Like many divorced parents, I spend every other holiday without access to my children. While I’ve learned to deal with that, it makes me feel more motivated to have ‘epic’ holidays when they’re around. It had negotiated with my ex-wife to change the even/odd year, so my kids would be on the same schedule as my brothers. My master plan would allow us to have holidays with cousins, but my family wasn’t hosting a big dinner this year. What to do? Spend it with Birdy’s family, of course!
She hails from the Bend, Oregon area. TBear lives somewhat in that direction so (though road conditions can be iffy) we decided to pick him up along the way. He had a half-day of school that Wednesday, so I took the opportunity to see his new school and teacher. I was concerned with the forecast calling for a couple inches of snow, but the tow strap, chains, and emergency supplies went to waste. (Yay)
Birdy’s mom has a small-ish home, and we thought it best to get our own space, so we had reserved a room at the Comfort Inn. Besides being one of the few places that will take 4 kids & 2 adults in a single room (thanks to the sofa bed and crib), it had a real breakfast. While that justified our upgrade, we got to enjoy many of the other amenities too!
I had been introduced to this household before, but I was anxious to put shaken hands and faces to some other names. The view of lava-tube-turned-irrigation-canal greeted us Thanksgiving day, and we showed up mid-morning after our bathing binge. I met another brother, and pitched in with the firewood duty before starting a game of Risk. Board games for thanksgiving? Yes, Please!
Cousins played, adults talked, drank, and made merry. Like many good, long board games, the weak lost interest and fell prey to the dedicated. Alliances came and crumbled, and I went away victorious in the end.
Dinner was a fabulous concoction of several adults’ effort with your traditional dishes of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, etc. However, there was a few new dishes to be exposed to, and I was pleased with all of them. The evening passed quickly, and the goodbyes were tough, but some had a long way to drive that night.
Friday was flexible. Last time through the area, I hadn’t arranged a visit with my friend, so we planned to share dinner with them. The rest of the day was reserved for meeting Birdy’s friend, and maybe some shopping. We had to cancel our visit with her friend, so we suddenly had more time on our hands.
I whipped out my GPS and dialed up the nearest good-sized Geocache. It turned out to be a .75 mile (each way) trek, so we tried another that was more compatible with our footwear. It took us along a BLM trail, beside the Deschutes river canyon.
After a scenic walk identifying obsidian, pumice, and other local features, we took turns finding the cache. As a group, the first people to find it, merely walk away and say, “Found it!” The others can continue to look and enjoy that aspect until most have had the experience. The kids traded goodies, and we went our separate ways.
The excursion (& wind) had tempered our motivation to be outdoors, so next we took the kids to a PetSmart. There are no pet stores near our home, so the kids really enjoyed seeing such a variety in one place. (We’ll have to plan another zoo trip…)
We grabbed a quick lunch and caught a matinee showing of the new movie, Moana. Mr. Cheezy had never even been to see a movie in a theater before. I was glad our stomachs were topped off, but we were too late to pick out good seats, and ended up in the second row. The movie was pretty good, though, and had an underlying message about selfishness, though it helped to discuss it.
In the afternoon we did some shopping, and got to avoid the big Black Friday crowds. We had pizza with my friend, and I went back to his house to visit while Birdy & kids enjoyed the hotel pool some more.
Saturday, we took off after breakfast, planning to use the well-plowed interstate instead of the beautiful, slow back roads. In addition to 3 fewer mountain passes, this route led us to the little western town of Shaniko, Oregon. We stopped here to look around at all the old buildings, and imagine centuries-old life. We’ll definitely have to come back in the summer, when events are going on.
We got home with Sunday to spare, allowing us time to do laundry, relax, and prepare ourselves for the coming week. It always amazes me how I feel after a full weekend away from home. Whether in the forest, or across the state, it gives my brain a “reset” in the run-together drudge that work can turn into.
Thanksgiving is the last holiday before winter really grabs hold, so it’s a good time to get your last wild-haired travelling out of the way. This is made even more evident as I write this, 2-weeks later, with 7 inches of snow piling up! Winter is certainly here to stay. Well folks, I wish you the merriest of holidays, and until next time, enjoy the gallery!