Saturday, August 27, 2011


It's been more than 2 months since my last post----so much for being a diligent blogger! During this time I did go on a week-long holiday with my youngest son, Alex. We'd been planning this get-away for quite some time and it finally arrived, ready or not, at the end of July.

I had originally planned a 9-day trip with Alex, our little dachshund and myself, but as we looked at all that we were planning to do, the weather, our sleeping arrangements, etc. we decided we would make the trip sans pet. It turned out to be the right decision, and it allowed us to really relax and enjoy the simplicity of our time away, which was what it was all about. Alex and I were so excited, we left just before midnight on Friday night. I drove for hours, made it into Oregon, and then got SO tired I had to stop at a Rest Area so I could get a short nap.

View from OMSI, Portland, Oregon

After getting lost several times, we made it to our first stop, which was OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) in Portland, Oregon. WOW! This was an incredible place to spend several hours. Our favorite exhibit, hands down, was The Chronicles of Narnia. An entire room on the 2nd level was devoted to costumes and props from both The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian films, including 2 full-size centaurs and the weapons used by each of the four children during the battle scenes. There were interactive maps to explore, a hands-on ice wall, and a full set of armor worn by King Miraz, which was on a pulley so everyone could try to lift it up, demonstrating just how heavy it was for the actor who wore it hours on end----I could only lift it about 2 inches, but Alex heaved it up a good foot from its anchor!! So much to enjoy but, sadly, NO PICTURES ALLOWED!

OMSI also had a vintage video games exhibit (Alex LOVED this) which showed the steps involved in getting the material from the drawing board to the finished product. Even though video games are not my thing, it was interested, nonetheless. There were so many other exhibits that we enjoyed and explored---too many to list.

We drove over the Columbia River Bridge to Vancouver, Washington, and spent the next 2 days with my Uncle Steve and cousins Trisha and Paul. This was such a relaxing and pleasant visit! We did a little shopping, watched a few movies, enjoyed Steve's famous Hawaiian burgers with BBQ ham and pineapple and then on Sunday we drove to Gresham, Oregon, to see a vintage car and airplane show. My cousin, James, Steve's oldest son, had a 1971 Chevy Blazer that he had restored entered in the show, and we spent the morning checking out all the COOL cars and watching the planes take off. We finished up just as it started getting much too warm for me. The remainder of our time with my family was spent relaxing and chatting, bike riding and trampoline jumping, sharing meals and drinking lots of ice water to ward off the heat!

The next day Alex and I drove to our campsite at Seaquest State Park, just a stone's throw from Mt. St. Helens. This area was immensely beautiful, mountainous, and tree dense; a perfect spot for a camping adventure. Setting up camp was quick and easy, thanks to being organized and having a helpful son who pitched in and did everything asked of him and then some.

Our home away from home.....for ONE night

Taking a break

After setting up camp was accomplished, we went to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center across the road from the campground. Sadly, the day was overcast and rainy so we couldn't see the mountain, but we watched a short film about the infamous 1980 eruption of St. Helens that destroyed the landscape, several towns, and killed 57 people, some locals, some tourists/campers, and USGS geologist. We toured the exhibits, looked at countless maps and photos and then went, one last time, to the viewing area, hoping to get a look at Mt. St. Helens---no such luck! Being too early to prepare dinner, we decided to drive into the nearest town, Castle Rock, to have a look around. It was a typical small town that, according to the film at the visitor center, was still struggling to survive after the eruption of the volcano 30 years ago that had destroyed her. Since small towns always close up early, we drove back up the mountain to our campsite to make dinner----there is something about preparing food and eating outdoors that just can't be beat!

It started raining gently just before 8 pm so we turned in early----by 9:30 the gentle rain had turned into a torrnetial downpour! Thinking all was well, I went to sleep. I woke at 12:30am to deflated air mattresses and....a flooded tent!! Not just a little bit of water, but a floor covered in it. Alex was, amazingly, still sleeping soundly, so I roused him and, after changing into dry clothes, we spent the night in the car. The next morning I checked the condition of the tent and it was well beyond saving. We loaded up our camping gear, minus the tent and air mattresses, and left the park. I have to say that I was really heartbroken----this was to be the highlight of our vacation. But, we made the best of it and changed our plans and carried on. What else could we do?

Next on the agenda was a drive to Tacoma, Washington, where my grandmother was born and lived until her mother died in 1929. It was my intention to find my great-grandmothers gravesite (I had called the only Catholic cemetery in Tacoma before we left home to see if she was in fact buried there----she was!). After some help from a very gracious secretary and a groundsman, we found her:

Catherine Lippre 1902-1929

I was quietly overjoyed at finding this link to my lineage. I was raised by my grandmother and, although her mother passed away when she was so small and was buried on my grandmother's 8th birthday, she talked of her often, mostly little things she remembered about her. Finding Catherine's grave at Calvary Cemetery has given me a bit of hope that I will be able to uncover more of my family history to pass on to my sons.

From Tacoma we drove back down I-5 to Tenino to spend the afternoon with a dear friend I went to highschool with. Seeing Geraldine brought back memories of our teenage years in the 1980s and how much we've both changed. We enjoyed lunch in a local cafe and visited for a bit at her home, complete with miniature donkeys, goats, and dogs---she is an agriculture teacher so I would have expected nothing less!!

We then traveled back into Oregon, turned toward the coast and Astoria. We had originally planned on Astoria being a day-trip from the campground, but we were forced to make things up as we went along. I had hoped to find a hotel in Astoria so we would be able to see the Maritime Museum and Ft. Clatsop the next day, but being the height of summer travel, all hotels were booked solid. We drove further down the coast hoping to find a hotel, but, alas, NO ROOM AT THE INN! We FINALLY found a room in Newport, Oregon, too many hours from Astoria to make it feasible to drive back in the morning. We drove the 7 1/2 hrs. from Newport to Humboldt County the next day, stopping at several places along the way for photos, to stretch our limbs, and to enjoy one last campstove lunch prepared at a roadside stop.

Oregon Coast, near Heceta Head Lighthouse

The drive from Astoria down the Oregon Coast was stunning! Rocky beaches, rugged coastline, fishing vessels moored in quaint little fishing villages, Heceta Head Lighthouse....little pieces of heaven all along the way. I'm so glad that I have mellowed enough to be able to find beauty in the "detours", in the "messed-up" plans and unexpected trials. Our leaky tent was just a piece of equipment----we got wet, had to sleep scrunched up in the car, but we didn't have to scramble to safety fearing for our lives while a mountain erupted like the campers on Spirit Lake did in May 1980 and we had plenty of food to eat and a cell phone for emergencies. Truly, all was well.

I learned a lot on this vacation:

1. I worship at the feet of the man/woman who came up with roadside Rest Stops!!

2. Don't plan to do too much at too many locations which are MILES apart.

3. Always check gear before leaving.

4. Expect (and prepare for) the unexpected. I'm not sure that duct tape would've worked on our leaky tent, but extra towels to mop up the water might have saved us from having to leave, since it didn't rain again the whole time we were gone.

5. Go with the flow----sometimes that's where all the fun is.

6. Spending a week with my son, just the two of us, was wonderful and I can't wait to do it again!

7. The world is a beautiful place, literally and figuratively, filled with beautiful people.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~Henry Miller


1 comment:

  1. Hello Patti. I found your blog through Down To Earth. Rather sorry you stopped blogging though. Blogging IS exciting, but sometimes it's hard work, yes? Took me ages for me to actually have one visitor... and then another. And then when things started looking up, I had to stop because of life issues. I recently got back to it though, and enjoying the journey.
    Keep well.