Monday, April 7, 2008

Over the River and Through the Woods

Well, Alyson's paternal grandparents Grammy and Grumpy came to visit from March 19 - 31. It was their 35th wedding anniversary and together, their children decided that they'd send them here to meet their youngest grand daughter. We're actually pretty lucky because either I forgot or didn't realize in the first place that it was going to be a surprise. I'm glad I didn't spoil it - I didn't call for their travel arrangements until after Julie already knew about it. Go to her blog to read the story - it's pretty funny ( At any rate, while here, they got to meet their newest (and cutest in my biased opinion) granddaughter. While they were here, they were able to go to the temple where they were able to serve in the unique way of helping to clean it - and the next day were happy to go to a session. The Saturday right before Easter, the child care center that takes care of Alyson hosted an Easter Egg Hunt. The Easter bunny was there and Alyson even got a couple of eggs! We of course told her later that day what the holiday really is about, but Alyson sure did like all of the pretty colors and the cool people she met at the hunt.

The other really cool thing (other than hanging out of course) that we did while they were here was to go on a road trip.

Alyson did a great job, I'll start off by saying - but once she was mad, she was mad. More to come on that later. We decided to try for a loop - go South to follow the Columbia River Gorge - beautiful country! Wow, how pretty. We stopped first at the Bonneville Fish Hatchery and Dam. They have this really cool system of helping several species maintain their stock. Since the dam blocks the salmon's natural route to their homeland when they run, they've also created a special way for them to get to the other side by way of a fish ladder. It serves to safely convey them to the high side of the river so that they can continue on their journey. There are several fish ladders on the Columbia river, but I have only seen the Bonneville ladder. There's also a cool viewing place where you can see the fish underwater if they're running. Next to the underwater viewing windows, there's a door with all sorts of signs on it about not disturbing the fish counter. I bet they're just really in there playing tetris or something. :)

After the fish hatchery and dam - oh, I almost forgot the sturgeon! If you've never seen a sturgeon, you should try to make the effort. If you have a Cabella's near you, they may have one in their special tanks. They're basically the biggest fish I've ever seen, however I guess I've never seen a shark so I don't know. They get hugh! There are really strict guidelines on fishing them - they have to be between like 6 and 8 feet for you to keep them because they're either too young, or they're the breeding stock. That's significant if you ask me, but then I'm not a professional fisher...

Ok, try again. After the dam and fish hatchery, we made our way to Multnomah Falls. Wow - that's breathtaking. It's one of the longest free falling waterfalls in North America. There's a little bridge a short way up that is an easy hike. You can actually hike the entire way up - just make sure that you take it slowly or are in shape or like me, you'll be whining about 1/3 of the way up. We didn't actually go all the way up this time. Erik and I went down about a month after we moved here and I think it was actually a combination of the speed we took and my general flabbiness that contributed to my overall state of mind. We made it though - there's a viewing place up there where you can get really close to the edge and feel the water moving near you. It's king of humbling actually, because there are signs all over the place about it not being a place to play - swimming is absoloutely prohibited since if you were to get swept away, there'd be no stopping you. Several years ago, a huge rock that weighed the size of a bus filled with cement fell off the top and caused a tidal wave that soaked a wedding party. It's pretty funny since no one was hurt. Anyway, it was beautiful. Julie, Erik and I "hiked" up to the little bridge and Bob and Alyson stayed down below to take a picture of us.

This is Alyson's picture of us on the bridge.

It was a little chilly, so we got back to the car to warm up at that point. Our plan from there was to possibly stay the night in Portland, head up the next morning to Mount St. Helen's to see Johnston's Observatory where you can actually look down to see the dome inside of the crater. After that, we'd wind our way through the mountains to go to Leavenworth - a little Bavarian town nestled in the trees. These were our plans at least. As it happened, the weather was a little overcast and we'd been in and out of rain so we weren't sure we'd even be able to see anything at Johnston's Observatory.

We decided to keep driving and see what we could see. It wasn't very late yet, so we decided to drive past Portland (only about 1/2 hour from the falls) and headed instead to Astoria where one of the longest bridges in the USA is (I'm talking about miles long, but we'll get to that part of the story soon). It was dark by the time we got there so when we first got on the bridge to see what it was like, we couldn't really tell how long it was going to be. Frankly I think it was good that I couldn't see very well - I think I really would have had the willies much worse than I did. There were some beautiful barges on the water that made it really pretty and so after we got over the really tall hump in the bridge (designed to let the boats pass through) we got to the long part. And we watched while we drove. And we watched. And we watched - and I tell you what, but the shore just wasn't coming any closer - talk about being stuck in the twilight zone! We finally got across to the other side (4.1 miles later) and stopped at a little rest stop called "Dismal Nitch" to try to decide what to do next. It was one of the only places in their whole trip that Lewis and Clark decided to note was very dangerous - they were trapped there for more than a week because of the weather once. We decided to go back over the bridge to stay the night in Astoria. Well we didn't realize (not currently being in school ourselves and not having school aged children) that it was currently Spring Break. The first few hotels we stopped at were full, but we finally came across two that we could choose between. One was a Best Western, the other a Red Lion. Well, they were about the same price and the Red Lion was actually a Motel - with the doors on the outside rather than secured in hallways. We opted for the more secure location and checked ourselves in. Poor Erik, he had to go back to the car about 4 times because I kept forgetting things. He didn't mind though, the main lobby had a tv on with the March Madness playing. Alyson slept fairly well considering it was an unfamiliar place with lots less light than she is used to, but we all did well and had a yummy breakfast the next morning. Oh and a note about those hot breakfasts they provide in the morning: I thought logically to myself that if the hours of breakfast are from 6 to 10 am, they will be well provisioned for that entire time. Wrong! Maybe it was (as the attendant kept telling people) that they were surprised by the amount of people that came for spring break and were therefore less than prepared, maybe they were just trying to save money and only had a specific amount of food that they were allowed to put out each day. At any rate, by the time Julie and I made it downstairs for breakfast (the menfolk had already taken the baby down) there was no more sausage (alright by me) and very few biscuits for the biscuits and gravy. We were lucky however to get good breakfast and find a table and chairs at which we could eat. Alyson slept while we ate and Erik and his dad got gas for the car. While we were leaving, a lady that had spoken to Erik earlier came by to tell me in her English accent that Alyson was just "exquisite". Yep, exquisite - she said the word three times! I told her that we completely agree. She had previously told Erik that she thought her grown kids were beautiful but that Alyson just blows them out of the water. yeah well, we tried.

We now come to the point in the story where we move on (as I'm sure you're glad). It was cloudy, overcast and drippy as we approached the 4.1 mile long bridge. At the beginning, there's a great big hump that allows boats and barges to pass through underneath. After you pass this, you head down, down, down it looks like straight into the water. A very creepy thing I found out after we got back is that though the humped portions of the bridge are fixed and stationary, the long long part floats on the water. I think if I'd know that before I would have really had a case of the willies, but as it was, it was very cool. Actually, having the long straight part float is pretty cool when I think about it, just not when I think about myself on it.

After we got to the other side (several minutes later) we headed toward the coast passing through Desperation Point (or some other name that was equally appealing). The beach was very cool. You come upon it suddenly in this little town that's actually growing pretty rapidly (go figure) and you can drive right up to it - on it if you have 4 wheel drive. The sand was black with no clay in it - it didn't even stick to the side of the cup that Julie used to scoop some. It was pretty cold there and Alyson was getting bored, so we didn't stay long.

After we left the beach, we headed for Johnston's Observatory on Mount St. Helens. We didn't get as far as we'd hoped because of the weather. This beautiful snow had effectively rendered the road for the lack of a better word - closed. Upon finding this bit of information out, we decided to head home. Leavenworth will have to wait for another trip - it'll still be there.

On the way home, we got to see the beautiful sites we'd seen the way there, but in reverse. Alyson started getting a little fussy at this point - maybe she was disappointed that she didn't get to see into Mt. St. Helens - maybe she was just bored with looking at the same expanse of chair or maybe her little bum was falling asleep. At any rate, we stopped a couple of times to let her out to see around and drive for a while.

The last leg of our journey was just as eventful as the first. We saw the mountain goats we'd been peeling our eyes for. At first we saw just one and then as Erik predicted, suddenly we were able to see them almost everywhere. Well maybe not everywhere, but we did see about 14 all in one bunch just hangin' out on the side of a mountain. Too bad the picture is so far away they just look like brown rocks. Ah well. The other item of interest is that even with the rain, snow and slush, Daddy was able to get us back to the Tri-Cities in safety where we were promptly rear ended at a red light. We were pushed into the car ahead of us which was also full of a family with their kids. The guy that hit us had the nerve to say that it must have been our faults because we were stopped at what he called a green light. Well it was not green, but even if it had been, he clearly was not leaving enough following distance if he was unable to stop in time. The police officers agreed - all several million of them that showed up. After the paperwork portion of the police's visit (where I forgot my address) we were finally able to get home and relax in our own beds and we all slept well. We were only a little sore at the time (my neck was stiff for several days since I was in the middle back with no head rest) and our backs are a little sore. Alyson took it very well. She was scared, but as soon as I was snuggling her, she was fine. Erik did a great job getting us home even with the bump. We were grateful that Grammy and Grumpy were able to come visit and can't wait to see them and the rest of Alyson's family again!!!


Jodi Jean said...

holy moley, sounds like an AMAZING trip. what wonderful sights you got to visit. thats great that grammy and grumpy came to visit (hehehe grumpy, thats awesome)

oh, and we had someone who had kids of their own say aidan was the most beautiful baby they'd ever seen, isn't that just great? i mean i know we're biased, but its nice to know other people think the same thing about our kids, no?

love ya girl, and i miss ya!

Jacob & Tia said...

She is so cute! When are you coming back here for a visit? It was great that his parents got to come out for a visit. That was a nice present!

Alisa & Jared said...

Whoooaaa...that was quite a post :-) Hope all is well with you, your upcoming room, your hubby, and your bubbly baby!