Thursday, May 14, 2009

Crescent City and Great-Grandma's

After we left the Redwood Forest (where, as Benjamin pointed out, even the slugs are bigger -- and they are!), we kept heading down the Redwood Highway until we got to Crescent City, California. This is a beautiful, non-touristy town that is right on the water. While looking for a place to eat lunch, we spotted these harbor seals:




Maverick (the dog) stood at heightened attention on the rocks by the pier. I think he was unsure how to take these barking, slippery blobs. The pier had come loose, and these men were trying to reattach it in the midst of the seals. We enjoyed the extra seal action this caused and marvelled at the animals' ability to hoist themselves from the water onto the wood (even without opposable thumbs . . . or knees!).


After we ate our fill of fish and chips, we stopped by the ocean and told the kids we would go at least stick our toes in the Pacific Ocean. And we -- Ethan and I -- did. The children submerged their toes, ankles, knees, and bottoms, and two of them even went under all the way, soaking their down coats.


(We love this picture because it makes Maverick look like a large chihuahua. And chihuahuas are funny, weird little things, which Maverick is not. He is noble.)






(This said "Lily" until her 2-yr. old sister added an extra line to the "l." Then it said, "Liyy." Which is, I must admit, how Edee says it.)    




And while the kids played? We sat wrapped up in sleeping bags on our camp chairs. It was that cold!



But to be near the ocean, to enjoy the salt air, to feel the breezes . . . it was magnificent.


After everyone was thoroughly soaked, we continued heading south until we got to the Trees of Mystery building. We opted out of the ride until a year when the children are older -- although, honestly, I hope they keep the excitement they so quickly rally for things like tall trees and cold water (they don't need a ride in the air to excite them!).


We went inside to see about some coffees (because caffeine, unlike a gondola ride, is absolutely non-negotiable). I thought it a little ironic that they had a Fresh Fudge Bakery, with a "We use real cream and butter!" sign, but when I asked if they had cream for the coffee, I was thrown a couple of packets of Coffeemate. "Oh, you don't have real cream?" I said.


"No. This is what we have," was the icy answer I got back.


So I guess they really should change their sign to say, "We use real powdered non-dairy creamer and butter."


Anyway. The providential thing about stopping there was that a park ranger handed us a map and told us where to drive -- 20 minutes down the coast -- to see orca whales that were coming in. So we drove.


And looked for whales. And then, finally, we spotted one . . . two . . . three . . . four . . . five. It was incredible! The children had a hard time seeing them, but we saw some! Edited to add: my husband (the scientific -- and that is an understatement -- one) just informed me that they were gray (grey?) whales that we saw. They feed on the salmon at the mouth of the river that feeds into the ocean. So do orcas.
And seals. But we saw grey (gray?) whales.





And with very, very heavy hearts, we said goodbye to the ocean.



The next day found us packing up and heading north to a suburb of Portland, Oregon. We were all excited. Ethan's grandmother and aunt live here, with their two dogs (Farfal and Stella). The last time we saw Grandma, four of our children were not yet born, and I had never met his Aunt Elaine.


We were treated royally. (Unfortunately, I didn't find my camera until right before we left, so I don't have pictures of everyone.) We ate a fantastic dinner and enjoyed visiting with Ethan's cousin John and one of his daughters (who has grown up SO much from the last time I saw her) and Ethan's Uncle Steve (an absolute favorite of everyone) and his sweetie of a sweet fiance.


It was hard to have to leave the next day. We dragged our feet and moaned about the voicemail we received, "Ethan? Do you have someone lined up to plow your drive or can I do it for you?" Plow the drive? PLOW it? As in more snow? It's 65 degrees here in Portland. And Helena has snow.


(Check out those hiked-up sweatpants. Yeah, we're stylin'.)





Edee couldn't find her shoes to go play in the backyard. No matter! Look what Aunt Elaine left lying around!







And then we had to go home. We stayed the night in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and journeyed on to Helena the next day. We saw no snow until we got into Helena, where there was a little swirling in the air, and then when we drove ten minutes farther to our house in Montana City, there was a foot.


A foot of snow.


Welcome home.


(Elk on the road before ours.)


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