We made it to Portland and found Zack and Leah happy in their new town. Portland is really green, with many different varieties of really big trees and shrubbery. The Columbia River Gorge is very pretty, going from dry high-desert savannah to rainforest in a matter of about 50 miles. Seeing a river that big is a change for us…we're used to smaller mountain streams, but this one reminded me of the Potomac, transplanted to the west! Zack took us to the Portland Saturday Market, a kind of farmers/artisans market in downtown. One of the highlights (?) was a man playing a Didgeridoo. His song was "What Do You Do With a Didgeridoo?" and the answer, it appeared to me, was, "the same thing over and over and over again".
I've been doing quite a bit of family history research lately and have been blessed with a breakthrough in that I found the family of my great grandfather on my father's side. This is hard b/c these are all Polish immigrants, and names get spelled differently, dates get confused, etc, but thanks to the Spirit of Elijah I finally confirmed that these folks are my family. So we spent an afternoon and evening with Zack and Leah in the Portland temple doing the work for these relatives. It was a wonderful, Spirit-filled evening and I felt a good connection with these people. I got the sense they were very happy, but were wondering what took me so long?!
Here in Portland we have also reconnected with some good friends from college, Dale and Mary Graff. Unlike us, Dale and Mary have lived north of Portland for over 20 years. They invited us to their annual family whitewater rafting trip on the Deschutes River and we had an absolutely wonderful day. The river runs through an area east of the mountains, in a volcanic, dry deserty landscape. Here's Dale and Me and Kate at the beginning of the trip:
Dale and Mary looked just like they did in college, lo these many years ago, and I was struggling to realize that they are grandparents just like Sue and me. The rapids were fun, and the companionship was even better. Thanks Dale and Mary, for a really wonderful day!!
We look forward to many more visits with the Graffs b/c now we'll be coming to Portland lots more often.
Another trip we took was to Indian Beach. The Pacific ocean is beautiful, much nicer than the Gulf of Mexico where I used to surf as a teenager. I was tempted to surf here, but the REALLY COLD WATER overcame my desire to revisit my youthful adrenaline junkiness. I got some pretty good pictures though:
That last thing is a Blue Sail Jellyfish, which are apparently washing up on Pacific beaches by the thousands because of some change in currents and wind. The sea really comes up with some weird creatures!
Oh, I forgot. On the way home from rafting…..wait, a weather update…on the rafting day, we left the house in cloudy skies and temps in the high 50's. We decided to take the route that goes over the shoulder of Mt. Hood, and when we got there it was foggy, drizzling, and even colder! Rafting in such weather was NOT a pleasant thought, but we soldiered on, with thoughts of blue lips and shivering. Never fear, however, mountain weather saved the day. When we got to the other side of the mountain, the clouds cleared and the sun was bright and the day was warm. THANK GOODNESS, because the river water was very cold. Anyway, on the way back, we again went over the shoulder of Mt. Hood because the clouds had cleared and the mountain was out in all its glory!
We stopped at the Timberline Lodge, which sits 5 thousand feet below the peak of Mt. Hood right at treelike and offers this magnificent view of the mountain. The lodge is beautiful itself, built back in 1937, and full of a gigantic brick fireplace as its centerpiece and with huge wooden beams forming the structure.
The beautiful young woman in the last picture is Kate…our most marvelous traveling companion! (she stole Sue's warm pants…it was cold up there!)
Today we're off to see some of the area's famous waterfalls! More blogs to come!