Thursday, July 14, 2016

Whilst I was trekking for gorillas in Africa...

...Darren and Hen were down at Rockaway Beach with Grandpa Gilroy, Robert, and Lynn. Darren took this shot of Hen playing at the beach despite the less than ideal weather. Written with charcoal onto the log is Hen's advice, 
"Enjoy your life!!!!!" 
I love this kid.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book forty-eight: The Unlikely Adventures of Mabel Jones by Will Mabbitt

Mabel Jones is home innocently picking her nose when she makes a decision that will impact her life tremendously. She decides to eat. her. boogers. GROSS! When this deed is witnessed by pirates in another time, it is decided she must be taken aboard the ship. In time, given her craftiness as a hooman, she is selected to retrieve the five pieces of the X so they can open the porthole and she can return home. Only there is more to the story than she is told and not everyone is forthright with their intentions. Mabel is clever, courageous, and resilient. She is an underdog everyone can get behind, including the loris.

Hen and I blew through this book in two days. He loved it and it was a joy to read aloud to him. Definitely one I recommend highly.

48 down plus 4 to go!

Friday, July 08, 2016

Spring break 2016, the Late Review post

Before Spring break 2016 completely fades into memory not easily accessible I should probably get to writing up a post about it because - boy howdy! - did we drive.

Armed with our new friend and fellow traveler, Congresswomen Chloe Lobster Treehorn, a map, and an iTunes playlist, Hen and I hit the road Monday morning. I had a vague understanding about where I wanted to go but not a real good grasp on what it would actually take to get there. Turns out, it required a lot of driving. Tons. Many hours and miles.

Our first stop was Richardson's Rock Ranch not too far outside of Madras. Hen ran alongside the car to burn through some of his never-ending supply of energy for part of the trip to the actual dig site. It was quite fun and surprisingly easy to find the thunder eggs. We still have a bag of them in the house somewhere that I need to take somewhere local to have cut in half and polished.

With a recommendation from the owner of the rock ranch in hand we found a camping spot at Lake Simtustus, a PGE park just north of Madras. It is a great location and might serve well as a replacement camping spot for our group now that Lakeside has been sold and is no longer an option. On a side note, I'd do well to remember there are lawn sprinklers scattered about and those should be considered when it comes time to set up the tent. They came on late at night and through luck alone a few sprinkles hit our tent on one side. It could have been much worse. The lake has a perfect swimming area with dock and sparse seating, there is an outdoor community kitchen area, there is a dog area for swimming, and a place to launch boats, and you can rent cabins and yurts. The bathrooms were the cleanest I've ever seen. This could have been because we went off-season but I hold out hope that it is because the folks running the place just enjoy a really clean facility.

Next, we were off to the Painted Hills. And, yes, some idiot just had to walk on the hills directly behind the sign imploring people not to walk on them. The hills themselves are beautiful and ethereal and otherworldly. My favorite stretch of the entire drive came shortly after we left the hills but while we were still in the John Day Fossil Beds area. Best (approximately) four minutes of road I have traversed in my lifetime. It was stunning.

We had our first hot springs experience late at night at the Crystal Crane Hot Springs. It was glorious. And it was going to be alarmingly cold that night so Hen and I decided to give literal car camping a try. We put the seats down, inflated our mats, rolled out the sleeping bag and stayed nice and toasty warm in the back of the car that night. It was awesome. A little cramped and not something we would likely ever do with papa in tow as his 6'2" build would be most uncomfortable given the size of the space, but it worked well enough for Hen and myself.

The drive continued the next morning after one last soak in the hot springs pool. Ahhhhh... Hen built a Game of Thrones inspired monument on the banks of the pool using the awesome but sharp little rocks that lined the interior of the pool. We drove a good long while until we reached Fields Station, where one can stop and get not only gas but the world's best milkshakes. For reals. (They were pretty good, I'm not going to lie.) And then we drove a little more and - finally! - reached the Alvord Desert, not that far from the southeastern corner of Oregon next to both the borders of both Idaho and Nevada.

In a word the Alvord Desert is magnificent. It opens up before you as you drive over the small hill and just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We eventually made our way down to it and set up camp. And then we drove over to the Alvord Hot Springs and relaxed in the lovely warm waters. Hen and I are definitely hot springs fans as a result of this trip. Things went fairly well until the sun set and we noticed really dark gray clouds sweeping over the mountains from the northwest. Oy. They were some ominous looking clouds. When the storm hit it was pretty fierce. I even moved the car to help block the tent from the major winds but it still hit us with enough force to bend the poles in. Yes, I may have, probably, did actually panic and drove over to the nearest, and only other, campers we saw to check if they planned on moving to higher ground, but they aren't and so we didn't either and somehow we came out alive. Phew.

Then we began our long trek home, driving and driving and driving until we reached Kah-Nee-Ta. The place was virtually empty. Hen swam in the pool, we read books, and ate a tasty meal at the hotel restaurant. And in the morning we drove the rest of the way home. All in all, it was a pretty successful journey. I can't wait until our next one.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Book forty-seven: Booked by Kwame Alexander

Similar to Brown Girl Dreaming, this book is poetry that tells a story about a boy who loves soccer, is trying to understand and survive his parents' divorce, and is in love with a girl in his class he can hardly get the courage to talk to. I guess I'm less impressed with these books because I don't think the poetry is all that amazing. Don't get me wrong, as an English Lit. major, I appreciate poetry. But the word play is less intense than one finds in the classics. The beautiful combinations of the mundane and the inspired aren't there. But then I'm not the target audience.

47 down plus 5 to go.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book forty-six: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Truth be told, Darren finished the last couple of chapters with Hen whilst I was trekking with gorillas* in Africa but since I did the majority of the reading, I'm including this in my count.

Henry is an attentive listener. Darren said he was "legit scared" when they read the chapter where they [Dumbledore and Harry] cross the underground lake to get the horcrux. But he is enjoying the stories and is invested in the people. We're taking a small break and working our way a couple of books before we start the seventh and final book of the series. 

46 down plus 6 to go.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

African safari begins now

By the end of this journey these shoes will have multiple types of poo on the soles. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Henryism #2, brought to you by papa

Presenting Dad and I a rock and acorn on a piece of wood:
Grandpa: is that food?
Henry: yep
Me: what eats rocks?
H: the ocean.

Henryism, as recorded by papa

Talking about dory
Grandpa: do you like fish
Henry: yep
G: do you like fish that can talk?
H: nope. Unless they can do math.