Sunday, November 4, 2012

November 4, 2012: The Welcome Hibernation

With the onset of Fall, the clouds and rain have returned to the Pacific NW.  In the case of Seattle, the rain is quite welcome.  It was a record-breaking summer with no rain except trace amounts for 3 solid months.  The grass turned brown!  Typically October and November are the wettest months here.  Last year October was still pretty dry, and I don't remember November being too wet, but this year, we've had pouring, solid, drenching rain so far.  Other than walking the dog, I don't really mind it.  It feels right.

Seattle held out with its good weather for one last visitor in early October:  Mom!  The Emerald City stayed in a pattern of gorgeous weather while Mom was here, though it did start to get cooler.  We had great weather for exploring Pike Market, the Space Needle, and of course, Ballard with its Scandinavian culture.

Here's Mom at the Nordic Heritage Museum:

The day we went up in the Space Needle, the weather was so pretty. Here's a view of West Seattle:

Ostensibly, the reason for Mom's visit was a sad one.  In August, Mom's brother, Uncle Bobby, died rather suddenly.  Two weeks later, his wife, Aunt Marian, followed.  Two weeks after that, Mom's sister, Auntie Myrle, died.  As one of my cousins stated, I cannot explain the timing of these events, or why this happened, which leaves just my mom in her immediate family.

Uncle Bobby and Aunt Marian lived in Elko, NV.  Their sons, Rick and Jim, determined that they would wait until the end of September to have the funeral, which allowed Mom and I to make plans.  She would fly to Seattle, and we would make the 10-11 hour drive to Elko, picking up my cousin, Dennis (Myrle's son) in Oregon.  After a whirlwind trip to Minnesota for Aunt Myrle's funeral, Mom got on another plane and headed to the Pacific NW.

The trip was a great family adventure.  I had never spent such time with my cousins, Rick and Jim, nor had I had the opportunity to get to know Dennis.  Also, my Minnesota cousin and childhood bestie, Davey, flew out to Elko also.  It was bittersweet for sure.  I would not trade this time with everyone for anything.  Left to right, that's Dennis, Lorelei, Sue, and Davey.

Uncle Bobby and Aunt Marian chose a beautiful place to retire.  Their back yard looked out at the Ruby Ridge Mountains in Elko:

Rick flew his Cessna over those mountains while Jim dropped their parents' ashes over the ridge.  I can't think of a more fitting gesture.

Of course, we had a little breathing room at the Casino too.  I mean, it's Nevada, right?

I hope I see my cousins in a more happy time in the future.  Jim lives in Spokane with his wife, and Rick and Sue are in Billings.  Sue is from Oregon, though, and they are kicking around the idea of heading back to OR after retirement.  That would be excellent.  Davey and I will get together again, I know it.  Seeing him was like no time had passed.  It's just as it always was.  With Dennis in Oregon, I doubt much time will pass before we see him too.  We love Oregon, as you all know.

The drive to Elko took us mostly through Oregon.  Let me tell you, Oregon is the wild, wild west.  I don't know that I can adequately explain it to someone who has never experienced it.  I had no idea places like this existed in the United States.  There was a 3 or 4 hour stretch of driving where we were on a state route, and the gas stations were about 35 miles apart.  When we did stumble on a gas station, it consisted of one pump circa 1970, and a general store for gum that was so old it was petrified.  In between these little "burgs" were 1,000-acre cattle ranches.  All of this while driving through the mountainous terrain and high prairies.

As I was telling Leigh Ann last night, this driving was not the civilized mountain driving through the Appalachians on I-77.  No, this was a two-lane state route, no guard rails and hairpin turns.  We followed a  pretty large flatbed that was transporting a car across the country through these  mountains.  We all stopped at a rest area at the bottom of the mountain, and let me tell you, it was well needed.  Everyone needed to check their shorts after that drive.  Lorelei had thrown up a couple of times from carsickness, and she doesn't get carsick.  Holy God.

Here's the rest area, two holes in the ground and an empty hand sanitizer thing:

On the way back, we stopped in this teeny burg in the middle of the mountain madness (once you get up the mountain, you drive in a high prairie at about 6,000 feet for about, I don't know, an hour or so, and then back down the mountain, and repeat) to grab some lunch.  This is cattle ranch territory and as you can see, hunting territory.

This is the combination tavern, diner, general store and gas station:

Best cheeseburger I've ever had.

Everything is so remote and lost in time out there.  Dennis and I kept remarking on how we think we could live there.  As much as I'm a city girl, check out the outside of this place:

If you click on that bottom picture, you can see the road signs and figure out exactly where we were.

I cannot say enough about that trip.  The geography out here is so striking.  As Leigh Ann remarked, it's a sort of "in your face" beauty out here.  The Midwest's beauty is quieter.

On the way back to Seattle and after dropping Dennis off, Mom, Lorelei and I headed to the coast for a night so that we could show Mom our favorite place.  The weather was gorgeous, but chilly.  I just can't get over the surf and the scenery.  It takes my breath away every time.

Mom wrote our names in the sand on the beach!

After Cape Kiwanda, we headed to Cannon Beach for lunch and then home to Seattle.  It was a big trip with lots going on, but in true western fashion, everything was bold and beautiful.  I think I'll treasure this time always.

I'll get another update out shortly of all the news that's fit to print from Seattle and the Shraders, but for now, love to all!