After being away from home for three weeks, first on a trip to Ridgway, Colorado to meet with contractors about building a house there, and then two weeks on a road trip to Oregon, it’s good to be home. Not because I was tired of traveling or sleeping in unfamiliar beds, but because it’s good to step back and learn to appreciate again the things you take for granted.
I have some great memories from the trip, and enjoyed spending time outside in nature most every single day. We picked berries and cherries in the Hood River Valley, we fished off a row boat at Long Lake under the watchful eye of Mt. Hood, we caught and released a salamander, hiked up to some glorious waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, watched fireworks over the Columbia River, inspected tide pools at the beach, and traced low tide on a cool, windy beach at sunset.
I missed my dog, and I know this because I kept gravitating toward other people’s dogs, secretly wanting to rub them and feel their soft fur. I missed the fresh garden salads I would make. I miss my garden, both at home and at the Grange where we keep a community garden. I miss my pillow, because people who rent out their vacation homes don’t invest in quality pillows. I miss going to the rec center and lifting weights and feeling sore, because doing push ups and squats every day is BORING. But I did get to do some awesome hikes and runs. My favorite was the hike to the summit (1,600 ft summit) of Neakahnie Mountain, a fairly steep, short, but scenic climb through douglas fir and moss heavy woods to one of the highest points on the Oregon coast.
I loved hearing the melodious calls of the Swainson’s Thrush birds, which sounded like the combination of crystals tinkling and a soft flute. Learning about the 60+ year old sturgeon named Herman that lives in a tank in a fish hatchery in the Columbia River Basin near Bonneville Dam was astounding – as was seeing this docile fish, which was the size of a great white shark!
The most inspiring of all was visiting and learning about the replanting of the Tilamook State Forest, where 600,000 or so acres burned in wildfires over the course of two decades in the 1930’s and 40s but was all replanted by an unimaginable human effort that lasted two decades. It’s a lush forest now, and a testament to the human spirit.