Monthly Archives: June 2017

Finding our Way Home

Saturday 10 June 2017

A leisurely morning saw us to the car by 9:30 a.m. We’re doing uncommonly well at this early morning take off! And, this is our last day. All we have on the docket is to return home at a comfortable pace.

First, a stop. We traveled 30 minutes up the road and stopped at the Manhattan Project Historical Site in Richland, WA. The tours to go out to Reactor B and the military town that housed the hundreds of thousands of workers were both full, with people waiting for the tour to begin. We opted to look through the museum and read all the signage and return at another date for the full four hour tour.

There is so much I didn’t know about this project – and so much still to learn. But, we saw pictures of the budding encampment and tales of what it took to feed and house so many workers. It was astounding to think what took place on this site.  

Of particular interest is the list of groceries it took to feed all the workers – per day, or per meal! I could not believe it! Take a close look at the insert in the photo. And, this kind of endeavor was taking place at every military base all over the world as our troops fought for freedom during WWII. We must take those tours. Another date is required. Maybe later this summer.

We packed back into Dixie (our little Prius) and amid sun, popcorn clouds, and the rolling hills of Eastern Washington, we headed toward home. Just before crossing the Columbia River – yet again – we stopped at a roadside stand and bought four pounds of ripe, juicy, delicious Washington cherries – right off the tree. And, they are heavenly!  Nothing like tree ripened fruit to excite the senses.

Listening to “Along Came a Spider” we traveled on. About the time we came to Cle Elum, we made an executive decision to stop at the Sunset Cafe, along main street, for a late lunch. We were not disappointed. The fare was tasty and abundant. The portions were so large, I had to package half of my sandwich to take with me.

One last stop – for comfort, coffee and shopping – at North Bend’s outlet stores, and we were home free.

I always find driving back into familiar territory so comforting. We rolled to a stop on I-90 as Mariners traffic brought everything to a standstill. Fortunately, we were able to take the 4th Avenue exit and continued through town. Home again.

The poppies are blooming in our front garden. Everything looked greener and more lovely than when we had left. It was good to be home.

There is still an hour remaining on our story – we have no idea who done it yet, so we brought it in the house with us to listen while unpacking. That’s yet to happen! We are just enjoying being home and relishing in our memories of a lovely mini trip.

Day Four – Traveling Back in Time

We rolled out early for our day of time travel. We wanted all the time we could get, because we were going to go back 50 to 80 million years!

To get to the site we had to travel through central Oregon for over 100 miles with little to no habitation at all. We were prepared, though. We had gassed up our little Prius,  topped off our water bottles and made our comfort stops before leaving.

The terrain varied from farmland to rolling hills to mountains covered with Pondarosa pines to desert-like rock beds and jutting buttes. Travel back in time also took us through a variety of geological ecosystems.

After three and a half hours of driving, we arrived at the John Day Fossil Beds where 50 to 80 million years ago plant and animal life abounded. Fossils from that time have been recovered and are being studied and preserved in this place. We walked the museum and viewed their educational films. The many specimens of extinct animals and plant fossils was pretty amazing.

Coming out of the museum, it was beginning to rain – and not just a gentle rain, either – so we hopped in the car and traveled back to the present. Only this time, we traveled north to meet the Columbia River again. The terrains changed in reverse as we drove out of the fossil beds. But, this time the rains poured and poured. We wondered if our little Prius would be able to float, if need be. In route, we ate our left-over pizza from last night and drained our water bottles before we found civilization again, four hours of driving later.

It was worth the trip! Just to see the evidence of evolution and the remarkable resilience of life itself. Even though the species have changed, life continues and goes on. Fascinating, really!

A very necessary comfort stop in Pendleton found us at the woolen mill outlet store. Well, we just HAD to have a look! Pendleton wools are some of the most beautiful around.

Weary from so much sitting, and so much driving in so much rain, we made the executive decision to stop for the day in Kenewick. We had planned to be home tonight, but that would have been about three more hours than we could stand.

Checking our trip planner, we found a Comfort Inn in Kennewick right next to a Texas Roadhouse. That sold us. Steaks for dinner and a pillow for our heads.

Home tomorrow.

Day Three – a lot of driving

We awoke early to grey skies and pouring rain. We left amid grey skies and pouring rain. We traveled through mountains, grey skies and pouring rain. There was a point where the clouds were so low they laced through the tall pines on the mountain sides like angel hair between the tiny forest in the Christmas scene on a fireplace mantel. It was beautiful.

We drove through the center of Portland and around another set of mountains before the rain started to subside. We drove along the Columbia River and stopped for a quick bite at noon in Hood River, Oregon. Then it was right back to driving – this time turning south in search of Madras and the Erickson Aviation Museum. Along the way, the sun came out, the workers resurfacing the road held up traffic for several miles, and the wild flowers blanketed the hillsides. Central Oregon is lovely.

At 3:00, exactly as predicted by my trusty driver, we pulled up to the Erickson Air Museum. I was so excited to see one more B-17 from the short list of surviving planes when I learned that the plane, Madras Maiden, was out of town on tour. What? We drove all this way and she’s GONE? I’ll be checking more closely next time. We did see these smart women, however, who were dressed to welcome us to the museum.

We elected to move on and return to the museum another time when the object of our interest was home. But driving away, we saw this lovely monument to the men and women of the 8th Air Force.

Back in the car, we continued on to find our way to our hotel in Bend, OR. It seemed like a long day of driving. But, we did start to listen to Patterson’s “Along Came a Spider” which helped the time pass, especially during the extended period we were driving about two miles an hour following road resurfacing equipment.

Bend was a welcome sight, although there was threatening rain. We checked into the hotel. We caught up on the news and Mr. Comey’s testimony. The rain fell and passed and by the time we stepped out, the sun was shinning.

We ate at a local spot just across the parking lot and full and satisfied, we decided to tuck in for the night. Tomorrow, on to the John Day Fossil Beds.

Day 2 – Exploring

Knowing that the weather was going to turn cold and cloudy today, we were out on the boardwalk at 9:30 a.m. for our walk by the seaside. It was lovely until we met a man who, uninvited, wanted to share his theory of the universe. Suddenly, we had an urgent need to turn off the boardwalk and travel through town!

Once back to the hotel, we hopped in the car and arrived at Fort Clapsop by 10:30. Thankfully, we sandwiched our visit between a bus load of seniors, and a bus load of elementary school children. The site has a recreation of the small fort built by Lewis and Clark which they used as they sheltered over the winter of 1805.

Walking the grounds, we marveled at how peaceful and renewing it was to walk among the tall tress with nothing but ferns, wild flowers and bark at our feet. After so many visits to the Southwest on our last adventure, the Northwest just felt like home: comfortable, restful and familiar. A few rays of sunshine even broke free among the gathering clouds. We just explored a little, imagining we were strangers to this lush landscape and wondered what Lewis and Clark must have thought when they first arrived here.

From the old fort, we made our way back to the Washington state side of the Lewis and Clark adventures and decided to make a day of it at Cape Disappointment, the final terminus of the Lewis and Clark expedition.  Along the way, we stopped at the site of the Middle Village, where Chinook peoples had a camp along the Columbia River when Lewis and Clark arrived in 1805. There’s not much surviving today of that original camp, but a town did blossom on the same spot around 1900. There was a successful fishing industry and canning factory at one time, as well as a Catholic church, built in 1901, which still stands to this day and is still used for mass on summer weekends.

Once at Cape Disappointment, we braved the gauntlet of mosquitoes in the lush growth to climb to the top of the ridge. Set at the top is a lovely interpretive center dedicated to information about the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as a gorgeous overlook of the cape. While the clouds were gathering thicker and the temps were dropping, there was no wind to speak of, so it was relatively pleasant.

No day of exploration would be complete without checking out the local shopping. So, back in Oregon again we had to stop at the Seaside outlet mall. I did a leisurely reconnoiter and, amazingly, by the time I was finished it was time for dinner.

Tiny sprinkles threatened as we walked back to the hotel after finding a hamburger at the local brewery.  We were so grateful we had rolled out early this morning to get our walk in by the surf.

Time for rest this evening while we think about the discoveries we made and the sights we encountered. If exploring is nothing more than finding grace in every encounter, I think today qualified.

Day One – Exquisite


Nothing could describe the day more beautifully. We actually were on the road by 9:30 a.m. (unusual for us these days) and after stopping for gas and coffee we were on I-5 before 10:00. The sun shone bright; the temps were rising into the 70’s; the traffic was reasonable; and we were leaving town for the beach.

A comfort stop found us at a Barnes and Noble off the freeway just past Olympia. In the process, we purchased “Along Came a Spider” by James Patterson. It was recommended to be a great audio book for a trip. We’ll test it out and let you know.

But today, we just enjoyed the drive. The sky was blue, the trees brilliant green; the route very familiar as this was the way we used to drive to my folks’ house when the kids were little. The Grans lived in Long Beach and visiting was a yearly pilgrimage – with memories galore.  It had been nearly twenty years since we had been to see them in that house. But the trail through the countryside was very familiar and filled with memories.

Just short of the Columbia River bridge to Astoria, OR, we stopped at an historical point of interest, Dismal Nitch. It was the point along the Columbia River on the Washington side where Lewis and Clark got trapped for six days in 1804 because of high winds and high tides on the river. It must have been dismal, indeed. I can imagine that in November, when they were trapped there, but today it was nothing but beautiful.

After exploring the trail there and examining the monument to Lewis and Clark and their expedition, we traveled just a couple miles farther down the road and stopped at Fort Columbia State Park. This site also has history connected with Lewis and Clark, but was eventually established as a coastal artillery fort to defend the mouth of the Columbia River until the end of WWII. I have to say, when we drove up, I thought I was home. An old Army Post feels like my hometown – any old Army Post. They are all built from the same template – big buildings of wood slat painted Army yellow; manicured greens; and old cement artillery bunkers. There is something imprinted in my childhood that makes these surroundings feel like home. I can’t explain it.

After walking the park, we got back in the car to cross the mighty Columbia River.  We had an unusual experience this time, however. As we approached the high rise of the bridge, we had to slow to a stop for the workers who were taking up one lane to do some repair work. On the bridge! At the highest point! I tried to admire the views and was very thankful I wasn’t driving!! But it was only a minute or two and we were allowed to pass and continue on our way.

By 4:30 we were in Seaside, OR and looking for a place to eat. We let Maps direct us to Nonnie’s Italian Bistro and we were not disappointed. It was excellent! Randy had cioppino and I had chicken piccata. It was enough to fortify us for a long walk through town and along the boardwalk amid the surf, sun and sand.

After checking into our hotel, I went out once again to walk the entirety of the boardwalk and sit to watch the sunset. It was the most amazing view – God’s exquisite beauty – sun slowly descending to meet the sea and bring the dusk. The waves crashed; the gentle winds blew; the sands shifted; the sun set and I prayed for an hour before the glory and presence of our Creator. What could be more exquisite than that?

Beginning Again

There is something so exciting about beginning a journey. It’s a fresh and new beginning of a kind. Perhaps, the only thing more exciting is returning to the comfort and familiarity of home.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is said to have penned: “We can travel the world over in search of beauty, but unless we carry it with us we will find it not.” We hope to carry beauty with us as we travel, but we also hope to see new beauty with fresh eyes.

This will be a short journey of just a few days. But, it is exciting, nonetheless. Tomorrow we begin.