Yesterday was the first day of Fall. It certainly showed here in the PNW, too, all cool, gray and drizzly.
Another reminder of how pecadelicious – Chrisism- my body is. With my AC set at 70 in the Summer, I’m comfortable. With my heat set at 70 in the winter, I’m freezing.
However, I was reminded as I noted the change of seasons that I never shared my vacation story, and it’s been a month.
It’s funny, I’m about to step into my sixth decade – ok, stumble or possibly stagger – but I can still be the bratty kid that complains to my parents that we haven’t had a family vacation forever.
I really rather rely on my elder and only sister for this type of stuff. Her three younger brothers are borderline loners – at best. Once Mom-Donna officially retires from her holding-the-family-together duties, the mantle will be hers to wear. Mom has tried a few slow steps back from her matriarchal role, but still steps back in with statements of the, “I’d like to host one more holiday while I still can” type.
She’s such a Prince Philip sometimes.
The result of my mild tantrum, nevertheless, was the parental gift of a summertime family vacation this past Christmas.
Finally, after a long break we were getting the Galby clan back together again in Central Oregon’s high desert retreat, Sunriver.
It’s always fun.
We’re together under one roof again, yet still free to pursue whatever we want throughout the day, coming together each night for dinner as a group. Everyone takes a night of cooking duties, which is enjoyable for everyone. Dad’s night – being the patriarch – is hosting dinner out at a restaurant. The ‘Phew, as the youngest on the other hand, dips into his hard earned Birthday and possibly allowance fundage to treat us all to pizza delivery on the night of our arrival.
It’s a good ritual. Plus, it provides me a chance to cook for people, which seldom happens outside of MNSC.
It just occurred to me that the last couple of family get togethers in the desert have proved near – or actually – fatal.
The last trip out for a Christmas getaway a couple years back was interrupted by a Christmas phone call from my ex, Sacha to tell me he had colon cancer…a story for another time. Maybe.
That Christmas holiday was – more importantly to me – also marred with our family’s collective concern for dad, who had recently had a coronary procedure after which he wasn’t feeling well.
The trip before that was Rib’s first family vacation. This was maybe five years ago? Before the pizza even arrived, we were booking a flight for him to ABQ to attend his grandmother’ funeral. Enviably, as I tap this out in a coffee house, he is with his new beau and family at Munich’s Oktoberfest.
I love that this video he sent me of his family vacation was so timely as I reminisced about mine.
Beyond those recent vacation danger moments, I’d say our other vacations were reasonably trauma free.
There was the Bike Ride Incident and The Nose Hair Situation, both of which I blame exclusively on my Black Sheep Brother. Only one of which is near funny. Black Sheep Bro and I went trail riding with the ‘Phew, I think he was still aged in single digits at the time. We were having a blast leading him through the trails with a vague goal of finding a path to the ever elusive Benham Falls when he just barely nicked a fallen log that had been cut through to preserve the bike trail’s passability.
Little fucker scared the hell out of me and BSB before walking it off.
Talk about a dodged bullet. I thought for sure my only nephew – at the time – was going to spend the rest of his Halloweens dressed as Stephen Hawking.
Things have changed since then.
I’d sent my bike home with mom and dad the week before after they came to town for a lunch date. Er, doctor’s appointment. When they picked me up, all I had to do was show up on the curb with my suitcase.
And a case of wine.
That’s a good change, in my opinion! My sister had put in a request for some of that good stuff I’m always going out to Hood River for, so I took two bottles each from two of my favorite wineries out there. I was reserving those for my night of cooking. But since it’s also Summer, I rounded out my case with eight bottles of Rose.
My parents clucked their tongues at my “extra” baggage. Not only because their car was also full of their bags, food for the week and doggie travel needs, but also because they had also brought a case of wine.
Great minds…meet the Galby clan!
We made it all fit.
Plus, a growler I’d gotten at 2.0 and Little Buddy’s wedding the day before.
And a huge watermelon The Silver Fox had gifted us.
As we made off on our way, I rationalized two cases of wine being barely enough if even four of the six legal drinkers partook with any regularity. Really, that’s an easy three bottles a night, closer to four.
Five. Five a night, tops.
As I mentioned, we all still take our bikes, but only my sister’s family unit rode together. I put in daily rides, except for arrival and departure days. It was good. I’d spent the prior couple of weeks in spin class to trim up a bit. But nothing prepared my ass for 15-20 mile rides in the saddle of a real bike. My butt was less bun, more hamburger by the time I left. But a nice 60+ mile four day stretch was good for me.
After a successful jump start in spin, with minimal discomfort to my never-healing knee, I had aspirations of riding to the top of the Cinder Dome of the mega-volcano Newberry Crater. Once the hills hit “straight up” status, my knee straight up refused.
Oh, well. I still got plenty of exercise and just enough sun, even without the view from the top of the dome.
For my brother’s part, he pedaled to the store one evening, only to return grumpy or confused. Hard to say. He was all disturbed at how everyone he passed greeted him.
I told you…loners.
Anyway, I’d noticed it on my rides. too. It hadn’t bothered me, though. I enjoy the social nicety of greeting passersby. I was more interested in the range of greeting; from the apex vocal salutation to this:which was kind of a very minimal entry. It was also an indictment for the homogenized environment we were spending the week in. The darkest skin in this high desert mecca was simply overexposed and under sun screened.
This was the first time we didn’t – not a single one of us, let alone the group – spend time laying about at the pool. There was a sister’s family rafting trip and a brother and nephew kayaking excursion, otherwise it was fairly pedestrian adventures. Shopping in Sunriver or heading into Bend for some…shopping.
My sister and brother-in-law took the ‘Phew to look at COCC – that’s for you, Diezel. He was considering Central Oregon Community Colkege for his first two years, but came back ambivalent.
I cannot believe I’m days away from having an 18 year old nephew!
While they were doing campus tours, the rest of us took off for the High Desert Museum. Quite a way to spend an afternoon, with some self-improvement undertones. It’s a nice mix of self-guided educational exhibits and nature path wanderings.
There were way more pics taken than I can comfortably squeeze into my humble blog post, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw something in just for Diezel’s enjoyment, so he knows he’s never too far from my thoughts.
Just to shake it up, no humans died or had close calls this time around. But Buddy, my parent’s dog decided to give us all a scare, with a late day trip to the vet. The local Sunriver vet wasn’t equipped to handle his situation and escalated him to Bend, 20 miles away. This resulted in a doped up doggie and my parents enjoying my carbonara reheated.
But, in spite of the changes, the important things remain…
Each of us, being there, for one. It was touch and go for me. Mom and dad had picked a seemingly random week in August, the month that usually works for all of us. Little did we know that we’d signed on for the biggest travel debacle in Oregon highway history: the 2017 eclipse.
With the increase in tourists traveling in and me working at the airport, I was fairly certain I’d be asked to cancel my vacation. The request was just to be back for the two days prior as people landed and one million tourists and 27,000 rental cars hit the road.
I was more than willing to fly back instead of risk the road trip…ODOT was tactfully suggesting that people take not only plenty of water for their travel, but also relief vessels, if you get my drift.
I don’t want to be that close to my family. Hello, Alaska Airlines!
In addition to being there, also the food!
I think cooking for people is the simplest way to show love. It’s demonstratively caring for them by providing sustenance. Sharing stories and time over the table. Figuratively or literally breaking bread together…there is – to me – no better way to illustrate family.
And every night, there we were…gathered at the table celebrating our bond.
Not a bad Christmas gift, parentals…thank you!