Hippie Days – Sand Dunes Over the Pacific

Children’s Diary – July 23

We climbed a sand dune all the way to the top. Whee! Mommy got tired. Whew!

Sand Dunes to Pacific Oregon

We climbed over one more mountain range, descended into the Willamette Valley and Portland, Oregon to visit our first auditory oral program, the Tucker Maxon School. In existence for 25 years, their program has achieved high accolades for teaching deaf children to communicate orally with the help of hearing aids, lip reading, and speech practice. Although the school offers an excellent program: small classes, 8 – 1 ratio of students to teachers, and trained professionals, we decided that Portland was not for us. Being from sunny Florida, living more than half the year in clouds and rain would be too depressing for us.

Before leaving Oregon we continued west on our diagonal trajectory across the United States, from the Southeast Florida Gulf Coast the Pacific Ocean, our farthest point in the Northwest. First we had to climb over the largest sand dunes in North America to see that ocean, an impressive first for us all.

Everybody bursts from the car. “Hooray! We made it!” I yell.

“Made what? I don’t see anything but this huge sand mountain,” says Trey.

“Well, I mean the driving part,” I laugh. “All we have left is to climb the mountain for our first view of the biggest ocean in the world – the Pacific.”

Nicole looks puzzled as she cranks her head back and stares upward, “There’s water up there?”

We take off our shoes and start what seems to be a short trek, but very steep. Daddy of course is in the lead. I fall back quickly to the end as my quad muscles start protesting. “How can you little kids with short legs be way ahead of me?” I call ahead.

“Oh, mommy, you’re just getting old.” Trey calls back.

I relax, start enjoying the experience. Huge mountains of soft fawn-colored, sand are strewn with a forest of hovering shadowy pines. Sunlit trails show us the way up and through. Kobi and I hold up the rear. His super short legs keep sinking to his stomach in the soft sand. It’s a constant chore of extraction for him to keep moving forward. All of a sudden I hear from above. “Oh my God! It’s gorgeous! We did it!” from Ray. The children are hooping and hollering. I give my locked legs a push for the last leg, and arrive puffing at the peak. ‘We’re Lewis and Clark all over again!” We cheer. Coming out of the pine forest there’s a vast view of nothing but sand swooping down to the immense Pacific, waves crashing on the shore. On the long drive I’d peppered the children with stories of explorers, conquerors, ship captains and wagon trails. With this climb and the incredible view, they get it.

Hippie Days – Following Our Northern Border

July 17 – 20

1st Expo with Environmental Theme

Moving on across Montana, the big sky state, we stop in Bozeman to take advantage of the hot springs. Although it’s a series of concrete pools, not the beautiful bubbling spring with steam wafting upward in a natural setting of rocks and trees, the warm water feels delicious and relaxing. Aaahhh! The icy water we’ve encountered so far on this trip is far too titillating for our puny Florida bodies. The concrete indoor spa pool is surrounded by a series of smaller squares each filled with different temperatures of water from scalding hot to freezing cold. Then the children discover a fun game: jumping from the hottest to the coldest pool with appropriate screams and laughter.

“Come on Mom. Your turn,” yells Trey.

“Okay, I’ll do it, but only if you’ll both start at the coldest pool next and work backwards.”

“Make sure your head goes under or it doesn’t count,” laughs Nicole.

We’ve been following a secondary goal; a vague and varied route of connecting with old friends we may never see again. This time it was Robbie and Jennifer, compatriots from our Army stint in El Paso who’ve settled near Spokane, Washington. World Expo 1974 was in full swing. We attended the first World’s Fair with an environmental theme. Trey was most impressed with the first IMAX movie. “Wow, we’re in the movie! It’s all around us.” Nicole’s eyes opened wide at the huge waterfall made of massive white porcelain toilets explaining water conservation and waste. “ Man, I wouldn’t want to fall into one of those!” We topped off the day with a sky ride surveying the whole park.

We’d been invited to spend the night with our friends at their cabin on Lake Coeur D’Alene in Idaho. Now this was really living: beautiful clean bathrooms, cushy beds, a real kitchen and the best for last, a crystal clear lake to swim in. We would have loved to stay forever, but duty called. We had an appointment in a few days to visit our first auditory oral school for Trey in Oregon so we continued west.

Mt. Hood, Oregon

The children’s eyes and body language begged, ‘will this ever be over?’ I wondered. Driving across Washington’s monotonous desert I‘m reminded of the endless corn, wheat, hay fields we’d straggled through in Kansas. Hours of hot sun glaring through the windshield, squinting for hours, creating my first wrinkles at 30. Except this time it was dry, dusty, flat. Sparse cacti and tumbleweeds dotted the landscape. We saw the Cascade Range in the distance. Eventually a tiny white peak of a mountain appeared standing high and alone, growing bigger and more magnificent as the miles clipped past. It was Mt. Hood. We cheered, not only because we’re out of the desert, but because it was time to find a campground and get out of the car. It was really hard to keep the kids and a dachshund content for a long time in such a small space.