Spring in Oregon — Part 4

“Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea — the LORD on high is mighty.”  -Psalm 93:4

Site Four: Ecola State Park

As the biggest and deepest part of the world’s ocean — 60 million square miles big — the Pacific Ocean is mighty great indeed. And Ecola State Park is a mighty great place to view and photograph these vast waters, as well as the breakers that crash into the huge rocks along the Oregon coast.

Did I mention this state park is mighty windy, too? The tree in the picture below wasn’t just bending in that day’s wind; it grew that way! As we hiked along high above the water, we felt quite windblown as well.

Perched on one giant rock in the distance is Tillamook Lighthouse.

Since the tide was out and the wind was less fierce closer to the water, we did some exploring.

Ever confident and determined, my youngest built a dam and made a lake where the water was flowing into the ocean.

She’s just the kind of person who digs in deep and likes testing the natural cycle of things.

The fact that the water kept overflowing and destroying her dam really irritated her. Why oh why must all the water flow into the ocean? Perhaps it is more determined than she.

Meanwhile, my oldest daughter searched high and low for seashells.

Finding three whole sand dollars and several sand dollar pieces overjoyed her. This big discovery was more than two years in the making. She’d searched and searched with great determination but never found sand dollars while we were in the Florida Keys.

Our delightful and memorable visit to the Pacific continued in Cannon Beach with lunch — featuring sandwiches with Tillamook cheese and a quick trip to the candy store.

Stay tuned for my next post; the treat I bought myself at the candy store has the same name as the next picturesque site!

Spring in Oregon — Part 3

Site Three: Columbia River Gorge

Another highlight of our Oregon visit was seeing the Columbia River Gorge while en route to all those waterfalls I mentioned earlier. Being wild about waterfalls, I overlooked the gorge for a bit. Sorry about the pun.

I would say I skipped it for a while, but who can skip over a gorge like this?

Well, maybe some skipping was involved…

The Columbia River is the border between Oregon and Washington State. These beautiful snow-covered mountains are officially in southern Washington.

See the tiny dome-like building perched way over there on that cliff? It’s a scenic overlook.

We got closer. This is the view from the parking lot.

If you learn nothing else about the Columbia River Gorge, learn this: It’s wildly windy. The wind comes roaring across the Pacific Ocean and whips relentlessly through the gorge.

That wind put one daughter’s Columbia jacket and the other’s North Face fleece to the test just long enough for me to snap a few pictures. Then hatless and frazzled, we took cover in the dome-like building. Here’s what it looks like inside.

Pretty, huh?

Spring in Oregon – Part 2

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls…” Psalm 42:7

Waterfalls mesmerize me. For a shutterbug, almost nothing else captivates like the roaring rush of water cascading over rocks in the lush and verdant Pacific Northwest.

As a small child, I spent many family vacations chasing waterfalls on the Olympic Peninsula and near Mt. Rainier in Washington State. My mom was a shutterbug, too.

Later, as a young adult, my husband proposed to me at my favorite waterfall — Sol Duc Falls in Washington — making waterfalls even more memorable for both of us.

As a parent now, I think passing along this multi-generational obsession with waterfalls to my children is imperative because waterfalls display God’s glorious creativity. Thankfully, waterfalls are more than plentiful in the great state of Oregon. And my dear aunt knows the perfect route to enjoy several breathtaking waterfalls in an easy half-day trip.

Site Two: Waterfalls along the Historic Columbia River Highway.  First up is Latourell Falls. This stunning waterfall is visible from the road, but a short downhill hike takes visitors close enough to feel a little spray.

As we continued eastward along the scenic route in a van named Big Red, we caught glimpses of several smaller waterfalls. At our next stop, we thoroughly enjoyed a quarter-mile hike starting at this waterfall at Benson State Park. Isn’t it heavenly?

Thanks, Aunt Sheila, for capturing this shot of us girls in front of the falls.

My dear Aunt Sheila is married to my Uncle Gary, who is by far the most experienced hiker I know. He led us on a little quarter-mile adventure up a path that rose high above the highway and railroad tracks. See the train hiding in the trees below?

We had to carefully cross over a few slippery rocks under this trickling little waterfall.

But don’t worry, the little sister kept her shoes dry this time.

In just a few minutes, we arrived at Multnomah Falls Lodge. Seated near the cozy fireplace, we delighted in a delicious and memorable lunch with aunts, uncle and Gramma. Tunes from Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring set the uplifting mood as we overlooked the Columbia Gorge and watched a few more Union Pacific trains race by. The big sister was certain we were seeing just one train go around and around in circles because the engines all looked just alike — yellow with an American flag.

After lunch, we went up with Aunt Lilac to see Multnomah Falls.

Then Uncle Gary joined me and the girls for a quick hike up to the bridge.

And so our waterfall tour ended on high at the gorgeous Multnomah Falls.

One spot we saved for next time is the falls at Bridal Veil, an adventure that requires more of a hike than our crew could handle that morning. We must go back!

NOTE: Read about our other recent adventures in Oregon here: Spring in Oregon — Part 1.

Spring in Oregon — Part 1

The girls and I just rolled in from a lovely trip to Oregon, spending time with my aunt, who answers to the nickname “Aunt Lilac” when her great nieces are around.

Aunt Lilac and Uncle Bishop hosted us for a whole week, not only feeding us well, but also feeding my camera well! Shutterbugs cannot go hungry in Oregon; we feasted on many breathtaking sites.

Site One: The Bishop’s Close Elk Rock Garden in Portland. If you’ve been reading my blog a while, yes, this is the same magical garden I listed two years ago as #2 on my 8 Things We Love about Oregon post. We still love it!

Won’t you stroll along with us?

Fallen petals from the blooming magnolias blanket the path like over-grown snowflakes.

All the trees — not just the magnolias — seem magically magnificent in this garden.

From a distance, the buds on the camellias look like peonies. But up close, the delicate petals reveal their own enchanting beauty, reminding us of pink tissue paper.

The little sister delights in gathering fistfuls of petals and dropping them into the water near this little corner bench. I try to take a picture of her in action. She’s a water-lover, as I’ve mentioned before, and is quite enthralled with everything watery. Well, that is until she accidentally puts her foot — brand new shoe, sock and all — right into the water.

Sometimes shutterbugs must surrender the camera, console the soggy, and inspect shoes for stray salamanders.

Thankfully, Uncle Bishop knows just how to lift a little girl’s spirits, and he warms her bare toes in the pocket of his fleece jacket.

So the stroll through the Bishop’s Close ends happily after all.

We Can Fly!

It was almost like Peter Pan himself invited us to go.

So of course we had to go flying– even if I was a bit unsure at first. Wasn’t Wendy a little nervous, too?

The little ones, they weren’t nervous at all. They’d gone before and were sure it would be fun to fly again. All full of faith and trust and pixie dust, they were. So we left our cares behind and soared right up into the blue sky — in a red and white Piper Cherokee.

We can fly! We can fly! We can fly!

But if I focused on what I didn’t understand, what I couldn’t control, I’d get too nervous.

So I focused on trusting the pilot and studying the big picture spread out below us.

Our kind pilot flew us a little more than 1,200 feet above the town we live in. How fascinating home looks from above!

The littlest one thought the March landscape looked like a brown and grey patchwork quilt, all those fields and lakes and clumps of trees pieced together with dirt roads and paved highways.

How exhilarating to see what the birds can see — and to see the birds themselves flying so far below us!

All too soon the sun started slipping farther west.

So our kind pilot brought us gently back down to earth — smiling and full of wonder. We flew!

Where are we, Toto?

If you read my last post about our backyard snowfort, this picture might confuse you. 

Here are my coat-less, mitten-less, hat-less little pioneer women, in a snow-less prairie landscape. Their Pa put ’em up in that wagon.


Don’t they look refreshed and happy to be up there?

“Hey, Toto. We aren’t in Minnesota anymore.”

Nope. We’re in Kansas. Swept all the way down I-35 and beyond to this prairie home of a very famous pioneer woman.

(Although, I’d sure like to visit with a certain other famous Pioneer Woman, that’s another story… Did you hear there’s a movie of her life in the works?)

Well anyway, this is the Ingalls’ home — the Little House on the Prairie in Wayside, KS, — near Independence. We got to go inside, too. It’s cozy.

My very own Pa lives across the border and down the road just a piece. I don’t usually call him Pa and no, he doesn’t play the fiddle, but we love him a lot.

For the record, fellow Pioneer Woman readers, I’d like to apply as a substitute writer for that other Pioneer Woman. You know she’ll be waaaay too busy to write home once that movie thing takes off. So as a native Oklahoman, blogger, baker, and homeschool mom, don’t I qualify? Oh yes, I happen to have a few ties to the beef industry, too.

So, what do you say, Ree?

Also, just so you know, I can’t watch the Wizard of Oz. Flying monkeys freak me out.

Collecting the Scattered

It had been four years. Four busy, long years since I had sat in the same room with my daddy and my big brother. We had all seen each other separately now and then, but not once had the three of us gathered together.

Four years is much too long to stay scattered in three states, especially when there are little people with whom you want to share your family ties.

So last month, our families reunited. We drove south all day, and they flew southeast all day, and then we all drove east four more hours to the Ozarks. There ten of us gathered to enjoy the fall. One sweet and handsome nephew, who now towers over me at 6 foot-something, was unable to join us. We missed you, Devin!


My parents used to take my brother and me to the Ozarks to enjoy Silver Dollar City when we were kids. We’d ride the bright red train — which always gets held up by redneck outlaws part-way through the trip. We’d drink ice-cold Sarsaparilla, bounce crazy on the swinging bridge, and stumble our way through Grandpa’s House — laughing out our disfigured reflections. Then we’d eat far too much salt water taffy and come home with extra special treasures like shiny cap guns and floppy hand-made rag dolls with yellow yarn braids. Silver Dollar City is a wonderful place for making memories together no matter your age.

It’s hard to recapture old childhood memories, of course, but we created new ones as we all twirled in the tea cups.

The cousins stumbled across the swinging bridge together and made it safely to this spot near the flour mill.

Daddy somehow convinced me to ride some rides I know better than to ride. He’s a completely different person when he has to wear his ball cap backwards. Who knew?

Daddy and I were hamming it up — it’s just a kiddy-sized rollercoaster.

My brother’s family looked calm as they waved to the camera.

Later I followed Daddy onto this giant froggy ride with the girls, thinking it’d be a yawner since little kids usually ride it without adults. But no. Linnea and I somehow got the freakishly high-bouncing frog. Whoah, Froggy! Even my engineer husband later confirmed that our particular frog was mechanically off kilter. Or something technical like that.

Part of what makes Silver Dollar City so unique is the opportunity to learn up close how things were made in the 1800s. With glass-blowing, candy-making, candle-dipping, pottery-throwing, wood-working and blacksmithing craftsmen all strutting their stuff — the whole family can learn a lot!

The girls dipped candles in the hot, colored wax — making something special to bring home and add to their collection of treasures.

Families are a collection of treasures, too. It’s stressful when loved ones are scattered across the country, but I think you treasure them that much more when you are finally all gathered up in one special place. I’m so thankful for my daddy and my big brother and the memorable time we shared in the Ozarks. I love you!