Fall Adventures with Tom Handel

by Izzy Price

Do you like adventuring with friends out in nature? Does paddling through the salty spray of the ocean off the Oregon Coast appeal to you? How about sleeping under the stars under massive rocks perfect for daytime climbing adventures? And finally, what about laughing and sharing stories with friends as expansive cornfields roll by masked in the warm glow of the setting sun? If any of these sounds appealing, then the following trips are for you! 

We all know Tom Handel, the beloved outdoor programs manager here at OES. And each year, he offers student-initiated trips to various locations around Oregon. So, what are the trips being offered this year, and how can you sign up for them?

Well, the first is an exciting surfing trip. As Tom relayed with a big smile, “Surfing is one of those quintessential soul sports in Oregon and all over the world. Students who give it a try usually get hooked right away because it’s so fun.” And get this: it’s free! Yes, it actually is. There is no additional cost because OES generously provides rental gear, instructions, and travel transport. Currently, only 4 people have signed up and they need 50% of the spots to be filled before they can go, so if you’re interested to make sure to sign up!

And Izzy, where do I sign up?

I’m glad you asked. The signup sheets for all of the trips are posted on the activity board outside of the dean’s offices. For a fellow freshman who still might not know where things are (it’s okay, we all get lost sometimes) this is in the corner of the Great Hall, near the hallway out to the dining hall. Make sure to sign up soon: deadlines are 1 week before the trips and they’re coming up!

Next up, we have the Smith rock camp/climbing/caving trip. According to Tom, this option is “probably one of my most popular and classic camping trips.” It’s a one night overnighter where you drive out, set up camp, walk down into Smith Rock state park, (“it’s gorgeous, all these huge towering walls,” describes Tom,) and maybe do some climbing and hiking if the weather cooperates. And later in the trip, the whole group goes into Bend for some much-deserved pizza. After the tasty treat, everyone adventures into a mile-long cave and then drives back to camp. The next morning you wake up, go climbing one more time, and break down camp and drive back. It’s a student favorite that’s been going every year for about 12 years, so make sure to sign up and carry on the tradition!

And last but certainly not least, the student’s favorite and long-awaited adventure… give it up for the corn maze trip! Unlimited spots! Free food! Candy and friends! Bonfires! And much much more. “The classic corn maze” is one that any true Portlander knows: the big red barn on Sauvie Island and the expansive rolling cornfields/pumpkin patch turned berry fields in the summer. In fact, our own Tom Handel got his job at OES from moving out to PDX to help his friend run The Corn Maize. Keyword: MAIZE. I know. We’re all laughing. Furthermore, the corn maze room at OES got its name from Pat Freeman, an interested student, a name mix up, and the refusal to let go of all things good aka the name of this much-used room. And this year, the aerial design of the corn is of a sasquatch, Portland’s new mascot for fire safety (bye-bye Smokey). So if you like swapping stories in a gathering around a private bonfire, eating lots of really good local Oregon food, running and racing friends through the maze, and leaning back contentedly while the glow of a setting sun washes over your face as you cruise by cornfields in a wagon, then sign up now. As Tom said, “its agritourism. It’s a really great opportunity for students”, and a can’t miss for anyone who likes a good classic Portland adventure.

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