If you ever take this kind of a trip (and I hope you will!) I recommend putting together a pretty epic collection of music to accompany the view and the joy of the journey. Some of our favorites this week have been Andrew Peterson, Steven Curtis Chapman, Tenth Avenue North, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, and Rich Mullins, plus some favorite personalized mix CDs that tell the stories of our own lives from the past couple years.
We were very surprised by the arid eastern side of Oregon as we drove through yesterday. We had a good time finding out the names of the brown and yellow mountains we passed, and making up stories about the origins of their names.
Then we crossed over the mountains and everything became very green and lush...
And there was water! For miles and miles on this trip we've been surrounded by land - farm land, prairie, hills, mountains, and the barren arid almost-desert lands, so the sight of the Columbia River on our right, all sparkling in the sunlight, was thrilling to behold!
Still heading west, and almost there! Meet our new, random Oregonian little friend, whose mom took our picture at an overlook, and who just couldn't help but want to be in the picture with us.
We got to Hannah's Uncle George and Aunt Carrie's house in the evening. What kind of people are they? Hannah actually wasn't sure she even knew... it had been years since she had visited them, so she didn't have much information. To our thrill and delight, we found that they live on a farm, and are totally fun - creative, hospitable, and funny! A. Carrie was out in her garden when we arrived, U. George was waiting for us at the end of the driveway by the road, and cousin Jo was tromping around in her cowgirl boots. After dinner they led us around the property and showed us their fields, gardens, cows, and solar panels - they are the first private farm in the area to use this renewable, sustainable energy source. Hannah did say that her U. George loves to spoil girls, since he raised two of his own, and that was confirmed when he ran to the store and came back with a plethora of ice cream options for us. We all sat around and visited until late in the evening, with the company of the family's old dog Max, and old cat, Luna. After only a couple hours, the Vincents feel like family.
This morning U. George made breakfast, and A. Carrie made coffee and sat and talked with us a long time before we bothered with showers and "real clothes." Hannah's cousin Jo took us to the barn to show us her horse, Raffle, who we all agreed must be a Talking Horse from Narnia... just something in her eyes and the sweet gentleness she had with us all.
We also got to meet two calves, who were very friendly and playful, came right up to us like puppies, nuzzling us and wanting to be petted. I was rubbing one's nose and before I knew it, he was chewing on my driving joystick, sucking hard on it! I was afraid he was going to swallow it, but then he realized he wasn't going to get any milk out of it and gave it up... though it was kind of coated in cow slobber!
After our "petting zoo" adventure, Jo took us into the little town of Aurora for lunch at "The White Rabbit Bakery" - SOOO good! Then we said goodbye to Jo and took Brie to the airport in Portland. It was so hard to see her leave and head back to Indiana, but I'm so thankful for the time we got to spend together on this adventure.
Hannah and I decided to try to see a little bit of Portland then, so we went to Powell's Books - a giant city-block sized bookstore holding more than a million titles! We could not even begin to see it all, but loved browsing the shelves on two floors and picking up a few treasures. Then we got coffee at Peet's Coffee and Tea and sat out on the sidewalk, watching all sorts of interesting people pass by.
Finally we drove back to the farm and had a delicious dinner of vegetables and pork chops - apparently from a pig the family had raised and slaughtered. It's dark now, and I think Hannah and I are going to take this opportunity to do some stargazing in a way we just can't do at our Hobbit Hole.
I realized today that I don't really like Portland... or any major urban center, for that matter. I don't need all the lights and noise and shops and action to entertain or satisfy me. I live in a city because I love the people and because of the ministry work God has put in my heart. Right now, I miss my Hobbit Hole, and all the people that make it beautiful. But true vacation for me is what most of this trip has been: wide open spaces, big skies, wild life. I love being able to breathe so deeply and just look and look and never get tired of the natural scenery. It feels like my spirit is in a constant state of worship and awe. In the words of Anne Shirley: "In the end, I'd still prefer the sound of the wind in the firs across the brook more than the tinkling of crystal."