The Allen Throop Page
Brief history of Allen Throop, as seen (mostly) through the eyes of
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
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
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
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
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
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.
||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.
1967: Allen moves to Arizona to
coal mines, as his new wife moves to New York to study teaching. (Rumor
that in her wild youth, she broke into the Cornell bell tower to play
on the campus-wide carillon.)
|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.
years after this photo was taken (and two days after I was born),
the vessel took out an entire bridge in downtown Brunswick, Georgia --
whole accident report (and another). Also, check out the
Neptune's role in small-scale drug
1972: I am found in Tasmania.
|1973: I'm put in a suitcase by my
parents and transported to
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
1974: My sister is found in
We moved to Oakdale, PA, into a asbestos- and
house 100 yards downwind from the main processing factory for the Joy
Dog Food company. Mom starts crying, and dad goes to work managing
1979: Throops move to Oregon.
AHT becomes employed as a carpenter
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
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
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
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
and never went back.
1983: Paleontology field trip
John Day Fossil Beds. AHT
tries to convince the park guard that my canvas triceratops (who still
sleeps with me nightly) was recently found on the park grounds. A
1983: We get Buffy (Australian
shepherd), followed soon by
(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.
|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.
1984: Rock-climbing at Rooster
Rock (?) with Jim Wagner,
Tangent, OR. This was utterly terrifying. AHT led, but I backed down
1985-1990: Various science
fairs in Corvallis. AHT was the
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
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
1986: Climb South Sister again.
I complained about it being too
and too long, again.
1986: Trip to the World's Fair
in Vancouver, BC. I managed to
about this, too.
1986: Winter camping in igloos
somewhere in Oregon. I howled like
night long, making everyone else miserable. How did he stand it?
|1987: We sort of climb the The
Husband. The group leader (a water
conservation scientist with the EPA) is ticketed for camping too close
the lake. Best part of the trip was when our two parties were waiting
opposite sides of a meadow for each other, unbeknownst but still
while building dams in the streams as amateur water engineers
|1987-1995: Various bicycle Loop
Tours with the Mid-Valley
occasionally dressed up on the front of the tandem in suit & tie
while mom played the recorder on the back. Tremendously embarassing.
1989: AHT falls dramatically while painting
the house. Broke both arms. I raced
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
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
where I might want to go) but I refuse to talk, still.
July 1993: Geology field trip
with AHT to Meteor Crater, Grand
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
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
||December 1997: Throop xmas in
Colorado at Carl's Cabin (hut near
October 1999: AHT retires, and
starts teaching geology classes.
First article for the Corvallis Gazette-Times.
|May 2001: AHT skis about 10,000
miles across Alaska. (Details!)
|Summer 2001: AHT takes up research
oceanography as a crew-member
Monterey Bay (MBARI) research vehicle.
2002: AHT and JMT visit Boulder. On the way back from the
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.
2002: Throops all climb North Sister (Oregon). In typical
fashion, he carries not only his own 60-lb pack, but doubles up
someone else's for much of the hike into base camp. See the article!
|October 2002: Goat Rocks
February 2003: ALS
March 2003: Triceratopses
Peanut Butter & Cream Cheese fall
death as collateral ALS victims.
|May 2003: Climbed 1st Flatiron -- a
good task for anyone, but
for someone with no arms and only vestigial legs. Check out the great article!
2003: Biked through Yellowstone, a combination geology /
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
a hoist. Has a daily wheelchair ride to the bedroom and 3x-weekly trips to the Aquatic Center. The
articles continue to come, typed
with a voice-recognition program, a headmouse, and a footswitch.
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
from biking to birdwatching to geology.
Expedition Across the Juneau Icefield' -- Skiing across Alaska
savors unique experience of Bike New York' -- Biking
to Heaven' -- Climbing Mt. Hood with his favorite wife
Up and Away' -- Mountain biking, slowly
Eagle Creek special even by Gorge standards' -- Geology and rain
Eye Views' -- Backyard birdwatching
2003: 'Sister Act'
-- Climbing North Sister
at Fern Ridge' -- Canoeing in hidden locales
2003: Bicycling past the buffalo and fumaroles of Yellowstone
Climb' -- Climbing the First Flatiron in Boulder
Skiing' -- The pleasures of skiing after a forest fire
2004: 'Timely Trek'
-- Following two friends cycling across America
Afloat' -- Swimming with Rhonda
Wildlife Refuge' -- Birds and airplanes
2004: 'Trails for Chairs' --
Walks accessible to all
There have also been several articles featuring him in recent times:
it All in Person' -- Fantastic, beautiful article about AHT by his
editor at the newspaper.
Healthy Sense of Urgency' -- Washington Post
2004: 'Spiritual Life Remains for
Allen Throop' -- Memories of him after his death
Last modified 20-Apr-2004