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Refreshment in the desert

September 17th, 2004 · No Comments


Ted, the girls and I disappeared to Sunriver, Oregon for the past several days. It was our first time to this resort town in central Oregon and our first week-long family vacation. Following are my notes and pictures….

The vacation began in a Murphy’s Law manner. The weekend before we left, we discovered that our other car wouldn’t start. The girls got sick and spent Labor Day lying around the house suffering from fever and sleeping. So our trip started later than we had planned, after a stop at the doctor’s office to confirm that it was a virus and not strep or something requiring prophylactics.

The drive was difficult to plan, due to the terrain. During a stretch of the highway, I wondered when we would find food or gas. For dinner we stopped in the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. We ate fry bread. A map on the wall marks the Indian trails in the region.



After more than seven hours of driving, we arrived at the house late at night. What I noticed first when we got out of the van was the night sky. Although we live on Bainbridge Island, where light pollution is minimized, I don’t think I had ever seen so many stars of varying brightness and size. It’s always a bit of a shock to realize what you are missing or that what you assumed was true is only partially true.

The only other time I had been in central Oregon was years ago, to cross-country ski on a school trip. But I think that most of what I saw back then was snow and snow. As soon as we crossed through the mountains on our road trip down to Sunriver, I knew we were in a different land.

Sunriver is a place of ponderosa pine and volcanic rock, of coyote and deer and chipmunks. Instead of dirt, red pumice lines the roadways. There is sun and yes, a river runs through it, or at least close to it – the Deschutes. We saw many kinds of birds. One morning I saw a coyote. Deer we saw often. A Nocturnal Creature Walk, sponsored by the Nature Center, was fun. The girls enjoyed looking through samples on the microscope at the center.


my favorite!

One day we went to the pool. Another day we went to the playground. We didn’t bike although Sunriver has a wonderful trail system that many enjoy. Next time we may try to rent some bicycles.

We went to the High Desert Museum one morning. We admired the photographs by Bill Atkinson of Macintosh fame. We saw otters and mustangs (I didn’t know that there were wild horses in Oregon). A “buckaroo” exhibit included the connection between North Africa and Southern Oregon (via the Moors and the Spanish) and also a chuckwagon. Since I criticized another museum for their coverage of cultural issues, I want to mention that the High Desert Museum seemed to portray different perspectives and cultures strengths – pointing out, for example, that the Chinese railroad workers were in better health than others due to their diet and medicine.


I don’t know if I had ever seen a beaver hat before: I didn’t realize how processed the beaver fur was.



the girls inside the Hi Loy shop

We spent a lot of time relaxing and reading. In the afternoons, I curled up in a sunny spot on a sofa and started devouring books (reviews to come later).

just in case there is any doubt what I did on vacation…

The first few nights I started falling asleep soon after the girls went to bed. It took me a while to catch up on rest. To me, that is the definition of vacation – and luxury – shut eye time! We also watched some rare television and movies (possible more comment later) and ate whatever Ted cooked on the grill (steak, chicken, hot dogs). Also red wine, nutella, and Spiderman cereal – but not all together…

keeping a family tradition of sugary cereal on vacation…

I had wanted to take a long vacation for years. We had planned to take one in 2001 but September 11th changed our plans. This is the first year we have been able to go away for a week (thank you OSAF!) I hope we can do it again.

The trip ended in a dramatic way as well, with a milestone moment of parenting, and a visit to see friends in Portland whom we hadn’t seen in years. Not only is it great to have relationships last long after college, but it is another blessing to see our children enjoy each other too.

Although I’m having a hard time finding the exact words to describe it, I feel that our vacation changed me. Sure there were moments of revelation from the museums, books and media input. And there were moments of realization in the quiet. I think I even learned a lot from rest. I came back wanting to be a different person. Wanting to do things differently. It feels like a well where I will be dipping for a while to refresh myself in these daily moments of desert.


Tags: family