Location: Oregon, United States

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Week One

I've decided to create a blog to keep people up to date re: our journey. I've told some people some things, and other people other things and can't keep it all straight. Hopefully, this will provide some continuity for those of you who would appreciate that. We are currently in Week 5 of our Oregon journey, but I will backtrack a bit to bring it all up to date.

So, week 1.

April 3, 2006. Today, the packers came to pack up all of our belongings. This was an incredibly quick process from my point of view, although one of the guys packing was amazed at how much I had stuffed into my kitchen. This was a nice way of saying he was sick and tired of packing it.

I anticipated a call in the morning from one of my clients, as I had agreed to bring him to jail to turn himself in. He did not call, and I began to wonder if he would really do it. Around 1:00, he did call, and we arranged a time and place to meet. We stopped by a McDonald's for his last meal outside, and talked on the way to the jail, and I got a chance to tell him what an honor it had been to work with him and be trusted by him. This was a profound experience for me.

I went straight from the jail to dinner with Paul's Uncle Larry and Aunt Ann. Our other car had already been shipped, so they had to come and pick up the family and bring them to the restaurant. Evidently, their van is customized very nicely, as the kids wondered if we could trade them for the road trip.


Mom came and got the kids today. She and my dad just got back from California yesterday. Unreal. A bit of a quick turnaround.

The loaders came today and put everything on the truck. My neighbor Annette came with her Greased Lightining and attacked my kitchen (Thank you! You saved me HOURS!), and my neighbor Elizabeth came and helped as well and brought pumpkin bread warm from the oven. The house was beautiful, clean and empty. The neighbors all wanted to say goodbye to the kids, so we agreed to bring them by after dinner with my folks. When we did, the kids ran through the empty house and shrieked. Then we took pictures and cried and left for the hotel.


We got in the car and started driving. The first three hours were HORRIBLE, with fighting, and griping, and jostling for position. I thought we would all go crazy for sure if this was the way the trip went. But everyone found their place and something to do and staked out their claim, and the rest of the drive was smooth.

We drove through the Badlands, a place our whole family just loves. It was about dinner time, so nice evening light. Too early in the spring for much vegetation, but we saw some antelope and mule deer. We tried to go to Wall Drug but it was CLOSED!!! Who ever heard of such a thing? So we had to eat at a Subway. I had been looking forward to a nice, hot meal. Oh, well. I took the dog for a walk, and we came across a statue of a bison. All the hair went up on her back, and she completely freaked out. What would she have done if it had moved?

Got to the hotel in Rapid City - a NICE Holiday Inn - let the kids swim, and went to bed. The dog hates elevators, and only got in one willingly the first time.


Drove to Bozeman, MT. What a nice town in the mountains! We wanted to stay and ski, but maybe another day... It was rainy and cold and windy for the whole trip up there. We saw the Big Horn Mountains for the first time ever, and got out at the Montana state line to take our picture. It was so windy, it felt like you could walk at a 45 degree angle. I'll see if I can figure out how to post a picture later. It was supposed to have snowed all day in Bozeman, but had turned to rain. Lucky for us, as the driving would have been treacherous.


Made it to Spokane! We planned to stop and take our picture at the Idaho and Washington state lines, but that would have been suicide, as one was on a bridge, and the other was on a mountain pass. Oh, well, nice idea.

We had dinner at the home of my cousin, Steve. It was really nice to connect with him and his family again and feel like we knew someone out this far west. The kids also enjoyed cutting loose with his boys as well.


Drove down to the Washington/Oregon border (ugh - this was a loooonnnggg drive - fields, fields, and more fields). Our plan was to get to the river gorge and drive along the scenic highway on the Washington side, finding a place to eat along the way. Well, we should have eaten at the last point of civilization, because there is NOTHING along the river for a good hour or more. By this time, we had only a few chips in the car, so we doled them out and drank water and the kids empathized with the real Oregon Trail survivors. Pitiful.

We'd like to know why the Washington side is marked as the scenic highway, and the Oregon side isn't. You can see I-84 (the Oregon side) from the little highway we were on in Washington. Oh, well. At the earliest point possible, we crossed a bridge and entered Oregon. Yea! Our new state! We stopped for gas, and as we sat and organized ourselves, a young man came to the window, apologized for taking so long, and asked what we would like. Oh, yeah, you can't pump your own gas here. So he took my card and ran it through for me and pumped my gas. Not sure I'll ever get used to that. Then we ate - Whew!

The drive into Portland along the gorge is AMAZING. Sometimes it looks like the Smokies, sometimes like the Toroko Gorge in Taiwan. We nearly wrecked when we came to Multnomah Falls. Thomas said it best (in a dreamy voice) "Who would have known our new home state would be so beautiful?"

It was still early, so we drove by the new house when we got in to town. There were about 8 people running around working on it, so we felt silly and just did a quick drive-by, but the kids all loved it and got to see the neighborhood. They all reported it felt very homey.

Then we went to our temporary housing and found that they had a t.v. with full cable access in every room! And a pool! We'll never get the kids out of here.


Today is my birthday, and I wanted to go to the Arboretum, so we did. HUGE sequoias and a lovely, winding path. Then we had Thai food for dinner. I ordered Sum Tom, a green papaya salad I learned to love when I worked with Lao. It is really hard to find a good one in Minneapolis. But when I ordered here, the gal asked me if I wanted it Lao style or Thai style! Not only can I find it here, I get choices! It was REALLY good, but so hot I could only take little bites. I'm out of practice.


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