We’d been planning a road trip since last summer and I got the crazy idea that we’d merge it with a visit from my sister’s family. So when my sister flew home, she took only her son, leaving her daughter for us to bring home via our meagerly planned road trip. So today, we loaded up the rental car and started driving south, then east.
We drove south to Salem and then onto Hwy. 22 over the Cascades to eastern Oregon, stopping to check out the information kiosk about the B&B Complex Fire. Seeing the vast number of burned trees in the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests awed all of us. Come to find out, ninety-thousand acres burned that year (2003) and seven years later, their grey trunks still stand, an eery forest of ghost trees. Hill after hill was covered by the sticks, reminding me of Mt. St. Helen’s eruption two decades ago.
In Sisters, we finally got to stretch our legs, stopping at Sno Cap Drive-In for ice cream and french fries. Spendy for my cheap nature, but worth it. The blackberry shake had hunks of berry in it and they even have their own version of fry sauce. Old-fashioned decor and thick, creamy ice cream are their hallmarks and it was a well-liked break from the road.
We’d reserved a yurt at Tumalo State Park way back in March, when I’d first decided that we had to go camping again. Nine summer ago we came out to Tumalo, renting the yurt right behind the one we had this time. The kids had then been tiny things–only 3 and 8 years old–and I’d been so scared to drive them so far from home, just me. And now, all these years later, we are camping there again, but this time with three kids: Stuart, now 17; Audrey, now 12; and my niece, Lilyana who is 9.
While Stuart cut potatoes and onions, I took the girls down to the river to splash ankle-deep in the frigid water. After a half-hour they were still going strong, so Stuart and I swapped places and he joined them down at the river while I finished cooking the potatoes over the open fire. By the time they’d finished, the soyrizo I’d added had turned into little black pebbles and it was deeply infused with the flavor of smoke, but everyone ate. Now, when I cooked the hot cocoa over the open flame and it came out smoke-flavored, that wasn’t such a hit. Audrey and I drank it anyway, but Lilyana just couldn’t get past the pieces of ash floating on the top of her cocoa. We used it instead to put out the fire and went to bed.