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.


15 thoughts on “Saturday morning, [or Thursday night depending…]

  1. Don and Phyllis Corkum

    It is so good you can reminisce about special times with your dad. Keep the reminiscing up. Our thoughts and prayers continue, believe me. We, too, want you to be able to ski with him again. Don and Phyllis Corkum

  2. Dianna Kallis

    I do so enjoy your Sloop stories, Greg.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Not a day goes by in the office, without a patient question,
    comment and offered prayer. Dr Jay blessed all whom he
    touched, in mighty ways.
    We too, continue in prayer. Love and blessings to ALL the SLOOPS!

  3. VG

    Pastor Dwight Nelson said something on TV this morning that made my thoughts go to your family as you, and we all, continue to pray for your father. I am paraphrasing, but he was speaking of delay and waiting, and said that the longer the delay the greater the magnitude of the miracle. How we pray for that miracle for Dr. Jay!!

    Also, I was so touched with your words in your last blog about your little dog going to church with you on a regular basis. Our guest speak last Sabbath told the story of a dog that went to church for many years with it’s mistress. All those years the lady was praying that her husband would find the Lord. Long story short, when the lady passed away the dog kept disappearing at church time each week. Her husband decided to follow to see where it was going and found himself trying to rescue the little dog from the church, but was so warmly welcomed that he kept coming and gave his heart to the Lord. Don’t ever underestimate the power of our beloved animals that God has given to us.

  4. Don/Louise Driver

    AS we read through your blog we came across the description of being “ROILed” and your observation of it being an an acronym. Several years ago my wife and I along with some church leaders developed an outreach ministry to inactive members that expanded to the entire congregation. We called this “Reaching Out In Love” and used ROIL as our “signature” when leaving special gifts at the door of unsuspecting persons. So now we are wondering if this ministry at your church is a “transplant” of our ministry here in Boise, Idaho. Just curious. We think it is really super you have been “ROILed” with a beautiful orchid plant.

    We are just two of a host of people praying for and with you as the search continues for your dad.

    Blessings and the peace of our Lord on you and the family,


  5. Jan E. Kiele, M.D.

    I thought you might like to know that folks in remote places like Eagle River and Chugiak, Alaska (as well as those in not-so-remote locales) continue to pray for the Sloop family, and especially for Jay. Our family has fond memories of the Sloops from when we attended the 35th Avenue Church in Yakima some years back, and look forward to seeing Jay and family again.

  6. Don Glass

    Greg, thank you for sharing your wonderful recollections of times with your father with those of us who know and love him! They bring back many memories of outdoor experiences we enjoyed with Jay, Sharlene and the “twins” while Jay was in the Air Force stationed at Reese AFB in Lubbock. Our son Jeffrey and Rick & Randy are about the same age and they were real buddies. We all share your grief and continue to pray without ceasing for his safe return or closure.

    How about you Randy & Rick sharing more memories in a book? It would be both uplifting and inspiring to the many friends whose lives have been touched by the Sloops ministry over the years.

    Don & Drucilla Glass
    Collegedale, TN

  7. SB

    About slowing down – I need to slow down and savor the people in my life. Simple things can be so meaningful, singing happy brthday for example. Life can be like the Colorado River during Spring runoff.
    About things not being a “given” – yes we dunked the raft in the Colorado, happened so fast. Seconds and everything changes.
    Lord, be with Dr. Jay as You have been. We pray You would bring him home soon. Thank you for telling us nothing can separate us from your love. ROMANS 8

  8. Gloria Opp

    I too just want to say, “Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories.” And I love the idea of a book!

  9. Janis McEdward Churchill

    Greg, My brother Pastor Rick McEdward had dinner with your father 2 nights before that morning walk. I knew that Rick was in Russia, as he missed his class reunion for his travel schedule. I saw a post on a friends Facebook wall about Dr. Sloop. I have been reading, and praying, and hoping that your father would be found. I’m fairly certain I have met your dad, I couldn’t tell you when though. I enjoy reading your family stories, and continue to pray for your dad and your family.

    Janis Churchill
    Renton, WA

  10. Paula Cobleigh

    Thank you for continuing to share your stories about your father. Not only does it allow me to get to know your family better, but it also digs up my own personal memories that I hadn’t thought about in such a long time.

  11. Karen Lamberton

    “May The Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May he send you help… and grant you support… May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. We will shout for joy when you are victorious… May the Lord grant all of your requests. ” Psalm 20
    Praying for you all…

  12. Loretta Mix

    Your Dad was instrumental in bringing me to Christ! Because of his personal interest in me, I went from being a cocktail waitress to Pastor’s wife, and now have a ministry, “Treasure the Light.” I would love to share my testimony with you!

    My thoughts and prayers are with your family. God bless you and may Jesus come soon!

    Loretta Mix
    Forest Grove, Oregon

  13. Debbie Rodgers

    For 35 years I have lived on Scenic Drive and watched your dad and mom walk faithfully by every day possible. I had known your dad as a doctor when I was in my twenties.

    Just a couple of weeks before he went on this trip, I felt the Lord instruct me to pull over and tell both of your parents what their dedication to our Father, their marriage and God’s people had meant to me. I explained my marriage of 38 years was in turmoil and I just wanted them to know how much their devotion to each other meant to me. Your father prayed over me…and touched my heart so beautifully. I left blessed.

    A couple of days later your dad showed up at my door to give me a great book. He stepped in for a bit, we chatted and he went on his way. When I heard the news my heart ached for all of you. My heart aches especially for your mom. She is in my prayers.

    Your Father is an inspiration to me and to so many people. He prayed for me and I am praying for him. He is a man who loves the Lord, has dedicated his life to others and was willing to go the extra step to care for a woman he barely knew.

    Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7

  14. SB

    Me too!!
    Jesus taught his followers they should always pray and never lose hope! Luke 18:1

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