Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Memorial Day: along the Metolius

After our Sunday efforts, Monday called for more relaxing fare. We all took little bike rides around the neighborhood, Sebastian spent some quality time stalking the local ducklings, and then we packed up and took off for the Metolius River area.
 breakfast of champions: ice cream and french toast!
We parked at Camp Sherman and then wandered along the riverside trail for a couple of miles. Once we were good and hot, some of us jumped in the water. The water was so cold - probably in the 40s - and froze your toes immediately. Anne was undaunted; Liesl found her bravery for a brief second and dunked herself; Camille slipped off a tree into the water; I was a chicken the first time, but then went back in to immerse myself and feel alive. It was a lovely, gorgeous walk -- a good end to a weekend adventure.
Sebastian was throwing huge pinecones into the water and then chasing them down the river - a great game for an active boy. They kept getting stuck or lost, and he'd throw another in and chase it.
We were chasing these butterflies, which were all around us.
Should I jump into this freezing cold water....????
The intrepid ladies wade out for a group dunking.
Ready... set...
Go!! (Camille and I totally wimped out.)
Liesl and Anne shrieking with glee and shock.
And then my poor girl started crying because she was so cold, and Cuong came to rescue her.
I couldn't bear that I had chickened out, so I waded back in and tried again, and this time managed to dunk myself up to my neck. :) Mission accomplished -- I was no longer hot!
Watching a fly fisherman cast -

Monday, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day trip

For the Memorial Day long weekend, we rented a house with the Hoangs in the Eagle Crest area, between Sisters and Bend. It was great fun - warm, sunny, and filled with adventures and good food.

On Saturday, we drove out and arrived in downtown Bend early afternoon - a little hot, a lot tired of sitting. Liesl had been sick on Thursday and Friday and was still feeling lethargic, so she lazed around Drake Park listening to live music and gazing with longing at the dogs up for adoption (there was a pet event in the park). The rest of us took turns going for a bike ride along the Deschutes River, from the center of the city all along one side and then looping back the other side. It was great to see everyone out enjoying the trails and river and sunshine. We had an early dinner and then checked in to our townhouse, where the children promptly turned on the tv and were lost to us. Anne and I went for a long looping 8-mile bike ride around the trails of the development, which was wonderful - rolling hills, perfect breeze, and a great chance to talk (on the downhills, anyway).
Mt. Bachelor, as we were biking along the river in Bend

On Sunday, we decided to hike to Proxy Falls. Anne called the ranger station and was told that the road was not open to cars all the way through, but that you could drive to the gate, walk 2 miles on the road, and then hike the 1.5 mile loop to the waterfall. We decided that was totally doable for our kids, especially as we had them ride their bikes for the road section. It was a steady uphill - Steve and Cuong had to scoot the girls to help them keep rolling, and even Sebastian needed to take breaks - but we chugged along.
After about 2 miles we were confused and hot and uncertain about where the trailhead was... so the kids played in the roadside snow while Cuong ran ahead to find out how far we needed to go. And then I looked at Google maps, and we realized that the ranger had intended for us to start driving, park, and hiking on the other side of the mountain pass!!! The trailhead for Proxy Falls was miles and miles away. Oops. We turned around and then it was super fun for the children. They glided all the way back, a solid two miles of open road to breeze down. We ran to keep up, at first a slow jog as the girls were afraid of the speed and curves, and by the end an all-out sprint as they gained confidence. So it was not the adventure we had planned, but it was a fun adventure regardless.

We ate lunch in Sisters and then drove back to Bend for a river adventure. Sebastian and I rented a double kayak and the Hoangs and Liesl rented 4 floaties from a place right on the water. We paddled off upstream, pulling hard and enjoying being on the water together - the four of them struggled to walk carrying the cumbersome floaties, and then found it difficult to steer and stay together in the water, but eventually we all made it back to the dock. Then we switched, and Sebastian and I wrangled the floaties while Cuong went kayaking and the girls and Anne went to swim/dip in the water. We were all exhausted and sunburned and starving by the end of the afternoon - but it was great to be in the water of the Deschutes, and I was especially pleased that Sebastian was enthusiastic about a water sport. (No photos - I was afraid of getting my phone or camera wet, and didn't bring them.)
Monday report and photos to come....

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

building a bridge

It's not a metaphor. For the capstone project of the Portland-focused social studies unit in third grade, the children are asked to build a replica of a Portland bridge. The instructions are to build it out of household materials - people aren't supposed to buy anything resembling a kit or spend a lot of money - but from what I've seen, parents appear to go all in on the bridge-building project.

Last year, since he was in the 2nd/3rd grade split class, Sebastian attempted to build the Fremont Bridge. We tried with candy, we tried to make something out of hardware store materials, we pretty much failed. Fortunately, he wasn't required to turn anything in, but the bridge has lived in the back of my head ever since - something to look forward to with fear and trepidation.

So on Saturday we decided to visit Scrap, a local re-use store, and we found tons of good material for next to nothing. Seb decided to downsize from the Fremont to the Morrison bridge, and we both managed to work through our respective feelings of fear/anxiety/frustration/incompetence to visualize what might work. And then on Sunday, to my astonishment, he brought all of his materials into the living room and requested that we work on it. Two weeks ahead of time! I was delighted, and we started taping, gluing, cutting, and painting. I mostly let Sebastian do everything and he did a great job. I know there will be bridges on display that clearly show the efforts of their engineering/designing parents, but I'm proud that we managed to get through to a completed bridge - he's happy and proud of his design, and I am too.
While Sebastian and I were stressing out over what we could use to build a bridge, Liesl was happily filling a basket with fabric, thread, buttons, fancy papers, and various other crafty things, and she's been having a ball experimenting with it all.

Saturday, May 20, 2017


On Saturday, I went with Liesl and her friends Campbell and Nora, and Nora's mom Elena, to see the Oregon Children's Theatre production of Pinkalicious. The audience was a sea of pink-clad girls, all super excited. We shamelessly gave in and bought each girl a tiara, magic wand, and beads, and then participated in the pre-show scavenger hunt throughout the theatre, looking for stuffed cupcakes that were hanging in random places throughout the venue. The girls loved it. The show was sweet and perfect - lots of songs, great set design, a bundle of feel-good messages about accepting yourself and loving your family and eating healthy food. Good times!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

hike to Trestle Creek Falls

We woke up and had the hotel's breakfast - cinnamon buns! pancakes! cereal! - the girls were in heaven - and then headed back into the Umpqua national forest for a 4 mile hike to upper Trestle Creek Falls. The forest was lush and green and the river was roaring with all the spring rains. It was gorgeous - the perfect hiking day. Neither girl complained even once about going on the hike, about being tired or bored, or about anything at all, which was outstanding and unusual and made for the perfect Mother's Day present.
Of course, since this was the weekend of fiascos, when we arrived at the trailhead we found a line of pink tape and this sign.
We were undaunted. We couldn't imagine giving up without a hike. We assumed we'd hear any logging operations and see foresters before approaching a work area, and so we dodged around the sign and proceeded. (Setting a terrible example for our girls, who can both now read perfectly well!)
This is upper Trestle Creek Falls -- the trail goes around and behind the falls, which was super exciting for the girls. Liesl ran up the trail to reach it and was delightfully impressed.
I should note that half a mile before reaching these falls, we started to hear the noises of a helicopter, really close by. We saw it a few moments later, hovering over the hillside across from us, with a long rope and hook dangling down into the forest. Clearly the timber falling operations of the danger sign. The helicopter lowered down and picked up a tree on the hook, and then flew off. But it either didn't go far, or there were a lot of helicopters, because the noise was pretty constant. It's hard to fully immerse yourself in a verdant forest experience when that noise is ever-present, triggering thoughts of every war movie and dystopian fiction account (Hunger Games) you've ever seen. The noise was masked briefly by the falls, and we wondered if we should turn back or continue on our loop hike. Foolhardiness won out again and we kept going - the noise eventually disappeared, we think because the helicopters and their tree-removal operation moved to the other side of the neighboring hillside, and were were able to finish our hike without incident.
Lower Trestle Creek Falls.
We piled back into the car and drove home to Portland - the girls both slept half the way - ending a happy and eventful weekend adventure.