10-01-2020 Traveling to Northern Washington

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The MoHo in Site 3 at LePage on the John Day River

I have hesitated a bit in writing this particular blog. I set the posting date for October 6, but today it is actually October 26 and I am finally sitting down to write about our trip. 

Early evening at LePage where the John Day River meets the Columbia

Some might guess the reason for my hesitation.  It was a family visit, one of those gatherings that seem to engender all sorts of responses from all random corners of the internet about social distancing, mask wearing, and staying at home.  I know there will be reactions out there and I really don’t like having to explain myself, but I guess I have to at least try, because I want to write about our trip.  I don’t want an empty spot in the blog that is our personal history.

Late Afternoon on the John Day River

After many months of keeping mostly to ourselves, like others, I suffered from family hunger.  I wanted to see my daughter before winter set in, I wanted to see my grandkids before they have grandchildren of their own, I wanted to see my great-grandkids.  I said to Mo,  “What do you think about a trip to Lincoln to visit Deanna and Keith?”.  As always, Mo was ready for a journey, ready for a trip, and we decided we could take our chances and go visit the family.  In fairness, I talked extensively with Deanna before deciding to go.  At the time, her county in northeastern Washington state had 2, yes, you read that right, 2 cases of COVID and no deaths.  Our county here in Oregon had some of the lowest numbers in our state as well.  My grandson is isolated on his homestead, and my great-grandkids are being schooled at home.  No one seemed to be in any danger of either being sick or being exposed.  Mo and I were clean, the family was clean, and we decided to go. 

Full moon night on the John Day River at LePage

Unlike days in the past, where my blog had a few hundred readers each day, the numbers have reduced considerably since I no longer blog on a regular basis.  The days of blogging the way we used to are definitely waning, but as I had said before, it is the history and the memories that are important to me.  If I were writing only for myself, I would have to make no explanations, but even the few readers I have left will no doubt have some opinions, pro or con, about our choice to travel and visit family.  So, to set the minds of those few readers at ease…it has been 3 weeks now and we are all just fine and still healthy.

We decided to travel the eastern route toward Crater Lake and Highway 97, intercepting I-84 at Biggs Junction on the Columbia River.  It would have been possible to make the trip in a day of long driving, as my daughter Deborah did, but no reason for us to do that.  Instead, we made a reservation at LePage, a campground we are familiar with and have used often.

I was very glad I had made the reservation since the campground was completely full.  It is an easy place to stay for an overnight, and with our geezer pass quite inexpensive with water and electric. The somewhat shocking surprise was the recent clearing of the big old cottonwoods and locust trees that shaded the campground.  It felt quite different, and much more open, but for only a night it wasn’t bad.  On a hot day, I am sure folks would miss those trees, however the newly planted saplings will be more healthy, much safer, and will eventually shade the campsites.

The view from Deanna’s windows

Smoke at varying levels was our constant companion on the trip north, and the murky skies followed us all the way to Davenport.  Once we arrived at daughter Deanna and husband Keith’s property, the smoke cleared a bit.  Our early afternoon arrival was perfect, in time to visit before supper.

Left to Right:  Deanna, Deb, Keith, Mo

Daughter Deborah, and Grandson Matthew had arrived the previous night after driving all day from Southern Oregon.  When we got to Deanna’s everyone was having a great time cooking together and visiting.  Grandson Steven lives about an hour north, and he drove down for dinner as well with my other great-grandson Matthew.  The younger Matt became known as Matt-Two as the weekend wore on.

Theron “Tito”, Tracey, and Tearany “Squish”

On Saturday morning the rest of the family arrived, with Tracey coming from Wenatchee with 3 of my great-grandkids to spend the weekend. 

Keith and Deanna have a dog free house, but they made an exception for Mattie

Grandpa Keith with my great-grandson Orion

Left to right: Keith, Theron, Orion, Tearany, Deanna, Matt-Two

Deanna’s home is on acreage overlooking Roosevelt Lake, and there is a resident herd of bighorn sheep that help themselves to her ripe peaches and apples. 

Notice the pretty orange Kubota tractor.  Keith and Deanna purchased Mo’s trusty Kubota last summer.  We lots of photos of grandkids being driven around by Mo on that tractor when they were small.

We later made a trip back to grandsons Steven’s house to see his beautiful homestead and meet his new sweetheart.  The day was warm and sunny with the skies clearing a bit.  

Grandsons Matthew and Steven

Stormy and Steven at their home

Deanna, Deborah and Mattie checking out the chicken house at Steven’s place

With lots of food and laughter the day just seemed to flow and came to a great conclusion with a late birthday party for me and for Steven, who share the same birthdate, September 15.  It is kind of neat that my first grandchild was born on my 37th birthday.

Great-grandkids decorated our birthday cake

With lots of silliness going on, we laughed a lot at Matt-Two’s interpretation of the yoga moves that Stormy and Steven were directing. 

It was beyond wonderful having the chance to see this part of my family again.  I haven’t visited these great-grandkids for almost 3 years, since Christmas 2018, and I felt like I simply couldn’t wait any longer. I’ll treasure every single moment of this visit. 

We chose to return on Monday by way of Mo’s brother’s home in Beaverton, who has also been socially distanced with his own family bubble for several months.  We broke our bubble to share time with them as well, but opted for an outdoor supper at the local food cart parking lot on the outskirts of Portland.  It wasn’t quite as exciting as I had hoped, with the biggest cartlandia location being recently closed and many carts relocated throughout the city.  Still it was a fun evening and Dan and Chere had hookups and space available for the MoHo so we could sleep in our own space.

Silly me, I got photos of the new living room furniture at Melody’s but no people photos!

The trip south toward Grants Pass took us within three miles of Daughter Melody’s new home in Brownsville and we stopped in for an afternoon visit and lunch with her as well.  Melody is still working from home after 7 months now.  She and Robert moved into their “new” home (built in 1908) right as COVID started and she has been working from home every since.

Overall it was a wonderful trip, with a warm dose of family time to help heal the isolation that we have been living through for so very long.  And as I said, we are all OK.  Might be nothing more than pure luck, but I am glad that luck was with all of us.