Wednesday, August 4, 2010

At long last...Oregon does not disappoint!

Apparently my pre-trip visions of slowly sipping a pina colada and engaging in a little R&R on the beach were far off, very very far off. The dogs wake us up at the crack of dawn eager to explore a new day in a new area and Torben’s run around wanderlust stamina can go for about 12 hours a day. Sleep, rest, relaxation?? Ha, I laugh at my own delusions. Oh, and we ran into a couple who have been living/traveling full-time in their RV since the 90’s and they said they didn’t slow down until the third year…well, at least there’s hope! I have developed a theory: Bruises = battle marks resulting from either sheer stupidity or an almost triumph. I am not sure whether to account for my new body art as a right of off-road passage or a clear sign that I am not as graceful as I'd like to think I am. I earned a good one while following Torben into the woods and through the river to pan for gold. (Yes, I am truly a gold-digger, feel free to joke at your leisure). Only later did we learn that the best place to pan was seriously right under where we parked our car, so that bruise clearly goes in the sheer stupidity pile. But what about the 60 others or so I have acquired with little or no memory of their origin? I am sure they came about during a mighty trek up Mount St. Helen’s or exploring a 500 year old Douglas Fir forest, by not by tripping over a dog, falling into the washing machine and hitting the kitchen table on the way down…no that would never happen. Nor would I smack my head against the slide-outs every (and I do mean EVERY) time I get something out of the cargo area. I haven’t worn makeup in around 3-4 weeks but yesterday Torben lovingly suggested that I put some on my legs and arms - shameful! If you ask my family I have always been a little on the klutzy side, but this trip I am achieving new levels of bringing rainbow body art into fashion.
The Oregon Coast is spectacular!! We were both speechless when we saw it for the first time, I know, hard to imagine, but truly speechless. The cliffs tower over the beach, the tide explodes over the jagged rocks, the seals and sea lions bark (and stink) in chorus…it is simply breathtaking (figuratively and literally). This coast is where the famous Goonies movie was filmed. Incidently, we are now staying in Eugene (yes Laura, all cool things are made in Eugene) and the town south, Cottage Grove, is where the movie Animal House was filmed. Torben was testosterone bonding with some guys about it, apparently since half the town was in the movie (the parade scene), the town holds a festival in its honor. The beer cans still float down the river as a memento. We loved the port town of Florence and were able to park our RV right up against the river. It was pretty awesome to wake up to the water flowing 10 feet from our door. A local band played excellent blues and I joined a handful of drunk locals and danced my tail off. I love the phrase “dance like nobody is watching”, don’t know who coined it and it can be tough to do, but if you really let go it is one of the most liberating experiences.
One of the unique things about the southern coast is the dunes, which really put all other dunes to shame (sorry Lake Michigan). We strapped on our redneck helmets and went for a wild ride in a dune buggy. We were instructed to avoid the 80 foot drop-offs, which they loving refer to as “widow makers.” No problem, we barely made it up the first dune before lodging ourselves 3 feet deep in sand. The wind enhanced the experience as it pelted clouds of sand in our hair and mouths. I think I mooned about three families passing by as we hunched over digging ourselves out. Good thing I left modesty back in about Arkansas. When we finally got rolling we cruised up and down the dunes screaming like kids on a rollercoaster. Good times. Even after a good shower I found sand on my pillow the next morning!
We have an annual pass for all of the national parks, which has totally paid for itself. Since my last posting we have been to Glacier National Park (Montana). I almost cried to see such beauty (you had it right Aunt Linda!)

It was surprisingly crowded and 1/3 of the park suffered damages from fire in 2003. Things in nature are cyclical and Mother Nature has a way of taking care of herself; the flora and fauna that were chased away with the flames are now returning to feast on the new growth in the forest floor. We loved exploring this lake, a little off the beaten path. We came across this huge tree which had fallen into the lake. Torben woo-ed me with his balancing skills as he walked out on it. Not one to back away from a challenge, I promptly waltzed out there strutting my skills learned from my youth on a balance beam and proceeded to fall into the ICY COLD water. Did I mention it was ICY COLD?! Torben’s howl could be heard all the way in Canada!

Speaking of Canada….I have learned that pepper spray is grounds for a swift escort out of the country. We spent all of five minutes crossing the border, admiring the lovely landscape before returning to the 'Welcome to America' sign. Border patrol was so kind and courteous I thought it best not to mention the guns, drugs and illegal aliens we were smuggling in our trunk. As is turns out, brass knuckles, numchuks, and stun guns are also illegal, if any of you are planning a visit, please be advised. Cascade National Park, is in my opinion, one of the most awe inspiring scenes to behold. Its like Glacier but on steroids. I didn’t think it was possible, but the water is even more blue, electric blue to be precise and there is a stillness in the air that is magnificent. The whole family enjoyed a day of exploration. I really wish we could have stayed here longer, but the journey calls...
Torben and I had this funny (albeit misinformed) conception that the places we were exploring are as undiscovered to everyone else as they are to us. Um, you see the HUGE flaw in our logic right? Well, you can imagine our surprise when coming into Seattle traffic that could make Miami traffic look sparse and enjoyable.

Seattle has a beat all its own, a vibe if you will. We were lucky enough to get a behind the scenes tour from Torben’s high school friend Sheryl. The house boats are an imagination’s playground. So many bright colors, tall skinny homes, short wide floating homes, all with various porthole windows, and plants sprouting out from decks and stairs. I don’t think half of them will ever actually set sail, but it is delightful to see. I would love to rent one for a week or so, I imagine the lull of the waves to be so calming at night (but knowing my luck I would probably get the worst case of sea-sickness).

Sheryl is impressively remodeling her house with her own two hands. I like to lift a hammer every now and again, but she is Bob Villa in a dress (though you would rarely catch her in one!). She has done all her own plumbing and was excited to report that she now has hot water and is almost through installing the bathtub. Until then, much to the joy of her peeping neighbors, she is a naturalist in this outdoor shower!

Livin’s the life Sheryl, livin’ the life! Seriously though, we sampled raspberries and plums from her garden and OMG!! My fingers were stained a little red but my mouth was all grins as the sweet juices dripped off my chin. I had forgotten that food could taste this good naturally. (Thank you pesticides for denying my this pleasure over the years.)

Torben and Sheryl are celebrating their 30 year high school reunion this summer. I have a lot to say on that matter, but first I will pause for you slow folks to do the math….yes, I was 3 when he graduated. Funny right? Moving on… Torben was asked to submit a few photos and a five minute video clip of where he is/what he’s been up to in the last three decades. If you have ever seen a Torben speech, you can guess that this was a hilarious production. He played King Tut in a high school rally, which was a knock-off from Steve Martin on SNL, so in our high budget production we printed pictures of Steve Martin and cut out clips of Torben’s head and taped them on, the comedy was gut busting. I was the camera-lady and could hardly make it through the script without cracking up. The crème de la crème was his ending: We filmed his speech from only the head up. He had a towel wrapped around his waist with the words “THE END” painted on the back by your truly. At the end of the video he walked away from the camera revealing the towel, then my harmonica playing crescendo was timed with his towel falling away to reveal his cute little hiney. Thus, the title of our production: Moon over Mount St. Helen. We must have filmed this a hundred times. We spent four hours at a Mount St. Helen’s lookout point and every time we came to this scene a tour bus of kids would pull up, or a family of people who spoke no English, or poor little old ladies who shouldn’t have been subjected to this. So here’s Torben hiding behind a rock wall with no pants on while people ooh’d and ahh’d for hours over Mount St. Helen. I wish I could emote to you the unending humor that ensued during this video. The sun finally set and we lost our lighting, the next day during taping we lost battery power, the next day we lost memory space on the tape. The final day a Park Ranger passed as Torben was seconds away from his big drop. The outtakes of his cursing and scrambling to find his pants are priceless. Out of respect for his wishes I am not posting it now, but stay tuned, I may talk him into it.
On a sad note, one of Torben's former legal assistants passed away unexpectedly. Michelle Elliot was a wonderful woman with a huge heart and she will be dearly missed.

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