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Out with the Kids: Into the Woods

I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend again! I got so much accomplished last weekend, including spray painting some kid furniture, organizing my craft drawers and purging a ton of stuff. For whatever reason I was highly motivated, and hope that some of that motivation will carry over into this weekend as well. We also had a day of fun family adventure, too! David decided we’d take the kids fishing, and despite the cold Pacific Northwest weather, that is what we did!

It isn’t always easy taking kids this young somewhere this remote. In fact, sometimes it is really hard. You can’t let them out of your sight for a minute. But it’s always worth it. The kids see and find all kinds of things, and I want them to have these experiences in nature, with no house for miles and miles. Of course, I would never take them out this far by myself, but with two parents (or people) its fine. It does take a bit of planning though.

For us, planning usually falls into three categories:

1. Food & Snacks.
2. Entertainment
3. Clothing & Gear

Food & Snacks are a given, especially on long trips. It is so much cheaper to bring food, and often the next town is too far away to bother. Also, snacks can work wonders on long car rides, so they really double as entertainment.

While we try to have the kids just look out the windows and talk about what we see (including songs, i spy, etc), sometimes its easier after a while to just hand Chloe her ipad and headphones. At twenty-months, Leo is a pretty good traveler. Sometimes he’ll nap or be content to snack on something. When that doesn’t work we’ll hand him back various toys (cars, little animals, small board books) and as a last resort sometimes we’ll hand him an iphone. Unfortunately, he isn’t into shows like Chloe is, but he has a few apps that interest him right now like Peekaboo Wild, Where’s Gumbo, Wheels on the Bus and Itsy Bitsy Spider (the two latter by Duck Duck Moose). When we get where we’re going there always seems to be plenty to do – in this case, collecting rocks, seeing waterfalls, and discussing how a beaver gnaws down trees with his teeth to make his home.

Lastly there is Clothing & Gear. If there is mud, the kids will fall in it. If there is water, the kids will splash in it. That is life. I know this and always bring a full change of clothes and shoes. One thing I always make sure the kids have is quality long-underwear, usually purchased on deep discount from REI outlet. Chloe’s old ones get handed down to Leo (which is why his current bottoms are pink, but now I am buying them in neutral colors). Diapers and wipes are also necessities. Gear depends on where we go, but I always bring our becco baby carrier and sometimes we’ll bring our Kelty backpack carrier as well. For this trip, David also brought our pop-up shelter, which works as a “base” and makes a nice covered place to share a meal or hang out.

Like I mentioned earlier, it isn’t always easy. But easy isn’t always as meaningful, either, is it? So the kids get dirty and wet and I let them, knowing we’re prepared to clean them up once we get back to the car. We also try and listen and let the kids tell us when they’ve had enough. If they are too cold or uncomfortable, then no fun will be had and that isn’t the point.

And then we arrive back home to our cozy house and warm beds and all is right with the world…

 


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Molalla River

We haven’t gone fishing with David since way before Leo was born. It just got too difficult – being pregnant, dealing with Chloe on the long car rides (usually 2.5+ hours each way), keeping her from getting hurt, or falling in, dealing with the consequences of an absent nap, packing everything we might need and then un-packing/washing/putting it away… it just got to be too much. These aren’t friendly, easy to manage areas with picnic tables or park-like settings either. They are out-there, and miles and miles from “civilization,” not that I ever minded before. And now there are two little ones with very different needs to consider.

Anyway, we tried it on Sunday. Both kids were asleep in their car seats at the first spot, so I stayed in the car with them. It was a lovely, picturesque spot, too. I think I was the one who accidentally woke them up, trying to get my camera and things I’d want to have if we stayed there. David came back up the path right as we were all about to emerge and we decided to try another spot. The next one was bad. We should never have stopped there. It was down an extremely steep embankment and into a large but shallow section of running water with lots of rocks, but no place to actually stand, or sit without getting wet. Chloe fell several times and got her shoes and pants wet almost instantly. Did I mention the weather was cold and rainy? It turned particularly miserable while we were there. I was also worried. If something happened, I would only be able to take one kid up the steep embankment back to the car at a time, which means one would have to wait by himself/herself while I locked the other in the car, neither a good choice to be alone next to a rushing river.

We finally moved to a third spot. By this time I knew what we needed to look for, and I got out first to give the place a looking over before agreeing. Still not ideal, but less water flow with a dirt/rock section to pitch our pop-up shelter. While here, I wrote down the two things I felt I needed for safety and sanity:

1. To be close enough to the car that I could take both kids back to it at the same time, by myself, if we needed something. That means leaving the keys with me, too. (I didn’t have them at the previous spot, and David was beyond yelling distance and couldn’t hear me, so we couldn’t have gone back to the car anyway).

2. A spot near the river that gently slopes into it so Chloe can splash (there would be no keeping her out of it), and possibly fall in (which she did, of course), but far enough from the fast water that I could fish her out with plenty of time to spare. Plus a place for me to sit and safetley put Leo down.

The other thing would be to have more time to pack. By the time I realized David was serious about going and taking us with him I was rushing around trying to get everything I thought we’d need. The two things I had forgotten were a good pair of trail shoes for me and Leo’s bouncy seat (it was too muddy to just put him down on a blanket). That meant leaving him in his car seat when I wasn’t holding him, and what baby wants to spend that much time in his car seat?

So anyway, the trip wasn’t the perfect family outting we had all hoped for, but it was a very good learning experience. I really miss photographing nature like I used to, but I realized it was not easy while being responsible for my children. All in its time, I guess. One day they’ll be big enough to know the dangers, and by then be joining their father fishing, like I’d be doing. Then maybe I can spend more time with my camera. I did get this photo though… priceless.


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Sand and water

A couple weekends ago we had Daddy all to ourselves. This particular day we joined him for a brief afternoon on the river, and then a few hours at Cannon beach. It had been a long time since we’d done something like this, and we had such a great time. Chloe loved playing in the water and especially the sand, despite the cold temperature.

I wish we could do this kind of thing more often, like we used to, but there are so many reasons we don’t – I’ve been so tired this pregnancy, or David has to work the weekend, or we need to take care of house-related errands or chores… And honestly, Chloe is becoming a handful. At two, she is naturally more independent and willful (and sometimes downright naughty!). There are days I can’t even bear to take her for groceries, and have put it off, if it just isn’t a good day. I wish it wasn’t that way.

I wish getting out of the house was easier… that everyday could be spent somewhere stimulating and fun. But now I’m okay if its just a few times a week, not counting her dance class or her morning at baby preschool. And when Baby Two comes along… well, I think its going to be tough for a while. David said something along the lines of wishing we could fast-forward through that first year, and though I see his point, this will be my only other baby. The last time I’ll get to experience the wonder of a newborn and all the sweetness that entails. And I want to share that with Chloe in a good way. I want them to love each other, to get along, to be friends. But I won’t be able to help them do that if I’m exhausted all the time, like I am now. So, when things just happen to work out, like it did on this special day, I am that much more grateful.


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Run River Cover

A while back, my husband showed me this video he saw on youtube that he thought I’d like. Jon Swift’s original version is good, but I like how AmiKay22 has sweetly made it her own. While not perfect, I watch it every once in a while. On road trips, David will sing along with Jon Swift, and I’ll sing a little bit of Ami’s version.


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July weekend

We had a really nice weekend – gardening and friends for dinner on Saturday and then fishing with Daddy on Sunday. We don’t go fishing with Daddy very often anymore. I might have said this before, but it is just too exhausting keeping a toddler safe on the riversides where David likes to fish. It is mostly exposed, so it is hot and we have to watch for sunburn, and the water is painfully cold, so you can only step in it for a handful of seconds. Chloe kept forgetting and I’d have to hold her back from just charging in.

Toward the end of the afternoon we left the grassy area and found a nice shady spot amidst a lot of mud and rocks. Here is Chloe examining the mud on her fingers and saying “Dirty!” over and over.

But, of course, she got over it quickly and just sat down to play. By the end she was dumping dirty water on her head over and over. She was a mess!

This was the only photo I took of Barkley. He LOVES coming to the river. We used to be able to throw a stick for him to swim and fetch, but he doesn’t do that anymore. I don’t know if it is his leg, or the temperature is too cold for him now that he’s older. We just found out that our next door neighbor’s dog was put down because of cancer. Makes me wonder how long we’ll have Barkley. I hope a long time, so that Chloe can grow up with a dog around.

And lastly, here is a photo of a little visitor who landed on me. We saw several butterflies that day, and I remember thinking how neat it would be if I could get a shot of one. However, none of them were still long enough, they just fluttered by. This one however, decided to give me my opportunity. It wasn’t ideal, since focusing an SLR one-handed is a challenge, plus I had to keep stopping to pull Chloe back out of the water. I couldn’t believe how long that butterfly stayed, too. You can see in the photo that it’s proboscis is fully unfurled and it’s rooting around for some nectar. You’d think it might be attracted to my sunscreen, except Chloe was wearing the same kind. Plus, it was the only one that stopped to say hello. I feel quite blessed by that experience.


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Rocks and Water

On Saturday we drove down to Eugene to see my photograph hanging at the Jacobs Gallery. There were some beautiful works of art presented, and if we had that kind of money I’m sure we would have bought one or two of our favorites. Afterwards we got  lunch at the Saturday Market and then headed up river to one of David’s favorite fishing spots.

We ended up at one of the resevoirs not far from the waterfalls. The water was so cold and the gravel prickly, but that didn’t stop Chloe from wanting to play. Rather than fight it, I took off her shoes and socks, rolled up her pants, and let her go. We were high in the mountains, so the water was fairly calm and clean (not like the dirty lakes and rivers of the city). I like how she looks so serious in these photos – having fun is hard work sometimes!


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On the horizon

We’re in Colorado. David is on a fly-fishing trip with his father and two brothers on the Gunnison River and Chloe and I have spent the week with David’s mom, taking day trips from their home near Colorado Springs. I’ll share more pictures and details of our adventures soon, but meanwhile I thought I’d post the two different views that David and I are enjoying right now.


View of Pike’s Peak from David’s parent’s house one morning, shot using a telephoto lens.


View from Lake City, taken with David’s iphone.


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The Deschutes & White River Falls

deschutes river

David and I went flyfishing on the Deschutes. It was so nice to drive out of the grey and see some sunshine and blue sky for a change. This is the third time I’ve been fishing and still no luck. I’m trying not to be disheartened about the whole thing, because I know that David really wants me to like it. I certainly don’t mind going, but I think taking pictures of the surrounding areas is more fun, at least at this point.

near maupin

sage

desert flower seeds

blue desert flower

yellow desert flowers

sun flare deshutes

The Deschutes River is located in dry, rocky gorge surrounded by a high plains-like desert, filled with yellowed prairie grasses and sage growing all over. The landscape changes dramatically in the mere 2.5 hours east of Portland. I really like it. I think that some people find it boring and desolate, but I like its ruggedness, and the little surprises of natural beauty in small things. I also like how you can see for miles and how it feels so open and free.

We stayed on the Deschutes the whole afternoon trying different flies – blue wing olive parachutes, a cripple wing, and several patterns of stoneflies. Although the fish were scarce, we did see lots of other wildlife. I spotted 3 mule deer when we first arrived, as well as a blue heron and several other large birds of prey. David was even lucky enough to be surprised by a river otter.

deschutes river

By the time we reached White River Falls State Park it was almost dark and closing time. I was disappointed not to have enough light for any really good photos, nor time to walk down the steep and winding path for a closer look. There were two main legs of the falls where the water thundered down over an approx. 90ft high basalt shelf. David said there was twice as much water flowing over than he’s ever seen. Incredible.

white river falls

Tired and hungry from our day’s adventure we returned to the tiny town of Maupin for dinner at the Oasis Cafe for a good burger and hard ice-cream chocolate malt. It was a long drive home in the dark, interspersed with more deer on the road than I have ever encountered. Luckily, there were hardly any cars for miles so I could slow-down as needed to avoid an accident. It was almost as if some were simply lying in wait. David says I’m amazing at spotting deer. Must be because my Dad was always pointing to hidden animals when we went for drives when I was little. Glad to know I picked up some of that.

See more photos from this trip here.


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A Lake Creek Lodge Reception

What a lovely weekend. My in-laws flew into town and we drove the 2.5 hours to Lake Creek Lodge, where our friends Alex and Marcy were holding their wedding reception. Lake Creek Lodge is completely charming, surrounded by its various unique rental cabins. Best of all, they allow dogs, so Barkley, Mia, Suki and Booker all had a marvelous time playing together.

There were many things that made this a wonderful weekend, even beyond the fact that we were here to celebrate the marriage of two such dear friends. Everything just seemed to come together… the friends and family, the elegant and woodsy decor, the music, the games, the food and drink, the cakes… and all this despite the inevitable bumps that come along with every reception.

A few things that I found particularly memorable – the beauty of the Metolius River and Lake Creek, the multiple meals taken together with incredible friends, the bounding happiness of all the dogs, the newlyweds looking gorgeous and dashing in their elegant attire, the heartfelt speeches, the 5 individual cakes, the impromptu after-dinner salsa lesson, and the bride & groom “shoe question” game (read about it here).

Photos from the weekend:

The bridge connecting our cabins to the main lodge

The dogs during a moment of obedience with Jerry

A rare view of sunlight through the trees

An evening shot of Kevin & Jerry’s Cabin, #5, where we all congregated and
enjoyed the delicious food so generously provided.

The remarkably clear water of the Metolius River

Photos from the Reception:

A table awaiting the guests. The reception colors were burnt orange
and brown as depicted by the runner, the matching roses and pine cones.

The happy couple…

Flower seed favors in reusable magnetic tins

One of the 5 cakes, each with a different flavor and white-on-white design
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