Aug 15 2010

August 13, 2010- From Leslie Carrier

Kate Murr

Stuart and Kate and Jane and Brady-
Your fellow Watershed Committee board members have arranged for you all to stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria — (www.cannerypierhotel.com). Ron and I stayed at this hotel last fall and loved every minute of it. Your room faces the Columbia River channel, so you have the chance to watch huge freighters coming/going up the channel carrying oil, wheat/grain, cars, supplies, etc. to the ports in Portland. Be sure to get the ship schedule from the front desk to watch for the ships — the kids will love it! Also, be sure to look for the complimentary choc-chip cookies in the lobby when you arrive!

Justin should be at the front desk when you arrive on Sunday and knows about your journey and that this is your last night on the trip (he’s the one I talked to when booking your room). They know you will have bikes and 2 buggies and have storage available for all.

You are paid and confirmed for Sunday night; however, if you don’t make it on Sunday night, they can transfer the reservation to Monday night, although the room availability is rather slim for Monday night. If you need to change the reservation, call Justin at the # below.

We are all so proud of you guys and so excited to hear the stories when you get home. On this last night of your trip, sit back, relax, and enjoy the huge pride of accomplishment of completing your dream!! You have done what many others only hope to do!

We all hope you enjoy this wonderful hotel!

With lots of Springfield hugs and high-fives!!
Leslie, Bill, Ted, Mike

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Aug 15 2010

August 5, 2010- Roosevelt Day

Kate Murr

The sprinklers rained on us in the night. Though Dan, the campground host, whom we will later refer to as “Dan the Adventure Guru”, had placed big custom-cut PVC pipe couplers at strategic sprinkler stations, the high pressure spigots sent a spray of water up and over the diverters to our rain fly free tent at about 2am.

I awoke before my soggy family and practiced yoga with the sun and windmills, who were impossibly silent, clean, and hopeful. The periwinkle sky behind them looked to me like a pool of God.

After breakfast and camp packing, Dan pulled his kayak down to the river, which was of amazing interest to the kids. He let them play in the boat that was his vehicle of choice in the summer to cross the river for groceries while he told us stories. Dan has lots of stories because he sailed around the world for 13 years and used to race motorcycles and sailboats. Any story that begins with, “So we were sailing into Bora Bora..” and may or may not include references to cannibalism or diving for lobsters is one I want to hear. Dan instructed that the secret to sailing around the world for so long is to make sure to find a good hull for hurricane season. And then he laughed, because he couldn’t think of anywhere on Earth that might be. In two years, Dan wants to bike cross-country with his daughter to celebrate his 70th and her 18th birthdays.

We had met Peter and Jan the night before, and we stopped by their RV to visit on our way out of the campground. They sold their house five years ago and have been touring the country in their coach ever since. They were curious to hear the stories of another family on the road. Though we had planned to visit briefly then head down the road, the forecast for 100 degree weather coupled with Peter’s invitation to trout dinner made us rethink our plans and stay.

We enjoyed a lazy day of swimming and visiting. Jane and Brady played with the other kids on the beach. At one point, the thermometer in the shade of Peter and Jan’s awning read 105 degrees. We invited Dan to dinner, but he declined because he predicted that the wind would pick up and he would need to be out windsurfing. It took very little arm-twisting to convince Dan to take me out with him for a lesson, during which I experienced brief successes in sailing and a long swim back to shore. Jane tells the story this way: Mommy kept falling down but she got right back up and she sailed just a little bit and had fun.

Dinner was scrumptious because it was made with love. Peter and Jan did most things with love, in fact. As fellow travelers, Peter and Jan extended a special sort of hospitality to these wayward Murrs. And so we spent the night on the RV couch because the sprinkler diverters had all been distributed and we might have drowned otherwise.

Thank you, Peter and Jan.

(Photos to follow.)

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Aug 15 2010

August 4, 2010- Captains Lewis, Clark, Hook, and Morgan

Kate Murr

We awoke to bickering crows. I wondered if they were all siblings or lovers. They were relentless in their chit chit chit chit caw chit debate. It occurred to me that we had situated our tent in the middle of the Crow Congressional Hall.

We played with the family-of-ten family all morning. They were all stand-up people, and we each found someone in our age group to share with. I had extremely low energy and napped off and on all morning like a lizard. We all shared a huge watermelon, which was gone in no time.

We finally headed out for our short 20-mile pedal to Roosevelt, Wa. It didn’t seem as hot as the day before and we started to see lazy windmills lining the gorge. Randomly, we followed a trail of road kill carrots all the way to our next campsite.

Note: If you’re taking children to the restaurant/pub in Roosevelt, may I recommend that you don’t take them to the restroom on account of all the “Bares”. The experience left Jane with many questions, including, “Do any of those ladies look like Mommy to you, Daddy?” Besides, the food isn’t that great there anyway, though the signage is humorous and there’s one that promises free beer tomorrow.

We made it just in time to the Roosevelt gas station at the turn to the free Army Corps of Engineer campground. We sat outside the closed station eating popsicles as the sun set in one of those glowing mental photograph moments when the kids were happy and charming and everyone seemed together. Jane sported a fudge pop goatee. Brady got stickier. My popsicle was pepino con chili (cucumber chili) flavored and burned my chapped lips despite it’s iciness.

(Photos to follow.)

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Aug 15 2010

August 3, 2010- Scablands

Kate Murr

Bob drove us past a precarious place where the gorge started and the road hung over the river with little shoulder. We purchased supplies and started our pedaling in an area known as the “Scablands” in the Horse Heaven Hills. The land there is barren and scarred from the great Spokane Flood that occurred between 18,000 and 20,000 years ago when the ice dam holding back Glacial Lake Missoula broke. Our Adventure Cycling map says that evidence of the flood remains from Missoula, where the ancient shoreline of the glacial lake can still be seen on Mount Sentinel, which looms over the University of Montana, all the way to the Pacific.

The air in the gorge smelled like rosemary and there were rattlesnake warnings everywhere. The desert scrub landscape contrasted with the tall electric line towers and it was black-asphalt-on-unexpected-desert hot. Not far from where Bob dropped us off we came to the Paterson Onion distribution plant, which was watering its lawn. We hopped off our bikes for a frolic in the sprinklers just as an employee was turning them off! He saw our disappointment as he walked back from the pump house to his truck and literally ran to turn them back on. We played. Brady had an excellent potty experience (for those of you keeping track of that sort of thing).

We rode to Crow Butte campsite and Jane kept repeating the first line from a poem we read aloud from a book Aunt Stephanie gave the kids in Lawrence, KS. It’s called “The Lonely Surfer” in which the author explores the relationship between sense of place and personal identity, and makes children laugh. When we stopped to fix a flat a mile away from the campsite the kids wanted to read the poem and take pictures of each other with the lonely surfer dude.

At the campsite we swam in the river, made stir-fry for dinner, met a family with ten children who gave us sturgeon to eat and let the kids ride their bikes.

(Photos to follow. Especially the Lonely Surfer Dude pictures.)

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Aug 15 2010

August 2, 2010- Iceberg’s Tip

Kate Murr

This day we were tired. We toured Walla Walla after the lunch I describe below, but it was hot and kids were cranky. We rested after our tour and then the kids got a special treat: a babysitter! Molly, Bob and Sydney’s granddaughter, watched the kids and we went out with Molly’s mom and dad to hear their friend perform at an open mic night. We had a proper date with adults and I met a man with a William Blake quotation tattooed on his arm.

First though, we had lunch in Walla Walla at Icebergs per Peter’s recommendation. Peter is a Bob and Sydney’s grandson, a strong, polite young man who is working at the farm this summer. He said to get the fry sauce so we did, and we shared big milkshakes and enjoyed the lunch thoroughly.

We ate at a table near Iceberg’s walk-up window and spoke with Pierre, the veteran who sat next to us. He drives a restored model A, wears a Rasta necklace, and makes it a point to make eye contact with everyone. He volunteers at the VA and elsewhere, speaking the language of those who have been in combat, helping loved-ones and soldiers cope with PTSD. His friend (Mike?) with him had been an alcoholic for 22 years and was now sober and moving within the week to Arizona to take care of his ailing parents who had kicked him out of the house years ago for his violent behavior. When Mike met his mentor, Pierre wouldn’t even let him in the house because his rages violated the house rules. Eventually though, Mike said he started listening to what Pierre was saying, started noticing that combat taught him to become detached from his heart to survive, started noticing that to him fear and love were equally and paralyzingly injurious, started to become conscious that no amount of avoidance or alcohol would produce the oblivion he sought. Mike started slowly to engage with people, to make eye contact, to share stories. He started to mentor and feel a certain clarity. He started to entertain the idea that openness wasn’t necessarily vulnerability. He worked hard. Is working hard. And when we met him, Mike sat on the edge of a new adventure, enjoying a send-off lunch with a friend and mentor and a random family bicycling across America.

Best wishes, Mike.

(Photos to follow.)

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