We have spent a rather lazy day at Hood River. A north central Oregon town a with a population of 7,200. It is beautifully placed on the southern bank of the Columbia River. It is a wide river and the centre is the state boundary between Oregon and Washington. We drove across the toll bridge and went over and back between the two states. The gorge was formed through a catastrophic ice age event that seen an unconceivable amount of water flow rapidly through the land carving the river and gorge systems when a snow/glacier made natural dam broke repeatedly.
We walked the four blocks from our little motel into the Main Street where the kids swapped some books and we had a coffee. The view out our $80 a night motel is just magical, full view of the river. I washed a load of clothes in the bathtub and hung them around our room to dry while we slept. We have worked out if two people are backpacking and staying in hostels (backpackers) the cost would be about $80. If a family of four (us) stay at a hostel we are charged per person with a minimal discount for kids say total $155 per night in San Fran or $120 in Seattle. However when we book a motel with two queen beds you just pay for the room, not per person. So this becomes cheaper for us as a family of four travelling the USA. Moral of the story – it doesnt pay to backpack with kids – use the motels! Plus our motel rooms have cool facilities like our own bathroom, microwave, little fridge and sometimes a coffee maker.
We are in Hood River because Geoff has been reading about this place in windsurfing magazines for years. There are literally hundreds of windsurfers and teabags (hehe…kites) going back and forth.
The weather is surprisingly warm. It is very interesting how we keep changing climates from cool to warm. The weather here today was 35′ and we had our summer clothes back on. Bailey asked me today when is it going to get cold because he doesnt get why he packed thermals. Alaska?
Today I cooked bacon and eggs. We are going to be well preserved by the time we get home with the packaged food we are consuming because we are making do with limited resources eg: a foam esky and microwave in some motels.
The kids are getting into the swing and learning about being thrifty so we make it through the whole period away. They are privy to us making careful choices about how we spend our money. Fuel, supermarket food, finding the cheapest motels and choosing activities. They are making wise choices and having the think about things that may not cross their minds at home. When we did our food shopping Gracie gasped in my ear on the way out ‘Mum that cost $130!!’. Or we hear from Bailey ‘Mum its only $30 for all of us to go’. So they are getting the idea. Our favourite are the free entry places!
We are museum junkies and found another goodie today. It was pretty hands on and interactive, the way we like it. Like Native American Indian, white settlement, salmon, river systems, birds of prey, european explorers… Gracies favourite part was the brain teaser room and Baileys was the ice age section. I loved the Indian tent with the bear skin carpet. It was so cosy and comfortable. Geoff loved learning about how the gorge was formed.
We finished the day with a swim in the river watching the kiters and windsurfers. The kids rolled logs around in the water to play on. I read my book on the grass, joy to the world. We enjoyed Thai for dinner and one of my most favourite foods in the world – Tom Yum. Authentic and divine.
We have met a few Americans who are apart of a family reunion. One big family on tour where they guide asked the crowd ‘who is here on family reunion?’. I thought at the time, what an unusual question. At Vegas there where the whole group wearing the same shirts saying they were on family reunion. (There is a bit of same shirt family wearing going on here). And again at Diamond Lake some families who are there on summer lake vacations apart of a family reunion. Do lots of Americans do reunions? You dont hear much of this kind of thing in Australia. Are American families bigger and more into organised family gatherings? I have been contemplating this the past couple of weeks as one who constantly seeks meaning and transcendence. And today while showering, looking out my beautiful river view window (complete the snow capped mountain in the distance) I came to realise that we all must make the most of the family we have. Coming together to hang out despite our differences. It is the only family we have. Are Americans just able to come together as a big group and have fun? It looks like it to me.
Its a bit like diving into the sea and swimming down down going too deep not knowing which way is up vs doing breaststroke comfortably on the surface while still enjoying the sun on your face. Dont over think it. Dont over complicate it. Just experience the water for what it is. Holidays are good for pondering such things.