Paper Moon

So fellow travelers,  haiku time!

 

Bamboo shadows  sketch

Ink lines  on glorious light 

Happy  hour moon

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Tokyo : Hell Hath No Fury

So fellow travelers, they say it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity that gets you.

So far both, viciously aided by jet lag, have made the first few days here in Tokyo pure hell. Three days of nausea, blinding headache and crushing fatigue have been sheer torture while trying to navigate the city’s complex transit system during a record setting heat wave. You know its hot when the rush of a subway train pulling up to the platform feels like a tropical breeze.

Add the emotional roller coaster of being back in the country where I was born, a place whose sights, sounds, tastes and smells evoke the most primal memories even as I try wrapping my mind around the idea I am leaving my youngest child on her own in this monstrous megalopolis. I didn’t feel like I was running on autopilot as much as I felt like I was running in crash and burn mode.

Yet somehow I managed to keep functioning. Maybe because my soul chose this place as the starting point for my journey, my roots here are deep and keep me stable. Maybe because in less than a week, I’ve watched my youngest child go from stretching her wings to soaring off the cliff of adventure.

So the day of parent orientation on campus, when I found this spot down the street I knew it was a message.

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I stood quietly, listening to the persistent trill of cicadas. Dropping coins into the offering box I asked for guidance to watch over all the brave young spirits so eager to explore. Clapping my hands three times and bowing as I was taught a lifetime ago I simply let gratitude fill my awareness.

On my way back to the subway station I noticed two things. The three day headache was finally gone

and it was still hotter than hell.

 

To be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure fine you ready.

 

Left Coast Dreams: Epilogue

So fellow travelers, endings bring beginnings.

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Self portrait in Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland OR

Having had the chance to return to Portland, I now understand why I bogged down last year trying to write about our first trip. The two trips really were book ends of one larger experience.  I could not put words to what I had seen and felt because I questioned my observations and feelings.  I did not want to write from rose colored memory. Revisiting PDX confirmed and sharpened the experience, even with the overlay of emotions stemming from my younger daughter’s move to Tokyo.

There are many events of the two trips I have not written about in this series.

We discovered spectacular views at Crater Lake National Park

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Mt. Hood

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and Mt. St. Helens

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On a day trip to Astoria, we stopped by the Goonies House

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and drove over the Astoria-Megler bridge which at 4.1 miles, is the longest continuous truss bridge in the United States.

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It is very long, very high and I know we all held our breaths as we traveled across it’s impressive span. The bridge crosses the Columbia River just before the river meets the Pacific Ocean. Looking out at the glistening waters for a moment I traveled back in time with Lewis and Clark.

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We ate our way from one side of the city to the other, in funky restaurants

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and iconic food courts.

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And I was blessed by wonderful meetings of hearts and minds, each time I gathered with the West Coast “farmies” from the Bedlam Creative Group

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My husband and I remained in Portland for another week after our younger daughter flew home.  It gave me time to begin exploring the city as a prospective citizen.

The return trip also helped me realize why the past year has felt so unsettled.  As I said in the beginning of this series, the landscape of my life are rapidly changing. The town where I have lived for the past 40 years no longer feels like home, shifts in education have made my job less fulfilling. I am ready to move on to a different way of life in a new venue. It’s a move which wont unfold right away.  We have several years to go before my husband and I can retire, time I will use to prepare for moving.

As for the empty nesting, trust me our youngest will be home for the holidays and she’s left behind plenty of stuff.  This nest is not quite empty yet nor is my heart. I’m not a Mom who feels like time has flown. I am gratefully aware of all that has gone into the past twenty seven years of parenting, every hug, every tear, every laugh, every worry, every stumble, every victory. I would change none of it because everything has made it possible for my girls to spread their wings and fly, knowing the nest is open wherever it may be, and I will always welcome them home.

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

 

Left Coast Dreams: Vintage, Vinyl and Bon Voyage

So fellow travelers,  when things get rough, tough girls go shopping right?

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Oh the vintage shops of PDX!

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They are gloriously packed with treasures waiting to be found

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I have already informed my husband we will ship very little when we move here. I intend to furnish my retirement cottage from the wares of Portland’s thrift stores.

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Indeed the thought that I would be purchasing things only to ship it all back out to Portland in a few years reserved my purchases to just items which would be gifts.

Fabrics for quilters and crafters

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a unique house warming gift

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characters (there’s a back story, maybe a future post)

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I did find a hat at a great price which reminded me of something a Japanese tourist might wear. Of course I picked it up

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and naturally wore it when we visited Portland’s famous Japanese Gardens.

Turns out I have excellent taste

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My friend Simon, a spiritual healer who lived at Bedlam Farm. Photo by Jon Katz.

 

And then there are the vinyl shops.

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Last year our younger daughter had just become interested in purchasing records as her Marching Band Director is also the advisor for the Vinyl Club at the high school.  My older daughter leans towards collecting classical music records because there are plenty to choose from in excellent condition at bargain prices.  It was fun listening to my two violinists discussing their favorite classical works and composers. They even sought some input from Dad about R&B artists he recommends.

We had such a great time exploring Portland’s second hand shops last year it did not surprise me my younger daughter wanted to explore them again with her sister on their last day together.  These quirky shops are full of the kinds of treasures I used to find regularly in thrift stores when I first moved to Upstate New York. I wondered how long this bounty would last here in PDX, not that I had an immediate need for velvet paintings

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or  art deco dishware

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The day was winding down quickly. We gathered our booty and headed for a last family dinner. All too soon it was time to bring my younger daughter to the airport for her “red-eye” flight home. She was going home ahead of us to get back to work and her own summer plans. Her first solo flight experience, practice for the many trips she has ahead of her as she studies abroad through her college years. It would be a long sleepless night for me, as I anxiously awaited her text messages letting me know she had made her connections and was safe at home.

The final parting between my daughters was emotional. My heart ached for them. Long, tearful hugs, earnest wishes for success, sincere promises to keep in touch on line and for a moment I wondered why the natural progression of life and love have to hurt so much. A sudden image flashed in my head from a favorite movie, one my daughters and I have watched so many times, we quote most of it from memory.

“Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.”

The words of Kermit the Frog in the Muppet Christmas Carol, when Tiny Tim has died. It’s a scene which brings tears to my eyes Every Single Time, even though of course we all know Tiny Tim does not die ( “Aw isn’t that swell?”)

It was a memory which eased my heartache. I believe I may have smiled. So many wonderful years we have had together.  So many more yet to come. I stood steady knowing our little family has forged strong ties, connections which may be stretched but cannot be broken by space or time. We will gather together again to hug, laugh and yes cry in person. Until then the magic of modern technology will grant us text messages and Facebook posts and even face to face communication via Skype. Every little thing will be all right.

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Vintage spice shaker.  My Grandmother had a set of these in her kitchen.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drifting

So fellow travelers,  so much to do as departure day edges closer.  Found myself unable to focus on anything for long today,  wandering from laundry room to garden to my desk.  A little packing, lots of weeding, attempts at writing ( I will get the PDX series done before Tokyo!)  Even a good long walk with my dog did not settle my spirits. Then as dusk scattered golden light through the trees I heard music at the pond. As I sat quietly this haiku rose from the lily pads.

 

My soul is restless

drifting too soon down the path

frog song call me back

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready

Left Coast Dreams: Castles in the Sand

So fellow travelers, the tides turn imperceptibly. One moment two kids are playing in the sand

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somehow moments become years

and those two little girls have become young women setting out on their own.

Kara and Emmaflipped

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Camping at the beach has become the kids’ (aka favorite oldest daughter and son-in-law) best weekend getaway and they were eager to take us to their favorite location, a stretch of quiet beach near Tillamook Bay. The day of our unintentionally extended hike in Tillamook Forest, we made the drive out to the coast to Bay Ocean Peninsula Park.

Driving around the bay is a photographer’s dream. The peninsula stretches far enough to get good views of the mountains which hug the coast so tightly they are usually difficult to photograph.

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and the view of the bay is a scenic painting on its own.

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The Tillamook Bay region is also home to a company which produces wonderful locally sourced dairy products.  Move over Vermont Cheddar and Chobani yogurt.

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Marionberry Ice Cream?  What’s not to love? I think I will be just fine leaving the NE Dairy Capital of Upstate New York for the Land of Tillamook.

No stopping for cheese and ice cream with the vegan/paleo crew I travel with, so we lingered at the beach just enough to wish we could stay a little longer.

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My daughter and son-in-law were thrilled to find the driftwood sun shelter they had built a few weeks ago was still standing. They came out to this beach on the fourth of July and said it was a peaceful haven of solitude.

 As we sat on the driftwood at the kids’ “summer home” a realization brought sudden tears to my eyes. In a little over twenty four hours my two daughters would bid each other goodbye. This first of a series of family partings would be perhaps the hardest since the girls do not know when they will see each other again. I gazed out at the ocean, where my younger daughter stood in the waves and found myself wishing I could stop time for just a little while.

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A dragonfly landed on my arm, bringing me back to myself. I am not one to wallow in sadness and I would never willfully hold my daughters back from the wondrous adventures I know are ahead for both of them. There will be many more joyful family reunions with stories to share. I let a few more waves wash through my thoughts. Then, I suggested it was time for us to head back to Portland where vegan/paleo friendly eateries beckoned with our dinners.

As we headed back to our car along the gravel road, the afternoon light created images I had to capture.

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As I clicked away I could feel the Left Coast magic sparkling around me. Under this spell, time did stand still for a while, I looked up and saw

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Together, still  with one more day to take in as much joy  as we can gather in our time left to be together.

Time for some Vintage and Vinyl shopping.

to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Left Coast Dreams: Coast to Coast

So fellow travelers, grab some sunscreen and flip flops, we are headed for the beach.

At the beginning of this series, I referenced a quote from one of my favorite writers Jacob Glass.

Stop chasing joy, live it.

Is there a better place to find, live and breathe in joy than being by the ocean?

 

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It was a true joy to discover Oregon’s breath taking ocean views and quiet, undeveloped beaches.  Unlike the populated Atlantic seaboard I am more familiar with, the coast of Oregon has vast stretches left wild, the kind of places where kids, dogs and horses can run

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where beachcombers build driftwood forts

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and both camping and fires are not forbidden

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Being by water is instant zen for me. It can be a burbling creek, a glistening fountain, a quiet mountain lake or mysterious tidal pool, the sound of water can bring me back to center in seconds.

I have always loved the ocean, although my parents tell me as a toddler I hated the beach.  Apparently the feeling of sand on my feet freaked me out so badly I had to be carried from the water to our beach blanket. (Rest assured I am well past that stage, although I do still have a weird thing about toe seams which means I usually wear my socks inside out.)  I have always had a sensation of waves reaching into my soul, bringing life and carrying away fear. Give me a few minutes walking barefoot on the sand, waves crashing at my feet and I find I have not a worry in the whole wide world.

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Like many mysteries in life, I have come to accept the near magical effect of water on my spirit when it has been ravaged by emotions and anxiety. Much has been written about the healing energy of the ocean and our connection to it. I no longer question the healing effect of nature, wet or dry.  I am content to accept and am deeply grateful for the miracles I have experienced. I endeavor to never take it for granted and to be present as lightly as possible so others may experience the same joy.

On our first trip to Oregon, we spent a weekend at a beach house and then took a day to drive down the coast before heading inland to Crater Lake National Park. One day was barely enough time to give us a sampling

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Cape Kiwanda Dune, one of the largest natural dunes in North America.  Look closely, those are cars parked on the beach and those tiny little dots are people climbing up the dune.  My knees were not up to the challenge, but we did hike out to the ocean along the more stable rocky ridge.

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Devil’s Punchbowl, a natural hollow in the rocks. Perfect pirate hide out.

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Sea Lion Cave, a bit of a tourist spot but worth seeing even though all the residents were outside catching some sun.

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The vistas of waves and rocks and untouched beaches were so primal, I kept thinking of Lewis and Clark’s expedition (more on them to come) and their first sighting of the Pacific Ocean.  Joy, relief, awe tumbled around my mind like pebbles at the water’s edge.  It happens every time I come to the ocean but here in the Left Coast, something deeper was stirring.

to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Left Coast Dreams: a Brief Hiatus

So fellow travelers, a line of intense thunderstorms rolled through yesterday.  Temps and humidity dropped significantly overnight.  When I walked out to my pond for my morning meditation I was startled by the feeling of Autumn in the air.

It felt like September

and I am not ready for it to be September,

not yet.

As I settled into my slightly damp, weathered adirondack chair I caught sight of Mobius, the pond guardian.  A deep laugh welled up from my solar plexus and my brain sang these words to the tune of the well known Simon and Garfunkel song:

Like a fish out of troubled water,

I will learn to breathe.

Mobius

 

Breathe in peace,

breathe out everything else.

then my friends, go live joy.

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Left Coast Dreams: Lost in Thought

So fellow travelers, moment by moment, I am discovering even more than magic in PDX.

As tired as we were, we had to laugh when we realized we had walked right past what we were looking for.  I am blessed to have a family with a pretty decent sense of humor. Still, I was not as ready to laugh off all the errors I had made.  I became increasingly upset with myself, as we began to tally up all the data and determined we had hiked for just under two hours and covered six miles round trip.  The girls and I had headaches from heat and dehydration; we were all pretty hungry too.

As we rested in the air conditioned lobby, refilling our water bottles from the water fountain (it had a special water spout designed just for that purpose, so PDX) there was one point which got to me the most.  Why didn’t I look up when we came to the little stream of water which crossed the trail? It was easy to see how we had missed the sign. It was small, tucked into the foliage and actually faced away from outbound walkers. We almost missed it on the way back too. Yet I had stopped to take photos there; why didn’t I look up? I am fascinated by water.  I love following creeks and streams to their source.  When there’s water trickling down rocks, I always look up.  Well, ok it’s now all to obvious I can’t say always, because if I had looked up I would have seen this ~

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Wilson Falls, the source of the pretty water trickling over the rocks by the path.

Ah well, we continued driving, now bound for the coast. Everyone seemed in good spirits, passing snacks back and forth, munching away. I apologized for making so many mistakes even though no one seemed upset. My son-in-law pointed out he and my daughter are also experienced hikers. Re-hydrated, headaches on the mend aided by the ibuprophen I keep handy, growling stomachs soothed, everyone passed it off as a good story we would chuckle over in the retelling. As quiet settled over us, the tired hikers dozed a little, eased into sleep by the zigzagging road.  After checking with my husband if he wanted a break from driving (he didn’t, he rarely does) I found myself lost in thought.

What the kids said was absolutely true; at anytime, anyone else in the group could easily have spoken up. I was not at the front of the group to give pause to our pace.  I was actually trailing pretty far behind because I kept stopping to take photos.  By the time I caught up to them, everyone said they wondered if we had hiked too far.  Everyone was thinking some variation of ” How much further can this waterfall be?”  “Don’t want to turn back and just miss it!”  “Didn’t those hikers say it was just ten minutes ahead on the trail?”  but we had hiked more than double that by the time we all willingly decided to go back.

As the car wound its way along the road I thought about this vast forest around us which stood as a tribute to rebirth.  Tillamook State Forest exists because determined citizens spurred a massive reforestation project after a series of wildfires spanning two decades destroyed most of the old growth forest in the mid 1900’s.  Many thought the area was permanently devastated but the conservation effort succeeded in creating a thriving natural treasure.

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I watched the sunlight creating magical illusions as it filtered through the branches and I sensed something new in my usual line of thinking. It came from a gradually increasing sense of space in my life. I had been unusually lax in my attention to detail on this hike because I had been comfortable not worrying too much about it.  Granted we were not hiking some great distance on a remote trail. At least we had not intended to hike a great distance; I finally found myself chuckling a bit.

Moms do not easily shake off the responsibility of being in charge. With my daughters grown into young women, creating lives of their own, my role as their mother is changing. My older daughter and son-in-law have worked hard to build a new life in Portland, they are proud of being independent and self supporting. They have their eyes set on great goals for their own future and while they know we are ready and willing to help them if needed, they speak very clearly of wanting to do things on their own.  My younger daughter is about to embark on an adventure of starting her college studies in Tokyo, Japan. While we will travel with her to help her get settled (also granting her an extra checked bag or two to bring over her things) by the end of this month, she begins on her own journey.

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How proud am I of this young woman so eager to experience the great adventures the world has to offer? This glimpse of her heading down the trail reminded me of the first day of kindergarten when she climbed right onto the school bus without looking back once.

I’ve been through different stages as this change unfolds. I was initially surprised when blog posts by other Bedlam Creative Members prompted me to recognize I was dealing with some grief and a sense of loss.  I am grateful for the unexpected awakening, it helped me tremendously. There have been some bouts of anxiety and sleepless nights particularly as my younger daughter has stumbled a few times in her push for independence in this past year.  She is, God bless her an adventurous spirit, my constant reminder most people learn best from their own mistakes.  I know I do, still as a Mom that’s hard to weather sometimes.

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More recently, particularly while enjoying the freedom of Portland, there has been growing curiosity about the phase I find myself about to enter. PDX, to use the airport designation by which many locals refer to their city, has a true “live and let live” spirit about it. Even in crowded locations, like the bustling, jam packed Saturday Market people are polite, respectful and lack the driven “grab and get mine” demeanor of other cities I have been in. It is common for drivers to not only wait but actually wave other cars on at busy intersections. Even in rush hour traffic, angry horns are the exception, although I did notice we heard them more often on this trip than last year.  Oh well, paradise most likely will fade first and fastest on the highways.

This pervasive sense of freedom to “just be” was opening up some space in my emotions, giving my feelings room to shift and evolve. Whenever I find myself searching for my soul center, I go back to the one element in nature which stills my monkey mind and brings me to zen ~ water ~  How serendipitous we were headed for the ocean

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to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Left Coast Dreams: Running Amok in Tillamook

So fellow travelers, I am about to uncharacteristically ignore 90 percent of everything I know to do when hiking.

We arrived in good time at Tillamook Forest Center, greeted by the old fire tower,

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which actually has a live webcam mounted on it so people can check on their favorite forest view anytime online. There’s also a webcam of the suspension bridge which leads from the center to the main trail along the Wilson River.  (The webcams can be found at the forest center’s website here. Go ahead, check out the views.  Trust me, we’ll still be on the trails when you get back.)

The displays inside the center have something for every age and any interest

historical

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equipment used in the exploration and early timber harvest days of the forest

scientific

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This display made clever use of pull out drawers in rows around the table topped by a model of the forest. The drawers covered various topics of natural history, flora, fauna and just plain cool stuff to see.

even artistry

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This display about the art inspired by Tillamook Forest made me think of the many talented artists in the Bedlam Farm Creative Group and imagine the wonderful drawings, paintings, quilts and batiks they would create.

We could easily have spent a few hours in the building itself, but we wanted to hike at least one of the trails into the magnificent forest before heading to the beach for the afternoon. After consulting briefly with some of the staff we selected the 1.3 mile trail to Wilson Falls as our intended destination.  There was a very basic, not to scale drawing of the trails around the center on the back of the brochure I picked up at the main desk. The trail we were taking looked very straight forward, a simple out and back path which branched off the main trail along the river.

Wrong assumption number one.

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As we passed through the impressive gate of the suspension bridge which stretched over the Wilson River I wondered if we should grab some of the snacks and water we had packed for the beach.  Portland had been setting some record temps this summer; it was hot and it had been a few hours since we had eaten breakfast.  Everyone else had already crossed the bridge when this thought occurred to me.  The hike was supposed to take a little less than an hour. We had at least two water bottles with us and I had a small bag of trail mix.  We’d be fine until we got back to the car.

Wrong assumption number two.

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The trail traveled along the river mostly in the shade of tall trees draped in green moss.  There were several places where side trails lead right down to jade green pools in the river. I shot lots of photos and my son-in-law made note of all the great places where they could swim when they came back with their dog (our rental car did not have room for a sixth passenger, so she stayed home that day.) Then the trail climbed away from the river and suddenly came out on a road.

Puzzled we consulted the little drawing on the brochure. Hmmmm, no indication of a road on the not to scale map and yet the trail we were on had been one continuous path the whole distance. The only paths leading off the main trail went straight down to the river and back. We searched a little ways in different directions, wondering if the spot across the road where a creek tumbled over some rocks could be the “falls”, but there was no path leading to them and the staff had said Wilson Falls was a popular photo spot.

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Not Wilson Falls.

Then as we looked back towards the trail we had come up on, we found a small wooden sign which read “Wilson Falls 1.3 miles’ with an arrow pointing where the trail continued on that side of the road into the woods. Oh, the 1.3 miles note on the brochure map meant 1.3 from where this part of the trail began, not the distance from the building to the falls. We had a brief discussion about how far we had probably hiked and how much longer it would take to get to the falls. No one was inclined to go back just yet, we had only been on the trail for about fifteen or twenty minutes, including the side trip to the river’s edge. If the falls were only 1.3 miles from this point we could get there and back to the car in less than an hour.

While this assumption was actually correct, I made a yet another error by not remembering my husband wears a fitness band which could track our distance traveled. I didn’t even think to make note of the time we set out on this leg of the hike, so we could estimate the distance we had traveled.  Fortunately, we were on a well marked trail, traveled by many other hikers.

So onwards we went, enjoying the shade of deep woods and even snacking on wild blueberries and plump marion berries (Oregon’s native species of huckleberries) once I had assured and demonstrated to everyone these were in fact safe to pick and eat.  I asked one young couple who passed us coming the other way if they had seen the falls.  Yes, they said the falls were less than ten minutes up the trail.

Again I missed the hint to track the time, distracted by trying to identify bird songs made slightly unfamiliar by inflections of the local “dialect.”  Plus there were lots of images to photograph, like this pretty little spot where water trickled down some rocks and across the trail.

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But my photographic exploits put the rest of my family farther ahead of me on the trail, which was also getting steeper as it started climbing away from the river again. My knees were beginning to complain and I had to slow my pace to navigate the increasing pitch without my walking stick, which I realized had been left behind.  This was a really uncharacteristic error as I had taken particular care to remember to pack it in the one suitcase we had checked on the flight to Portland.

By the time I caught up with my family, it was clear everyone else was just as tired.  In the course of figuring out how far we had hiked, I realized the sum total of the errors I had made up to this point. I was particularly upset that I had forgotten we could have tracked our progress with my husband’s fitness watch.  No matter, we had been out on the trail for an hour, which meant another hour hike to get back.  Waterfall or no waterfall it was time to turn around.  No one disagreed.

After passing around the little bag of trail mix and the water we had left, we headed back the way we came.  Lo and behold at the pretty spot where the little creek trickled across the trail we saw a sign we had missed and looking up we saw

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to be continued

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.