Thursday August 25, 2005
Sisters, Oregon... at Mitch and Michelle’s.
I’m sitting outside at sundown at Michelle’s “beach”. She had a gazillion yards of sand trucked in and set up a cool scene out here, with beach chairs and a fire pit. They have a rambling house and a rambling property out here in the high mountain plateau country. The house is especially organic--it grew as the family grew, with new bedrooms and stories added with each kid arriving. And Mitch’s potter's studio is here and his huge brick kiln. Eden is playing with a toy fire truck in the sand.
Our trip has been delightful. We dropped India off in Eugene on Monday afternoon. She was much more relaxed this year, though rather shy when some friendly girls greeted her. She looked good, with her cute new haircut and henna’d hair. I hope she’s having a lot of fun.
The next morning, after breakfast with Nancy, Eden and I headed up to Breitenbush Hot Springs to relax and soak in the pools. On the way we stopped in Corvallis, my hometown, to get biodiesel. I had the idea to check out my childhood home and Eden was into it, so we drove around till we found it. I think that address is the first thing I ever memorized.
The house looked great! The little old lady who answered the door gave us a great tour. They were doing a major remodeling downstairs, so I couldn’t see my old bedroom, but everywhere else was about the same. It was strange and fascinating for me.
She had a huge folder on the history of that house, and all the folks who had owned it. She asked me some interesting questions about my family, but overall she seemed to know more about what they’d done with the house than I did.
One of the strangest moments was coming into the big entrance hall. There are two swinging doors with glass panels. I have a scar on my right wrist from trying to slam one of those doors open (I was running away from my sister) and putting my hand right through the glass. I think I must have been 4 or 5.
The thing that really struck me was how nice the house was. Much nicer than any house I’ve lived in since. My mom always seemed sad that we’d moved and now I can really understand why. That and having to give up their friends and social circle.
Anyhow…. we got up to Breitenbush about four and checked into our dear little cabin. Breitenbush is a lovely place, set up around natural geothermal vents. The lodge seems like it’s about a hundred years old. The cabins are tiny and rustic and perfect--and heated with old fashioned radiators using the natural hot water. It gets cold that high up in the mountains, so we were glad for our heat, and slept with the windows open! The electricity is also geothermal, the whole place is off the grid.
There are four little concrete hot tubs down close to the river, but we never went in them. We love the more natural pools up along the edge of a forest along the top of a sloping meadow overlooking the river. These pools are made of river stone and concrete, with the water cascading into them over little waterfalls. The pools are big enough for maybe eight people comfortably though there rarely are more than four or five. In fact sometimes we had a pool all to ourselves.
Someone was quite creative making these pools, for the stones are set up to provide seats and benches at different depths. In one pool there’s a veritable stone lounge chair. One can also adjust the temperature by moving closer or further from the waterfalls. The furthest pool is always the hottest and is supposed to be a quiet space. It has a great view of the river.
Our first day there was a family with rowdy kids. They took over the middle pool and were splashing and making a lot of noise! It was rather shocking. But they left and the few kids left were like Eden--quiet and respectful.
We soaked many times each day and got to hang out with some really nice folks. I was a little hungry for adult conversation and really enjoyed myself.
Three times a day a gong would sound, summoning everybody to the next meal. It’s awfully nice having someone else do the cooking and the dishes! And it was often nice to dine with folks we’d met in the pools. But our first meal, dinner, was just bloody awful. There was white rice at least, and some tasteless miso soup with noodles, but then we were confronted with heaping platters of horribly over spiced or weirdly spiced glop. I was expecting some of the meals to be challenging for Eden, but this was challenging for me! Yuk. I noticed there was very little conversation happening. People seemed grimly concentrating on their plates of glop, striving to extract enough nutrients to make it through till breakfast without totally wreaking havoc on their innards. I myself lived through the night, but my poor guts! Ack.
The rest of the meals were just fine. In fact many were excellent. And there were always good salads at lunch and dinner. All the meals were vegetarian and pretty much everything was organic. Nevertheless, Eden would hardly eat a bite and I was so glad we’d stopped at the co-op on the way up to get a few snacks.
Last night as we were headed back from our last soak of the night, we heard music coming from the lodge and ducked in to check it out. A man was playing the old upright piano and a woman some sort of Chinese recorder like instrument, while another woman made a steady base note with a didgeridoo. It was wonderful and we stayed on for about an hour enjoying the beautiful scene.
Well, there’s more I could tell you, about the huge river rock labyrinth, the gorgeous alternative structures they’ve built for yoga and such, my encounter with a bat while doing late night yoga and meditation with a crystal singing bowl. But enough! It was a good trip.
Friday, August 26, 2005
Back at Nancy's after a nice visit with Mitch, Michelle and Jann. They are blessed with many kids in their lives, and are wonderful to talk with. They suggested the McKenzie scenic bypass on the way home and it was worth the extra time. We stopped to check out a lava field. Up on the pass an observatory had been built out of the lava rock. On the top a bronze disk pointed to the various mountains, giving their names and distances.