Days 11-13: Wandering about the Bend-Sisters-Redmond area: what beautiful mountains. The Three Sisters they are called--North Sister, Middle Sister and South Sister. Though really they should be Olga, Masha, and Irina.
Day 14: A hike to the top of Multnomah Falls, a fishing lesson, and Oregon trivia: did you know that the Deschutes River is one of only three rivers in the world flowing from South to North? When in Bend, I decided to jump into the Deschutes; this is not necessarily unadvisible, but sludge and river-weed are a big part of the experience...which I was not expecting. I swam for quite a while, floating along with the gentle current; then I found myself in a mossy jungle of ambiguous river vegetation. I tumbled ungracefully to my feet for a small moment before sinking knee-deep into profoundly porous green river goo. This process continued for a very clumsy and splashy ten minutes or so, and as I approached shore I saw a tiny little girl watching me in awe.
"Did you have a tail?" she asked.
"I'm sorry?" I said, mud and sludge sliding down my legs.
"A tail. Did you have a tail? Did you grow those legs just now? "
"Are you a mermaid?"
The girl's mother looked at me pleadingly from the shore. I have a policy of not lying to children, but this wee girl was so eager, and seemed right on the edge of believing that magic might exist in her own River. I decided to evade the issue.
"It's a secret."
"I can keep a secret. I won't tell anyone."
"Are you sure?"
Now, I never did believe in Santa Claus or faeries, but I liked to pretend that I did. And I delighted in finding signs that such magical creatures MIGHT exist. It was fun. And the hope that mortals might have some way of touching realms beyond ours, realms with different rules, different possibilities...this both comforted and inspired me, gave me hope for the future of the 'real' world.
This little girl was so serious, desperate, even: grasping to know the boundaries of the possible. And perhaps some proof that other dimensions might lurk behind immediate sight. I wanted to keep her hoping, keep her reaching and dreaming.
"OK," I said, still covered in slime and probably goose poop, "Yes. But only in the Deschutes River."
"Are you telling the truth? "
Jeez Louise little gal, don't make me lie to you some more!
"YES! YES! But don't tell anyone."
She looked skeptical but pleased. Her eyes locked to mine, she continued marching along the shore toward her mother, her gaze full of big questions and big cares.
Days 15-16: Portland is an amazing place, y'all. Here I met up with my intrepid new riding buddy: Rachel. She is a force of nature. I am so lucky to be rolling with this lady.
Day 17: 56 ish miles from Portland to Hood River. Gorgeous. WINDY. Columbia River, I love thee so.
Day 18: 55 miles ish from Hood River to Mary Hill. Headwinds nearly got us down, but a nice lady fed us ham sandwiches and prayers and we carried on.
Day 19: 55 miles ish from Mary Hill to Crow Butte Park. This day comes with a story, but the story will have to come later, because dinner beckons. And dinner, my friends, is my new favorite thing. The story involves Mr. Meriwether Lewis and Mr. William Clark.
Day 20: 40 miles from Crow Butte Park to Hermiston, OR, to stay with Mark Tullis. Amazing Man. Carves arrow heads out of obsidian using elk-horn tools, which he also makes himself. He fastens the heads to shafts using a paste he creates with pitch (tree sap) charcoal, and elk poop. This man is for real. He has also been a sailor, a corrections officer, a hunter and general bad-ass man of the outdoors, a father, a mechanic, a bicyclist, a motorcyclist, philosopher, historian and the best dang host one could wish for. Talk about a good soul. Thank you, Mark.
Day 21: 55 miles from Hermiston to Walla Walla to stay with Bob and Emma and Bina the wonder dog! What kind and generous hosts! And so fun! They keep feeding us watermelon. My cup runneth over.
Day 22: REST DAY. THANKS BE. In the morning we wake at 4am to beat the heat. For now: we shall drink cider and watch Harry Potter. Life. Is. Sweet.