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Holiday in the sun (after the storm)

Also sprach Zarathustra

I'm back from a week in Central Oregon with my family. Pretty much all the immediate family was there, at least for part of the time. My niece had to go back to Portland to work two days on Monday and Tuesday, but she returned. My eldest nephew was there from Thursday through Saturday, and the youngest was there from Friday through Sunday. Even my niece's ex-husband showed up for one day (while my niece was in Portland) to spend time with his daughter, my great niece.

The great niece is now two, and she demonstrated a few times why they are called the Terrible Twos. Somewhere along the line she said something that made me quip, "You're being too positive, C." Her immediate retort was, "No!" We all howled with laughter, and she tried to figure out why we thought *that* "No!" was funny.

Three Gens
My niece, great niece, and sister

Family-wise, the other big topic was my dad's health. I think I won't go into details about his latest problem. He had consulted two specialists who gave opinions that were completely contradictory, leaving my parents rattled and uncertain which advice to follow. My mom ended up calling a pathologist that she used to work for, and he supported one of the two opinions, which seemed to reassure them both.

My dad is turning 83, and he has been showing his age for a few years. My mom is turning 80, and she's really slowing down now too. My dad is in a more fragile state than my mom, but even he is actually doing pretty well for his age. They are full of stories about people they know who are going through major health crises. Mom has started saying that she just wants Dad to be comfortable in his last few years. I hope the same for her as well.

I flew down last Saturday, and the following day brought an electrical storm like none I've ever seen before. It started out with bolt lightning coming in from the north and knocking out our power. After that storm passed through, another one came up from the south bringing bolt lightning *and* sheet lightning. The thunder was continuous for a while, just rolling on and on. Eventually a wall of hail and rain hit, and my brother and I got drenched dashing across the ten yards from the garage to the house. Truly impressive. The power was out for six or seven hours. We cooked dinner on the gas grill, but the power came back just as we were sitting down to eat. Over the next few days we discovered plenty of evidence that a ton of water had come down, pushing dirt down hillsides and cliffs and into the Deschutes and Crooked Rivers. The water had cut new gullies everywhere and exposed bedrock previously covered by loose soil. The land was resculpted.

These discoveries came through hiking, which was the main activity on the agenda. I think I went on a hike all but two days of the eight I was down there. The big one was on Friday, when six of us (brother, sister, niece, two nephews, and me) climbed the Tam McCarthur Trail up to the rim that I hiked to with my brother and his wife last year, and this time we continued on past a glacier and onto the shoulder of Broken Top -- an old volcano in the Cascades that was shattered in some kind of cataclysm. The views up there are utterly spectacular, with Broken Top and the Three Sisters right in your face and lakes and towns and buttes dotting the vast bowl of landscape down below. We were at around 8000 feet when we stopped. My brother wants to try hiking all the way through to Todd Lake next year, which would require somebody to drop us off at one trailhead and pick us up at another.

Above the World
Up above the world so high: my nephews, niece, and brother

My other big expedition was with my sister only. We drove to John Day and Prairie City, which was about three hours out, then we hiked up into the Strawberry Mountains to Strawberry Lake. The views there aren't as spectacular as the ones in the Cascades, but the drive passed through some beautiful landscape, including the Ochoco Mountains and their Ponderosa forests. Lots of farms and ranches in that part of the world, and we even saw some modern-day cowboys driving some cattle across the highway.

Last year when we hiked Tam McCarthur we stopped at Three Creeks Brewpub on the way back, and I found a brochure advertising the Bend Ale Trail. Bend has ten or eleven brewpubs now, and we decided we needed to do a pubcrawl along the Bend Ale Trail when we got the chance. So one day my brother, sister-in-law, eldest nephew, niece and I drove to Bend to try a few pubs. My sister-in-law was the designated driver. We ended up hitting five places: Bend Brewing, Silver Moon, 10 Barrels, the Goodlife, and Boneyard (which only gave samples and had no place to sit). Both Bend Brewing and 10 Barrels had variations on Berlinerweisse -- a low alcohol sour beer that is great for summer drinking -- so they were my arbitrary favorites. It was great fun, and there's still another five or six places to try if we want to do it again next year.

That's about it, I guess. It felt so good to forget about work for a long week. It felt good to soak in the desert sun and enjoy the spectacular landscape. It felt good to hang out with my family and tell stories and share laughs. The youngest generation proceeds on the difficult path of becoming human, while the oldest think long and hard about mortality. My niece wanted very much for her daughter to be with the group this week, because these family gatherings were extremely important to her as she was growing up. So we gathered in a circle once again around the family table.

Mt Jefferson at dusk


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2013 11:12 pm (UTC)
Looks and sounds fabulous. Glad you got the break.
Sep. 3rd, 2013 12:42 am (UTC)
The youngest generation proceeds on the difficult path of becoming human, while the oldest think long and hard about mortality.

Beautiful. Moving.
Sep. 3rd, 2013 02:00 am (UTC)
Thank you as ever for sharing tales of your wonderful family gatherings -- they gain in power with the passage of time, because of the very tradition of sharing and the vividness of character that you convey for all your family members. I did sense with this post that there was more to tell or anyway I wish it had gone on longer. Bless!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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