I realize I take a lot of photos of us eating. Believe me, I'm sparing you - these aren't the half of them. Was that grammatically correct? It felt like a colloquialism. Like when we finally got to California, and my sister-in-law and HER sister-in-law were telling me that my brother and I say weird things like, "Are you done your breakfast?" When apparently it should be worded, "Are you done WITH your breakfast?" Is this a digression? Yes. And it was still about food. I KNOW. Here we are, still in wondrous Portland, with Lovely Friend. Lovely Friend's husband also joined us, but he is unpictured here today. Lorena's Mexican restaurant. We walked to it, all localish.
Biggest and Lovely Friend, squishyfaces.
MOLE!! Pronounced "Mo-lay", not like the rodent. Could there be anything tastier? No.
Middlest, totally blending in. You didn't even recognize him, did you? He's slick.
So, while we were in Portland, the city experienced record rainfall, the most September water accumulation since 1872. Unhindered, and laden with our raincoats (and the kids even had matching rainpants, which made my mama heart feel all organized and glad), we ventured out to the Columbia River Gorge to see the waterfalls. Literally, and there's no other, less cliche way to say this, Multnomah Falls took my breath away. I walked around a corner, and there it was, all 620 feet of it. I gasped like someone stabbed me. I even clutched my heart. I cried a little. You've just got to go there and see it. You'll gasp too.
And see that bridge spanning the middle of it? We hiked up to that, and stood, deafened by the roar. I was unable to take pictures because of the spray. While we perched there, I explained tearfully to the children that the Bible describes God's voice as the sound that surrounded us. "His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with his glory." Ezekiel 43:2
After our first waterfall experience, we enjoyed the touristy but well-intentioned information center, where earnest forest rangers sat waiting to hear all about how far we'd come, and my children tried on variations of antlers.
We hiked around a little and braved the nine million tons of rock above us by traipsing through this tunnel.
We, of course, could not help ourselves, and the shoes came off. Middlest led the way, and we all succumbed to the peer pressure. He's very persuasive.
There's tiny Biggest, a wee, unafraid, yellow person. Lovely Friend had her eye on her, and saw her fall in. The water was amazingly only up to her chest, but freezing, and she was quite upset. Mostly, she was upset that she only managed to get within a few feet of touching the falls. "I wanted to touch the waterfall for Daddy."
A few days later, my children attended The Village Free School while I got to check off an item on Hilaree's Bucket List - a two-day workshop with one of my favorite artists, Jesse Reno! Things got messy. It was incredible. He even invited us to his studio afterward! I will be creating some art for an upcoming group show I'm in, and I'll be sharing the process here on my blog. If I'm feeling brave! You people are nice. I'll be brave.
I love all forms of outdoor art - from simple street graffiti to professional murals, to political statements. Whatever. I love the boldness and the desire to express. This first one is a fantastic mural in Portland, commemorating Martin Luther King, Jr. Bad photo, but you get the idea.
Did we return to Back to Eden Bakery on Alberta St.? Of course we did! Dairy-free and gluten-free ice cream cones! Littlest never gets to experience this!
Who can tell me what kind of tree this is? I feel affectionate toward bark.
An interesting Portland sight - free clothing swap, on the sidewalk.
We found the most beautiful, quirky, independent bookstore, called Green Bean Books. Here we see Middlest reaching inside a handmade, reclaimed box to see what's what. The owner had several of these around the store. So creative! I love this idea!
The owner also refurbished five different vending machines, some antique, into new designs that dispensed funny products, some related to stories and some just to make us laugh, like this Facial Hair in a Flash Machine. She even had created sweet little tokens for customers to use. Creative details like that inspire me. Goodness gracious. Lovely Friend and I couldn't breathe, we were laughing so hard. We made a spectacle of ourselves.
Now we all know that I could totally work Tufted Chest Hair. Case closed, people.
Sigh. Portland. We loved you so, and wanted to squeeze you forever, but we had to say goodbye to embark on the next leg of our epic journey. Thank you, Lovely Friend, for everything, and for treating my children as though they were your own. We will see you soon. Up next, a seven hour drive (yes, you heard right) through the gorgeous Cascades and stunning Oregonian landscape, into Northern California, where we were embraced BY THIS.
And into the warm, welcoming home of my sister-in-law's sister-in law. Did you get that? There's me, in the middle, wearing my Jesse Reno t-shirt, wielding a knife. Because that's how I felt after driving by myself with three children for seven hours. Oh, come on, it wasn't that bad, you say. No. It was worse. Oh, I kid. My children and I had an amazing trip. What can I say? Driving through the Redwood Forest feels like Narnia, and as usual, I got teary with the beauty. The rental van came equipped with a DVD player, which of course didn't hurt. I will say this about the trip, and the van in general. I hate GPS, so I did not use it. I instead mobilized my big shiny brain and read road signs, and we did not get lost once. Swear. Pinkie swear, even. The van featured automatic everything, which I hated, along with the ignoring of the GPS. Dear small buttons who intend to rule my life, I prefer to open doors myself, thank you very much. These people were BRAVE, as they had never met us before, and they welcomed us as family. I will always be grateful to them. I'll give you their address if you ever need to stay somewhere. HAHAHHA
My brother, sister-in-law, their four year old son, two year old daughter, and new baby boy drove up to stay with us, which was not an easy feat for them. I finally got to meet my new nephew, the chubba wubbiest baby on the planet. I took several large bites out of him. He smiles like this all the time. I put him in my carry-on and took him home. Don't tell my brother.
Middlest and Four-year-old Nephew spent many glorious hours working on their Pirate Ship, made out of enormous logs. They will always remember this, I think.
Don't mess with pirates.
This needs a 'C' between the first 'E' and 'L'. Because then you know it would be tucked into my carry-on along with Chubby Nephew.
Take a gander at my dashing younger brother. Man enough to carry a gorgeous two-year old girl on his shoulders while wearing a delicious baby on his front. That's right. He's that awesome.
Ooooh. I love this girl. Feisty little woman.
And SHE loves her big cousin, my Middlest. Here she is, embracing him.
Middlest and Littlest. It turned out okay.
We hiked along this cool marsh. So much green!
My stunning sis-in-law with Chubby Nephew. Seriously. Break my heart.
We also went to a Greek Orthodox church festival. Here is Biggest, eating Greek pastries. Yum.
And onto the beach with everybody. Big, fun group!
The only thing that freaked me out, on a 3000 mile trip across the country that included driving eleven hours by myself with my children was this...signs on the road in Northern California that read "Tsunami Hazard Zone". No, not the Chevron sign. The little one to the left. I was driving, don't hassle me about the poor photo.
So there you have it. After that stay, we then drove another four hours south to spend a couple of days with my sweet family, and then had to fly out of San Francisco, home to Daddy and Kenobi. Sis-in-law and Chubby Nephew graciously drove us to the airport. Home now, I am having trouble processing everything we experienced, everything I considered, everything I felt. This is usual for me - I need a long time to elaborate over my life, until sense is made. I wish that Lovely Friend, Younger Brother, Sis-in-Law, Nephews and Niece lived closer. I do, I do. The photos I included in these last two blog posts only scratched the surface of what we did. If you know me in person, corner me and ask me questions about the sociological observations I made about people in Oregon and California. You know, if you're into that kind of thing. The details of home feel confusing to me now - how is laundry done, again? How to plan meals? How to structure a household, a homeschool, an art career, a writing career? I'll let you know how it all goes.