Having so little togetherness makes you plan time together and this year the family flew to Portland, Oregon to visit my eldest daughter and her husband. It took me weeks to find a time where we could all be together for a full week. I was wondering if it would be accomplished and there are only six of us. We did not even fly together. My middle child had to take care of last minute college things and took a later flight and because that was rescheduled, she was alone when she flew home too. How sad is that?
I was so set on being together as much as possible that I arranged for a van so all of us could be in one vehicle together during this great week filled with adventure. This must have been the time to visit Portland because look at the line outside of Budget. My husband is the one in the middle in shorts by the tall brown suitcase. My son found a shady spot to wait.
And, you can't visit Portland without going to VooDoo Doughnuts. If you have never been there, you must go whenever you are in area. They have the oddest and best doughnuts. I got the one shaped like a VooDoo doll, filled with red jelly and a pretzel that you can use to stick it. Not that I thought of anyone in particular when I stabbed my little pretzel into the doughnut doll. How could I feel animosity toward anyone? I was on vacation :).
This trip was filled with fun adventures and experiences and I had to take the tour of the Portland Underground (I previously wrote a post about shanghiing). This was not what I expected, at all. But, fascinating. Portland was not always an upstanding community and in 1851 men outnumbered women 14 - 1 and the main drag through town housed saloons and bordellos. One of the largest saloon was Erickson's who had an all female orchestra. We learned of the Madame who had her brothel on a boat and would go from one side of the river to the other. And a prostitute would be called a "seamstress". Sailors after long voyages would "need a button sewn on" and "go find a seamstress" to take care of it (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). I learned about the famous crimps and the ways they used to get sailors onto ships - "shanghiing", which usually involved lots and lots of alcoho). The stories I heard about Portland in the 1800s had my mind spinning with story ideas. I just hope I can read all the notes I took while walking and writing.
And speaking of alcohol, our visit to Portland also happened to fall during the Oregon Brewers Festival. I am not a beer drinker, but I sampled a few and have the souvenier mug to prove it. This was more of an outing for my husband and children (except the youngest of course). But, there was free root beer for the underage and designated drivers, plus all kinds of food, so he wasn't overly bored. See how thrilled he is (the one in the white shirt).
And, one cannot got to Portland without going to Powell's bookstore. I won't mention what I spent in the history section, but this is a very dangerous store for me to be in. Very, very dangerous. After making my purchases, they boxed the books up and they arrived home about 2 days after I did. They are still stacked by my desk ready to be read.
But, I would have to say there were three highlights of the trip, besides the togetherness with my family. The first was a trip to Cannon Beach. The day was overcast, but it was still beautiful. After walking the beach (free pedicure), we strolled along the main street and visited several shops. I loved this town. Yes, it is touristy, but I loved it anyway and had the best pizza. By the way, we ate a lot. I mean, a LOT. My daughter had a list of restaurants and we hit all but one of them. It is a wonder I still fit into my clothes.
My eldest had the camera and took this picture. Isn't it gorgeous?
But lastly, the most memorable was rafting down the Clackamas River. Even though the family on any normal day is going in all kinds of directions, it is nice to know that when necessary, we still work together, as a team. When our guide told us to row, we did, in sync with one another. And, I am so using this experience in a novel. In fact, a series came to me while I was out there, beginning that first day when we learned about crimps, saloons and bordellos, and I can't wait to begin writing it.
In the busy world we live in it is hard to have that family togetherness. And it just isn't when the kids get older, I think it begins when they are young and start doing sports, or taking dance lessons, or whatever your child develops a passion for. For our family it was double difficult since my husband and I worked different shifts for years.
How do you plan family togetherness? When my kids were younger, and not able to drive, we used to have family game nights. Those went away with driver's licenses and football, basketball, plays, concerts, art shows, etc. Do you make it a point to schedule family vacations that take you away from the house, television and all those distractions that are coming at us 24/7? Did you take a family vacation this year? Tell me about it.
Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency