My mother used to love to visit the families of Canadian geese paddling in the marshes at the Cranberry Bog in Carlisle. She marveled at the adults’ agreement to co-parent their fluffy offspring, and their sociability as she observed multiple families sailing around together. We would go there frequently to see them, and she was delighted every time. The last time we went I was worried that she would not be able to walk far enough to see them properly so I brought this awful little transport chair, which is not a wheelchair, and which did not have the wheels or suspension to navigate the rocky path to the water. Worse than that, the bumpy ride nearly rattled Mil right out of the seat. It was a frustrating and disappointing visit.
So when Brose and I saw the many large families of geese floating down the peaceful Deschutes River in Bend, OR, I thought of Mil a lot, and how much she would have loved to see those giant families, and joke about goose birth control and geese over population. I also remembered all the conversations we had about the possibility of Brose and I taking this three-month tour of the country. Oh, how she wanted to talk about it. Three or four times a day she would ask if we were going, when we were going, how she and Jerry had thought about going but never did. She would repeatedly urge us to go, and fretted incessantly that it was because of her that we hadn’t yet left… And if ever there was a lull in the conversation on any other subject she would come back to the topic of the road trip. She would have loved to have read these posts and looked at these pictures. We are grateful to Mil for encouraging us to take this trip.
We are in the homestretch. We had a great week in Bend with Emily. Bend is kind of the perfect city if you like altered states and wilderness adventure. (Brose loves Bend). Every block of this town seems to have a brewery, wine bar, sports outfitter, and weed dispensary. The restaurant scene is also pretty lively. And maybe as a result, the town seems more prosperous, more cheerful and less pandemic-battered than other cities and towns we have visited.
Around Bend: Peruvian Chiles Rellenos; mule deer in the neighborhood; Skillethead playing at Silver Moon Brewing
After Bend we spent a few days northeast of Bend to be closer to wilderness and fly fishing opportunities. The area was cold and rainy and a little depressing (without all alcohol and pot commerce) but beautifully green, like we pictured Oregon to be. One night we camped in Wallowa-Whitman National Forest where we hoped to revive my love(?)/appreciation(?)/tolerance(?) for camping. When we set up camp there was no one around and we could hear the gurgle of the nearby creek and admire the endless rolling, green, and paradoxically, fire-scarred hills in solitude. My appreciation was returning.
We took a long hike through those hills and when we returned we saw that our campsite was flanked by RVs and a teardrop camper. My appreciation diminished. It was disappointing to see them, but when the RVs started up their heaters the noise became almost intolerable. And they turned on those heaters for good reason: Charlie’s water bowl froze over during the night. The appreciation vanished altogether.
So Oregon is a wrap and we are now in the Seattle area near Em, Rohan, and brother Robert. After this visit we take the great big right hand turn east. We have a week with friends in Montana to look forward to, and then a few long driving days home to MA.
We are sad our trip is winding down. Maybe the sadness is more about the interminable cloudy skies of the Pacific Northwest, and when the clouds clear on the other side of the Rockies we will begin to look forward and feel cheered by reuniting with all we have missed. It’s been a great adventure. We saw something unexpected and magnificent every single day. The long drives that I had dreaded were quite pleasant for me. There was far less driving-related bickering than I anticipated, and greater pleasure than imagined from scenery; audiobooks; route, meal, and hike planning; and dreaming of new homes, new hobbies, and the possibility of new family members. I wish some of the old family members were still around to hear about it all.