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Saline Courthouse in Rose, Oklahoma

Looking along the porch.

In 1841, two years after the Cherokee in Oklahoma had adopted a new constitution, they organized into eight districts, and in 1856 a ninth was added. One of these was the Saline district, the center of which today is in Rose, Oklahoma: due east of Tulsa and north of Tahlequah. In 1883, the Cherokee government voted to build courthouses for all of its districts. Of the nine courthouses built, only the Saline district courthouse survives.

The Saline Courthouse closed in 1898 and passed into private ownership. It remained a private home (and sometimes a party pad) until the Cherokee Nation was able to purchase the structure and surrounding property sometime in the 1980s. The building was in serious disrepair at the time, and required some major rescue efforts from the Saline Preservation Association, Preservation Oklahoma, and the Oklahoma Parks Department. Today the site is the Saline National Park.

I can’t think of a historical building in the country in a lovelier setting, though with all the gorgeous places in our amazing country, maybe there is a place that will give Saline a run for the title.

The spring house, just down the slope from the courthouse.

Beneath the front awning of the spring house, this inviting structure is built, to encourage you to take the water. It’s hard to tell, but the dark hole opens to two feet of crystal clear, cold springwater bubbling up.

The creek as it continues down the slope from the spring house.

A different view of the creek, as I made my way to the cemetery. One of our group pointed to the rocks and said, “This is limestone, and” he pointed out several spots revealing water bubbling right out of the rock on all sides of us, “This is limestone-filtered water. Any real Kentucky bourbon uses limestone-filtered water, just like this.” Since I’m a bourbon fan, this was of particular interest.

The courthouse, while not necessarily beautiful – since it was built for function not form – occupies an irresistibly green, sun-dappled place. It sits on a sloping hill above a generous spring that bursts from the ground nearby. There is a stone building built atop the spring, with sheltered access to the pristine and sparkling pure water from inside and outside the building. So much water gushes from the spring that it’s instantly a creek, that winds its way through trees, rock outcroppings, and the lovely Oklahoma hills till it reaches Snake Creek nearby.

The preservationists have addressed the courthouse itself, attending to the outside preservation first, by restoring the siding the roof and the vandalized window glass. Inside is gutted, but dry and clear and ready for the next step.

The kitchen area inside the courthouse.

Upstairs chimney restored.

At the top of the stairs.

Me, on the stairs in the courthouse.

There was no jail at the time this was used as a courthouse. None of them had a place to lock up criminals except the Tahlequah district, which had a jail. When criminals were on hand, they were chained to a tree or a wall and guarded until they could be taken to Tahlequah. Unfortunately, this is exactly what was occupying Sheriff Jesse Sunday when a storekeeper was shot September 20, 1897. He was far away, guarding prisoners when he got the news, and deputized someone nearby to take his place and headed back to Saline to see what was going on. By the end of the day Sheriff Sunday and the newly elected Sheriff Ridge had also been shot, in what people now call the Saline Courthouse Massacre. The murderer escaped from prison, but then then served a short tour in the Army and came back to Saline and lived the rest of his life in the community. Talk about a get out of jail free card.

I wandered in a wide arc around the area, along the creek, through the trees, and found myself at a cemetery. From the dates, you can see that these people lived here during the time this place was used as a courthouse, and was actually the center of a community.

A small cemetery sits beside the road, not far from the courthouse.

Next we went to see the Cherokee Nation Buffalo Herd. Our Chief is very excited about the buffalo and proud to tell us while we were in Tulsa that we would soon be able to see them. His excitement was contagious for many of the people attending the conference in Tulsa.

I was not appropriately impressed because buffalo herds are not that uncommon in the West. It seems like they would not be that uncommon in Oklahoma too, but perhaps I’m wrong. I’ve grown up seeing buffalo herds here and there, raised like cattle, and I’ve seen buffalo on the menu and in the meat counter. I’ve been close to buffalo herds multiple times in Yellowstone NP.

But still….buffalo are cool. And maybe here’s the difference: the Cherokee buffalo herd is out there just being buffalo. Not being fattened for market.

The sight was pretty spectacular, and I think you’ll agree.

One of the TV buffalo poses for me.

I wouldn’t mind being one of the Cherokee buffalo herd, if it meant living here.

Cherokee tourists.

On our way to the caretaker buildings, we spotted them from the road. The vans stopped and people exploded out into the gravel road with glee, stepping through thistles and nettles and cockleburs to lean up against the barbed wire fence to snap shots. The buffalo ignored us and we soon moved on.

When we arrived, we consolidated into only two vehicles and followed the caretaker (who lugged his year-old grandson on his hip the entire time – adorbs) as he drove us in a careful trek in a road defined only by the fact that you could tell cars had driven that route before. We crossed hills, forged valleys, and finally came out: on the other side of the buffalo! I was puzzled and frustrated about this. We weren’t allowed out of the vans and since I was squished in the back, and on the wrong side, I was not able to use my camera most of the time.

There are 92 buffalo in this herd, and they are living the life. I was glad to have seen them, their massive, massive bodies lumbering to get away from our vans, flowing over landscape changes like you see in movies. You know, that surge of giant bodies moving like a brown liquid into dry creekbeds and then up over mounds and splitting to flow around a tree.

Cherokee tourists now trapped in a van.

The “wild” buffalo. You can tell. Can’t you.

Looking back, as they make their escape from us.

Cherokee tourist beside buffalo sign.

Finally, when we had all returned and were talking in the shade, the caretaker explained that our buffalo have segregated themselves into two smaller herds. “The TV buffalo – those are the ones you saw when you came in,” he said, “and the others are what I call the wild buffalo.” The TV buffalo? Turns out, the group we saw beside the road don’t mind people, and tend to hang out by the road. When Oklahoma television crews come out to do a story on the buffalo, those are the ones they shoot because it’s such an easy shot. The other buffalo don’t like people, don’t go near the road, and don’t even mix with the TV buffalo. “I wanted you to see the wild buffalo,” he explained. “That’s why I took you out so far to see them.” Ok. All is forgiven.

A gorgeous man’s shirt on display at the Gilcrease Museum.

The CCO Conference was open to all Cherokees, but there was a special trip planned afterward for At Large Cherokees. These are the Cherokees who live outside “the 14 counties” considered to be Cherokee country in Oklahoma.*

First thing Sunday morning we piled into vans and went to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, and arrived before they were open. This was because the Universe wanted to feed my soul. I had been inside a hotel for the greater part of three days and my nature-spirit was dying. The only thing to do while waiting for the doors to open was to visit the adjacent garden. I was also cold and needed to thaw out.

One thing I can never figure out about desert-dwellers is their love affair with air conditioning. And I’m not talking cool-things-off-a-bit AC, what I mean is let’s-recreate-the-arctic AC. If it’s 90 degrees outside, I think cooling things off to 70, maybe 68 is appropriate. But instead we get 54 degrees (maybe I’m exaggerating) and I need to wear boots and a jacket indoors when it’s summer. What a waste of resources. Anyhow, what I’m getting to is that my body needed some warmth. I flew in from a region with a heat deficit to begin with, and then was in a climate-controlled building. I was ready for summer weather!

Let me assure you, after 30 minutes of waiting for the museum to open, I turned into a much happier Crystal. Warm and filled with the quiet sounds and scenes of nature.

The garden has a walking path around a pond, where I tried to identify plants. Luckily I spotted the poison ivy before I walked through it, and also luckily another Cherokee near me pointed to a tree and named it. It was probably the first Redbud I have seen, and I thought of Laurie who is not shy about her love of the tree. The trail passed a demonstration Pre-Columbian garden with plants known to have been in those earliest gardens. Near that was a demonstration pioneer garden. I watched red birds flash through and could not get a photo. Then I listened to the most astonishing bird call that never repeated itself. Cheeps, trills, clicks, warbles – this bird had it all. I was in awe! I think it was a scissor-tailed flycatcher. Oh how I wish I could hear this Maestro every day. I spotted a frog and a turtle too. I’ve had a knack for seeing turtles lately. I didn’t tell you that I found one on my island in the pond at home before I left. But I did tell you about the turtle on the walking trail in Tulsa, and now a turtle at the Museum garden. Pretty good for a girl who has to wear glasses.

The museum has developed 23 acres into themed gardens. I walked through Stuart Park, which holds the Pre-Columbian and Pioneer Gardens.

Statue beside the pond in Stuart Park.

A turtle! One thing I did not expect to find in Oklahoma was so much water: streams, rivers, lakes, ponds…water is everywhere in this part of the state.

After my soul was filled up, I hiked back up the hill to the museum. I was in for a treat. The long name for the Gilcrease Museum is Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art. It was founded by Gilcrease, a member of the Creek Nation. The collection today holds paintings and sculptures from famous artists of the American West, like Charles M Russell, Albert Bierstadt, Frederick Remington, Thomas Moran, Georgia O’Keeffe and John James Audubon. Our guide told us that the museum is famous for Southwestern Art, and since I’m from the West, that brings to mind a particular style of art. I was soon delighted to find that my assumption was wrong, and while the collection includes faves like original CM Russells (I’ve got a print on my wall at home), most of the art draws from creators across the Americas. Indigenous carvings and masks from Central and South America, a Tlingit totem pole from Alaska, a photographic collection of Indigenous people of the West, and another of landscapes. What I love the most, at nearly every museum, is the classic style of oil paintings of real world scenes that tell a story or beg me to escape into them. And portraits by masters. I could stare for hours at portraits.

The Gilcrease Museum leans heavily on Indian artists and Indian themes and Indian influence. It felt warm and validating to be there surrounded by Cherokee people, in a Cherokee part of the country, with Cherokee art on every side of me. I noticed the unfamiliar feeling of validation regarding this weak little Indian vein flowing through me and trying to get bigger. Wanting validation for being Indian is not something I think much about and did not realize I was craving it. Maybe it’s harder to be Indian when there is nothing Indian around me. But there in the museum, being Indian was practically cheered at me. It felt so good.

I think my jabbering will not add much to the experience, so I’ll just fill the rest with photos and captions. Please enjoy the ones I’ve chosen for you.

The Mourners by Joseph Henry

If I could hang Sierra Nevada Morning by Albert Bierstadt on a wall in my home, I’d never have to rent movies. I could just sit in front of this painting and disappear into it.

Blackhawk and His Son Whirling Thunder by John Wesley Jarvis

A painting of Mt. Hood! It was pretty fun to discover this one, while visiting as a representative of the Mt. Hood Cherokees.

I tend to love the paintings best in any museum, but this one had many other impressive displays, that were not of oil and canvas. Though we were not able to see it, there are documents here like an original copy of the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. We saw less valuable but still exciting documents.

An actual cast of Abraham Lincoln’s face hovers above casts of his hands.

Our van driver, Kevin, gets a close-up shot of this amazing story created from string glued in place.

Close up

We spent a lot of time OOooo-ing and AAhhhh-ing over the Plains Indians displays of clothing, moccasins, and bags, with beadwork on everything. Some of the stitching and beading too intricate to be believed without seeing it yourself.

So many beautiful moccasins.

Dresses I would be proud to wear.

Indian toys.

Beaded tobacco bag.

Sequoyah

Plaque beneath the Sequoyah statue. Please click the image to be able to read it. Seqyoyah is the most famous Cherokee because, among other things, he invented our written language.

One of the At Large Cherokees gets a photo of the famous statue, found on many Oklahoma license plates.

*If you’re curious, this is from the Cherokee Nation website: The Cherokee Nation is not a reservation; it is a 7,000 square mile jurisdictional area covering all of eight counties and portions of six additional counties in Northeastern Oklahoma. As a federally-recognized Indian tribe, the Cherokee Nation has both the opportunity and the sovereign right to exercise control and development over tribal assets which include 66,000 acres of land as well as 96 miles of the Arkansas Riverbed.

Vacation car! Most people over about 45 years pointed with delight at this display. The kids were all, "Uh, Dad, what's so great about that old car?"

Vacation car! Most people over about 45 years pointed with delight at this display. The kids were all, “Uh, Dad, what’s so great about that old car?”

We celebrated two things last week: Tara’s graduation from High School (with High Honors, I might add with pride), and – as it turned out serendipitously – Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary.

This amazing theme park was opened on July 17, 1955.  Our trip to Disneyland was planned sometime around September of 2014, and neither of us knew that in the meantime, the big 6-0 would pop up, resulting in massive park renovations, updates of old shows, and all-around spit-and-polish.

A 60th anniversary is the “diamond” anniversary, and thus the park heartily embraced the jeweled theme (glittering diamonds could be found on castle spires, on T-shirts, on signposts, on Mickey Ears), as well as lots of icy blues (in fabric banners, in cupcake frosting, in the flowers planted, in logos).

It's A Small World - familiar to anyone who has ever been here.

It’s A Small World – familiar to anyone who has ever been here.

Lamp post over Casey Jr. Circus Train ride, another 1955 original, named after the train in Dumbo.

Lamp post over Casey Jr. Circus Train ride, another 1955 original, named after the train in Dumbo.

The Mad Tea Party's tea cups have been spinning since opening day in 1955, bringing us six decades of motion sickness.

The Mad Tea Party’s tea cups have been spinning since opening day in 1955, bringing us six decades of motion sickness.

As longtime readers know, I visited for the first time in my life just last year, in March. At the time we felt as though half the park was closed for repairs, and we cursed our bad luck. On this visit, we not only realized why so many renovations happened last year, but we also were able to see and experience all the new stuff!

There are a remarkable number of rides and attractions from 1955 (and those installed in 1958) that are still running today, and those are my particular favourites. I’ll admit, however, that not much can beat the thrill of a modern rollercoaster, or the dazzle of movies shown onto a towering fountain spray of water. And I can honestly say I’d be happy to hanglide in Soarin’ Over California or board a spaceship on Star Tours once a week for a year, because the wonder of flight combined with a sense of realism in those two rides is indescribably exciting.

Goofy walks with a fan through Toon Town.

Goofy walks with a fan through Toon Town.

Blue banners and sparkly spires to celebrate the Diamond Anniversary.

Blue banners and sparkly spires commemorate the Diamond Anniversary.

Metal bonnet over a shop in the New Orleans district.

Metal bonnet over a shop in the New Orleans district.

A larger-than-life ringmaster holds up a tent in Disney California Adventure Park.

A larger-than-life ringmaster holds up a tent in Disney California Adventure Park.

Fabulous rollercoaster above the water in Disney California Adventure Park.

Tara looks out at the fabulous rollercoaster and Ferris wheel above the water in Disney California Adventure Park.

I found a lot of joy this week in observing people find their bliss. Kids went out of their minds with happiness to see their favourite characters, and parents were gleeful when watching their kids interact with the characters. Adults would start to get testy (the crowds, the heat, the lines, the noise), and then suddenly smile and relax as though a voice in their head had just said, “Cool it. You’re at Disneyland.” Teenagers wore completely ridiculous outfits and were proud to be a part of it all. Elderly people walked very slowly and looked for shady spots, and I never saw someone acting impatient with them. Staff went out of their way to get people using wheelchairs into rides. We saw a Disney employee in a wheelchair, and Tara was helped at one store by a Disney employee with Down’s Syndrome.

We are now home, a little sunburned, still recovering our sleep, and still happy.

magical moment

It’s a magical moment for two little girls (the older one got hold of the princess’s hand a few moments later). And then, look at Mom in the back ground.

The Queen

The Queen says to the little girl, “Of course you want me to sign it, because then it will have some value.”
When it was Tara’s turn, their Mickey Mouse pen ran out of ink. “That’s what you get for trying to use a rat to write with,” sneered The Queen. She walked over to a nearby tourist woman, snatched a pen out of her hand, and said, “I’ll be using this.” It was brilliant.

We caught some really great shows. Some on the streets, and some on stage, like this one, featuring King Louie from one of my most beloved Disney movies: The Jungle Book.

We caught some really great shows. Some on the streets, and some on stage, like this one, featuring King Louie from one of my most beloved Disney movies: The Jungle Book.

Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog

Tiana, from The Princess and the Frog

These dancers leapt through the air, launched from stylized surfboards in a piece from Lilo and Stitch, another of my top 5 Disney movie faves.

These dancers leapt through the air, launched from stylized surfboards in a piece from Lilo and Stitch, another of my top 5 Disney movie faves.

Just like last year, I was impressed with the attention to detail in creating realistic scenes to entertain and educate. At the Redwook Creek Challenge, we explored a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout tower.

Just like last year, I was impressed with the attention to detail in creating realistic scenes to entertain and educate. At the Redwook Creek Challenge, we explored a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout tower.

A real U.S. Forest Service jeep was parked outside Eureka Mine No. 2 entrance, at Grizzly River Run (an innertube ride on river rapids).

A real U.S. Forest Service jeep was parked outside Eureka Mine No. 2 entrance, at Grizzly River Run (an inner tube ride on river rapids).

Multiple artist workspaces are installed throughout the parks, and frequently have real Disney artists at work.

Multiple artist work spaces are installed throughout the parks, and frequently have real Disney artists at work.

Captain Hook and Tara were both in good spirits, flashing their hooks.

Captain Hook (despite his rather nasty reputation) and Tara were both in good spirits, flashing their hooks.

Peter Pan has adoring fans. Just catch a load of the face on this girl as she realizes who is walking toward her.

Peter Pan has adoring fans. Just catch a load of the face on this girl as she realizes who is walking toward her.

Oswald (who inspired Mickey) greets his fans.

Oswald (who inspired Mickey) greets his fans.

There's a big Goofy. And a Disney character too!

There’s a big Goofy. And a Disney character too!

I know there's hype about New England foliage, but it's for real. There's nothing like the autumn colours in the northeast.

I know there’s hype about New England foliage, but it’s for real. There’s nothing like the autumn colours in the northeast.

The first day of November in Fitchburg, Massachusetts was pretty wet, but everybody (particularly Tetley the dog) wanted to go out for a walk anyway. The family lives in a beautiful spot in the hills, next door to forests, and we headed out. It turned out to be colder than expected, so it was just a short walk, but fun for me to soak up New England and remember the things I love about it. If you’ve ever spent time in these parts, you’ll know that in the forest there are ubiquitous stone walls that served as ancient property boundaries. I have seen them in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

The boys lead the way through the forest.

The boys lead the way through the forest.

Old stone wall in a Massachusetts forest.

Old stone wall in a Massachusetts forest.

Fire Engine Red

Fire Engine Red

K had created an enormous pile of pancakes for us all to eat that morning, and then went off to the school to work on student progress reports. E and I chatted while we dried off and waited for our ride back to the city. Finally we had to say our goodbyes. E had purchased Vermont Cabot cheese for me as my specially requested New England delicacy (it’s about $15/lb here), and I predictably forgot it in her fridge. Luckily she likes it too!

Reunited with loved ones.

Reunited with loved ones.

Once we were back in the city, our friends took us to Brazilian barbecue restaurant in Cambridge called Midwest Grill, where the waiters brought large hunks of meat to the table and carved it for us. I tried enough meat dishes to last me till Christmas and they practically had to carry me out I was so stuffed. I’d say it’s a good plug for a restaurant when a meal becomes a highlight of a trip! They all went to eat ice cream afterward and I couldn’t order a thing.

Next it was time to visit Fenway. Sadly, though only early evening, the season brought early darkness, hastened even more by the thick clouds and rain. The ballpark was closed, and raindrops splashed my lens, but I was thrilled to be there anyway. R and Tara stayed warm in the car while M and I ran around in the rain.

Ahh, my heart warms just to stand here on the sidewalk.

Ahh, my heart warms just to stand here on the sidewalk.

M and me, snapped by some stranger walking past. I happily handed over my camera. "In another city," says M, "your camera would be gone."

M and me, snapped by some stranger walking past. I happily handed over my camera. “In another city,” says M, “your camera would be gone.”

Yawkey Way. Is there a more Boston-sounding street?

Yawkey Way. Is there a more Boston-sounding street? There’s the big green stadium on the right.

Maybe I'm silly, but this is as much Boston to me as anything else.

Maybe I’m silly, but this is as much Boston to me as anything else.

There was one last friend I was able to visit, and T and I dropped by for a couple hours, till we were all wiped out for the day. My T opened up and talked a blue streak. It’s nice to see when trust develops between a friend and my kid. Yawning, we hugged goodbye and took photos.

Next fun adventure: we walked a few blocks, bought our Charlie Cards, and hopped onto the green line. Then we switched to the red line and headed out towards M’s place again for the night. It was 10:30 at night and though it was November 1, it was also the day after Halloween and a Saturday, so several of our fellow passengers were costumed and heading for parties. It has been a decade since I rode a Boston subway (back then we used token coins, and I’ve still got one in my purse as a memento), and I thought it could be scary, but it wasn’t.

Sleepy friends

Sleepy friends at 10:00pm

Sunday morning M had to jump on a plane, so R made himself available to us once more, between his morning and evening sermons. The weather really had not cooperated during our visit, and had been rainy and cold the whole time. It perfectly suited Tara’s next request: a visit to the Boston Museum of Science. It’s another place filled with memories. We watched a 4-D movie. Have you done one of those before? It introduces sensations like touch and smell. This movie was not as good as the last one we saw: Polar Express, which blew snow into our faces, bursts of wind blew our hair, the chair shook when the train crashed, and the smell of hot cocoa wafted through when was served on the train.

An enormous grasshopper greets us from the second story of the museum.

An enormous grasshopper greets us from the second story of the museum.

We did like this exhibit. The photography of modernist cuisine. Where things were sliced in half and photographed.

We did like this exhibit: photography of modernist cuisine. Where things were sliced in half and photographed.

The main exhibit was the Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed and I was eager to see it. I could have spent 4 hours in that exhibit alone. It was huge and fascinating, but we simply did not have the time to see everything. My favourite part was when some of the museum staff helped me learn to interpret some of the signs on the tall columns. I learned how ancient Mayans wrote numbers! Just to learn one small thing was very exciting to me. I can read Mayan numbers. Hee.

Reproduction of a Mayan tower. The lights flashed on the side are to help visitors learn to read the petroglyphs.

Reproduction of a Mayan tower. The lights flashed on the side help visitors learn to read the hieroglyphs.

I stood here until I learned to read some of it.

I stood here until I learned to read some of it. The numbers are the places with dots on top of/beside parallel lines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tara's birthday was converted to glyphs.

Tara’s birthday was converted to glyphs.

Artwork and tools. This one was very exciting to me, because I guessed the use of the shell sliced in half. Can you guess it?

Artwork and tools. This one was very exciting to me, because I correctly guessed the use of the shell sliced in half. Can you guess it?

A painted vessel

A painted vessel

A gorgeous carving

A gorgeous carving

 

 

 

 

 

Then we hurried off to the airport and in no time were boarding our plane. It was an uncomfortable night flight (I can never sleep while sitting upright), but the reward at the end was being home! We live about 8 minutes drive from the airport, so touching down is synonymous with being home. We snapped the obligatory Portlander-coming-home snapshot of the airport carpet. The Portland Airport Carpet has its own facebook page, can you believe it? Yes, we are a weird city, and we love it. 🙂

Our feet and shadows on the PDX carpet.

Our feet and shadows on the PDX carpet.

Tara and I stand with Mickey and Walt, in front of the iconic Disney castle.

Tara and I stand with Mickey and Walt, in front of the iconic Disney castle.

I am doing a little housecleaning today, and skimmed through my Disney photos to see what I have not showed you yet. There are a few more images I wanted to share. I was following a theme before, grouping all my photos under one topic. For this one, I just want to make sure I hit what’s left. Things that caught my eye during my very first trip to Disneyland, that I haven’t showed you already.

If you missed the earlier photos, check out the side panel to the left of your screen, and go down to where it says “I already said,” and click the arrow next to “select month.” Choose April 2014 from the drop down menu and scroll down. There are lots of photos. But of course I still have more!

I love shots from airplanes. This one shows the California coastline as we headed south to begin our journey.

I love shots from airplanes. This one shows the California coastline as we headed south to begin our journey.

If you hold still at any moment, and look around, you will see bubbles floating through the scene. It's magical.

If you hold still at any moment in the park, and look around, you will see bubbles floating through the scene. It’s magical.

A peaceful and traditional ride through the park could be had with a horse and buggy.

A peaceful and traditional ride through the park could be had with a horse and buggy.

Another traditional trip around the park is on the train, with an underground section revealing scenes of the Grand Canyon and taking riders back through time with animated dinosaurs.

Another traditional trip around the park is on the train, with an underground section revealing scenes of the Grand Canyon and taking riders back through time with animated dinosaurs.

A rare moment of sunshine during our trip lit up the Matterhorn while we were standing in line for Space Mountain.

A rare moment of sunshine during our trip lit up the Matterhorn while we were standing in line for Space Mountain.

Unexpected street shows would pop up when you least expected it. Performers in period costumes with actual singing and dancing talent would entertain anyone standing nearby.

Unexpected street shows would pop up anywhere. Performers in period costumes with actual singing and dancing talent would entertain anyone standing nearby.

I liked the way this photo turned out, of a lantern against the sky.

I liked the way this photo turned out, of a lantern against the sky.

Look at this big beautiful paddle wheel riverboat. Hard to believe this scene is in an amusement park.

Look at this big beautiful paddle wheel riverboat. Hard to believe this scene is in an amusement park.

Daring adventurers get ready for a giant drop on Splash Mountain.

Daring adventurers get ready for a giant drop on Splash Mountain.

This one was pretty scary, when the elevator went crazy and just ...DROPPED.

This one was pretty scary, when the elevator went crazy and just …DROPPED.

The inside of the Tower of Terror is really convincing and remarkable. I have a dozen photos of the dusty abandoned hotel with layers of cobwebs and dust.

Inside of the Tower of Terror is convincing and remarkable. I have a dozen photos of the dusty abandoned hotel lobby with layers of cobwebs and dust.

Big Thunder Mountain railroad has been reopened and is really exciting, including an accidental TNT explosion as part of the ride!

Big Thunder Mountain railroad has been reopened and is really exciting, including an accidental TNT explosion as part of the ride!

The place is a whole new level of wonderful at night.

The place is a whole new level of wonderful at night.

Standing in line was frequently entertaining because the lines ran through spectacular otherworldly scenes.

Standing in line was frequently entertaining because the lines ran through spectacular otherworldly scenes.

We were entertained by this droid who chattered and made fun of us.

We were entertained by this droid who chattered and made fun of us while he worked.

At the front of every line is a sign telling you how long to expect to stand in line. I wondered how they kept track of that till one of us was handed this tag which we were to present to an attendant once we completed the line.

At the front of every line is a sign telling you how long to expect to stand in line. I wondered how they kept track of that till one of us was handed this tag.

Lines. We stood in so many lines. The lines wrapped around and up and down stairs, in and out of buildings.

Lines. We stood in so many lines. The lines wrapped around and up and down stairs, in and out of buildings.

Here's the line inside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, wrapping through what looks like an authentic basement boiler room.

Here’s the line inside the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, wrapping through what looks like an authentic basement boiler room.

Another shot I like, as the rollercoaster flashes overhead above Toy Story Midway Mania!

Another shot I like, as the rollercoaster flashes overhead above Toy Story Midway Mania!

I just loved the Tiki Room. It was completely throwback and such silly fun.

I just loved the Tiki Room. It was completely throwback and such silly fun.

Strollers. If you've ever been there, you know what I'm talking about.

Strollers. If you’ve ever been there, you know what I’m talking about.

Downtown Disney was a completely fun and unexpected outdoor mall. Entertaining and Disney-themed.

Downtown Disney was a fun outdoor mall. Entertaining and Disney-themed.

Skippers of the Jungle Cruise

Skippers of the Jungle Cruise

Taylor, our most favouritest skipper of them all. We loved her so much we asked for an autograph!

Taylor, our most favouritest skipper of them all. We loved her so much we asked for an autograph!

Oh my, my. I realized when the kids began shooting at this booth that I had failed my kid and had not passed on a critical Idaho skill! I had to teach her how to hold a rifle, and she's 16 years old. I'm so embarrassed. This is after some coaching, but still... I need to get this kid to a range.

Oh my, my. I realized when the kids began shooting at this booth that I had failed to pass on a critical Idaho skill! She’s 16 years old and I had to teach her how to hold a rifle. I’m so embarrassed. This photo is after some coaching.

 

Um...ok. Is it safe to go inside?

Um…ok. Is it safe to go inside?

View of the park from our Hilton room. You can see the backdrop to Cars Land, and the Tower of Terror.

View of the park from our Hilton room. You can see the backdrop to Cars Land, and the Tower of Terror. There’s the Matterhorn, too, if you look carefully.

Alright, that’s about enough. I could go on but I want to discard this image folder from my desktop and finish the tidying. I hope it’s been fun to visit Disney one last time with me.

Update: Maybe not the very last time. My Tara is begging already for another Disney trip as her high school graduation gift next year. (She’s graduating in a year, can you believe it?!) So by the time the memories have faded, we may head south again and make some more.

 

 

Looking at the rock cliffs from the downtown Radiator Springs community.

Looking at the rock cliffs from the downtown Radiator Springs community.

I really enjoy the Pixar/Disney movie Cars, and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do. One awesome thing about being a parent these days is that kid movies are made just as much for parents as for the kids.

When I was growing up, my mom was firmly opposed to all “cartoons,” as she called them. Any animated TV show or movie was dumb in her mind and she refused to watch any of them with us, and generally would not give us permission to even see an animated movie at a theatre, believing them to be devoid of any educational benefit to kids, and certainly not capable of providing entertainment to an adult. When Tara was a toddler, it was with a big show of tolerance that Mom begrudgingly allowed herself to be coaxed into watching Toy Story with us. Mom was surprised to find herself caught up in the story, announcing at the end that it was better than she had expected.

So, it’s along those lines that I recommend the movie Cars. If you haven’t been watching animated movies for the last 15 years, you are in for a treat!

If you have seen the movie, you might be able to imagine our delight at finding in Disney California Adventure park a re-creation of the little city of Radiator Springs, on an abandoned section of Route 66, and thus trapped back in time a little, as the modern world has been slow to influence the town and it’s citizens.

A coworker told me to make sure to see it at night, and he was absolutely right!

A coworker told me to make sure to see it at night, and he was absolutely right!

Cozy Cone motel hosts a cafe. You can see the shadow of Mater there in front of the office.

Cozy Cone motel hosts a cafe in the back. You can see the shadow of Mater there in front of the office.

Luigi's tire shop looks exactly like it does in the movie, including the leaning town of tires.

Luigi’s tire shop looks exactly like it does in the movie, including the leaning tower of tires.

Miguel with the monument to Stanley, the town's founder

Miguel with the monument to Stanley, the town’s founder

So much realism makes it easy to lose oneself into make-believe.

So much realism makes it easy to lose oneself into make-believe.

neon signs

neon signs

blinking yellow light

blinking yellow light

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flo's Cafe welcomed all hungry visitors

Flo’s Cafe welcomed all hungry visitors

Here is Flo's in the daylight

Here is Flo’s in the daylight

Attention the detail included uniforms that suited each section of the park.

Attention the detail included uniforms that suited each section of the park.

I couldn't get enough of the neon

I couldn’t get enough of the neon signs that lit up the main street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All buildings

Buildings in town all matched the theme.

The entrance

The entrance to Luigi’s Flying Tires was through the tire store.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We rode our giant tires like pucks on an air hockey table.

We rode our giant tires like pucks on an air hockey table.

The kids shared a tire.

The kids shared a tire.

Radiator Springs Racers was one of our favourite rides.

Radiator Springs Racers was one of our favourite rides.

The scenery was unbelievable.

The scenery was unbelievable.

Cave paintings of old cars inside the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

Cave paintings of old cars inside the Radiator Springs Racers ride.

View of Radiator Springs from the Ferris wheel at Paradise Pier.

View of Radiator Springs from the Ferris wheel at Paradise Pier.

Fabulous blue headed male Mallard duck

Fabulous blue headed male Mallard duck

Typical green-headed Mallard duck

Typical green-headed Mallard duck

Birds at THE park. Let’s see if you can guess which one.

The Brady Bunch has been gone all week for Spring Break. Typically we head to the mountains with our tents and propane stoves, right? This one turned out totally different. I have a lot of photos to sort through, and it’s a bit overwhelming. So let me begin with the birds and a few of the flowers. Lately I’ve been taking many bird photos from my home office and I’ve developed a habit of noticing birds. So it’s no surprise that when I’m on vacation, I notice the birds there too.

Lucious

Luscious purple clusters

Unfurling into lovliness

Unfurling into lovliness

Lovely yellow petals

Lovely yellow petals

My bird photos were often an after-thought amid the cacophony of colours and sounds and activity bursting around us in calculated displays of amazingness at all times of the day (clue #1). So only a few photos are in focus. I include them all because one fun thing about my week was discovering the variety of birds in a place I did not expect to find so many birds.

Female Mallard duck

Female Mallard duck

Canada Goose

Canada Goose

Seagull

Gull

 

Black Crowned Night Heron, I believe. Isn't this one beautiful?!

Black Crowned Night Heron, I believe. Isn’t this one beautiful?!

 

Sparrow

Sparrow

delicate drops of flowers

delicate drops of flowers

 

You want more clues now, don’t you? I can give photo clues.  The following photos will definitely give it away. What do you think?

Sparrow resting on a sign in the shape of a caterpillar with a name and a ridiculous fake German accent.

Sparrow resting on a sign in the shape of a talking caterpillar with a ridiculous fake German accent. (Clue #2)

An American Coot glides through the water (clue #3).

An American Coot glides through the water. (clue #3) Look at the reflection.

 

Sparrow munches popcorn. (Clue #4)

Sparrow munches popcorn. (Clue #4)

The Ladies of the Tiki Room sing us a song. (Clue #4)

The Ladies of the Tiki Room sing us a song. (Clue #5) Quick, who can name them? Collette, Fifi, Gigi, Josephine, Mimi, and Suzette

Yep, you know it. We were in Disneyland all week. It was crammed full of people, cold & windy except for the very last day, incomprehensibly expensive, and yet….magical in so many ways. It was my very first visit to a Disney park in my whole life.  My faery girl heart was so happy to discover the wonder – the pure Disney perfection of wonder – that was there to be discovered around every single corner.

I can’t wait to show you. Tune back in later!

Up close and personal with Mt. Adams. You can almost feel the frigid air coming off the glaciers, huh?

Up close and personal with Mt. Adams. You can almost feel the frigid air coming off the glaciers, huh? See the hikers? (just kidding)

{click here for Part I}

Morning was astonishingly beautiful, because we finally got to see Mt. Adams without the top obscured in clouds.  And got a nice view of Mount Saint Helens, because the sun was hitting it right.  Volcanoes: I love them! Fog had formed in the valley and seeped away from us into the Columbia River Valley as we watched. It was fun talking with Arno about fog formation and fog “movement,” as I pulled out my dusty NWS memories. Fog doesn’t actually flow through a drainage, as it appears, and it was kind of cool to be science-y smart with my geeky boyfriend for a change. His job is smack in the middle of science and technology (UAVs), while mine is medical disability benefits. I like showing off, and it’s hard to brag about hip replacements and accident verification.

Spectacular view of Mt. Adams from our tent, which you see on the left.

Mt. Adams, our tent, and receding fog

Mt. St. Helens in the distance

Mt. St. Helens in the distance

Arno is the mountaineer (but my high school mascot was The Mountaineers!), and I humored him by agreeing to climb Old Snowy Mountain, the nearest peak to us, for our Saturday excursion. We loaded very lightly in daypack gear, set out, and….gosh if we didn’t hit the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) immediately. Turns out, we were supposed to take a hard left at the Lily Flats Trail yesterday, which was the way to Goat Lake. Lily Flats Trail parallels the PCT, and we had taken one of the short connector trails. Now, our map made so much more sense.

Pacific Crest Trail!

Pacific Crest Trail!

It meant we were much closer to Old Snowy Mountain than we thought, but it also meant a 9-mile hike out on Sunday. But that’s tomorrow, and today we are mountain climbing. Did I mention I’m not big on mountain climbing?

Keywords: Scary? High? Amateur?

Well, on the way we realized we were in Argentina, when we spotted the llamas. Snow, exposed rocks, alpine air, high elevation+llamas=Argentina.

Here is a shot from our trip to the Andes, with llamas and their keeper.

Here is a shot from our trip to the Andes, with llamas and their keeper.

We climbed across large snow fields (the trail crosses the Packwood Glacier), over many gurgling creeks, across meadows and beneath rocky peaks. We soon spotted Goat Lake. It’s totally frozen over still. In August! I was glad we hadn’t made it all the way there to camp, as we had considered. Then I got my visual stimulation payoff before I even had to climb the dang mountain peak. Mount Rainier! Holy Mother that’s a beautiful volcano. Three volcanoes in one day! Look at the crazy steep valley.

Steep valley with Mt. Rainier rising in the background to 14,410 feet. Goat Lake is in the cirque to the left.

Steep valley with Mt. Rainier rising in the background to 14,410 feet. Goat Lake is to the left.

Just left of the view above, Goat Lake rests in a cirque and drains by a high waterfall.

Just left of the view above, Goat Lake rests in a cirque and drains by a high waterfall.

goat vs. lump of snow

goat vs. lump of snow

This place is named after goats, for the mountain goats said to frequent the area. We were hoping for goats the whole trip. Someone casually pointed down the hill: “There is a goat,” as though it were obvious. You be the judge.

It’s pretty exciting for me to hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, called the PCT by locals. This is our West Coast equivalent of the Appalachian Trail (2,180 miles and crossing 14 states). The Pacific Crest Trail is 2,665 miles long, begins at the Mexico border and ends at the Canada border, and crosses the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Just three states. We make ’em big out here. I’ve mentioned before that I want to hike the entire thing someday.

While at the ridgeline, Arno walked out onto the McCall glacier. The glaciers we were on today looked more like snowfields.

Hikers moving along the PCT as it crosses Packwood Glacier

Hikers and llamas moving along the PCT as it crosses Packwood Glacier

Arno trekking out onto the McCall Glacier

Arno trekking out onto the McCall Glacier

The highest Washington point along the PCT is 7650 feet, and a short distance from where we spotted the “goat.” We left the trail and headed sharply uphill to aim for the peak of Old Snowy Mountain, topping out at 7930 feet. We had climbed another 1500 feet from our tent.

I get so nervous climbing, but I also get irritated and impatient with myself for being scared. I want to scuttle up the side without pounding heart and sweaty hands. My technique is not to look anywhere but my next few steps, not to think about it, and to go as fast as I can so it will be over with quickly.

My signature pose when I get to a high spot. I'm on top of Old Snowy, and that's the sharp ridgeline stretching to the south behind me.

My signature pose when I get to a high spot. I’m on top of Old Snowy, and the sharp ridgeline stretches to the south behind me.

(Arno made it to the top, too. He is more comfortable climbing mountains than I am.)

(Arno made it to the top, too. He is more comfortable climbing mountains than I am.)

Then we made the long trek back down. I had talked Arno into carrying lunch with us, because I was worried about how long it would take me to get up the mountain and down again. We stopped on a delicious high ledge around 7000 feet, and had some smoked salmon and pasta for lunch and were still sorta full when we made it all the way back to camp. For a light dinner, I baked brie in red wine and brown sugar with apricots, and we had that with the rest of the wine.

Only minor thunder rumbles in the night, and for our concerted efforts to stake down our tent against a possible storm, we suffered a few mere gusts and a sprinkling of rain. We slept much better and were able to get up early.

Wet Sunday morning

Wet Sunday morning

Our view of Old Snowy Mountain from the Lily Basin Trail. That round hump on top is the point we climbed to.

Our view of Old Snowy Mountain from the Lily Basin Trail. That round hump on top is the point we climbed to.

We packed up the whole camp, ate breakfast, drank our Peets coffee, and were hiking before 8 am. Not knowing the trail, I wanted a really early start to make sure we got home at a reasonable time. It stayed wet and mostly cloudy all day, but it remained an excellent day to be on the trail.

Goat Lake was not as lovely as it could have been, since it was frozen still, and the few spare campsites up there were not at all as inviting as ours had been. The trail remained partially obscured due to snow, and we scrambled around till we got out of the cirque. Our trail out was along Goat Ridge, and offered splendid views of the valley from the east side rather than the west side, where we had spent the previous two days.

This is Goat Lake. I love that fabulous blue of compressed ice!

This is Goat Lake. I love that fabulous blue of compressed ice!

Treacherously steep slopes were thrilling and beautiful as we lifted out of the valley and away from the lake.

Treacherously steep slopes were thrilling and beautiful as we lifted out of the valley and away from the lake. You can see in the top right, the solid cloud bank we entered when we followed the trail along the Jordan Creek valley.

We crossed over Goat Ridge into the Jordan Creek basin, and that was the end of our views. The entire valley was socked in for the entire day. We beat feet downhill and my bum knee did not fail me (whee!). We stopped for burritos for lunch: filled with reconstituted beans with fresh avocado, chilies, and cheese – yum!

Around 3pm we spotted reflections off the vehicles parked at the trailhead. We had arrived earlier than expected, and made it back to Portland by 6pm. Not too shabby. The biggest loss of the trip: Arno left his REI trekking poles leaned against the truck as he changed into fresh clothes in the parking lot. Then we drove off. D’oh!

Spectacular view of Mt. Adams from our tent, which you see on the left.

Spectacular view of Mt. Adams from our tent, which you see on the right.

Arno and I have been dating two years and never once had been backpacking together. Until last weekend.

Lupine and Bear Grass

Lupine and Bear Grass

He’s crazy about the outdoors. Hiking, cycling, rock climbing, cross country skiing– you get the picture. I am crazy about camping and backpacking. We’ve been saying to each other, “One of these days…” for too long. In May we planned our summer calendar (yes, we have to coordinate calendars! It was not superfluous because –>), only to find we had only two available weekends from May through September when we would both be uncommitted. As it was, I made the weekend available by canceling plans to go to Eugene for the Cherokee celebration of culture, highlighted by a visit from our Chief John Baker, out from the Nation. I swear, my life is just so dang full…

We pulled out maps, nearly salivating at all the possibilities. Arno and I have this tendency to look for places we’ve never visited before. We want to do things for the first time together. Is that sappy? Yes, I think it is. He suggested Mt. St. Helens, but I told him I feel a little disloyal going there because I’ve already promised a Seattle friend I’ll do St. Helens with him someday. East of Mt. St. Helens is the Goat Rocks Wilderness. The guidebooks say it’s really popular, which typically we try to avoid. We did some Internet searches and it seemed rather pretty. We found a perfect length loop (which is hard to find), that had a side trail connecting to the PCT and perhaps the opportunity to scale a peak. Done deal!

Aaaaand a pretty cool view of the blown top of Mt. St. Helens above our tent, too.

Aaaaand a pretty cool view of the blown top of Mt. St. Helens above our tent, too.

North on I-5 and east on Hwy 12 takes you out to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Take a right turn onto a Forest Service road, drive a very long time to a very -very- large parking area for a trailhead. The largest parking site at a trailhead I can remember is the Canyon Creek Lakes Trailhead in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. Snowgrass Flats Trailhead may have it beat. I estimated around 50 vehicles parked when we eeked out a spot on the side of the road. At least this one doesn’t have the same bear problem. And if that’s not enough parking, Berry Patch Trailhead is right next to it, best suited for stock animal parking. Well, not the animals; their trailers.

We got a very late start. It was a compromise due to aforementioned busy schedule: I did nothing Thursday night except wind down and try to disconnect from the work week. Friday morning we slept in and then had a home cooked breakfast. Ahhhh…. THEN we got ready to go backpacking. So, we arrived at the trailhead around 3:30pm. Yikes! We were worried there would be no campsites available.

The pack was heavy. I am not conditioned. But the mountains!  This was the opposite of my High Lake hike in June, which had no views. This was amazing!! Pack weight sitting awkwardly?  Shoulders pulled back, feet hurt, damned biting flies eating you alive? – whatever. Just LOOK at that! And that!

The Money Shot. This is TOO DIE FOR. Taken a few steps away from our tent. I can't even say enough about this wilderness area, because no words can even, possibly... Just... LOOK at this.

The Money Shot. This is TO DIE FOR. Taken a few steps away from our tent. I can’t even say enough about this wilderness area, because no words can even, possibly… Just… LOOK at this.

Me in a field of lupine. Tired and delighted.

Me in a field of lupine. Tired and delighted.

Bird in a stunted tree near our camp

Bird in a stunted tree near our camp

The views opened up almost as soon as we began. We started the hike at 4650′ so perhaps that helped us get us up to treeline sooner. It’s so alpine here that treeline is where 35-year-old pine trees are 10 feet high, because their roots can only go as far as the ground thaws, or as far as the topsoil goes down until it’s only rock.

There were fields of wildflowers in every direction. The colours were stunning. The perfume of all those lupine in bloom was purely intoxicating. I can hardly do it justice, the sweetest honeyed blue smells wafting every time the wind picked up.

Five miles in, we came to what we guessed (correctly, it turned out) was the actual Snowgrass Flats area. We passed the Lily Flats Trail, because we didn’t recognize the name and wanted to go to Goat Lake. We continued directly ahead, as we had been heading. Another mile in, and I was close to wiped out. It was evening, and there were campsites.

Surprisingly, with the jam-packed trailhead, and people everywhere on the trail, there were many many campsites to be had. Lots of nice fire pits and cleared and level spots with views. The one we selected ended up at 6400 feet. We had traveled about six miles and climbed 1700 feet. (Compare that to High Lake, when I climbed 2000 feet in 3.75 miles.)

Sunset on the mountains. Old Snowy is on the left.

Sunset on the mountains. Old Snowy is on the left.

Arno and I split camp tasks really well. We’re both used to doing everything ourselves (single parent mode), so it’s a joy to launch into any task, knowing your work is half done already – by the other person! He began sauteing onion and garlic for his bacon carbonara, and I began putting up the fabulous new tent he just purchased. The zipper failed on my old tent, so he loaned me one of his for my last hike. I subsequently griped about how heavy it was. So he purchased a tent for backpacking, and this one is spacious and weighs hardly anything! (Big Agnes Copper Spur, for those of you who want to know.)

Arno and me in the mountains

Arno and me in the mountains

Overnight we were BLASTED with thunderstorms. From the photos you see the weather was lovely during the day. In the evening, clouds gathered, but it was still warm, and relatively calm, dry, and nice. I had become familiar with the NOAA site forecast for the weekend (I was a forecaster for the National Weather Service for 11 years, and just can’t use any other weather website.). We both knew that thunderstorms were forecast and we had the rain flap up. But nothing prepared us for KA-BLAM! Just like in Batman comics. POW! The lightning glare burnt through our closed eyelids, the thunder cracked, wind gusts yanked at the guy lines, and rain simply gushed from the heavens. For. Hours. And. Hours. And…. we stayed dry. And when everything settled the heck down, we slept in late.

{click here for Part II}

It's so stark I could be tricked into thinking this is an artist's rendering of a farm. But no, this is simply Eastern Oregon.

It’s so stark I could be tricked into thinking this is an artist’s rendering of a farm. But no, this is simply Eastern Oregon.

Click here for Part I of the road trip.

Due to our visit the day before, we knew that Pa & Michelle would be at a doctor’s appointment, so when we came down out of the mountains we headed directly for Nampa. I had to stop by Rex’s house because he had some things that Gramilda had left for me. Gramilda went about the business aspects of her death calmly without any emotion apparent. She contacted everyone she could think of, and asked them what she could put a tag on. It appeared thoughtful and practical, and will be exactly how I do it, if I get that chance – a defense mechanism to ward off the pain and fear. She and her daughter (my mother) had obvious intent to their actions while they died, and sometimes I find myself disconnectedly thinking with fascination about how each of them left us. It’ll have to be a future blog post.

The Korean box of drawers. You would have picked this too, huh?

The Korean box of drawers. You would have picked this too, huh?

In any case, Rex handed over a collection of letters (between who and whom I have not yet the constitution to investigate), and the thing I had asked for: a wooden box of small drawers she had brought home from Korea, and used as a jewelry box.

Rex was delighted to hear that we were heading next to the Warhawk Air Museum, of which he apparently is an active member, contributor, and participant, having been a pilot in World War II. He and Miguel realized they share an interest, and so Miguel heard about the P-47 that had just shown up for the 4th of July airshow but hadn’t left yet, and the F-104 parked out back that had to be seen.

P-47 Thunderbolt at the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho

P-47 Thunderbolt at the Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa, Idaho

F-104 Starfighter

F-104 Starfighter

Though I had suggested the museum stop as a way to placate the boys, I ended up really enjoying it, and wished there was more time to spend exploring. Tara was drawn to the women of WWII section and said she wanted to have one of the uniform jackets hanging in display. I liked the old posters. Tara bought a Rosie the Riveter T-shirt.

There were many cabinets such as this one that tracks, through the placement of mementos, the history of an Air Force pilot and his wife, and their impressive careers.

There were many displays like this one that tracks, through the placement of mementos, the impressive careers of an Air Force pilot and his wife.

Join the WAVES!

Join the WAVES!

The kids had been begging us to return home, almost from the moment we began, so parents compromised with kids by agreeing to head back earlier than necessary if they agreed to comply with our stops along the way. We left Nampa all rather eager to get into higher elevation and out of the heat of the Treasure Valley.

Serendipitously, we parents decided that since we were heading back a full day prior to plan, then we didn’t have any reason to fly back along the Interstate. Instead, we struck out on Highway 26 through central Oregon, places that Arno and I had not been before, though his boys had been out there during previous summer camps with OMSI.

Graffiti in Oregon: we don't do anything around here without activism of some sort.

Graffiti at a rest stop in Oregon. Listen, we don’t do anything around here without activism of some sort.

On the map we spotted Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, and what looked like several campgrounds right inside the boundaries. Sure enough, there were three awesome campgrounds close the the highway. You can’t beat $5 a night. We chose the one we liked best. After 7 pm, all traffic stopped out there in the wilds, so it was a peaceful, cool, and mostly bug-less night.

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