The Allen Throop Page

Brief history of Allen Throop, as seen (mostly) through the eyes of Henry.

This is a page for and about my dad, Allen. He's been a writer, geologist, father, teacher, dog trainer, mountaineering trip leader, canoe builder, tandem captain, and source of inspiration and happiness to me for the last 31 years.

As of February 2003, dad has been diagnosed with ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease -- cf. Stephen Hawking). ALS takes away the motor neurons, meaning that voluntary muscle control (arms, legs, speech, swallowing, etc.) becomes more & more difficult. His physical life now is mostly limited to trips around the house pushed in a wheelchair or carried in a lift-crane. Motor neurons account for well less than 1% of the body's mass, but without them the whole life experienced by moving about the world is lost. I've been so lucky to have the assistance of him and his motor neurons throughout my time here.

NB: The dates and actual places here are mostly close, but only rarely 100% accurate. Unlike my father (who can remember the history, wind speed, and local geology of every dirt road in Eastern Oregon he drove down), I have the memory for neither maps nor months.

For dad's view on things, see the articles he's written. 

Also, see the AHT photos page for more photos!

Update: I put these pages together about a month before dad's death. He died early in the morning of April 12, 2004, after choosing to stop eating and drinking 15 days earlier. He wrote his obituary several months before his death. The support from everyone in Corvallis and beyond has been unbelievable.

Broken leg 1966: Allen & Janet hook up. He wooed her by first breaking her leg (by over-tightening her ski bindings), then chivalrously offering to transport her to/from class in his VW bus. They got married several months later, in a snowstorm in Pennsylvania. Christmas in Tempe

1967: Allen moves to Arizona to study coal mines, as his new wife moves to New York to study teaching. (Rumor has it that in her wild youth, she broke into the Cornell bell tower to play tunes on the campus-wide carillon.)

Check out the retro clothes
1969: The two of them move to Australia for seven years in search of adventure. Their chosen method of transport was aboard the African Neptune, a commercial freighter ship with a crew of 10 and a hull full of material goods for various corners of the world.

NB: Three years after this photo was taken (and two days after I was born), the vessel took out an entire bridge in downtown Brunswick, Georgia -- see the whole accident report (and another). Also, check out the African Neptune's role in small-scale drug smuggling.

1972: I am found in Tasmania.
1973: I'm put in a suitcase by my parents and transported to Indonesia for a trek at 6 months old. I think it's quite telling that having kids apparently did not slow my parents down; instead, they just lugged me along. Henry in Indonesia

1974: My sister is found in Queensland.

xmas in oakdale
1977: We moved to Oakdale, PA, into a asbestos- and lead-paint-laden house 100 yards downwind from the main processing factory for the Joy Dog Food company. Mom starts crying, and dad goes to work managing a coal-cleaning plant.

1979: Throops move to Oregon. AHT becomes employed as a carpenter at K104 FM (`Oregon's Best Country!').
1980: AHT becomes employed as a geologist by the state of Oregon. I do remember going out to dinner at the De Naro Noodle Co to celebrate.

1981-1990: AHT endures an endless series of cello concerts, cello practice, Saturday morning cello playthroughs, and so forth. It's more than I could ever do.

1982-1990: In 5th grade, the first day of class was a `draw a picture of what you did this summer.' I submitted a stick figure of me and AHT in a canoe, one of us holding a fish. There were a lot of canoe trips -- some with dogs, some with fish, some with Indonesian vegetables and peanut sauce, some with campfires, some with hypothermia.

1983: I start AYSO soccer after school, at AHT's urging. Although he did the overwhelming majority of things right, this wasn't one of them. My twice-weekly humiliation (I was referred to as Pele by my teammates) was topped only when dad occasionally came by to `help out the coach.' Eventually I quit, 15 months worth of repressed tears coming out at once, and never went back.

1983: Paleontology field trip to John Day Fossil Beds. AHT unsuccessfully tries to convince the park guard that my canvas triceratops (who still sleeps with me nightly) was recently found on the park grounds. A typical fatherly embarassment.

1983: We get Buffy (Australian shepherd), followed soon by Schaeffer (ditto). Although they're technically mine, AHT spends much more time with them than I do, taking them on many walks through MacDonald forest and the muddy Oregon environs. I do my part and participate in 4H, with several trips to the county fair, etc.

AHT in wedding suit
1984: We all climb South Sister (first real mountain).  Too much of an outdoorsy thing for me -- I'd rather have sat in front of my computer at the time.
South Sister

1984: Rock-climbing at Rooster Rock (?) with Jim Wagner, mayor-to-be of Tangent, OR. This was utterly terrifying. AHT led, but I backed down very soon.

1985-1990: Various science fairs in Corvallis. AHT was the registration coordinator for the district, which no doubt gave me some sort of competitive advantage in terms of knowing who the other entrants were.

1985-1995: Various ski trips through the wet Oregon snow. Many many runs to Gold Lake, Ray Benson, Willamette Pass, Crescent Lake...

1985: Paleontology field trip to Prehistoric Gardens in northern CA. This was just a bribe to get me to climb Mt. Humptulips [sic], which I actually had no interest in doing. He tells me that I complained the first half of the ascent and gave up complaining after it became clear I'd have to climb whether I threw a fit or not.

1985: AHT takes my door off its hinges after slamming it one too many times.

1986: Climb South Sister again. I complained about it being too hot and too long, again.

1986: Trip to the World's Fair in Vancouver, BC. I managed to complain about this, too.

1986: Winter camping in igloos somewhere in Oregon. I howled like dog all night long, making everyone else miserable. How did he stand it?

JMT in 3 sisters
1987: We sort of climb the The Husband. The group leader (a water conservation scientist with the EPA) is ticketed for camping too close to the lake. Best part of the trip was when our two parties were waiting on opposite sides of a meadow for each other, unbeknownst but still waiting, while building dams in the streams as amateur water engineers ourselves.

Lakeview Dress Code
1987-1995: Various bicycle Loop Tours with the Mid-Valley Wheelmen. AHT occasionally dressed up on the front of the tandem in suit & tie while mom played the recorder on the back. Tremendously embarassing. Music on tandem

1989: AHT falls dramatically while painting the house. Broke both arms. I raced to the rescue with bags of frozen peas, having been trained in first aid recently in school.

1989: I refused to talk for about 3 months. [Editorial comment: AHT claims this was more like a year. My sister notes that I kept addressing dad as 'Sir' for much of the time before that; I believe that my respect for him may not have been quite as high as suggested by that lofty title.]

1990: AHT tries to get any information out of me about college (e.g., where I might want to go) but I refuse to talk, still.

July 1993: Geology field trip with AHT to Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater, Petrified Forest. We hiked down the Grand Canyon with a dozen other summer astronomers, exploring a copper mine and a large cave system halfway down. Coming up the full moon rose to the east at the sun set in the west -- a lovely convergence of beautiful geology and real-world astronomy with moon phases and whatnot. (I remember AHT trying to show me how moon phases worked once at night about 15 years earlier, using a dirty blue garbage can and an orange flashlight as I lay in bed. It certainly didn't sink in then.)

March 1994: AHT + JMT visit me at college. They brought the tandem out on Amtrak and spent several days cycling around Iowa. I thought this was pretty cool, and by this time wasn't embarassed by them but instead liked showing them off.

May 1996: Top of Mt. Rainier, with AHT and others.  By this time the outdoorsy thing was growing on me. Rainier ascent
Rainier summit

Carl's Cabin, Colorado December 1997: Throop xmas in Colorado at Carl's Cabin (hut near Eagle).

October 1999: AHT retires, and starts teaching geology classes. First article for the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

Chooper ride
May 2001: AHT skis about 10,000 miles across Alaska. (Details!) Ski tracks

Summer 2001: AHT takes up research oceanography as a crew-member on the Monterey Bay (MBARI) research vehicle. Core samples on MBARI

Mt. Hood Hogback
Mt. Hood summit
May 2002: AHT and JMT visit Boulder. On the way back from the Portland airport, they drive to Mt. Hood, get out the ice axes and crampons, scale it, descend, and drive back home. I think it's about the greatest thing, and tell everyone I know about it, and how I look forward to climbing more mountains with my parents. Dad wrote up a trip report on it.

Summer 2002: Throops all climb North Sister (Oregon). In typical AHT fashion, he carries not only his own 60-lb pack, but doubles up carrying someone else's for much of the hike into base camp. See the article! N. Sister / Collier Glacier

Goat Rocks
October 2002: Goat Rocks

February 2003: ALS

March 2003: Triceratopses Peanut Butter & Cream Cheese fall to their death as collateral ALS victims.

May 2003: Climbed 1st Flatiron -- a good task for anyone, but especially for someone with no arms and only vestigial legs. Check out the great article! First Flatiron

Yellowstone tandem (AHT in yellow)
June 2003: Biked through Yellowstone, a combination geology / bike / people trip. AHT's first time on the back of the tandem. The legs are still working minimally; the hands not so much.

February 2004: Can't move the legs, arms, fingers, toes. Gets around with a hoist. Has a daily wheelchair ride to the bedroom and 3x-weekly trips to the Aquatic Center. The articles continue to come, typed letter-by-letter with a voice-recognition program, a headmouse, and a footswitch.

Check out that trike
AHT and field vehicle
AHT at xmas
Headwaters of the Wilammette with Timpanogas Tim


Since retiring as geologist, dad has been a regular contributor to the `Venture' section of the local paper (the Corvallis Gazette Times, OR).  They've published a variety of his articles, covering the gamut from biking to birdwatching to geology.

2001: 'An Expedition Across the Juneau Icefield' -- Skiing across Alaska
2002: 'Corvallis cyclist savors unique experience of Bike New York' -- Biking the boroughs
2002: 'Stairway to Heaven' -- Climbing Mt. Hood with his favorite wife
2003: '
Up, Up and Away' -- Mountain biking, slowly
2003: 'Gorgeous! Eagle Creek special even by Gorge standards' -- Geology and rain
2003: 'Bird's Eye Views' -- Backyard birdwatching
2003: '
Sister Act' -- Climbing North Sister
2003: 'Flatwaters at Fern Ridge' -- Canoeing in hidden locales
2003: Bicycling past the buffalo and fumaroles of Yellowstone
2003: '
Final Climb' -- Climbing the First Flatiron in Boulder
2003: 'Hot Skiing' -- The pleasures of skiing after a forest fire
2004: 'Timely Trek' -- Following two friends cycling across America
2004: 'Staying Afloat' -- Swimming with Rhonda
2004: 'Ankeny Wildlife Refuge' -- Birds and airplanes
2004: 'Trails for Chairs' -- Walks accessible to all

There have also been several articles featuring him in recent times:
2003: 'Saying it All in Person' -- Fantastic, beautiful article about AHT by his editor at the newspaper. 
2004: 'A Healthy Sense of Urgency' -- Washington Post
2004: Obituary
2004: 'Spiritual Life Remains for Allen Throop' -- Memories of him after his death

Henry Throop

Last modified 20-Apr-2004