In 2000 on the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California a hiker came along who went by the handle of Iron John. He had been walking since the Mexican border and was more than half way to the border of Canada. As we camped together the night before a big resupply we discovered that we had both lived in Germany. In Bavaria. In the same town, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, at the same time. Seven years before, we had even been fired by the same unsavory manager! Yet we never met at the time.
John now lived in Portland, Oregon, and soon I was living there, too. I saw what entrepreneurs John and his girlfriend Marci were. John almost bought a large apartment building near the city center, but pulled out when he (fortuitously) discovered that the building had a bad environmental cleanup problem. Instead, John and Marci (now married) bought a decrepit house in a fairly seedy part of town and "flipped" it. Selling it during the height of the real estate bubble in the mid-2000s, as the seedy neighborhood became the new trendy district, the two set sights on a big move.
Trout Lake is a very small town in neighboring Washington State, about an hour's drive from busy Portland. John was looking at property there and took me along with him one day. He had discovered the entrance to a "lava tube" – a smooth sided cave – up the road, and we went to explore it. We had to squeeze through narrow passages, crawl on our bellies, and finally found some rooms with a stream running through. We were not the first ones here: in the back of one room was a rope hanging down from another hole at the surface.
So it should not surprise you one bit that John and Marci have built their own lovely house – just miles from the Pacific Crest Trail – raised two gorgeous children, started a business (making cheese), and discovered their own (giant!) lava tube for turning that cheese into a world class product. Recently a video has documented their activities: it’s only eight minutes long, so have a look –
And if you are lucky enough to find cheese made by Cascadia Creamery in a store near you, it is something that you really have to try. I bet even that “unsavory manager” in Bavaria would enjoy it.