Normal is a four letter word. Extraordinary is the new black.

Monday, August 27, 2012

One last kick at the (summer) ostrich...

This is post one in a series of four posts about our trip to Oregon. For the other three posts, click here, here, and also here.

Growing up, my sisters and I had parents that loved a good road trip. Three summers in a row, we packed up our family trailer, left our home in the southern interior of British Columbia and headed for a one month adventure in a US state. The first year, we explored Washington, the next Oregon, and finally, on that third summer, California, and all the Disney-riffic splendor that comes with.

Maybe surprisingly, it was the summer in Oregon that held my heart the tightest. Something about the coast, with it's giant intertidal rocks, and it's untamed beauty, called me.

A little nostalgia at the beginning of the summer, and a desire to pass on road trip memories to our own kids, landed us here, in Lincoln City. The room is quiet. The sliding door is cracked open, just enough to let in the sound of the ocean, and as I sit here typing, the roar of those waves takes all the rough edges and softens them right down.

At 3:30am this morning, I was wide awake, trying to snuggle Lorelei, and will myself to sleep for just one more hour. By 4am, it was clear that getting up was my best option. By 5:15 am, we were heading down the road, and by 5:45 am we were talking to a lovely US Border Guard who wanted to know, "Why so early?" and that told us, we had "the perkiest kids [she's] seen at 5:45 am in a while."

A gorgeous sunrise is a great reward for getting up early, and this morning's fire in the sky didn't disappoint.

By 6:30 we were rolling South down the I5, and I may have geektastically waved at some fellow Canadians as we passed them. Their Alberta plates tipped us off, along with their slightly confused, but friendly smiles. I'm sure the reason for my excitement was clear once we pulled in front and they saw our BC plates. At least that's what I told hubby.

Dear Seattle, We love you, we really do. So sorry we didn't have time to stop in for a visit today. 
Daddy made the kids little map packs so they could follow along as we went, but poor kids have never road tripped with mom and dad. Those map packs we made a couple of days earlier and the driving plan had changed a few times since then. Can you imagine the torture we subject our little order oriented man too?

He's telling us how far off course we are.

To distract him from the inaccurate map and all it's very bad, badness, we started playing the license plate game. Momma spotted a plate from Hawaii. You would think, that's gotta be an automatic win, but apparently not, and so game on.

 Oh and that Hawaii plate, was spotted at Johnson Observatory at Mount St. Helens.

Plate edited for privacy reasons.
Nothing like ripping that fear band-aid off. Graysen got a full education on volcanoes and early warning signs. What was once a fear, is now possibly morphing into an obsession. Driving all the way in to the mountain was about a three hour detour, but it's all part of the adventure.

We first went to the Observatory, which felt solemn. I'm not sure if it was the knowledge that 32 years ago, a scientist stood on that same ground and lost his life to an unpredictable mountain, or the fact that the mountain itself seemed to bare the scars of it's explosive past. Maybe both. We didn't stay long, as the Forest Learning Center, held stories of getting to pretend to fly a helicopter, and a "Hands On" exhibit. This little detour, fuelled conversation in the car for hours. Lorelei decided that when Volcanoes erupt, they are just burping. Graysen wanted to, "Google all the things volcano NOW!"

Mt St. Helens

It seems you can still hike around the outside of the crater. After some research, this is perhaps something best done with much older kids. If you are interested there are permits required as they limit the number of people per day.
This is behind the parking lot at the Observatory. These mountains, still bear the scars of the 1980 eruption.

The Forest Discovery Center, needs no explanation. Maybe a simple, "Copters, and puppets and textures, Oh My!" is enough.

Daddy and Caylen took off with the camera. This is what I found on the card when I was editing tonight. 

Lots of different textures to explore.

Found the puppets, naturally.

Lorelei loved how the pumice stone floated.
So, then, the not having cell service and the awesome Google maps happened.  We decided to rock the good old, "Fly by the seat of your pants." To be clear, there was a planned route, but sometimes when hubby and I travel, we decide to have an adventure. We headed East toward Highway 101 which is the coast highway, but weren't really sure which route we were going to take. We had planned to cross at the big bridge over the Columbia Gorge, but on the way, we saw this other little bridge and thought, "Hey, that looks fun." Wham! Bam! Ferry Ma'am! and a pretty little detour popped us into Oregon the back way.

A few miles into Oregon, it started to rain. No problem, let's turn on those handy dandy windshield wipers. Oh wait! No, sorry, the driver's side wiper hates us and has gone on strike. Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean. After pulling over, and inspecting it with hubby, he declared it broken and we attempt to stand outside appearing to share a joke and a laugh for the benefit of the three little humans in the car. This is the part of the vacation where hubby drives down the highway looking through my side of the windshield and mommy attempts to act like that is all completely normal. 

Dear Griswold family, thank you for joining our holiday. You are awesome. Love, Me!

Okay, so that worked for about 20 minutes and we declared it silly, which is of course parent-speak for, "Oh crap, we are going to drive into someone." Hubby pulled into a nursery and this time we both stood outside laughing probably insanely, and formulating a plan, for windshield wiper domination, at 5:30pm...on  a a small county. This was about the time that I noticed that the motor was still turning, and perhaps the bolt was just loose. Excellent. Enter friendly Lisa, who is not afraid to ask for help. 

I walked into the Nursery, and found a lovely lady. I said, "Hello, we are a long way from home, we left our tools there and our windshield wiper needs to be tightened." While she did not have tools there, she made a quick phone call to her mechanic in Cannon Beach, to make sure he didn't close before we arrived. Ten minutes later, we were pulling into, Gary's Garage, "the only garage in the county" where, John, took a couple minutes to pop off and adjust our wipers and told us to have a nice day. And that is how we ended up getting a glimpse of Haystack Rock, five days sooner than planned. I'm a firm believer in pay it forward, and we will, but on the way home, we are soooooo stopping in to that nursery with a muffin basket, or a litter of puppies and a unicorn for that dear lady.

Haystack rock! Goonies! Awesomeness! I totally asked this rock out and it's free Friday. We will be back,

Almost at the hotel, but not too busy to let momma and her babies cross. It's blurry but a magical memory. Lorelei cried from excitement. 
We pulled into the hotel tonight at 10pm. The kids were excited, they oooooed and ahhhhhed at the ocean. Hubby fell over, onto the bed and hasn't moved since. Two, adventurous little humans joined me for a little run on the beach, and now I sit, reviewing this very full day, and looking forward to tomorrow.

I know there will be coffee on the deck, kite flying, and at least a couple of us will be combing the parking lot in search of some rare license plates. Mostly though, it's the impression and the memories that I look forward to. My parents gave me a gift of rich childhood adventures, and it's a legacy we hope to pass on to our kids.


  1. Have a great adventure! Loved the helicopter and looks like the boys did too. I would have cried at those baby deer too. My family was always teasing me for awwwwing all the animals we ever saw!

  2. Wow! What a wonderful adventure you ar giving those kiddies! Off to google a map of Oregon! X


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