For the visitors around here, this trip to the beach has become an annual event, started 4 years ago by joint edict of the Sisters. The BSU's sisters, the total number of the clan is 7, the BSU being #6. Here's a picture of 4 of them. And since the rest of the Sisters live in Oregon, the beach is the Oregon coast, not somewhere warm and tropical and inviting. Each year they make reservations at one of Oregon's very nice state parks and then we all gather on the appointed weekend.
For us, its a 1600+ mile trip... Normally we make it into a two day trip going up and that's what we did this year. We stayed in LeGrand Oregon on the way up, had a decent dinner and even played in the motel's pool for a little while before bedtime. The second day was the regular trip down the Columbia River Gorge with a short stop at Multnomah Falls and then finally through Corvallis and over to the coast to South Beach State park on Thursday afternoon.
We got a nice, corner campsite, far enough away from Sister Mary's barking beagle, Riley to not be bothered by him. We took our dog, Sandy and she turned out to be a perfect travel and camping companion. She rested quietly in the back seat of the truck on the road, never made a peep in the motels and took to sleeping in the camper as if she owned the place. The first night there was a terrific storm that blew through the park, lightning and thunder just pounded for 30 or 40 minutes. Sandy, who is normally afraid of any loud noises, slept through the entire storm with nary a wimper. And when the rain came in, behind the thundering introduction, we all slept, warm and dry in the camper. Here's a picture of our camper, set up like a tiki hut for the weekend.
Most of the camping trip involved overeating at the communal picnic tables and feed troughs in Sister Mary's campsite. Everybody brings food, based upon some schedule and directions from two other sisters who are appointed as meal planners. Basically, everybody brings what they like, plus cured pork products and pancake fixings in huge quantities. There was a complete table set up this year to hold the desserts!
When we weren't eating, or preparing to eat or cleaning up afterwards, there was time to sit around the campfire and rest and catch up on family stories. This year there was some nieces and nephews that haven't attended before, so it was god to see them and meet the additions to their families. There was time for the BSU and I to walk over the sand dune and out to the beach with the dog and shiver in the morning's fog. I also excused myself from some of the joviality around the campfire to do homework, trapped in my camper by deadlines that were not going to be extended.
The BSU and I did take a few hours to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium. My favorite part of the aquarium was the floor-to-ceiling tank of Oregon Moon jellyfish. There is a webcam on the link you can see but it doesn't begin to display the mesmerizing effect this huge tank, filled with such strange and beautiful creatures had on me while I watched them. The otters were another particular favorite of ours.
So we rested and visited and generally enjoyed much cooler temperatures than the 100+ temps that had been clobbering us in Utah.
We headed home Sunday after another too-big breakfast and disassembling of all the campers, awnings and a good trash pickup. Instead of following the Gorge back home this time, we decided to take the more direct route, through the south-central part of the state, through Sisters, Bend, Brothers and into Burns for our first day's travel. This was a beautiful trip if pretty desolate for the latter half. The first portion was up through heavily wooded wilderness area and mountains with lots of curving, 35 and 45 mph turns. Later it was just high desert and longe range vistas and only occasionally another car on the road. Its an empty part of America!
After another good night's rest we came on home, finally getting onto interstate 84 in Ontario. We did have a tire blow and shred on the camper just after passing through Boise but changing that was no real adventure except for the roaring traffic at my back as I worked. We stopped in Mountain Home, Idaho for a replacement for the in-use spare and then we were back home without incident.
All told, 1651 miles round trip. I didn't keep track of the gasoline consumption but the computer in the truck said 11.5 mpg when we got home. Highest price for fuel? $2.62 at a otherwise decent stop in Eden Idaho. Ouch!
We rented and listened to the audio version of One Soldier's story, Bob Dole's memoir of his time in World War 2. It is a fascinating tale of his efforts to rebuild his life after being injured in battle. We both really liked listening to this and its probably worth buying a copy of the book to keep and re-read. I highly recommend it.
UPDATE: You can see all the pictures I took from the weekend here.