Reading by Our Lake

lakereadingI think I have waxed poetic before about why I like backpacking.  It isn’t that I like doing a million miles of hiking.  I don’t like getting on top of things and looking out.  I certainly do not like living on dehydrated food for days on end!

I like it for these lovely moments where the whole world seems to drop into its correct place.  The day is long and quiet, or surprising in its simplicity.  Frogs in the pond.  Tadpoles getting ready to join the adult frog world.  Deer who are not afraid of us.

For the kids, it is magical too.  They accept the dirtiness with relish; (I try to follow along without too much complaint).  The entertainment is splashing in the lake, whittling sticks, catching frogs and listening to In a Glass Grimly by Adam Gidwitz each night.

By the way, if you have a child between about 5 and 13 in your family and like reading out loud to him or her (or them!), I HIGHLY recommend Gidwitz’s books.  Tale Dark and Grimm is good.  In a Glass Grimmly is better!  Can’t wait until The Grimm Conclusion is in paperback.  Gidwitz is the ultimate cheeky narrator, making jokes and raising his hand in faux horror over his mouth at the action in the story…..which is often gross and sort of bloody in a delightful way.  Really!

We’re back from our 5 nights in the Trinity Alps Wilderness of northern California.  It was wonderful.


Gotta Make It All Fit!

The kids and I take off tomorrow on a 5 day back-packing trip in the Trinity Alps area of Northern California.  I am working on the very daunting task of cramming days worth of food, clothing and supplies into our packs.  This follows the shopping frenzy of this last week—–what do we need and how much?  How could you have grown out of those Keens already?!

What with an extra human who can’t carry much (Inez) and not bringing along our pack horse (Brad), I am at a loss as to how to make it all go.  Luckily that Francis can really haul.  She isn’t here with us for me to test the weight she’s carrying though, so I am trying to err on the side of under-loading her.IMG_0464 It is always sort of confusing to do the multi-trip pack.  We have things for on the trail and then things for the 4 days off the trail afterwards, and needless to say, they are not the same things.  Once in civilization, you will not catch me dead wearing zip-off pants!  Now how do I make this beer fit?IMG_0465Wish us luck!


Goodbye Late Summer

Wow, it is really “goodbye summer” today as the rain pours down without ceasing.  Outside my window looks like Noah’s flood.  The plastic turtle pool in the backyard is full and overflowing, the trees are bent in half in the wind, and the windows are streaked with rain drops to where we can hardly see out.  The kids are running wild around the house, stir-crazy after being inside for a few hours.  Goodbye Summer.  You sure know how to leave a girl.

Since you are gone, Summer, I thought I might do a quick blog of some of our last few lovely days.

The week before school started up, I was itching to get out to Sauvie Island to see what farm wonders I had been missing.  Peaches have been prolific this year, so out we went to get them.  Cousins Carmel, Amalia, and new Oren joined us as well as Aunt Tuyen.  Zephyr was doing something.  Why can’t I remember what?IMG_7309 It’s pretty fun being out in the peaches.  The trees were so loaded that they were breaking branches from the weight of the fruit.IMG_7310 You know what is great about picking peaches with other people?  They pick for you!  So if you are a food horder like I am, you can take all the stuff that they pick!  Back at home, Clementine, Brad and I had this canned up in less than 2 hours.  It felt like a MASSIVE accomplishment.IMG_7311

On the weekend, we thought we would hit the 4-T trail with the kids.  Brad and I did the trail on our own a couple years ago (for our anniversary), but the kids had not experienced it yet.  It is sort of a unique concept—the 4 T’s stand for

  • train (you take the train up to the zoo)
  • trail (you walk on a trail….duh)
  • tram (you get on the tram at the top of OHSU and ride down to the waterfront)
  • trolley (okay, so no one actually calls it a trolley.  You get on the streetcar, which in another town might be called a trolley, and take it from the waterfront back to downtown)

Clementine thought it might be fun because she wanted to experience the tram.  The tram costs $4 to ride UP, but is free going down, so taking it was a good opportunity to get a free ride.  Little did she know, she would have to haul her pregnant body 4 miles first!  Maybe we forgot to mention that?IMG_7314

The trail traverses some pretty lovely hillsides around Portland.  At times, you really feel like you are out in the woods, even though you are close to town.  The kids loved running ahead of us and jumping off logs and such.

Brad hauled Madina when she got tired—4 miles is a bit much for a 2 year old.  She was pretty light, but it was a hot day, so Brad and I reminisced about babies sticking to our backs.  No more of those in our future!

Everyone is still smiling at Crown Point.  Clementine forgave us by the tram at OHSU.IMG_7312Back at home, I found this guy in the compost pile.  SOOOOOOOO cute.  Why are they so cute as babies but would freak us out running across our boots in the chicken coop at night?  And I don’t like seeing them in the grain barrel.  Okay, so I don’t like seeing them much at all once they are grown up, but this little guy was darling.  (In case you don’t recognize him, he is a RAT.)  I am also a rat in the Chinese zodiac, so maybe that is why he appeals to me.
IMG_7304Goodbye summer.  It’s been nice knowing you.

Neahkahnie Mountain

William L. Sullivan has been a special friend on this entire trip.  In case you don’t recognize this guy, he is a well-known and loved author from Oregon who specializes in hiking books.  He has countless editions covering all the well-known and not so well-known hikes around our beautiful state.  Mr Sullivan was responsible for all the good finds across Eastern Oregon.  We had his book and just did pretty much everything he said from the Wallowas through Bend.  I thought at one point on this trip that I needed one of those bracelets— What Would William L Sullivan Do?

WLS has a nice internet presence too.  He recommends this hike up Neahkahnie Mountain for the amazing vistas of the sea below.  Hmmmmm…..


photo by Jason Franklin

Our day started and ended with a thick fog blanketing everything.  The beach was warm enough, but the visibility was really poor.  We took off on this hike anyway.

My camera gave up right after this group shot, but that’s okay.  It just means that all the pretty pictures on this post are by a real photographer!

foggyhikeThese are our friends Jason and Angela.  We know them because their eldest, Soren, was in a religious education class with Francis.  Zephyr and Anders are the same age too, which makes for all sorts of craziness.

Inez, Zephyr and Anders ate sorrel all the way up the mountain.  They’ve done this before and always came back alive.  Luckily sorrel is pretty easily recognizable.


photo by Jason Franklin


photo by Jason Franklin

neahkahnie hike 1

photo by Jason Franklin


photo by Jason Franklin

On top we can hear the sea, but not see the sea.  The fog took on a damp feeling up here.  Blowing, damp fog.  Everyone started talking about the cheery fire we were going to make back at the house.


photo by Jason Franklin

I think that Brad is tying a shoe here.  He has a vaguely disgusted look on his face!

The rest of the day was full of tea, digging in the sand, board game playing and trying to finish the rest of our beer.  We ate a huge dinner of left-over salmon and bratwurst (better than it sounds!).  Tomorrow we go home.

Southern Oregon Beaches

Nesika Beach, where we were staying for a couple days, is a lovely place.  There isn’t a ton of culture in the Southern Oregon Beach towns, but the coastline is by far the loveliest in the state.  The beach house my friend loaned was quite convenient to a quiet, pristine beach, so we walked there in the evening.

The beach is so golden that you can’t help but have sort of lofty thoughts.  I’ve been a religious person all my life, so I suppose that I have professed to believe many questionable things.  On the beach though, the immensity of the ocean grants me a greater sense of faith and wonder…. not pondering minutia, or dogma, but just observing that the water is awesome and mighty and we don’t seem to know much about it.  I see all this light and frothiness, but underneath it is dark and full of bizarre life.  The ocean goes where I will never go.  It sustains us, and can do us in in a second.  We are powerless before it.  I am impressed by the ocean.  Wow, YOU ocean, YOU are wonderful.beach Day one we were so tired that we were pretty happy to just get our camping gear back in working order.  Tents and sleeping bags were soaking wet from our last foggy morning in the Redwoods, so everything had to be hung to dry and then folded up again.  I have done very little folding and rolling of tents on this trip (it’s been mostly Brad’s job), but I do think if I never had to roll another tent, I would be just fine with that.

Day two we decided we would be big old losers unless we walked to the tide pools at the south end of the beach.  There we found a whole world of wonders…. like tiny hermit crabs, little bitty rockfish and baby crab.crabWe explored for about an hour, and then noticed that it was getting late and dark.  Inez was dead tired…. and said so.  When the little one says she just wants to be in her bed, you make all haste to get her there.

The kids are troopers.  When I think of the many miles that we have asked them to put on their little legs, it fills me with pride.  They’ve risen to meet many challenges, and most of those have been done with pretty good spirits.

Sometimes you gotta give the kid a ride.bradinez

Hike to Nowhere (Secret Beach in Gold Beach)

We hit our first real event of family trauma today.  Packing up to leave Crescent City, our propane tank for our stove ran out half way through cooking our Bob’s Red Mill creamy rice.  Creamy rice cereal is great when cooked to a creamy consistency.  Half-cooked crunchy rice is not.  The kids ate it dutifully (sort of).  I kept insisting that it was fine, but it was definitely not.  Everyone ate enough to keep from starving, but no more.

Once in Brookings, the kids begged for clam chowder at the harbor.  It was only 10:30am, but a big bowl of fattening clam chowder suddenly sounded great to me too.  Brad watched sort of horrified as I bought bowls of chowder for the kids first thing in the morning.breakfast After our “brunch”, we set off to find a hike that Brad remembered from his childhood that would take us down a cliff to a seemingly unreachable beach far below.  It started through a thick, dark forest.hiketo nowhere Then it came out into a meadow full of Queen Anne’s Lace.  Then it ended.  That was it.nowherehike We tried another path, but that one seemed to skirt dangerously high cliffs and then go no particular place too.  After a few more false turns, we decided to head back to the car and look at beaches to the north.  We start down the path from the headland and Inez insists on going down a side path to look out over the ocean from another viewpoint.  “I’ll go with her,” I tell Brad, thinking that he will head back to the car with the kids.  My path with Inez goes in a loop along the cliff and then rejoins the same path we were on initially, only 30 yards back from the viewpoint.

Inez and I go hopping back and run into the kids waiting on the path half way.  “Where is your dad?” I ask.  The kids didn’t know.  Brad had seemed really disappointed at not figuring out the hike down to the beach, so I figured that he had gone back to one of the false trails to look for another option.  The kids and I went back to the car.

Once at the car, we all pulled out our pocket knives and started whittling.  Both older kids had bought pocket knives with their allowance while in Brookings.  It was sort of fun sitting in the sun messing with our knives.  Time passed.  No Brad.  Even though I know that Brad is not a rash nor dangerous person, I became worried.  The kids became worried.  People walked by on a path to the north.  They hadn’t seen Brad.  At this point it had been about 50 minutes, and it was difficult to conceal my concerns to the children.  Zephyr began to whimper.  Inez, my dramatic one, said, “Dad is dead!”.  I began to imagine all the horrible things that could have happened to Brad while out exploring a route to a beach off a 100 foot cliff.  It wasn’t pretty.  At the same time, I comforted myself with the knowledge that Brad is SO NOT risky that he can be a spoil sport sometimes.  This is not a person who will climb on dangerous things or seek any sort of thrill.  Brad is a worrier.  He jerks my neck out of joint pulling me to safety when I step into the crosswalk too briskly.  He is constantly pulling me back from perceived edges.  If you can see anything from any height, you are TOO CLOSE!  To end up dead at the bottom of a cliff, he would really have to be thrown off it.

All the same, the kids and I decided to run down the entire path again, skipping the view point.  This time I looked carefully at the trail, searching for footprints or any signs of a person bush-wacking.  Nothing.  Zephyr commenced heart-breaking calls for his father.  “Daaaaaaad!  Okay, now we are really, really worried about you!”  Sob.  Sob.  Inez continued to say NOT COMFORTING things.  Francis encouraged me to run up on the highway and call 911 immediately.  Inez suggested 9-0-1.  I tried not to, but I started imagining what I would do if we needed to do an all-out search for Brad.  Should I take my tent into the woods and stay there until he was found?  Surely I could FEEL my husband in the woods.  I would find him!  But who would help me if my husband had fallen to his death and I had to raise three kids alone?  Suddenly I was full of morbid thoughts and the entire course of our lives seemed so short.

And then Francis saw Brad up ahead on the path.  The kids yelled out “Dad!  Dad!” in such happy, grateful voices.  They ran to hug him as my fears and relief turned to irritation.  How could he scare us like this?!  It is very insensitive to go off exploring for an hour without checking back in.  But as I approached, I was met with outraged Brad face—-not chagrinned-I-really-screwed-up-please-forgive-me face.  He was mad at me!  Brad thought that I was going to walk on the small trail with Inez and COME BACK to where he was.  He hadn’t realized that the path I took with Inez was a loop.  He had waited at the viewpoint for 50 minutes.  (May I point out here that if Brad turned around, he would have seen us come out right next to him.  I must add that Brad and I often can not find each other in public places even when we intend to meet up.  I blame his habit of sitting very still and not looking around.  I think he would blame my unpredictability, but I would like to assert that I often see him from afar and he won’t notice me at all until I yell at him from a couple feet away.  In order to help us with this issue, I bought him a very bright orange coat.)

So we were all mad.  Brad was angry at the kids for running ahead, angry at me for not returning to the viewpoint, and angry at himself for not figuring out where the stupid trail to the beach was.  I was mad at Brad for being angry at the kids and for blaming me when I thought his actions were illogical.  The kids were relieved that their father wasn’t dead, so they were apologizing for whatever they figured would make him happier.  Every apology of theirs made me madder at him.  Essentially, everyone was pissed.

We stormed into the car and two minutes down the road, Brad saw the right trail head.

A memory from 30 years ago is bound to be dull, so I didn’t blame him for not remembering the correct trail, but at this point I didn’t care to find this mythical beach.  I was irritated with the whole excursion and couldn’t imagine a beach wonderful enough to be worth all this bother.

But we did find it.  And it was beautiful.

secret We sat in the sun while the kids played.  Okay, so Brad played with the kids while I fumed a bit in the sun.  Then I fell asleep and woke up feeling a bit better.  It occurred to me that at the heart of the problem was very wrong assumptions of each of our characteristic behavior.  Brad won’t go off on a trail all by himself to “find the right way”.  He doesn’t have an ego like that.  I on the other hand, won’t go off on a side trail and expect anyone to “wait right here” until I return.  I don’t make anyone wait around for my whims.  And I don’t get lost easily.

Then all was forgiven.secretbeach With some sadness, we tore ourselves away from the beach and headed north to my friend Maria’s family beach house in Nesika Beach.  They are so kindly letting us stay here for a couple days on our way through.

It was pretty great to pull into a real house where we could wash our dishes in the dish washer and do a load of wash.  And a bed.  With pillows for under your head—I don’t have to use my sweatshirt!  Luxury.

We had also been talking about chicken pot pie for about three weeks.  Brad rolled out pie dough and I scavenged for stuff to throw in it.  Even though our ingredients were sort of weird, unity was restored through chicken pot pie.potpieOn the counter there was a note from Maria’s sister who had been at the house the week before.  “You really HAVE to go to Secret Beach”.  I looked at the map and saw that it was where we had been.  Oh yes, we know all about Secret Beach!

Oregon Caves to Redwoods

This trip has developed several themes after 4 weeks.  One is sandwiches out of the back of the car.  I guess that isn’t really a theme… it is just something that happens over and over again.  Libraries in small towns, Visitors’ Centers where we ask questions to people who seem to just be WAITING desperately for someone to ask them questions, and peanut butter in the hatchback.  Speaking of, the Prius Fatty has been really good to us on this trip.  We like it a bunch.  A check engine light went on in Ashland because we exceeded the mileage before the next service, but besides this, the car is doing great.
ingridsandwiches On Friday morning, we left the hazy smoke of Ashland and traveled east to Cave Junction.  The way north to where we met up with Hwy 199 was our ONLY stretch of I-5, (besides the half mile that we’ll be on when driving to our house in Portland).  Brad noted that none of our trip was along I-5 thus far as though that was an interesting chance, but I planned it that way.  It is just an awful road.  The sooner I can get in a giant bank teller cylinder and shoot myself to Eugene to visit family, the better!

We were on our way to Cave Junction to see the Oregon Caves.  Brad had been there before (twice!), but now that I have learned his great love for caves, it made sense that he wanted to share this experience with the kids.  (See?  You do learn new things about your partner after 15 years!)  The kids were sort of whiney starting out.  I am not sure what they wanted, but it initially wasn’t caves.  (Maybe it was milkshakes?  All the whining sort of runs together for me.)   We met friends from church in the parking lot.  This was completely by chance, but really fun as we then made a big tour party for the cave.  Our ranger was young, smart and cute in a small-town Oregon sort of way.cavetour Brad loves the caves, and the kids love to be in caves.  I sort of fight a vague panic of being in tight spaces.  All this crawling around and ducking and such makes me feel a bit trapped.  The caves are full of gorgeous geologic forms.  It makes sense to me why this is a monument.frosting We left the caves sort of exhausted.  All that stair climbing and being cold and (for me) suppressing panic can really wear you out!

A very long drive later, and we descended into the California Redwoods.  The main camping park with all the great trails and tall trees and such was full, so we ended up on the other side of Crescent City in the hills at Mill Creek Del Norte Redwoods State Park.  It was lovely, but our most expensive campsite yet ($35 plus an $8 reservation fee!).  Maybe this is why I couldn’t quit griping about the dirty bathrooms.  It occurred to me that I would actually like it if bathrooms had a cleaning closet with mops and brooms and such.  Then I could just clean up myself instead of tolerating the yuckiness.

Best part about the campground was that it was surrounded by huge stumps and moist trees and cool stuff for the kids to climb on.zephyr stump And I felt happy to be back in the stumpIt was nice to set up camp and know that we would be there a couple days.  Our first full day exploring, we took the Old Stage Coach Trail up to Stubb Grove.  This “road” is a gravel/dirt track that is incredibly dusty.  The road winds between trees in a really unlikely way.  You look up ahead and think you won’t possibly fit, but when you get there, you do.  We took this drive with our windows down at about 8 mph.  It was so amazing to imagine the experience of people riding in a stagecoach through this incredible forest.  Each tree seems larger than the next.
stage coach road You have to stop every now and then and jump in a the stump For perspective:first stump We kept looking for a good hike to take us into the trees, but we didn’t want to squeeze in with all the other tourists.  The end result was that we kept hopping down these short little paths that dead-ended or rejoined the road.  After a lot of jumping back and forth, we found a path that led to a creek that fed into the Smith River.
hike It was quiet and pretty, so we ripped our clothes off and jumped in (you know, like you do).  My parents were sort of back-to-the-earth in that way, so getting naked in a river if it was only your family around was completely acceptable.  Whereas I would not get naked anywhere else, when I see a gorgeous creek or swimming hole, it is the first thing I want to do.  I am sure there is something deep about this—-like being connected to my primal, human nature.  That sounds deep, so it must be true.

Francis has become quite the swimmer on this trip.  We found an excellent rock to jump off, and Francis and I took turns plunging into the cold water.  Okay, so she did it more than me.swiming Brad didn’t get naked.  He just read his book and laughed at us.bradreading I also spent a good deal of time reading/snoozing under a clump of grass.  I had my Sun magazine along, so pondering large issues while laying on my back alongside the creek all seemed quite perfect.what i saw Across the creek, the trees considered us.bettertreesabove riverUp above goes on forever.  Why stand up if you can just look up and see your friends?treesin the air We eventually needed to rejoin the world and get back in the car.  Amazingly, we had spent 3 hours at the creek while never reaching our destination.  Mind you, Stubb Grove was only 10 miles from town!

One thing about the Redwoods is that it is pretty hard to capture in pictures.  I am not a great photographer, so I realize that my lack of skills makes it worse.  A better skilled photographer could adjust for the shady unstories of trees and dark spaces.  The contrast of the sun shooting through the dark trees also left beams of light and hazy areas of brightness.  I had a lot of pictures of Brad where his head was just a orb of sun.  Anyway, some things are hard to capture because of light and dark, but some things in the Redwoods are just weird and hard to describe.

For example, many really huge trees have all these hollow spaces underneath and inside but keep on growing.  Here the kids have crawled into a tiny hole and popped up inside a tree.  I am not able to go in the hole, (even Francis had to commando crawl on her stomach), but have aimed my camera up in the hole to capture their gleeful expressions.  They are INSIDE a tree and perhaps their faces communicate that better that if I could capture it in a picture.kidsin tree At one point in Stubb Grove, we found this playground of trees that had fallen against each other.  So many places to climb!  The kids were quickly up in the air 10 feet.  I couldn’t capture that fact and their cute faces all at once, so I settled for cute faces.cute kids Jungle gym!jungle gym And the trees are huge.  But you knew that.that's how big

treesin the lightWe drove out of the forest well satisfied with what we saw.  At the beginning of the day, the kids had almost orchestrated an uprising.  In their minds, they had come across sun-blasted Eastern Oregon for the last month and were ready to play at the beach.  They could see the beach from our drive, but we hadn’t taken them there yet.  And here we were insisting on going into the forest to see the trees.  Brad and I had to be firm and present a unified front—trees it is going to be.  The rest of the week would be beach time.  Our last full week of traveling would be along the Oregon Coast, culminating in 3 days in Manzanita to play with friends Jason and Angela and boys.  In other words, the end of the trip would be all Beach—all the time.  After a long day of trees, we did take them to the beach though.  Right away the kids got down to finding hermit crabs.


They collected them and put them in a little tide pool to watch over.  Yes, the kids love “pets”.franciszephyrhermits

Even snails are cute to them.

After a full day of trees, swimming, and beach, one of our regrets had been that we couldn’t make the 30-something mile drive to see the Roosevelt Elk herd in another part of the park.  No matter.  While heading back to camp, we saw this lovely lady along the road!elk The next day, we packed up camp in the foggy early morning mist.  Inez ran off to find her pet to say her goodbyes.  She gave her sweetie a little shower in the tap to wash off all the bark dust from their playtime, she air-kissed the little girl’s “cheek” and we were off—back to Oregon where surely we do not have such exotic pets as these.  (This sort of looks like a sushi plate, doesn’t it?)!inez's pet

Weather in the Mountains


IMG_6955I like back-packing and nature plenty, but I don’t quite feel familiar with the wiles of the mountains.  I am not a “summit”-er.  I don’t need to be on top of things looking down, I don’t go for altitude, so I don’t find myself in the mountains as much as some might think.  I like tall trees and dense forests, but I have found that you can get those things without going UP too much.  Not that I am afraid of heights; I just don’t need them.  This is somewhat funny to be processing as I have been on top of this here mountain about 11 years ago—South Sister.  What do I remember about it?  I hiked with bro-in-law Jim, Brad and college friend Juan.  Juan sang a funny song to the tune of “Rock Me Like a Hurricane” (it isn’t appropriate to write the lyrics here).  We started hiking it at 3am with this idea that we would be on top when the sun came out.  My toes really hurt by the time we came down again.  I sure don’t need to do that again!

Anyway, I don’t always understand what mountains do to weather, but after this weekend, I have a better idea.  They do crazy things to the weather.

We started the morning with sun and warmth.  Zephyr had left his dog back in the car the day before, so being the AMAZING mother that I am, (and feeling the loss of my regular morning running), I offered to do the 4 miles down and back in order to retrieve Dog.  Zephyr and I did it together.  He was suitably grateful.

Then the whole group started off hiking to Green Lakes (another two miles).  Mile one and a half was awesome.  It was gorgeous, clear and lovely.  We crossed more creeks on logs.  It is hilarious to be with K & K.  They are super energetic and playful…. Brad and I agreed that they are the “fun parents” and we are the lame, overly-ernest ones.

IMG_6952 Our nephews are funny and charming.  I love how Jonah and Kai can play with all of their cousins, older & younger, so gracefully.  The kids just had a ball together.IMG_6954 At some point, the sky started going a bit dark, but the trail was still charming— full of little creeks and pretty wildflowers.IMG_6957 And then the rain started.  We were near the lakes and the trees thinned out.  We were pretty exposed when these massive, icy drops started hitting us.IMG_6958 No one wanted to give up the hike, but we needed to take shelter in the trees and make lunch.  Bro-in-law (*has requested that I not use his name as it is easily searchable on-line by nosey students, so you will have to figure out which of my charming brother-in-laws I am talking about), went back to camp with Kai.  Kendall cooked up the best pasta ever alongside the trail.IMG_6962

 Back in camp, worse weather was clearly on its way.  We told the kids to lay down in their tent to rest when it was merely drizzling, and we had spent more than a few minutes yelling across the clearing at their tent—-settle down, quit fighting, you need to take a nap, etc.  Suddenly the rain AND THUNDER was so loud, that we couldn’t even be heard above the noise of nature.  There was nothing to do but cuddle down and wait out the weather.  That is always novel for about the first hour.  Then it gets lame.  Kids were having a great time scaring themselves silly over in their tent, but I give sitting in a tent all day a big thumbs down.

IMG_6963 Brad does too even though he has this massive novel to finish.  IMG_6964

We thought the weather couldn’t get crazier…
IMG_6966then it started hailing.  Huge, frozen hail stones.  I took these pictures by putting my camera under the rain fly.  No way was I going out in that.IMG_6967 When the weather finally gave up, this is what our camp site looked like.  Gorgeous, but cold!IMG_6970K & K kicked their kids out of their tent (into our kids’ tent) and we went a-visiting.  We spent the next hour or so playing a card game and being silly.
IMG_6973 That’s what it is all about.  The rest of the evening was spots of dryness, rain, and lightening/thunder.  We took shelter in the trees a few times during the severe lightening, but that got old (and cold).  After a while, I didn’t care much if I got hit by lightening.  Ahhhhh the wilderness!  You manage to be fun even while acting like you want to kill me.

IMG_6976A good fire is a reason for living.

Back-Packing in Bend (Three Sisters Wilderness, Moraine Lake/Green Lakes Trail)

brad massage


Exhausted from our days of mosquito bites….

we headed into Bend and got a hotel room for one night.  It was the right thing to do to get ready for our next adventure, and sleeping in a bed was quite a relief.  The kids gave Brad a massage and he said he finally understood why we had three of them.



In the cheesy lobby of the hotel, we found this guy.  The sign with him said he had been shot by a rancher after killing multiple cattle.  It’s sort of sad to see stuffed wild creatures, but it is fascinating to be afforded the opportunity to stand right next to them.

cougarkidsThe organization that is required to move from car-camping to back-packing is daunting.  We made a thorough mess of our hotel room sifting through our remaining clean clothes and pulling out only the lightest gear.  After being harangued to “change your underwear!”, “put on something clean!”, the kids didn’t quite understand why they were only bringing pajamas and one pair of underwear.  We had a cooler of things to pack up and stash in the car, plus a selection of food that we would bring with us—daunting.  It seems that no matter what you try to figure out, you always end up bringing an extra pound of something you don’t need, or forgetting a key ingredient.

At the trailhead, we met up with K & K & boys and got our packs.  They had brought them out from Portland, which saved us the extra space.
backpackingMy brother-in-law recently had knee surgery that messed with both legs, so he wasn’t going to be able to carry a pack.  Brad, Kendall and I carried everything with quite a bit of help from the kids.  It wasn’t bad actually as everyone had packed pretty light.  I did carry Francis’ little guitar as I didn’t want to leave it in the car for four days, and I thought we might want to use it to campfire it up in the wilderness.  I’m sentimental about wanting the kids to know ALL of the folk songs out there.  Public schools in Oregon don’t have choirs anymore so it falls to me to teach “Barbara Allen” and “Lavender Blue” (dilly dilly!).  It’s a big job, but someone has to do it.deschutesThe trail was very well-maintained, so much so that all sorts of hard-core athletes were taking the whole thing at a run.  Gorgeous little Fall Creek roared alongside it.
kaiinezmarchingThe kids had a great time finding sticks and marching like soldiers.  This is super fun despite our pacifist parenting.
kidson log I always love a good trail with lots of logs to walk across.log crossingIt’s crazy seeing the little kids traverse the creeks, but they seem to be able to do it just fine.

We decided not to go very far (as that is what you do when you are hiking with little kids), so we found a lovely little rocky field alongside another small creek and set up camp.

tent clearing

I’ve got to sum up day 1 quickly as we are now out of the wilderness and fully engaged in the next adventure.  There will be more soon though.

For now:  Back-packing!  You see lovely things.  You get dirty.  You surmount challenges.




Lava Lands, Bend Brewing Company & such

First thing in the morning, we escaped our mosquito camp and took off for Lava Lands Park to tour the longest lava tube in Oregon.  Brad really loves the idea of lava caves.  He loves them so much that we are visiting 3 different lava caves while on this trip.  I would think that one lava cave would be plenty, but the guy asks for so little, you know?

It was barely 9am and we got our lantern and entered the caves family

Brad is SOOOOOO happy!brad happy Francis is not so happy….  Inez is insanely happy.  Zephyr is happy like he is about everything.  This is interesting to me.  That is, I was not surprised that Francis, who is sort of imaginative, would be scared.  She is smart enough to know that bad things can happen (like cougars and bears running into the cave first thing in the morning and waiting until we came to jump out and eat us).  Zephyr lives in the moment, so he is happy to get to run and kick things to his heart’s content.  He can’t break anything here except his own head, so we don’t have to yell at him much.  Inez is just hilarious—charging ahead into the DARK and giggling and dancing around.  She has no fear at all.  Her sister’s fear seems to only make her braver.IMG_6896 One mile later and the family is still exhibiting their various feelings about hiking in the dark for an hour.  Francis is less scared.  Brad is still totally pleased at the experience.  We are ONE MILE UNDERGROUND.  I start to feel a bit of panic as the ceiling drops and we have to stoop to get through places, but I contain it and distract myself by trying to scare the children.  I tell the story of my mother in the lava tubes in California dragging her feet and lisping, “My preeeeeeecious!   My preeeeeecious!” until she had completely terrified….. herself.  Brad says the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.IMG_6905 When we come out, we all agree that the lava tubes were AWESOME.  And we were glad to be warm again.  And why not go to Bend for lunch?  We hop into civilization and have food at Bend Brewing Company where I see a classmate (Jorma) from high school for the first time in 22 years.  Fun!

Then we decide to do High Desert Museum on the way back.  Who is in a hurry to return to mosquito camp?  HDM was awesome.  Absolutely the coolest place where we could have spent many more hours.  The kids loved the dinosaur exhibit.  I loved the settlement of the west exhibit and the By Hand Through Memory, Native Peoples of the Columbia River Plateau.  It occurred to me that this particular exhibit of Native Peoples was unique as it showed the history of the people without suggesting that the people were HISTORY.  Know what I mean?  So many museum displays of native people seem to suggest that they only lived in the past—-that they are gone.  This one brought the modern people beautifully into the tradition, and yes, the sad crap that white people perpetrated was there—-there is no denying or sugar-coating genocide, but THE PEOPLE still live.  Indians are not for history books.  They are proud Americans with a very motley quilt of traditions.  It hadn’t occurred to me that the Colville and the Nez Perce were both considered Columbia River Plateau tribes, but of course they were—fish people.  I also did not know that 1/3rd of native men enlisted in the armed forces during WWII.  I had often wondered about the military honors at pow-wows.  After all that happened to our native people in the name of the US government, why the patriotism?  Now I think I better understand the seeming contradiction.

We finished off the night grandly by taking showers at nearby La Pine State Park.  Why did we stay at Mosquito Coast when we could have showers at La Pine?

The next morning started off beautifully with kids sleeping in until 7:45!  Amazing!

We packed up camp in a flurry of buzzing wings driving us bat-shit-crazy.  Then we hoofed down to the nearby “resort” to rent a canoe.  We had promised the kids that we would take them in a boat.  Why do we promise kids stuff?
canoe It was fun though.  And once you get 50 yards off shore, guess what?  No mosquitos.canoe2

And they loved it.  And this is all about the love, right?cute inez As we had no where particular we needed to go, we let the boat drift and ate lunch.  Brad and I had lettuce wrapped around ham (out of bread).  We’re going low-carb (at least for today).cute francis

The kids all got turns rowing, and even though we didn’t make it far, it was a great joy to be on the beautiful water.  Tonight we will stay in Bend where we will swim in a pool and take showers!  Thursday we start our back packing with Kendall and Keith (YAY!).  I love back packing, but tonight I am going to love finding a drug store for some histamine blocker.  That is going to be the high point for me.

Looking ahead, we have three days out in the wild, then two days camping in Lava Beds National Monument in California—Modoc country.  I’m going to re-live a family vacation that I took as a 10 year old.  And more caves for Brad.  Then it is Ashland on Monday August 12th for a week of high living and culture.  Can’t wait!