Dear Friends, Family, and Other Assorted Loved Ones —
It’s been a busy, busy couple of weeks, but before it gets any further behind us, I just have to catch you all up on the excitement here.
One of my dearest friends here is Cari Gesch. She has a love (and a talent!) for photography (my favorite artistic medium). We share a love for good food (which she happens to be fabulous at making!). And she makes me laugh!
Before I moved out here, we had all kinds of plans about hiking, taking pictures, and cooking. But with all of the busy-ness of life, a couple of weeks ago, I had this sudden realization that I had seen her exactly once all summer. A couple of texts later, we had a plan: I would come up (she lives up the highway, in the shadow of Mt. Hood), and we would hike the Salmon River.
Spoiler alert! We never actually hiked the Salmon River. (I guess that’s for the next trip.) But her husband, Jon, loaded Cari, me, their youngest daughter, and their miniature dobie (also named Sarah), into the 4WD and took us all the way around Mt. Hood. It was 140 miles and by Jon’s estimation, only about a third of the trip was on paved road. At random intervals, he would stop, and Cari and I would hop out with our cameras.
I love bumpy rides. I even think airplane turbulence is fun! (Whee!) So on our offroad jaunt, I was in hog heaven! I buckled in, the dog in my lap, and held on for the ride! We bumped, bounced, and jostled our way down service roads, puppy paths, and deer trails for nearly eight hours. And despite the lack of bathrooms (God did not make me with the equipment required to “go” in the woods!) and the one inexplicable bruise I acquired, I had a blast! And I love that I saw parts of Mt. Hood that few other travelers will ever see.
Saturday night, we swung through Parkdale, Oregon, to visit Apple Valley BBQ. Here, I must digress to say that as much as I love BBQ, I am not a BBQ snob. I know people who are. They grew up with a particular style of BBQ, and that is the only way they want it or like it, forever and ever, amen. Well, I’m not like that. Eastern NC-style pork BBQ has always been and still is my favorite. But I want to try them all. Saturday night, at Apple Valley, I sat at a picnic table in front of the little restaurant, and nommed on pulled pork, cooked over cherry wood, with a very spicy, non-NC-style sauce. And ribs. And homemade peach cobbler.
Let me give you a moment to drool…
There’s a real good reason Cari refers to it as “love on a plate.”
Sunday, Cari and I sat on her back deck, over coffee, planning our hike on Salmon River. A bit later, over biscuits and gravy at the roadhouse, we talked about our hike on Salmon River. And then we got back into the 4WD with Jon, and never made it to the Salmon River. We headed a different direction, and we found ourselves offroad again.
The change of plans was worth it. At one point in our trek, we came to a clearing and parked. When we got out of the truck, we were on a rock outcropping that overlooked the entire valley. It was beyond magnificent and my cameras don’t come close to doing it justice.
See where it looks like someone is pouring white paint down the mountain? That’s a waterfall. One day, we’re going to find it and see it up close!
After we made our way back to pavement, we decided we needed nourishment. Hiking–and offroading–makes one hungry. So, Jon headed to Government Camp. This little village doesn’t have much to offer, but it does have the Huckleberry Inn, which serves the mose amazing fresh huckleberry milkshakes. Mmmm…
This past weekend was another busy one. Something I have always told my friends that remains true is that it isn’t about where we are, it’s about who we’re with. This weekend, I stepped out of my mildly agoraphobic comfort zone to go to two, crowded public events. I knew it would be a stretch for me, and honestly, I almost backed out. But I wanted to support my friend, Cheryl, at her work event, and I wanted to spend time with my friends. So, I “put on my big-girl britches” and went. I attended the Open House at CRESA and then to a local private school fundraiser called SausageFest. I got to support Cheryl and I got to spend time with people who are important to me. And it was worth facing my fears. I don’t regret it, at all. I even made up a word, which I’m prone to do from time to time.
Framily – noun, the group of wonderful folks who may not be related to me by blood or marriage, but who are beloved friends and the family of my heart.
I got to spend some time with framily this weekend. I could not be more thankful.
And that’s what’s been going on here…