I know with my manuscript, I thought it was fantastic, but if I hadn't worked so hard on it with my agent I would never have known how MUCH BETTER it could be.

The extra time and the millions of passes are totally going to be worth it. I hope.

Linda G. said...

Too many things to list. But, yeah, the work makes the reward so much sweeter.

And ugh on the snow. We're supposed to get sleet followed by 3-5" of snow tonight. Bleah. Sooo sick of winter...

Dr. Goose said...

Who is that beautiful beast in the picture with you? Oh yeah, and is that your cousin?