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!


Our Triumphant Return to Portland–Thumbs Up Wrap Up


brad az

Favorite Site:  Newberry Lava Tube

Being in the the dark alone with a lantern is super fun. Not having been in one before, I wasn’t sure what my reaction would be, but it was so pleasantly odd without being too claustrophobic. The kids had very differing reactions. Francis was freaked out (this is common), Zephyr was staying close but doing all kinds of ninja moves at the darkness, Inez was hauling ass down the tube with no light at all. We got some okay pictures down that there don’t adequately demonstrate this difference, but it’s close: Inez is grinning like a maniac and Francis is hugging her parents. I hope to go again soon.

Trip Thumbs Up

Animals! We saw a bunch: deer, eagles, salmon, elk, antelope, cattle, a cat with seven toes on her front feet, a coyote, and I even saw an emu (on a game farm near the road at 30mph, but whatever). At the High Desert Museum we saw otters, a porcupine, a lynx, a bobcat, an owl, tarantulas, turtles. And of course we felt particularly close to the cougar even though we didn’t see it.  Animals.

It was also great just to be together without being under pressure to get anywhere in particular. If we wanted to stop somewhere, we could and did. Took lots of detours, like to the Crane hot springs where we got hailed on. We weren’t even intending to go to Bend when we started the trip, but we spent four days there. Everything worked out great.




Favorite Site:  It was a tie for me between the Redwoods and the Wallowas.  The hike that we did to Slick Rock convinced me that I want to make it back to the Wallowas for an extended hiking trip.  When you start out hiking and are suddenly met with a mountain in your face—bam!  That’s amazing.  Those mountains are just giant and impressive and they seem to come out of nowhere.  And trees always have a special place in my heart.

General Thumbs Up:  There is tons to learn about our gorgeous state.  Whether it is history or geology or the natural world, this state has something to give at every turn.  I was so impressed with our National Parks System.  Thank you Teddy Roosevelt!  What forethought to know that we would want to preserve and protect our natural spaces.  And thank you people who figure out interpretive signs and maintain them.  If it were up to me, I would have just made stuff up, but these people made interpretive signs that are intelligent and educational!  And people who build hiking trails.  And Ezra Meeker.  I am still blown away by characters like Ezra Meeker.  This is a state full of Meekers, people who believe very strongly in their own weird little thing and are willing to walk miles and miles to prove it.

I don’t know if this is a negative reflection on my life, but I actually didn’t really want to come back.  I like doing things and feeling helpful for people in my community, but sometimes the appointments on the calendar feel so oppressive.  I have a million things that I am suppose to get to, which are just a million opportunities to be late or forget what I am suppose to do.  Everyone wants me; everyone needs me.  I felt so free away from a phone and unable to do anything for anyone besides our immediate family.  There is something here to consider and learn from, so I am tucking this sensation in my cap to turn over this fall.  How do I “get away” while I am actually living?

My final impressions of our trip— guess what?  Oregon is still wild!




Favorite Site:  The Oregon Caves

I was so excited to be somewhere where everything was so warped and enchanted.  There were possibilities around every corner.

 Trip Thumbs up

The libraries in the small towns were so nice.  I liked them a lot.  They are a way to stop and relax for a bit.  You didn’t have to have a library card.  You could just relax in a corner and read a book.

 Just being somewhere where we didn’t have a normal routine, and we were able to do something fun each day, and nothing was ever boring or normal.



Favorite Site:  Crystal Crane Hot Springs, Eastern Oregon

This one was a pond strangely.  It was very hot and muddy on the bottom.  It was really big and I could touch in half the way through.

Trip Thumbs Up

 The trip was fun because there was lots of hot springs.  I liked camping because the sleeping bags were so comfy.  And I liked marshmallows.





Favorite Site:  Mt Howard in the Wallowas

We feeded the chipmunks and they were so cute!  I made friends at every campground.


Animals we saw or heard on our trip

  • eagles (bald and golden)
  • chipmunks
  • squirrels
  • wolves
  • coyote
  • cougar
  • hermit crabs
  • crabs
  • rock fish
  • sturgeon
  • trout
  • elk
  • giant pacific salamander
  • deer
  • prong horn antelope
  • gophers
  • sea lions
  • seal
  • wild mustangs
  • starfish

Now we’re home and not feeling like going much of anywhere.  This trip has been a great joy.  

That’s a wrap!

Plastics and Powering Up the Coast

There are things that you tell your kids over and over again that are hard messages to “come home”.  Brad and my stance on plastics is one such rough message.  We’re horrified by plastics— how plastic breaks so easily, how our society acts as though it is made to be thrown away and yet it is never really gone, how much of it ends up in the ocean, and how as trash it is both unnecessary and pervasive.  I hate the kids buying plastic toys.  They seem to break instantly in ways that afford me no opportunity to repair them.

The kids see our anti-plastic issues as a big old bummer.  Other kids are allowed beach toys—we are told to bring a garden trowel from home.  Other kids have Power Ranger dolls—we have to pretend our stuffed animals are ninjas.  Other kids have splash pools in the summer—we have to fill up the ice cooler and play in that.  Other kids can eat Otter Pops all summer—we have these weird home-made popsicles in our freezer with off-kilter broken chop sticks to hold on to.  (I want to make a side note here that this particular entry is really, really preachy, and that we are by no means perfect in our issues with consumption, plastic or otherwise.  We also buy plastic toys on occasion.  Those Playmobil sets are just so charming!  And our kids have legos—-we try to get them second hand, but they can be found in our house.  You CAN also find many Barbies in Inez’s room—not just corn husk dolls, and although most have come from thrift stores, at least one was a brand spanking new petroleum product.  We aren’t perfect…..even though we live in North Portland.)

But some issues don’t really come home when you just talk about them.  You can talk and talk and talk, but when you ask someone to go without, especially when that someone is a child, it is a hard row to hoe.  Brad sums these things up well—“We don’t want you to have plastic stuff because we don’t want to wreck the Earth!”.  That’s very esoteric for kids.  When we went through Bandon by the Sea, we came upon a public art installation by a non-profit group called Washed Ashore that made our messages about plastics take on a whole new light.  The people at Washed Ashore are making art out of the plastics that are showing up regularly on Bandon area beaches, flip flops, broken sand toys, water bottles and styrofoam.  The huge installations are going on tour both nationally and globally to educate people about the problems caused by marine debris.  

plasticfish The works are lovely and yet sad.  The group says that they have used EVERYTHING that comes in.  Nothing is thrown away (a second time).seal Inside the gallery, they have an interactive display of styrofoam “coral”.  You can drum on some of the larger pieces and get these beautiful tones.styrofoam This water bottle jellyfish can be turned like a carousel.  The kids are inside the piece.

jellyfish Each work of art was displayed for kids to touch and interact with.  A volunteer led our group through the exhibit, encouraging us to play with the pieces.  When we were done exploring, the kids were invited into a craft area where they could contribute to a brain coral piece by making what the volunteer called “trash kabobs”.  Their pieces were yellow and clear plastic chunks strung on metal rods.  Each station had an artist’s rendering of the end product.  It was cool to have a job to do.  Our brain coral would be at Sea World San Diego within a week.

helpingWe were really impressed with little downtown Bandon.  There were interesting things to see and do in the little 6 block area.  Down at the candy shop, the woman behind the counter was so impressed with the kids liking licorice that she gave them each a sample from the huge jars on the wall.

Someone hoped I was enjoying Bandon, and guess what?  I was!  But we had to drive on to reach Beachside State Park.bandonsign


Beachside was our last night of camping for the trip, so it was bitter-sweet (mostly sweet to be honest!).  It was one of the most luxurious campgrounds (free showers!  Clean bathrooms!) compared to many of the places we’ve stayed, but not a fantastic setting.  It is a narrow little strip of treed park wedged between the beach and HWY 101.  Obviously I had no problem with the beach…. but our campsite backed up along the highway.  Trucks went by in the early morning and sounded like they would run right over us.  If we had been on the beach side, we wouldn’t have even heard the trucks, but alas, we were camping on the side of the highway.  I mused that ironically, if I had just pulled the family off the highway and tried to set up my tent, that would have been illegal, but here we were.

In the morning, we had time to hop into Old Town Newport.  I got the kids back up on the power boxes to take another picture.  Inez was still reticent and worried.  She hadn’t forgotten her birthday weekend when she first decided that jumping on the electric box would kill her.grabhold Newport is such a great little town.  I never tire of visiting the caterwauling sea lions on the Harbor Front.
And it is cool to see fishermen and cannery workers going in to their work in their big boots.  Zephyr wanted a picture of himself with his favorite food.zephyrsalmon On this trip, we have met so many very kind people fishing or crabbing.  I don’t know if it is a fisherman personality type or what, but by and large, everyone was happy to let the kids hold their rods, look at their fish, watch them gut and clean, and answer questions.

This man let Inez throw back the too-small crab.inezthrowsitback And let Francis pick up the little guys.

newportcrabNice times in Newport.  We got back in the car and headed for Lincoln City where we were to meet Brad’s parents and grandpa for lunch.  That night we would join our friends Jason and Angela in Manzanita.  Oh, it is getting close to the end!

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


The kids have learned how to properly say “Ashland” by now, but we still like to say it the way they did when they were littler—- like “Land of Ash”.

We’ve been in Ashland since Monday evening.  This trip is always the highlight of our summer, and this time is no different.  We’ve rented a house with my parents and gone to plays for the last 10 years, maybe skipping a year here and there when busy having babies.  I was the one having babies (in case you wondered).  The great thing (apart from just being with my parents who are pretty fun), is that we go to shows at night while they go during the matinees.  Francis has accompanied them to a show a year for the past few years, and Zephyr will get to go to his first show at OSF next year.  We chat about our play choices in the morning.  I like having fun with my parents outside of visiting them at home.  Mom is more relaxed when we aren’t in her actual space, and everyone enjoys the plays so much that there is a lot to talk about.

grandmajoyce For the kids, the best thing about Ashland is playing in Lithia Creek.  Brad and kids do a game called “River Explorers” which involves walking up the creek and looking for animals.lithiacreek It’s nice when we come late enough in the year so that River Explorers isn’t too freezing cold.kidcreek This time, our house rental was right across from the Ashland public library.  We let Francis go there by herself, which she loved.  She spent most of her time in the teen section reading graphic novels.

This isn’t a great picture of the family, but this particular meal was sort of funny.  Towards the end of the trip, we needed to use up the old weird food, so we did a whole meal of bizarre left overs.familylunch Inez created this masterpiece: jello on a tortilla.  It’s whole-wheat, so you know it is healthy, right?inezjello Zephyr’s creation: scrambled eggs AND jello on a tortilla.  Mmmmmmm!grossI know it isn’t a matter of high-culture, but one of my favorite things to do in Ashland is go second-hand shopping.  All my life I have loved a good second hand store.  As a kid, we always bought our clothes second-hand as a matter of necessity.  It wasn’t cool then, nor something you advertised much.  Now that I can afford to buy things new, I still gravitate toward the bargains.  Besides underwear and a pair of needed shoes every now and then, I buy all the kids’ stuff used or we get hand-me-downs from neighbors or my older sister.  When in Ashland, I like to hit Earth Friendly Kids where I buy every pair of shoes that is remotely near their sizes.  Here are the kids in their new Earth Friendly Kids clothes and shoes—-
kidsclothes Aren’t they cute?picnic

Our last full day, we had a picnic in the park.  So lovely!

Here are our plays for 2013:

Joyce and Doug

  • My Fair Lady (with Francis too)
  • Taming of the Shrew
  • The Unfortunates

Ingrid and Brad

  • Cymbeline
  • The Heart of Robin Hood
  • The Unfortunates (Ingrid scalped a ticket)
  • King Lear

Awesome trip to Ashland.  On to the Oregon Caves and Del Norte State Park!

Next up, the Oregon Coast!


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!

Lakeview to La Pine (Monday)

All good things have to end.  It was clear that we couldn’t just hang out in Hart Mountain Hot Springs all week.  Hunters were doing it, and the sign said that you could camp for no more than 14 days in row (free!), but we figured we ought to make our move towards Bend where we would be meeting my sister and her family for some back-packing.  I am really looking forward to seeing Kendall and Keith and the boys.  This trip is really awesome, but I think my family could use an infusion of anyone else.  This is a whole-lotta-family-time.

Not much happened coming off the mountain (a little bickering, a little barfing—you know, average day in our family.  For the second time on this trip I found myself emptying the barf bag in order to use it AGAIN).  We did knock mud-flap like pieces loose on the Prius Fatty, both sides.  Fatty seems to have a weakness for rocks and gravel thrown up in her nethers, so both flaps had kicked bolts free.  Brad found some quick ties at a hardware store in Lakeview and reattached the flaps.  Quick ties make me think of juvenile detention where we were trained to use them in place of hand cuffs… know, in case you are short on hand cuffs but have a lot of people to restrain.  I think this was in case of a fire drill or something?  Man, I am glad I worked that job.  It gave me a wealth of terrible stories to tell.

brad fixes something

At the Safeway we debated buying the container of ice cream bars with the correct number for our family or the very cheap bulk container where we would have to eat 2 plus bars a cream bars

Brad won out with the cheap container by pointing out that $3 would barely buy a kid cone at our neighborhood ice cream joint.  How many more do I have to eat?!ingrid ice cream

We tried to give away the last 3 that we couldn’t finish, but it turns out that kids don’t take ice cream from strangers in front of Safeway, even if the strangers’s kids are also eating that same ice cream.  Children of today, I salute you!  You kept yourself safe from free ice cream bars!

Summer Lake looked way scummy, so we drove on by and on to La Pine.  Our destination was something called Paulina Lake in Newbury National Vocanic Monument.  It looked pretty.

newberry mountainIt was pretty.  We found a gorgeous spot on the edge of the lake.  Where were all the people?

It quickly became apparent that the people were SMART and decided not to be eaten alive by mosquitoes.  Oh dear.  We started suffering almost immediately.


I was being eaten alive, but determined to make something healthy for dinner.  Our lunch at Burger Queen in Lakeview had tipped me over the edge.  I needed something green in the cruciferous family.  We had kale and polenta, which was a hit with the kids.  I love my the stove that I borrowed from Kirstin and Jim.  You can really do quite a bit with it.  It runs hot, so pancakes are tough to keep from burning, but if you watch it quickly, things turn out quite nice.  I am really glad we brought the frying pan along.  It won’t go on the back-packing portion, but it is worth the space for the rest of the trip.cute There are these super cute little antelope chipmunks all over.  Brad proposed that they evolved to be cute which was an interesting idea to me.  He said that I would be freaked out if a rat was scampering around begging for oatmeal.  I’m not so sure.  I like rats.  I think that is my Chinese symbol.cold

In the morning we were so cold.  Frio!  Kids ate their breakfast under the mexican blanket.  I will admit that I sat on the warm frying pan (when I was done cooking on it).  I also put my water bottle full of hot tea up my shirt.  I have no shame.  It was cold.

Today (Tuesday) should be the best day ever.  Lava Caves and High Desert Museum.  What can beat it?