Sunday, July 31, 2016

Twists & Turns & Loops

Today was day four of waking up on the floor.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is much better than waking up to intense heat radiating onto my skin. At least, now I know how Katniss felt that same morning her hair got singed with fire. Or, I’d like to think so.

As previously mentioned, nothing was specifically set for today. But there was one thing I needed to check off of my list of things to do: the dreaded financial aid scramble.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to attend a private, costly university. In that case, financial aid is necessary. However, there have been a few challenges - I have lacked to find some clarity with the office until the final week everything is due.

Since our campsite does not house internet connection, my mother and I went exploring for such a thing in order to complete this task. Soon, we found ourselves in the little town of Odell. While I was able to connect and offer up yesterday’s blog, I was unable to do anything about financial aid. Stuff still needed to be done on the other side before I could touch those payments.

Despite our failure, we made good use out of this trip.

We stopped by a grocery store in town that lacked many materials; however, we did acquire the jugs of water my mother was looking for. While checking out, we had a short conversation with our cashier about water. Apparently, she thought that Californian tap water is dirty. This made me question if that’s what people think in general about our state – dirty tap water? I hope not.

From what I know, our tap water isn’t dirty. Maybe she was just insane.

After our purchase, we took a trip to two locations on the ‘fruit loop’ that we had missed.

The first was Cody Orchard’s Farm Stand, which had to be the best stop yet. They housed some beautiful looking fruits. My mom picked out some peaches and nectarines while there, and the owner let us sample their ‘donut peach’. Its sweet taste surely lives up to its name! While we didn’t get any of those kind, I’m highly considering returning at some point to get a batch of those.
During part of that stop, we marveled at a highly accurate sign (pictured below).

Cody Orchard's Farm Stand had a perfectly accurate sign on boys.
Since we didn’t have time to stop by a cider shop the other day, my mother and I walked into Draper Girls Cider Company. I’m looking forward to trying that apple pear cider!

A small lunch of crackers and hummus filled my stomach when we got back to the trailer. I played more of that game that I keep talking about. I won’t get into that again.

Eventually, I grew tired and my eyes shut for about an hour. I made my way to my parents’ bed to snooze for a bit until the scent of steak wafted into my nose.

Dinner was delicious, as expected. My dad fired up the new grill for the first time and was successful at produce a juicy, delicious steak. Along with white rice and salad, I filled my stomach up – but not before I could munch on more peanut m&m’s!

It was soon discovered that we would have to get up at six in the morning to head to Portland in time. Apparently, my brother and his girlfriend arrive at nine.

Wanting to play a game, my mother and I broke out Mancala as we enjoyed some ice cream. (Did I mention earlier that the pint I got was called ‘empower mint’?) We played two quick rounds of the game, resulting in a tie. I have a funny feeling we’ll want to break that tie eventually. Or, at least, I will.

My mother and I played two late night games on Mancala.

Soon after, I brought out the memory foam and prepared myself for the next night of sleeping on the floor. As it turns out, it requires a lot less work and offers less chaos in the morning. The best part is that I don’t have to get out of my bed so people can eat.

I guess this is my permanent position now. But, like I said earlier, it’s better than burning.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Taking on the Loop

There’s something about waking up to the excitement of a young pup.

Even though I’m not a morning person and don’t feel like ‘me’ until I’ve taken a shower and eaten something, Lacey’s tiny little body in front of my face, tail-wagging and licking my cheek, gave me a reason to smile.

Although our day began around seven in the morning, we had a slow start to the day. No plans had been made yet so it gave us a good excuse to relax.

In that time, I was inspired to carve out a plan of action for the next few days. It’s good to know we have something to do in the time we’re here – expect for tomorrow.

My mother pulled out some brochures she gathered from the entrance of the campsite. The two of us began to scan through the options until she settled on what was called the ‘fruit loop’. And, no, we’re not talking cereal.

Around the Columbia River, thirty-one designated stops made a ‘loop’ in which we could drive around. Fruit stands, shops, a bakery, and even a place for cider were on that list. Thus, a plan for today was born.

By the time noon came, we headed out for our adventure.

We only explored three of the different stops: Lavender Valley, The Old Trunk, and Apple Valley Country Store & Bakery.

Lavender Valley (top left), The Old Trunk (top right), and Apple Valley
Country Store & Bakery (bottom left) are all part of the 'Fruit Loop'
located near Mount Hood, Oregon (bottom right).
The smell of lavender wafted through the air as we entered Lavender Valley. It’s not a scent I’m particularly fond of, but the plants were pretty. The lady at the store would’ve given us a machete for four dollars to cut some lavender plants that had already blossomed (pictured above), but we had to pass up on that offer. It might’ve been worth it just to hold that machete, although I got to do that without paying anyway.

We traveled a bit further down the look and came upon The Old Trunk. This antique store housed a variety of interesting items. I perused through the vinyl records when my dad pointed out a record player, asking me if I knew what it was. Clearly, I did.

While there was an arrangement of both strange and intriguing items, the most interesting thing I noticed in the store were figurines – paper mache, I believe – of John F. Kennedy. I wish I would’ve taken a picture of that; it was the most bizarre thing. I wonder whether they were made for his campaign or funeral.

Lastly, we took a peek inside the Apple Valley Country Store & Bakery. I didn’t get to see much of it, however, because I stayed outside with Lacey. And, when I got the chance to look inside, I had just enough time to notice the wall of jam in the back of the store. It was intriguing yet enticing at the same time.

Once again, lunch became a challenge for us. This time, though, it wasn’t much because of our stomachs. It was due to the lack of dog-friendly restaurants in Hood River.

The Big Horse Brewing Company solved our case, allowing us to bring Lacey out on the deck. Immediately, as we approached our table outside, another dog on the deck came running toward me and Lacey. It was about the same size as Lacey, but, because Lacey isn’t too keen on others of her kind, she automatically started barking. We pulled her way and the owners did as well, grabbing the leash they clearly had forgotten about.

Despite the shade under the trees, the heat still greeted us. Thankfully, the breeze made it feel a little better than it actually was.

Since it was a pub, I had to order a hamburger. There’s no better way to go about it! However, it did take half an hour for our orders to come in – I’d say it was almost worth it, but, at that point, I was starving.

Shortly after, we arrived back to the trailer. Gradually, as I played through more of my game, my eyes got increasingly heavier. Eventually, I passed out on the couch.

An hour later, some more gaming began. But, this time, it was with the family. My mother and I tried out her recent purchase, Rummikub. It’s kind of like jinn and Phase 10 combined, so I thought I’d nail it! However, I lost to my mother in the first round and my father in the second.

Next, I tried out Parcheesi. My parents had played this one before, so it was only new for me. I picked up on it fairly well, but, in the end, came out in second place. This one was more like Sorry, as we got to knock each other’s pawns out and back to the start. Needless to say, my competitive side kicked right in and way too easily!

Too quickly had it become almost eleven at night. That’s when the three of us decided that we should rest for the next day, no matter what may come.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Road Trip Recap, Part 2

Thursday was introduced to me in strange fashion. Half past midnight, I woke up to skin irritation that ran across my sides, back, and stomach.

“What is this?” I murmured to myself as I attempted to gain some semblance of reality.
Every time I turned, I felt an uncomfortable heat come from below. It was like my insides were slowly burning whenever I touched this particular spot.

Eventually, I grew tired of this irritation and relocated myself to the floor. I dragged the memory foam, my blankets, and my pillow to the floor beside my former resting spot. Still, I felt as if I was burning, so I felt the need to calm myself down with music. Soon enough, I fell back asleep.

When I awoke in the morning, my parents asked me why I was lying there, so I explained the story to them. Apparently, that’s where a flat tire and some wiring problems were. Needless to say, I’m skeptical of resting my head at the same location until the issue (at least, in my mind) gets resolved.

The day then resumed. Shockingly, we were up and ready by eight in the morning. Usually, my body refuses to wake up until then.

Our road trip continued, bidding an ‘adieu’ to Mountain Range and looking forward to our next home in Mount Hood, Oregon.

There was beauty to behold at Blue Shasta Lake, so much so that it had to be captured. I got a picture of the sun overlooking the water as we drove right past it; those are always my favorites. Through the sun’s reflection, the waters’ deep ripples and shades are shown. This is just one of the many ways God reflects His beauty.

The sun overlooks the waters of Blue Shasta Lake in the early morning,
casting a reflection that shows every layer of the lakes' beauty.

Only a few moments later, breakfast was found in Weed, California. The local motel housed the Hi-Lo café, which served us delicious plates of ham and pancakes. We were filled to the max with their large proportions.

After a quick hunt for a few extra supplies, our journey down the road (or, freeway) continued. Our next stop was at Khlamoth Falls to fill the tank back up. Then we continued on.

In the meantime, I was glued to the screen of my DS. In the back of my mind, I equated myself with the stigma of today’s generation – we just can’t avoid our screens. At the same time, I excused myself because of my obsessive tendencies as I remained focused on completing the main story of the game.

As lunch rolled around, our stomachs struggled to focus. We passed by a few options that were unnerving or unsettling.

To be honest, I wasn’t a part of this conversation very much. Instead, I focused my attention on one of my best friends, who made a phone call to me earlier. I returned the call and we talked through my parents’ decision making process.

Richmond, Oregon, served us Subway sandwiches that we swallowed down in the car. For dessert, I rewarded myself with peanut m&m’s – too much goodness!

After lunch, I enjoyed the view. We saw many fascinating cities full of lights and colors. The glowing sands of the dessert shone right in my eyes. At one point, we drove underwater and –

Yes, I’m kidding. Because, instead of living in the moment and enjoying the view outside, I was attached to the screen yet again.

In Madras, we found a Safeway that would keep our stomachs full. We stocked up on all the necessary items for our next three days in Mount Hood. The whole pack of us – my mother, my father, and me – scanned through the aisles together. It was there that I learned why my father doesn’t normally go to the grocery store with us.

A hundred or so miles later, we landed in Mount Hood, pulling our trailer into a beautiful spot located at one of the county trailer parks.

The trailer was pulled into a shady spot in a county
 campground located near Mount Hood, Oregon.

After we had fried chicken for dinner, we took Lacey for a walk and explored the camp. A very peaceful river sat comfortably behind the camp. I envisioned myself traveling to this location on my own to clear my mind. We also walked the aisles of campsites, where very few trailers found their spots.

Thankfully, the many trees that surround us offer a shade from the heat. It feels thirty degrees cooler than last night’s location.

Under the shade, we were able to dream of the next five days to come.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Road Trip Recap, Part 1

I remember what it felt like to wake up early when I was a child: exciting.

Those were always the nights where I couldn't sleep in anticipation for what was to come. The following day would either be a holiday or the first day of vacation. Usually, I had motivation due to my sense of adventure.

So when the clock struck three in the morning, I would hop out of bed and finish packing my suitcase with the remainder of items. Braid swung to the side, hat on backwards, I jumped into the car once everything was loaded. And I would look behind my shoulder to say 'goodbye' to the home we left behind.

Now that I'm twenty-two and live life as an adult with two jobs and my final year of college to look forward to, my view is a little different.

I look forward to the travel. But I value sleep so much more.

When the clock struck three in the morning, I hit snooze. I didn't want to get up right away.

Before I knew it, though, I was ready. I guess things haven't changed too much. I tucked my hair into the same braid I have since I was thirteen. As usual, it only took me about twenty minutes to pack the rest of my things because I had it all laid out and ready. And, as expected, my passion for travel overcame any desire to go straight back to bed.

Lacey - the lovable yet stubborn two-year-old pup - and I shared the back seat of my father's black Toyota Tundra, the same one we've used to tow our twenty nine foot trailer behind us since its purchase in 2010. My father was at the wheel, and my mother sat beside him in the passenger's seat.

Back at home, Lacey and I get ready for our upcoming adventures around four in the morning.

Immediately, I returned to rest, cuddling with my Anaheim Ducks blanket and lying my head on my pillow. Lacey sat on my side half of the time as we made it to our first stop: Wheeler Ridge.

In true road trip fashion, we stopped for McDonald's around seven in the morning. The usual "Sausage Egg McMuffin" was purchased for me and my mother, while my father had the "Big Breakfast". It tasted like the regular McDonald's meal we normally get.

Already, it was getting warm in the midst of this nasty heat wave, but we traveled on.

On the way to our next location, I brought back another childhood love of mine. Anyone remember the Nintendo DS? Anyone remember Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Blue Rescue Team? Just me? If so, that's okay.

 I was thoroughly entertained with how I swept through three dungeons in a row, since, when I was twelve, that was an impossible task for me. Flashbacks of constantly getting kicked back to the beginnings of the dungeon because I couldn't defeat the boss ran through my mind. Due to my extra ten years of knowledge, though, this task was a piece of cake.

Between the previous location and the one to come, gas and a delicious ice cream cookie sandwich were found at Chevron.

The next place we found ourselves was at Williams,  about 150 miles further north. For about twenty miles, the pack tried to settle on a place to eat lunch. We passed a few fast food restaurants that our stomachs were not fond of, such as Wendy's and Jack in the Box. But Williams had what we all craved: Taco Bell.

The heat... The further we went up the 5, the warmer it got. It probably was around 90 degrees at that stop. Our Southern California bones couldn't take it.

After Williams, I slept most of the heat off in the air-conditioned car. Another chance at reliving my childhood occurred when I pulled out a portable CD player. It was my brother's, but I remember the memories well. My own CD player, which is either lost or broken, used to play the Jonas Brothers or High School Musical.

With a more refined musical palette, however, still obsessive, I instead played the Twenty One Pilots' album, Vessels. I murmured the lyrics until I couldn't, eventually falling asleep to the soothing sounds that come after Migraine.

I was out. At one moment, I heard some car doors open and felt Lacey jump on top of me. My parents were getting gas. But I didn't move a muscle. I continued sleeping until we approached Redding.

My mother and I found an escape from the heat in the local Safeway - or, for Southern Californians, Vons. We were relieved to discover a Starbucks could quench our thirst and cool our bodies. As mom proceeded to shop for tonight's meal, I entertained myself with Snapchat. I discovered that Redding has some cool looking Geotags.

The Starbucks in Safeway is where I discovered that this
town, Redding, CA, has amazing Geotags on Snapchat.

Once we finished, we walked back into the 110-degree heat. Unfortunately, for us, this Safeway had those carts that can't go past a certain point. There was a little bit of a struggle to carry all we had, but we successfully lugged our items to the trailer.

Eventually, we found solace in the car yet again, blasting the air. A few more miles down, and we found our nest for the night: Mountain Gate.

With five hundred and eighty-one miles down, we have 350 to go until we reach our first official destination of the trip: Mount Hood, Oregon. (I have to admit, the emo part of me loves that name.) The rest of our night is spent in an attempt to rest and refuel for that last stretch.

Each of us created our own dinner of a simple sandwich, or, attempted to. After I made mine, I took a few bites until I realized the mustard that I put on was spicy. My mouth couldn't handle that, so, instead of finishing my sandwich, I made do with crackers and cheese.

By nine at night, beds were made. There's something rewarding about putting all that effort into making my bed, because, in the end, I'm exhausted enough to sleep right away.

In an attempt to cool off before I made my final adieu to the night, the television remained on HGTV and my tongue was soothed with half-melted mint ice cream. That was the most important purchase of the night.

Finally, my head fell onto the pillow once more, in hopes of eight hours of sleep. Vessels playing in my ears, my mind finally drifted off, looking forward to the adventures ahead.