Monday, July 05, 2010

Oregon: an epic photo extravaganza!

A few nights ago we returned from two full weeks in Oregon. It was heavenly. Vacation is just great; vacation with family is awesome; vacation time away just for Mama and Daddy is ah-maz-ing.

Brace yourself for a long post. You shall be rewarded with photos galore.

First Stop: Grants Pass, OR

On our way North, we broke up the thirteen-hour drive by stopping over in Grants Pass for a Father's Day weekend with Grammy and Papa. On our first evening, we ate some amazing food and played at a big park right on the Rogue River. The light in the early evening was perfect for snapping a few pics of the kiddos with their grandparents.

Papa, Sam & Grammy

Mister Tractor himself

On Sunday, Father's Day, we joined my parents for a 4-hour jetboat excursion down the Rogue River. It was so much fun for all of us! The boat went really fast and sprayed a lot of water, but the kids were (mostly) happy and enjoyed being outside. We started out on a wide, slow stretch of river and winded our way downstream to Hells Gate, a narrow canyon with steep sloping sides. We saw lots of osprey, two pairs of bald eagles, a baby bald eagle and some deer.

After checking out the canyon, we were dropped off at a beautiful log cabin along the Rogue, where we were treated to an all-you-can-eat Champagne Buffet. Yum. Homemade biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, all served outside on a large porch with a view of the river. Highlight of the trip: Maddie getting to "drive" the tractor back from lunch, down the hill from the lodge to the dock. Sam was entranced by the tractor, as seen below.

Rogue Creamery: It Smells Like the feet of Angels

On our way home, we made a quick but necessary stop at the Rogue Creamery, famous for their Oregonzola and Oregon Blue, among other, stinkier, creamier blues. My personal favorite was Brutal Blue, their most pungent cheese. (If you don't already know this, you should: cheese is my favorite food. If I had to choose a last meal, it would be cheese. Currently I would request Fromage D'Affinois and a zippy roquefort, if offered a choice. Plus a baguette.)

Outside we snapped some photos of the Father's Day honorees:

And my Dad snapped one of us:

Home Sweet Sandy

Upon arriving in town, one of our first stops was a local berry stand. Oregon berries are by far the most delicious. If you were to substitute Hood strawberries for our local ones in a recipe, you could use half the sugar. They are that juicy and sweet.

As you can see, Maddie loves her some berries

At my parents' farm, the kiddos enjoyed swinging in the front yard from Papa's homemade tree swing, exploring the property, walking in the creek, picking wildflowers, visiting the farm animals, and riding on the tractor/lawnmower.

About Town: the Making of a FisherLADY

One of the trip's highlights was seeing Ben teach Maddie the fine art of flyfishing. If you know Ben, you know just how passionate he is about the sport. So passionate it was mentioned in our vows. But that's another story for another time. It was great joy to see Ben's two great loves come together in one place. I'm not sure who was happier about the whole experience, Ben or Maddie!

After just a few casts and some expert reeling (Ben calls Maddie a regular), Maddie landed her very first rainbow trout. The joy on her face pretty much speaks for itself!

While Maddie and Daddy fished, and Mama snapped photos, Sam hung out in the shade with Grammy. He's just too cute not to mention.

At some point in the day, Ben, giddy with excitement and joy and passion, exclaimed, "Maddie, you are such an A-MA-Zing fisherman!," to which she replied calmly, "Dada, it's fisherLADY."

Maddie proceeded to catch another small trout and then an enormous 15-inch lunker. Daddy was beside himself with joy, and Maddie was pretty proud, too. That night at dinner Maddie ate practically a whole trout herself, snacking happily on the skin and all, asking for "More! More!"

Wildwood: River Walking

A few miles up the road from my folks' place is a great park, right on the Salmon River. There are miles and miles of trails, animals to watch, wildflowers, and beautiful riverbanks to explore.

Daddy and Sam watching the water

wildflowers dotting the lush green landscape

Maddie "fished" in the river with a rod of branch and long frond, made lovingly by Uncle Joe. Sam picked up sticks and rocks and tried his darnedest to throw himself downstream. We walked the river and also along the boardwalk above wetlands, looking for newts.

tall trees, soft sunlight and shade

river rocks galore

brief little moment in Sam time

After playing at the park, we headed to one of our favorite local restaurants, the Rendevouz, where we dined and enjoyed each other's company long into the evening (one thing about Summers in the Pacific NW is that it stays light out really, really late. It's easy to lose track of time!)

Maddie got her very own berry parfait

Around the Farm: Tractors, Creeks & Animals, oh my!

riding yet another tractor, the boy's in heaven

sweet Maddie

Headed down to the creek

Maddie and Jimmy the Shetland Pony (he shares my birth year, 1978, and is looking like an old man these days)

some yearlings snacking near the fence

Troutdale: Maddie's First Manicure & A Train's Booming Whistle

Grammy took Maddie along on a manicure, Maddie's very first. She chose a dark purple polish with sparkles. Of course.

After the beautifying, we headed outside just in time to see a train rumbling down the tracks. Sam was mid-diaper change and we ran over to watch. The conductor saw us running over and let out a loud "Whoo! Whoo!" Sam jumped in my arms, frightened at first, but then he started bouncing. He bounced so hard I thought Maddie was yanking on his legs below. He was entranced, unable to take his eyes off the passing cars, and so excited!

Maddie thought it was pretty cool, too

A Day in Portland: Race for the Congo & the Waterfront

On a Saturday halfway through our vacation, I participated in Run for Congo Women. Aside from the Susan G. Komen foundation's Race for the Cure, I'd yet to participate in another race I felt so strongly about. After some research, I decided on this run for a number of reasons, which I blogged about here.

I was unprepared for just how awesome it would be. The run's organizer, Portland local Lisa Shannon was there to welcome us all, informing the gathered crowd we were participating in the biggest race to date. I still cannot watch the video on her website without tearing up. The work that Women for Women Int'l is doing in the Congo is just unbelievable. Running the race was a total privilege.

I was also unprepared for just how tough the race would be. It was a winding, uphill, dirt trail with lots of rocks, roots, and uneven patches. The run up was much, much slower than I anticipated. But the way down was much faster and a whole lot of fun! I ended up finishing in 36 minutes, or 12 minute miles, which is exactly what I hoped for.

After the race we met my parents and the kiddos down on the waterfront. On Saturdays there is a huge outdoor market with music, vendors and food. My mom bought me an early birthday present, an adorable new reversible apron. I love it! We snapped some photos on the water and then headed over to the fountains to play.

All of us along the Willamette River, East Portland behind

Ben and Maddie had a great time running through the fountains, getting just a little wet but enjoying themselves immensely.

The girl loves the water!

Back at Home: Four Generations & A Wedding Dress

One afternoon when my grandmother stopped by to visit I snapped a photo of the 4 generations present: Great-Grandma Ginny, Grammy Charlotte, Mama Becky, Madeleine and Samuel.

The next morning, feeling a little nostalgic, I pulled out my wedding gown for a look. Maddie couldn't help but try it on herself. As a young girl, I remember dressing up in my Mom's wedding dress whenever I got the chance. It was so surreal and exciting to see Maddie in my dress. The pictures didn't really turn out that great, but the memory is forever imprinted on my heart!

Central Oregon: Ten Years of Marriage, Three Days Away

Our second week in Oregon started with an Anniversary Trip to Sunriver. We spent three days and three nights adventuring out and around the central part of the state, enjoying sleeping, eating whole meals in one sitting, shopping, fishing, hiking, biking and completing conversations. (Side note: two summers ago we got away for three nights while Maddie stayed with the Joyces. It's been a while since we were treated to this luxury!)

The Fall River is a small, spring-fed stream (read: super duper clear and beautiful). We walked along the length of the river, looking for fish while enjoying the gorgeous scenery.

We had walked quite a while and hadn't spotted a single fish. Yet it was perfect conditions, there were bugs flying all around, so we decided to give it a shot. Ben set up his rod and I found a place to sit with my book. He walked downstream with the intention of working back toward me when I heard a loud splash just below my feet. I looked down to see a huge rainbow lurking under an overhanging bank, literally just inches away from where I read. I yelled to Ben and he hurried over. We laughed and laughed at how we hadn't spotted a single fish, yet this big guy was hanging out just next to where we'd set up. Ben hooked him but unfortunately he broke free and eventually moved away. But it made for a great story.

One day we headed up to the Newberry Volcanic Monument, specifically checking out the caldera and its gorgeous lakes.

We explored a lava cast forest, where slow-moving lava surrounded and encased tall trees, leaving behind deep "casts" of the trees. Some were quite deep, others more shallow (as demonstrated by the lovely model, above) and beautiful indian paintbrush flowers bloomed all around.

We also embarked on a lifelong dream of Ben's. Ever since fashioning an arrowhead out of obsidian as a boy, Ben has wanted to visit the obsidian flow, where entire rocks of the hard black lava glass can be found.

Here we are partway up the obsidian flow

I totally make Ben pose for these photos. Can't you tell how uncomfortable it is for him?

And here we are at the top, overlooking one of the volcanic lakes, the cascade range in the background

Back on the Farm: One More Day with the Family

After returning from our anniversary trip, we had the opportunity to spend our last night with the whole gang (minus Uncle Joe). My brother Ben, his wife Michele and their three kids joined us for dinner and s'mores with Grammy & Papa, as well as a birthday celebration for Miss Grace, age nine.

It is extremely difficult to get a good picture of seven individuals, one of whom is the photographer's daughter. My brother's kids smiled and posed while Maddie made silly pirate faces for frame after frame.

Eventually the kids posed themselves, tallest to smallest, on the stones on my parents' back patio. Hilarious and super cute (I especially love how Maddie has her eyes on Lizzie's marshmallows).

All in all, a wonderful trip filled with fond memories. Thanks to Mom and Dad and Joe for entertaining all of us for two weeks! We miss you all!

1 comment:

mel @ the larson lingo said...

What a fun vacation!
So many things to comment on!
1. I love Grants Pass! We vacationed there growing up & I always loved going on the jet boat excursions on the Rogue River!
2. yum, cheese!
3. Love the fisherLADY story. Maddie looks so proud!
4. Love the picture of Sam on the river walk.
5. So proud of you for doing your race!
6. Happy Anniversary! It looked like you had such a wonderful getaway!
Glad you guys are back, Can't wait to hang out!