Tag Archives: friends

The Redwoods Expedition (Part 2)

(Read part 1 here)

I woke up to the sun streaming through the windows of Elaine’s van, shining on the orange pillows and vintage suitcases.

“Yes! Maybe it will finally warm up in here,” I thought, curling deeper into my sleeping bag. It had been a rather cold night.

I heard a rustle of tent and a rattle of pans. Sitting up, I saw Ashlie and Laurel walking around the campsite doing useful things like boiling water. I assumed Elaine was still asleep, because the blue sleeping bag at my feet had a large lump in it. I’d hoped the sun would warm the inside of the van like an oven, but that wasn’t happening. Oh well. If I was going to be cold anyway, I might as well get up.

Surprisingly, it was warmer outside than in the van. Which was great because we didn’t have much firewood.


Photo Credit: Elaine Stoltzfus

It was so interesting to me how, with so little communication beforehand, we ended up with everything we needed. Ashlie brought an aeropress, Laurel brought a propane camp stove, I brought mugs, Elaine brought a pan, and we all brought tea bags. I was so proud that I’d remembered to bring camp chairs, until I opened them up and discovered that two of them were child sized.

“Don’t worry, they fit me perfectly,” said Elaine, plopping down in one. She was much smaller in person than I’d imagined she’d be.

We ate yogurt with granola and fruit, then shoved our motley crew of coolers and food boxes back into my car. We pulled out the maps of hiking trails that we’d procured, and tried to decide between the myriad of hikes available.

Photo Credit: Ashlie DeHart

“How far is it to the beach?” asked Elaine.

“Like, four miles,” Laurel decided, examining the map scale.

“So an eight mile hike, all together,” said Ashlie.

We decided to take a shorter hike of maybe three miles or so, come back to camp for lunch, and then drive to the beach. “This one looks nice,” said Elaine, pointing to the map. Cathedral trees trail.

And it was really just breathtaking.

We hopped off the trails to walk along fallen logs or climb into hollow trees. We felt like elves. Hobbits. Little ants, sometimes.

Photo Credit: Ashlie DeHart

“You can’t instagram this kind of life!” gushed Elaine.

Which was kinda true, because all our phones died. Except Ashlie’s. We all stole her photos later.

We had to pay eight bucks for beach access, which made us Oregon girls mutter under our breath about those Californians. “It’s not even that great of a beach,” said Laurel, who lives in Bandon and is an expert on these things.

Still, the beach is the beach.

Ashlie and I dozed in the warm sand. Laurel wandered around, exploring, avoiding the water because she’d only brought one pair of pants. Elaine cartwheeled into the waves.

Photo Credit: Ashlie Dehart

Time didn’t matter.

I didn’t know when I’d gone to bed, gotten up, or eaten lunch. I didn’t know how long I’d hiked, or dozed on the beach. We had no cell phone service, and most of our phones had run out of battery anyway. Normally I live a life where I must be in class at precisely 10:00 a.m. and papers are due online at 11:59 p.m. on the dot, and it was really, really nice to get away from that for a while.

Still, the sun eventually sank towards the ocean. We gathered driftwood to supplement our dwindling firewood supply, and Elaine bundled it into her gypsy scarf and carried it to the car.

Photo Credit: Ashlie Dehart

“We know each other pretty well now,” said Elaine as we sat around our campfire that evening, cooking up an odd concoction of bacon, onions, and lentils. “So I have an idea. Let’s go around and say what kind of guy each of us needs.”

This made for an interesting discussion, but the impractical aspect was that none of us really knew anyone who fit the blissful descriptions we spit forth. “I know someone who would be perfect for Elaine, only he’s married,” said Ashlie.

Everyone who I get matched with is already married,” said Elaine bitterly.

“Oh! I know someone who’s perfect for you!” I said, suddenly inspired. “I don’t remember his name. I’ll look him up on Facebook when I get home!”

I did. He’s in a relationship with someone else. Blast.

That night Laurel slept in the back seat of my car and Ashlie, Elaine, and I crowded into Elaine’s van. We piled blankets on top of ourselves and put extra sleeping bags underneath us and made a pillow barrier between us and the cold wall of the van. “I feel like a stick shoved inside a marshmallow,” I thought, as I struggled to even turn over.

But I was warm. Gloriously warm, all night long.

The next morning we drank more tea and ate more yogurt, and then went on a shorter hike. Our era of blissful timelessness was ending, because we had to check out of the camp by noon.

We made a thousand plans for camping trips of the future, but flying by the seat of our pants as we do, none of them are set in stone. So we packed up our things. Hugged. Said “goodbye,” and “next time,” and “I’ll miss you.”

Elaine took her gypsy van and drove south, and Laurel, Ashlie and I climbed back in my car and drove north to Oregon and home again.



The Multnomah Falls Expedition

Oregon is a beautiful but lonely state. It’s rare that the friends you meet in the east will just happen to stumble through. When it does happen you must not let the opportunity slip past.

That is why, when I saw on Instagram that my friends Heidi and Kristi Mast were in Portland, I drove two hours to Multnomah Falls to hang out with them. On a school day. I told my brother “hey, I’m not going to go to school today,” and he left without me. Then I got in my car and drove to Multnomah falls.


Yes, it was that lovely.

Of all the breathtakingly beautiful places in the Cascade Mountains, Multnomah Falls, being right off of I-84, is one of the easiest to access. I’d come several times before, always for a slight rest during a road trip from one location to another. Never just for itself.

I got to Multnomah Falls before the others, and wondered around marveling at how pretty it was for about fifteen minutes, before the others showed up. Heidi and Kristi’s Instagram feeds had been full to bursting with lovely pictures of Oregon, and it made me think about how much of the beauty I take for granted.

Then they pulled up, piling out of the car, giving me hugs. Besides Heidi and Kristi, they had brought their friend Emily Yutzy along, and their cousin Amanda, from Idaho, was there too.

Amanda and Heidi in front of the falls.

Amanda and Heidi in front of the falls.

“Is there a trail that goes all the way to the top?” Heidi asked me.

“I don’t think so,” I said. If there was, I’d certainly never hiked it. Multnomah Falls is the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the United States, so the top of the waterfall was WAY up there.


However, it turns out I was wrong. I suppose the people I road-tripped with in the past did not particularly feel like making such a climb, but as Heidi, Kristi, Amanda, Emily Y, and I had come for strictly tourist purposes, we decided to try.

It was beautiful. The mid-May climate had turned everything green, and certain switchbacks gave us lovely views of the Columbia river. As I was in the company of photographers, much photographic evidence of the astonishing beauty was captured.

Emily Y walks down the trail.

Emily Y walks along the wall of green.

Amanda and Emily Y smile patiently, glad for a chance to rest from the steep hike.

Amanda and Emily Y smile patiently, glad for a chance to rest from the steep hike.

Heidi and Kristi. Sisters by birth, friends by choice.

Heidi and Kristi. Sisters by chance, friends by choice.

At the end of the trail we spent a few dizzying minutes on the observation platform at the very top of the falls, gazing at the water tumbling down, down, splashing into the depths below. Then we went off trail, following the mountain stream back into the woods.


The world was quiet here. At the bottom of the falls we had seen lots of people, probably stopping in for a break from their road trip the way I’ve done in the past. On the trail we saw some people, though not a great deal. Here, back in the woods beside the river, we were alone. We spread a blanket on the rocks, took our sandals off, and relaxed.


There we had a picnic of sorts. The water was, quite literally, mountain spring water, and so we washed our food in it and drank it and sat around sharing a meal of peaches and plums and kombucha.


Heidi and Kristi are the type of friends who, even if I don’t see them for years and years, we never have any trouble finding things to talk and laugh about. The sunlight sparkled on the water. Cool winds blew through the mountains. I wanted to saver the loveliness of friends, and kombucha, and mountain spring water.

“Heidi?” I asked.


“Do you mind if I use some of your pictures for my blog post?” She has the knack, I’ve observed, for using her camera to capture the real beauty of a place, whereas when I take a picture it always looks rather flat compared to the whole thing.

“Of course I don’t mind!” she said.

“Good. Because I’m thinking I should do a blog series of beautiful places in Oregon that people should think about visiting.”

“I think that’s a great idea,” said Heidi.

As it got near supper time, we decided to leave, and I hugged my old friends and my new friends goodbye.

True to her word, Heidi sent me her pictures when she got back home. I’m glad she did. When it comes to words, there isn’t a lot to say about Multnomah Falls. How many times can you re-use the word “beautiful?”

Pictures, however, when taken by a skilled photographer, capture the essence of a place quite nicely.


Monday Musings

pink chair

I have a habit of writing blog posts and then not posting them because I think they’re too emo.

As far as I can tell the problem lies in the fact that I blog in my head too much.

I’ll get an idea for a blog post on romance, or what it’s like to always be different, or why I’m not a real writer, and I’ll regurgitate it around in my head for days, imagining what I will write once I actually have time to get to a computer.

Well heads, as you know, are kind of emotion machines. So the regurgitated thoughts turn into emotion vomit.

Sorry for the visual.

A random thought:

Often, my view of people is drastically changed once I friend them on Facebook.

People talk about how easy it is to hide on the internet, and how much of the online world is smoke and mirrors.

But when you friend people on Facebook you learn what they really believe in, and what they love, and sometimes how gullible they are.

Things that don’t often pop up in regular conversation.

Maybe they would pop up in regular conversation if “regular conversation” consisted of one person saying to another, “all right, tell me all about yourself, everything you’ve ever wanted to rant about,” and then just sat and listened for as long as it took.

Not that that would be a good idea, it’s just an interesting thought.

The world is full of sunshine. It’s incredible.

Emily has a Cold in the Head

Taylor is apparently either very excited or very scared at the prospect of getting his picture taken. Or maybe I caught him at the precise moment when his music was too loud, seeing as how he has removed an ear bud.

We will probably never know.

Alex is drinking something. Fascinating.

On the other side of the table, Brandon looks like he’s just seen a ghost, and Emma is afraid of the camera stealing her soul. Ha ha ha.

This was in the hour before theater, when the theater people tend to congregate in the courtyard cafe and make Scrooge related jokes. This time they were frantically going over their lines, since yesterday was the off-book deadline.

I didn’t really have trouble learning my lines. This was probably due to the fact that I really don’t have a lot of lines, only one monologue, and I grew up frantically memorizing Bible verses on Friday mornings at school so I could go out for first break.

Oh he’s a tight-fisted had at the grindstone, is my old high school!

(I’m just kidding. Knowing a lot of Bible verses comes in handy in life, as does being able to memorize things.)

Brandon: Scrooge has a cold in the head. Wait. Can you have a cold anywhere else?

Emma: I have a cold in my hand!

Alex: I have a cold in my foot!

(Brandon actually had a cold in the head for real, as did Emma, and I think they gave it to me because now I have a cold in the head. Girr.)

I made a habit of mocking Brandon by quickly memorizing this monologue he was struggling with. I actually only memorized the first part but at least it made me seem smart.

“This was not addressed to Scrooge, nor to anyone whom she could see, but it produced an immediate effect. For again she saw herself; she was older now, a woman in the prime of life. She had not the harsh and rigid lines….something about care and avarice…”


Now I am at home with a cold in the head, and I think I might shuffle in my slippers to the door, and if you ask me what is on my cheek I will say, “just a pimple. A perfectly ordinary pimple.”

The cold, I think,  messed with something in my cranium, because all I can think about are lines from the play, running over and under each other in my head, in the middle and out again, round and round in various stages of affection, and all ending up in the wrong place.

Till next time…

God bless us, every one!

The Days Wind Down



Nice things to have

Even if you are leaving soon

Like, tomorrow morning

(I don’t know why I look upset in all of those pictures. In reality I am a very happy person.)

All photo credits go to Sammy Ihaji. He is the guy on the far right in the first picture, wearing the red shirt.

He put the pictures on facebook. I don’t have mom’s camera with me, so facebook is all I’ve got for pictures at this point.

The nice thing about leaving friends so often is that there is still facebook.

And email.

My blog has been going really….I don’t know what the word is. Crazy perhaps? I was getting over 1000 hits a day and blogging regularly about Kenya and feeling sort of on top of the world. But I think the high may end soon, as I only got 700 or so hits yesterday.

Today I went to church, saw cute kids, and….slept! I haven’t been able to nap since I’ve gotten here. Today was the day.

Tomorrow we will see cool Kenyan animals. Real ones. Not carved ones with people begging you to buy them.