Today was officially the last day of our trip–this special time for Judy and me with our dear grandson, Nick. There is nothing like traveling with a twelve year old, and nothing like spending special time with a grandchild. Though this was the last day, it was not a very eventful day since it mainly consisted of a seven to eight hour trip from Trinidad, California to Portland, Origen. We are back in our motel, the first place we stayed in Portland. Nick and I have bathed literally–the pool, the hot tub, the sauna, and the steam bath. It's a routine every grandfather and grandson should share. We did invite Judy to join us, but those of you who know her also know how she reacts to heat, and Nick and I were in some intense heat.
We thought about taking pictures of these baths, but were afraid we might frighten folks. Actually, we did not take a lot of pictures today at all; one only, in fact. Judy had wanted a picture of the National Park sign that begins the redwood forests, but we missed it going down. I was driving on that occasion, of course. Since she was driving when we passed it today, we stopped and got the picture below.
Since that image, more than any other, describes our trip, I suppose it is fitting to be the only one shared in this final blog.
My dear friend, Linda Spalla, does a really great blog each year during her visit to Paris. At the end of the trip, she adds a summary of the things she has learned and experienced. As we close this blog, I thought that Judy, Nick, and I might do the same thing. Some of these things you may know and some you may not. I'll list them as we talk about them.
- We learned the first day that Oregon is an unusual state for two particular reasons. First, they have no sales tax–what you see on the price tag is what you pay, nothing more. To me, that demonstrates their concern for the less fortunate, since a sales tax is a regressive tax, much harder on the poor than the wealthy. I don't know if that is why the do it; I suppose it could be they have trouble multiplying the percentage and then adding the tax to the total–maybe they're not very good at math. I like the concern for the poor reason myself, and I'll stick to that, even if it is an alternative fact.
- Second, Oregon is one of only two states in the union where you are not allowed to pump your own gas. I'm told it is a state law that gas must be pumped only by an attendant. When Judy asked why, she was told that it adds jobs. I thought it might be due to unauthorized personnel pumping gas and causing an explosion. Who really knows?
- People in California and Oregon seem to be really serious about protecting the environment. Steve and Jen, our host and hostess at Pilot Rock Cottage, were adamant about composting and recycling. I saw very little trash on the roadside while traveling in either state, and lots of signs designating individuals who were responsible for keeping a stretch of roadside clean. In particular, with the drought they have experienced, they are very concerned about water resources and I found numerous recommendations about conserving water.
- We also learned that twelve year old boys really like to eat, and eat, and eat–lots of food and lots of calories. Of course, we did do a lot of hiking and moving around, activities that build appetites for growing young boys. We loved taking our precious Nick, but will be glad when we can finally pay off the bank loan we took out to feed him.
- Nick's favorite part of the trip was the dip in the Pacific Ocean. Notice the word "dip." It did not qualify as a swim. Only the feet, ankles, and finally the legs up to just below the knee were allowed to get wet. I suppose that would qualify as a "midi," swim, if you are considering hem lines. That leads to another fact; the Pacific is cold, cold, cold–much more than our delightfully warm southern gulf and warmer than the Atlantic, at least at the latitude where we live.
- Nick's least favorite part of the trip was the riding, and I suppose we must confess that there was a powerful lot of riding in the SUV to get to the different places. A lot of the travel also took place in mountainous areas, making the drive seem even longer and more tortuous to this vertigo sufferer, especially when Judy was driving.
- Nick's main reason for wanting to come to see the redwoods was to see where Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, was filmed. There are several redwood state and national park stations stretching from southern Oregon through the area we visited. Judy discovered that those particular scenes were actually filmed in Humboldt County, California where we stayed and toured. This was strictly a coincidence on our part.
- Crater Lake is an amazingly beautiful place, even in the smoke from the forest fires, but we regret that we were unable to see it from rim to rim.
- The redwoods were far more amazing than any of us imagined. I think we simply expected to see some exceptionally large trees. Instead, we walked into the remnants of a world far removed from our own; the kind of world once inhabited by dinosaurs. These giant trees were an important part of that stable environment and competed with the other gigantic life forms for continued existence. Only the redwoods remain today.
- The rocky coastline of this part of California and Oregon, especially when shrouded in fog, is mysteriously beautiful. I found it hard not to stop a every cove we passed to photograph the rocks, catch the crashing of the waves, and just enjoy the beauty we found there.
Well, I suppose that is enough–at least those things stand out for us right now. In the weeks and months ahead as we recall the trip and experience other things, perhaps different learnings and experiences will percolate to the surface. That's how travel affects you. It's a dynamic affair that continues to grow long after you return to a normal routine. We'll remember and cherish these days with Nick for years to come, and as the years go by, we'll find that different aspects will become significant to us for reasons we never imagined. As we end this time together, let me just say that we are thankful for each other, for the love we share, for the experiences that we have had together, and for the deepening of our relationship that this time has provided.