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Blue skies and teepees for Memorial Day
posted by John : May 24-26, 2014

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Home Sweet Home

May is a dicey time in the Northwest. April and its downpours are past, but unlike the saying, May's not full of flowers. There are a few, but there's still plenty more rain. Memorial Day weekend is usually a wet one, especially when it's early in the month like it was this year.

Northwesterners often flee the rain by crossing the Cascades. The few passes across the mountains are clogged with refugees seeking asylum on the dry side of the state. I don't mind the rain, but spending the weekend camping with the kids in it isn't my idea of fun. We've done that and although it turned out ok, we've had better times.

Our destination was Grandpa Jack's "shack" in the northeast of the state. Population, him. It's not quite Unibomber, but it's sufficiently isolated that cell service comes and goes and he waves at anyone he sees and calls them a neighbor. It doesn't usually take six hours to get there, but we added one or two or six stops to the usual trip.

Stop 1: Gas and donuts.

Stop 2: Coffee.

Stop 3: Hiking.

Stop 4: Grandpa Jack's first letterbox.

Stop 5: Lunch.

Stop 6: Last minute supplies.

Treen was happiest to get out of the truck. Her space had become even smaller when we found a guy on the side of the road selling larches for $5 each. I was prepared to spend $20 plus shipping to replace the larch in our yard that didn't make it through the wet winter so this was a great deal. She sprinted round and round in dirt and grass.

The kids went immediately to our lodging, not in the shack, but in the teepee. Yes, Grandpa Jack has a teepee especially for guests like us. It was very spacious so the kids started setting up our home for the next few nights.

Although we'd started early(ish), we'd been driving most of the day. Dinner came quickly so after a walk around the property and some time by the fire we crashed out. Grandpa Jack retired to his refined bedroom while we, including Treen, crawled through the portal into the teepee.

I learned several things that night. My kids love me very much. They decided to let me sleep even when they needed something in the middle of the night. As a result, Lilly wasn't the most rested come morning. Treen wanders. I don't know where she went, but she certainly wasn't there when I woke up. The kids are goofballs. Half the time they were in the teepee they were giggling like crazy. (The other half they were asleep.)

We spent most of the next day proving that they were all ready for serious flyfishing trips. Each rocked a personal bellyboat and landed fish they hooked and played entirely on their own. A little casting practice and we're all set.

On the way back we visited a variety of strange places including an ice cream parlor where you are assigned a personal scooper by a host, an ice skating rink with a grass surface, and a grocery store watched over by a menagerie of taxidermied beasts. It's truly surreal to pick out your ice cream while an ibex looks you in the eye.

Our second night was far more successful thanks to a couple of extra quilts. Treen started at the foot of the bed, but was soon on my feet on the bed. When I woke she was between me and Henry with her head on his pillow. At least she wasn't roaming around.

Our drive home was far less adventurous than the drive in. I was reminded that people on the east side of the mountains live life at a different pace. Grandpa Jack favors a place to get coffee that also has a plant nursery. He asked if they had a something-or-another, which the proprietor didn't have except on display. However, while we were getting coffee he made a cutting, potted it, and gave it to Grandpa Jack for free. And the coffee was pretty good, too.

We were stuck in traffic for an extra hour as we made our way home, but it was rolling slow traffic, not stop and go. Everyone seemed to be in a relaxed state of mind as we crept to the crest and the waiting dark clouds. I think we wanted to hold on to the happiness a few days of Vitamin D had brought us before descending back in to the rain of the west side.

Soon, it will be too hot for us over there, but until that's the case, I'll be looking for another three day weekend to escape the usual hustle and bustle of the west side by going east.

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