A Little Spring Outing

What could be lovelier than a spring outing?

After so many months of being housebound due to illness and recovery, the thought of an out of town adventure almost had us giddy. The weather was perfect, the plans made, and the escape put into action. We left Seattle about 10:00 a.m. after a coffee stop and a quick car wash. Who wants to be seen in a dirty car while exploring the countryside? Not us!

We pointed ourselves south and set out. First stop: Tacoma and the neighborhood where we lived 42 years ago when we first moved to the Northwest. We had not been back to the old area for several decades. While the ravages of time certainly had made its mark, the old familiar landmarks were still there, as was our little duplex we rented for three years at $175 a month. Yes, it really was 42 years ago!

We drove on until we needed a lunch break and stopped along the freeway at a favorite spot we have frequented many times over the years. The Country Cousin in Chehalis did not disappoint. Revived and a little rested we journeyed on.

By 4:00 p.m. we had come to our first destination, Happy Valley, OR. We stopped at a shopping center to spend some time until we had to be at the next place. I bought a pair of shoes and slowly walked the Hobby Lobby to see what different items Oregon might have to offer the avid crafter.

At 6:00 we made our way across the freeway to the home of a third cousin my driver had found on Ancestry. I remember as a little girl meeting this cousin’s grandmother when we lived in Germany, but I couldn’t remember if I had ever met this cousin. She and her husband were delightful and welcomed us to their home with warm hugs. We acquainted ourselves and shared family stories while enjoying take out Thai food for dinner.

How amazing it was to feel so familiar and comfortable with these people simply because we shared the same ancestors, even though that was several generations back. There is something in the DNA; something in the heritage; something in the shared culture that immediately makes “family” of us even though we had never met before. Pictures were shared; family trees examined; and new information exchanged. We learned that this cousin’s grandmother, the woman whom I remember meeting when I was a little girl, received the “Mother’s Cross” from the Nazi party. My cousin has the papers to prove it, although she does not know what happened to the cross itself. What a stunning tidbit of family history. Truly stunning. They were Germans, living in Germany, and any mother who had a certain number of children was honored for her contribution to society and the future of Germany.

We left their home with hugs and gratitude for this grace-filled time that allowed us to connect and call each other family even after all these years.

A few more miles down the road and we stopped for the night at a funky motel in Salem. All the better to be close to the next attraction on the agenda for tomorrow.