Monthly Archives: June 2013

One month.

Dad, Mom and Sasha.

Today marks a month since Dad went missing.

It, on one hand, seems like an eternity. But it also seems all of a few days.

Let me first stop to tell you what we know, which isn’t a lot.
The police continue to do their work. Investigations are often slow. We hope that this one will bring us some good news. It can be hard, some days, being hopeful.

The police tell us they are still investigating – but the word is always; nothing new, no new leads.

All the thinking we, and all the experts, have done give us no real motive for why this would happen. We can’t imagine any reasonable reason for holding him, or for harming him. It’s hard to imagine someone having a vendetta against Dad either.

So, we are left with the same horribly frustrating feeling – no rational sense for why, who, or even how.

That is difficult. We all like to have order, logic and some semblance of the rational when we try to make sense of things. This event has left us devoid of all that – sense, order, logic, rationality.

Yet we continue to have faith that “He is our God, and we are His people.” We continue to pray for a miracle. We would love it, if you would travel with us; praying and asking God for his will to be done:, for his comfort and care for all of us, for Dad, and for all of you too. We all need it.

I have a few words of thanks I want to give.

Thanks to all of you who have already offered your prayers, your thoughts and care. Thanks to all who offered their time, their food, their kind words, thoughts, hugs and tears. Thanks for your email and posts. Thanks for the phone calls, the letters, the many thoughtful things you’ve done for us.

I should have done this long ago…

Special thanks to:
Tyler Morgan
Jeff Lamberton
Evan Kinne
Ron Miller
{and all their families.}

These folks dropped everything to go to Kiev and help out in the search. They went into a completely unknown environment to help. I’m sure it worried their families greatly. We cannot say “Thanks,” enough.

And while Jeff Sloop is family, I’ll say that I was incredibly impressed with his skill, level-headedness and generosity. His care for “Granddaddy” shows in his immense desire to find him in good health and bring him home. I’m sorry Jeff that you couldn’t – sorry for us all. But take pride in your effort. You did an incredible job, in an incredibly difficult task.

I’ll also say that I’m very thankful for Lora and Lois, [Mom’s sisters] who came to stay with Mom, and help her. She too is incredibly grateful for their time and care.

To Randy: You went and endured the long hours and the stress. You left no reasonable avenue untried. Then you had to leave without having Dad come home with you. That has clearly been very hard. “Thanks” is such a small word. It seems inadequate. Though I don’t know what more one say? Really, “Thank you!”

Christine kept things going at work and home while Randy was away, and I know she worried – probably a lot more than I know. So, “thanks,” to her too for lending us Randy!

Rick and Linda have watched over Mom this whole time too, handling a million details that only someone being there can do. Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do.

I’m sure there are many others whose names I’ve left out, who I may not know about, or who helped us unseen. I’m sorry I can’t reach out to each of you individually and tell you how wonderful you have all been – we’ve been so very grateful for all your help. Thanks, so very much.

Now I know this reads a little like an ending – but I don’t intend it that way. I just don’t want to forget to take the time to tell everyone thanks for all you’ve done.

We want all of you to know we noticed, we saw, we felt your care. And we appreciate all of it – such great helpings of care – we could never begin to repay. We just accept them, grateful to have such wonderful friends who care so much.


So, let me tell another story.

…I don’t recall exactly how old I was for this story, but I had to be in my late teens.

It’s in the same place I’ve discussed before – due south of “Sourdough gap,” not too far from the summit of Chinook pass.

We had a “father-son weekend” backpack trip with a group from church. It was a short trip, a weekend – hike in Friday night, and back out Sunday. It’s not a long hike, but the trail isn’t good either. There is lots of very heavy brush and slide alder etc. Much of the way, it’s no better than a deer trail – if that.

…So, we arrive in the car, just as it’s getting dark Friday night.

This is typical Sloop fashion – at least these Sloops. Lisa and I can tell you about all the times we’ve finished our hike-in, when backpacking, in the dark – by headlamp. We light the lantern to find a marginally reasonable spot to pitch a tent, and drop off to sleep, exhausted.

[The upside is, when you wake up in the morning – it’s like a surprise – you’ve not seen anything farther than perhaps 30 feet around the tent. But hiking in the dark, tired and late, isn’t the most fun you ever had. Just ask Lisa. J ]

Dad and I get out our packs and things. We get ready to go, and realize that, yes, it’s getting very dark, so even hiking very fast we’re never going to get there before it is pitch black. And when you’re hiking underneath such a thick canopy of brush – even a full moon isn’t going to help much. [Not that I recall any full moon.]

We look around the car. Hmmmm. No flashlights. No headlamps. No lantern.

Ah! A candle though! You know the kind, a stick candle. It was probably half used – with no more than six inches left.

What Dad had a candle in the car for, I’ll never know. And matches… I suppose we *were* backpacking, but even then – having matches was practically a miracle.

We didn’t have any wind-shield for the candle – so the whole idea seemed crazy to me, but we thought we’d try it. We’d hike the one and a half to two miles to the lake from the trail-head by candle light.

So, I hold the candle, and we get out the matches. We light the candle and then carefully walk along.

As you can imagine, a candle doesn’t give off much light – especially to the person behind. So, I’d walk half sideways, holding a hand in front of the candle to try to shield it from the wind and the breeze of walking.

Dad would follow along behind, trying not to stumble over too many things – trying to stay out of the spring/creek that runs along through there. I’d try to watch to be sure he got enough light while trying to watch where I’m going too.

Through all this, I’m trying to be careful not to fall down; Not only because I didn’t want to fall down, but I didn’t want to get burnt by the candle. And worse, wanting to be very sure I didn’t fall, drop the candle and start a fire in the brush. I’m sure starting a fire wasn’t likely, but it seemed there were more than just a few things that could go wrong in any given second.

It seemed incessant that the candle would flicker and nearly go out. I’d hold my breath, try to shelter the candle more, and stop to let the flame grow full again. Then we’d start moving once more.

We had the candle go completely out at least six times during the hike. We’d stop, in the blackness, find each other, make sure we were close enough, dig out the matches and Dad would light the candle again. Often, the match would blow out before the candle lit, and we’d try again [and again.]

As we got near the end of the hike, the supply of matches we had in the book was getting pretty low, and the abrasive strip to light the matches on was getting pretty worn too. I, if not Dad, started to worry about getting stuck in the middle – where we weren’t to our destination and not at the car either, when the matches or candle ran out.

The wax from the candle was by now almost entirely coating my hand and we were down to less than an inch of candle left.

Finally, not a minute too soon, we crested the ridge where the trail goes downhill to the lake, and the trail improves a lot too. It’s a very short walk to where everyone was camped – a few hundred yards or so. We’d made it – or almost.

A few minutes later, with only one more re-lighting ceremony, we arrived where everyone else already had gathered. We were right on time – Sloop time, anyway.

The fire was going and I think everyone else had their tents pitched and ready. We found a place to put ours [in the dark] and then sat around the fire. We cooked dinner and I recall roasting some marshmallows. Dad probably even ate a few – though I don’t recall for sure.

The rest of the weekend was uneventful. We hiked out Sunday morning, so there wasn’t any risk of needing the candle again.

But we had a comfortable time, and it’s one of the last times I recall being out with Dad before I got married. It’s one of those times you remember – a last time before a turn in life changed things so what was, is not the same again.

But Lisa and I have come back quite a number of times to this same spot, both with Dad and without.  [I’ll have to tell about the summer we were newly married and went with cousin Janet.]

Remembering these places are impossible without thinking of all the quiet, peaceful times we have spent: Skiing. Backpacking. Day hikes

Some alone; some with Dad. Some with much of the family. Some while young. Some not.

In all of it, I see Dad and his love of the time outdoors. I see now, how he was different, more relaxed, taking life a little slower – though still more driven than I probably appreciated. But the times Dad got away from work, from caring for his patients, and spent them outdoors – I’m sure those were some of his most cherished times. I’m glad I got to be with him for at least a few of them.

I’m glad I did, and I’d still love to have the opportunity to do so again.


[Posted with almost no editing – so excuse the inevitable typo’s and grammatical mistakes. I may come back and edit it later, if I get time. So, don’t be surprised if it changes some.]

Saturday morning, [or Thursday night depending…]

[It’s funny, but I actually made this post Thursday night. This morning, after some extra sleep, it dawned on me that I might not have made it so the world could see this post. It’s interesting what sleep deprivation will do to you huh?]

I have no real news about the criminal case the police have started into Dad’s disappearance. I continue to pray for Dad’s return, even when that possibility seems remote.

Right after riding his bike, perhaps even before, Dad’s favorite thing to do was go cross-country skiing. We started long before it was popular. I’m not sure how we came to know about REI back then but it was in the early days of REI. Like I said, I remember the tar and creosote smell, and the old original building back in the early 70’s. [It’s too bad there wasn’t a way to move that smell to the new building.]

I remember a few of the early trips to REI when I was quite little. I vaguely remember getting the cross-country skis – but I mainly remember longing over the Toblerone Chocolate. Such cute triangular packaging, and they smelled wonderful.

One of our favorite places to go when we go into the woods is around the area where the Pacific Crest trail crosses Highway 410, or the Chinook Pass highway.

The view of Mt. Rainier is incredible from the summit, and all along the pacific crest trail from Sourdough gap to Pickhandle point is incredibly beautiful.

If you’re interested, you can find it in Google maps, here:

I remember many winters cross-country skiing into the area just below placer lake to a little cabin. We only occasionally got to go into the cabin since we didn’t have a key or really know anyone who did, but we’d often ski up to it and eat lunch outside.

I was quite a lot younger and less stout than my brothers so skiing up to the cabin was a pretty tall order. I remember just slogging through it many, many times.

That ski trip isn’t what many people think of when they think cross-country skiing. It’s NOT rolling hills and endless kick and glide. It is steep going up, and often icy and treacherous going back down. And this was in the days when you didn’t have wax-less skis that climbed well in any snow.

Back then, you used a torch and melted some gooey tar stuff into the base of wooden [not fiberglass] skis. [I really don’t know what the gooey black stuff was, I just remember it bubbled like a witch’s brew, and looked and smelled quite a lot like some kind of tar.]

Then you’d have several kinds of waxes, of varying softness you’d rub on the bottom of your skis. The wax had to be soft enough to “catch” the snow when you stepped down on the ski – that would give you grip. Then when you slid forward on the ski, the snow would release, and you’d glide.

Well, that was what was *supposed* to happen. And, if you picked the right wax, I’m told it would happen. But it seemed, in my experience, that you were just as likely to run across the Easter-Bunny, the Tooth-Fairy and Santa Claus all at the same time, as to get the wax just right.

Either the wax was too hard and your skis slid nicely, but gripped nothing, or you got too soft of wax and the snow would just glob up on the bottom of your skis and you’d never slide anywhere. If it was bad enough, the ski wouldn’t even stand flat for the ball of snow on the bottom.

If the skis didn’t grip, you’d have to stamp each foot down as you went up the trail. You’d carefully place your poles behind you, pushing hard with your arms, and gingerly step forward. About 90% of the time, as you’d take a step, the ski you were standing on would suddenly start sliding backwards. If you were lucky you didn’t fall down and lose more ground than you’d just covered in that step. If you were unlucky you got to dig yourself out of the snow, dust it out of your pants, boots and gloves, struggle to your feet and try that whole process over.

Ok, I’m probably wrong, it wasn’t 90%, it was more like 95% of the time.

Climbing with too soft of wax was usually pretty great, unless it was way too soft – then it was terrible both ways. But once you got to the top, and were prepared for an easy trip back to the car, it was infuriating! You’d be trying to slide and glide and no matter what you did, you couldn’t get the skis to slide. They’d just stop. And then you’d stand with one leg up in the air to scrape the snow off the bottom of the ski. Usually this maneuver would end with you falling over.

Being young and less physically skilled, I can remember how frustrated and discouraged I’d get. The socks would make my ankles itch and hurt. I’d get wet. I would be so exhausted and tired. I probably spent more time laying in drifts and eating snow than actually skiing.

But Dad would stay with me, and encourage me to get up and try some more. I can’t say I remember these early trips with fondness. But I think Rick and Randy both enjoyed skiing a lot. As I got older, I started to enjoy it more too.

Dad clearly loved skiing. Every weekend we had the opportunity, we’d be up skiing. I know many times he, Rick and Randy skied far up the valley and enjoyed the incredible sights.

The quietness of the snow-covered forest is incredible. When the sun was out, the snow would sparkle and flash. The air was crisp and clean. Green evergreen trees, covered with snow. Blue, blue sky, flashing sparkles as the snow reflected the sun and sky – it was simply spectacular.

…and eating snow. There’s something just incredible about it. I still like it today – it’s probably the first thing I think of when I see snow!

I may not have always loved the skiing, but I’ve always thought snow was simply amazing for its beauty. In my opinion, there’s just nothing that compares!

On one of these outings I had a bird eat out of my hand for the first time. It was right near the cabin on a sunny winter day. A hungry Gray Jay was eager to eat the crust of my PBJ.  I didn’t realize it until later that they will practically take the whole sandwich out of your hand, unbidden. But at the time, it was an awesome experience I shared with Dad on a day where I, mostly, enjoyed the skiing

Even earlier in my life, I recall a few years when we got very little snow in the mountains. I only vaguely recall the finer details – I was probably six to eight years old at the time.

Usually the Chinook Pass highway closes at Morris Creek at the beginning of the winter. The road is quite exposed and many snow avalanches come down over the road. So, they close the road in November or so, and reopen it in the spring.

Yet that year, the road stayed open. Except for the very top of the pass, there just wasn’t much snow.

But I remember going somewhere, I think near the summit, to a place where there was a big hill. Rick and Randy built a jump at the bottom of the hill and spent what seemed like hours climbing up, skiing down and flying over the jump in our Nordic, wooden, cross-country skis.

There’s another “feature” of the old wooden skis that only a few managed to discover. The tips of the skis are definitely breakable. And once you’ve broken the tip of your ski, it doesn’t ski so well anymore – at least not on the top of the snow.

Randy, if I recall correctly, broke more than one ski over the years. We ended up buying an emergency plastic replacement ski tip at, where else, REI. I don’t think any of us even knew such a thing existed, or that you’d even need one, until it happened to us the first time. But it did allow the poor victim to get back to the car without too much trouble.

Once back home, I remember Rick and Randy fashioning and gluing a lamination patch and sanding the patch+ski down. I don’t recall exactly how well that worked, but I don’t think it was so great, because I don’t recall seeing those skis for long.

Going out skiing was one thing the Sloop boys did regularly with Dad. And I think the memories we all have are of quiet, astonishingly beautiful scenery spent with Dad.

I know that while Randy and I are not around to go skiing with Dad anymore he has continued to go up and enjoy the snow with Rick and Linda and their family. I’ve heard he’s started using snowshoes as he worries about falling more than he used to.

Years past he would have scorned snowshoes – they weren’t his idea of the thing to use. But now that it is snowshoes or nothing, it’s amusing that snowshoes aren’t so bad anymore. I’m sure that’s an adjustment, yet it’s an indication of how much he loved the snow, being out in nature and the pleasure that it brought him.

I’d love to get a chance to go enjoy the snow with Dad again. I’d probably even have fewer excuses about why we couldn’t go – we’d slow down our lives, I think. Perhaps we wouldn’t take so many things as given and stable. We know now, more than ever, they aren’t.


Tuesday evening…

I don’t have any news about the criminal investigation that’s on-going in the Ukraine. I’m not sure if we’ll get any information, and if we do, it may well just be “We are still investigating…” which doesn’t tell us a lot either.

So, we continue to wait. We continue to pray too.

But we have been showered with wonderful treasures since we came home. I almost feel guilty, since I think my Mom deserves them more than I/we do.

I’ve had contact with friends I rarely get a chance to talk to. [Mostly my fault…]

I’ve had cards and letters that have been incredibly touching. We’ve had notes and texts that are so very kind.

Last night we had just climbed into bed, trying to get some extra sleep [though it was 10p, so it wasn’t exactly early] and “ding-dong” the doorbell rings!

Who in the world is ringing the doorbell at 10p – and unannounced, we wonder. I throw on some clothes – no need scaring the person at the door – and wander out to the front door. I open the door, wondering who I will see? A neighbor? A horribly misguided door-to-door sales-person?

Well, there was not a soul in sight when I opened the door – but there was a beautiful Orchid there. It had a note attached. [Yup, that’s it up there!]

It was a gift from some unspecified friends from the church we attend here. They call it “being ROILed” – where the ROIL is some acronym. We’ve participated in the past, giving gifts to others – but I, for the life of me, can’t remember what the acronym stands for.

The idea is to “sneak” up to the unsuspecting recipient and deliver a gift without being seen – an anonymous, small charitable, caring act for them.

And tonight, I’d been working at a client’s until nearly 7:30p – everything took way longer than I thought it should…like five hours longer. <ugh!>

We’d met at noodles for a simple dinner – and while we ate, Rachelle worked on science, prep’ing for a test tomorrow. [I don’t ever recall having to learn that much when I was in fifth grade!]

Lisa had a few things to do on the way home, so I took Rachelle in my car. When we turned onto our street, we noticed something on the door-step from a couple of blocks away.

Rachelle immediately says “So-and-so” was turning on to the main street as we turned in. Ms. So-and-so issued a non-denial-denial when I texted her my suspicions. 🙂 But again, we had a very nice thoughtful gift. Something for each member of the family – including Rosie, our darling little mini-dachshund.

[And for those of you who aren’t good friends of ours, or who don’t go to our church – I’ll let you know of a little “heresy.” We take Rosie to church – not just occasionally, but most every week. So, that she would be treated too, only seems fair and especially nice that they remembered her.]

So, I’m so touched – wonderful friends, true caring, such gentle and empathetic friends. Lisa started to tear up when she saw the card.

What inadequate words there are to espress our feelings. But “Thank you” will have to do.

We love you all too.



Sunday night [just barely]

Last night we were all sitting in the living room with Mom. It was Lisa, Rachelle and I, along with Rick & Linda, Randy & Christine with their kids Katie and Jacob. Sasha and Josh were there too, along with Stella [A great-grandchild.] We missed Jenny and Jeff – though Jenny had joined us the evening before via skype [and when that eventually failed, facetime.]

Many of us had had a difficult day. There are so many things that remind us of Dad and that brings up the uncertainty we have about him…all the questions one has: What happened? Why? How could that happen, or how could we have prevented it. Why us? When will we see him again?

You know, all those hard questions that there aren’t any great answers for right now.

But that doesn’t stop us from wanting answers. It doesn’t stop us from thinking about it. And it is hard feeling these feelings and watching others struggle with many of the same feelings.

Yet, even with the hard emotions, this weekend was a really incredible experience where we enjoyed the friendships and care with all these truly precious people who are part of our family. We feel incredibly fortunate, incredibly blessed.

I got to sit at dinner and hear the grand-kids talk about their camping trips with Granddaddy [Jay] and all the crazy things that happened. [And I’m sure I only know the smallest part of it.]

In closing, let me say. While it’s one of the hardest weekends I’ve had in a long time, it was one of the most rewarding too.

I wish I was closer to all the kids – Jenny, Jeff, Katie, Jacob, Sasha. Each is so wonderful to watch and brings their unique personality. [Sloop Grand-kids: Should you ever need something, someone to talk to – I’d be honored to be the person you come to. I wish the best for each of you.]

I wish I were closer to my brothers too. It’s not, at all, like we’re estranged – but life and a million other things that, at the time seem terribly compelling, always seem to come between us and really connecting. I’d like to change that too. So, I’ll try. I may not succeed, but I’ll try.

Anyway – the summary is; Along with many sad times, we also really had some enjoyable and very meaningful times too. It would be really nice to keep doing that, and even better if we could do it with Dad too.