Open Road

Hood River -- Getting There

Aaaand... of course, a day into the whole thing, I discover that the wireless doesn't work in our room, and everywhere else there are, pretty much, people. Good people, people I love, but still... it's pretty much impossible for me to write while someone is trying to talk with me. The two sets of circuits are pretty much incompatible.

So you'll get the first trip this way. *laughs* Hopefully the Crowne Plaza in New Jersey will do better by me and the journal. It better.

Of course, our whole trip got started on a very odd foot to begin with...



Eurovan Tow
Jet had an award he was being given on the last day of his last year in Middle School, and John and I decided to go and watch him receive the award. That pretty much went the way you'd expect it go to, and each class had awards given by the teachers for the students they thought fit the categories of Scientist, Mathematician, Writer, Artist, etc.. Jet wasn't very impressed with them because they were purely from a selection process rather than some measured merit, but I was more impressed with all the awards he's gotten throughout the years, because I saw how few kids actually got them.

After the ceremony, Jet told us that he'd been hit in the glasses during his dodgeball game, and so he and John decided to go to the optometrists to get them fixed. I had more packing I had to do, so I decided to just walk home from near the school, and let the two guys go off on their errand.

Five minutes after I'd gotten home, I got a phone call, and it was John saying that when he'd turned the key in the Passat's ignition he'd heard a "snap" and then turning it didn't do anything anymore. Oops. He wondered if I could pick them up, since I was conveniently home instead of stranded with them. He did warn me, however, that the oil pressure light was going of in the Eurovan, and he'd already checked and the oil was full, so I shouldn't worry too much if the alarm went off while I was driving it.

I got to the boys right before the alarm went off. John also found out that the ignition couldn't be fixed in his own garage, so he arranged to have it towed from the optometrists. And, yes, the picture isn't that of a Passat being towed...

On the way home, the oil pressure alarm kept going off, so we took it easy getting it home, and since there really wasn't any way we were going to drive it to Boulder to have it repaired, John called a second tow truck to take it to the same VW mechanic that got the Passat for the holiday weekend. Whee....

DIA believe it or not
All of which started a cascade of consequences. We'd said that we'd take Aeran to the airport, and so John called to explain our troubles and ask if she had a car, and it turned out that she'd just gotten back from dropping her car off at her mechanics for damage related to a small accident. Oops. So we decided to go on the bus! And we were lucky to have good neighbors, who were quite content to take us to the Boulder Table Mesa bus stop at 5 in the morning. Oof.

With all that happening, we did manage to also pack, and because we were down to nothing but droopy cilantro in our fridge, John, Jet, and I took our bikes to the Wild Buffalo Wings near our place and got wings for dinner.

We all had a pretty sparse breakfast, and Tonya was perfectly on time and we made it to the bus stop in plenty of time. The bus seemed came nearly fifteen minutes early and really empty. Aeran was going to catch what we thought was the same bus just one stop earlier, but when we got on our bus, it was completely empty! Via texts we figured out that there were actually two buses doing alternate stops on the route to DIA. The driver warned us that he wasn't going to be making all the AB stops, but they were definitely going to the airport, possibly a little ahead of schedule, which was good by us.

We made it, no problems, and met Aeran at the rather soggy gate. Aeran is the daughter of Anne, who is one of Isabel's nieces. The full explanation of the whole Rostykus and the Filley clan can be seen if you click on this sentence. We're going to be building on top of that, so bone up if you don't want to get lost in the sea of names. *laughs*

The flight itself was mostly unremarkable other than the fact that I slept for most of it, and we ate nothing when we got off. Walt met us at the airport, coordinated a few things with John, and then disappeared when we caught the shuttle to the rental car.

First stop was Costco, which was just a little dangerous because I, for one, was really hungry from not having had much breakfast and no lunch. We met Aeran's parent, David and Anne there, along with Walt, Emma Lee, and eventually brother Paul, and John had a huge shopping list, so we rampaged through and filled three Costco shopping push carts with food and wine. It was impressive. We loaded the results into three cars and wandered off while Emma Lee and Walter finished their shopping.

We headed out to Hood River, Oregon.

Kite Boards like Confetti
Hood River is actually on the Columbia River, one of the biggest rivers in the country, but there is a smaller river named Hood River, that empties into the Columbia, in one of the Columbia's gorges. The resultant sand bar, currents, and walls create a nearly constant wind on the wide waters of the Columbia River. If you click on that picture, you'll be able to see dozens of kite boards behind Jet on the rocks.

It's one of the premier kite boarding and wind surfing areas in the world. So the tourist traffic has built up, and there are a lot of houses for rent in the little, quaint town, and there's a lot of little shops right downtown, near the waterfront park. It's also just far enough East of Portland and the coastal mountain range, that it's usually sunny. For the four days we were going to be out there, the forecast called for constant rain in Portland, but 70's and sunshine for Hood River.

Catching Air
We first stopped at the three houses we'd all rented, and then made a beeline for the water, to see what there was to see. The wind was so strong on the water it felt like it was going to just blow us off. And the speeds people could get from the wind was amazing. The rider you see in this picture is probably a good ten feet off the surface of the water, and some were getting 20-30 foot long rides through the air by how hard their kites were pulling them.

The water was cold, though, and the wind made it only colder. Everyone in the water had on wet suits. It was also really conditions good only for really experienced riders. It was amazing to watch them go, though, especially when they caught the wind directly and just zoomed across the river.

The Columbia Outside Our Window
This was the view from our room.

The Columbia River is what I've always thought of as an iconic River. Something wide enough to need bridges, something big enough to dam and make enormous amounts of cheap power, and deep enough that a mere foot's rise isn't a big deal so far as flooding but a single foot contains millions of gallons of water. It's why I sometimes call the St. Vrain River more of a creek.

There was a train track right at the foot of the cliff we were on, and another across the river. Both of them ran freight and passengers at various times, and it was interesting to me to find that when the near train ran by it was comforting. The trains go through Longmont all the time, and we have a crossroads near the house, and the sound is so familiar and soothing.

John had planned ahead in a number of ways. The first was that we were going to be one of the last families leaving, and the main house was the one that was going to stay rented the longest. The second was that when people really started building up, he thought it'd be a good idea for me to have a room where I didn't have to wait for a ride to get back to it and I'd have all my other stuff there. So we got a room in the main house, and it was a very good thing indeed.

Filling with People
Especially when people started arriving in waves. There were four or five distinct sets of people coming in a various times, with various sorts of transport, and various plans on how to either get them or rent a car or something. There was a little stress about how plans were line up and when dinner would be ready for them, and Walt and his Cathie managed it with frozen lasagnas. They could throw one into the oven when someone arrived at the airport in Portland, and in the hour it would take for them to drive out to Hood River, the lasagna would be done.

That was pretty impressive how well that worked. There were also crews of people churning ice cream out in the garage, and there were plans for two flavors a night, each made into 6 quart batches of ice cream, which seemed like a lot, especially when we bought six gallons of half and half to make it all with.

The thing is that I was used to the Filley-Rostykus gatherings, what I hadn't counted on was the other three families who all knew Isabel well, and since many of them were either in the Portland area or able to rent their own rooms or houses in Hood River, they decided to come for the whole long weekend celebration!

The Isabel Tree
Here, on a grocery bag back, is the whole of all the families who were involved with the Rostykus Family.

The Douglases lived next door to the Rostykus clan, back when the three older boys had been born and were running about. They moved near Portland in 1961, but kept in touch and every summer, Donna and Derrel Douglas would take David, Dan, Diana, Dennis, and Drea to meet up on the Oregon coast with the Rostyki. They all keep track of one another, and those that were close visit Isabel on a frequent basis.

The mother of the Sanvigs, Pam, came West with Isabel on a train. This was back when they were warned about the Indians that might hinder the train. Isabel and Pam found George and Ray in the Mountaineers, the people that started REI, back when it was just a coop in a chain link fence, where you picked your mountain gear, left your money, and got good deals on skiing trips in the winter together. But when Pam and Ray married each other, they moved off to Portland, but kept in touch. So Chris, Ann, Barbara, Marshall, and Jenifer met up with Paul, David, Walt, and John on various beaches, camp sites, and vacations through the years.

Donna, Derrel, Pam, and Ray have all died, several in the last year, along with George just a couple years ago. So Isabel, in a way, is the only "parent" left of those families who were so close together for so many years. So all the kids wanted to celebrated Isabel's birthday with her.

Bill Robertson was also in that neighborhood and was one of Walt's best friends, and best man at the wedding. He had brought along Miriam to just experience it all with us.

Homemade Jenga 2x4s
So a LOT of people came and the house filled, and people who hadn't had seen each other, sometimes for decades, actually were able to sit down and talk and the talking went on until nearly midnight. Luckily, there was plenty of ice cream, and there were things like this Jenga game, which David Rostykus had made out of 2x4s and brought in several copy paper boxes. The kids loved this and they played it in the garage, and the clatter and bang when it fell was very satisfying and rather startling if you didn't know what was going on. *laughs*

I got kind of overwhelmed by the time the house was full, as the Douglases and Sanvigs had brought along spouses, partners, and children of various sorts as well. So I hid myself away for a little while with my knitting and I tried to write this for a bit and gave up when the wireless refused to even connect to Flickr. *bah* The funny thing was that a few minutes later, Cathie knocked on the door, and when I let her in, she said she needed to hide for a bit, too.

The good thing, we both agreed, was that Isabel was having a blast. That was the whole point of the weekend, and we were both pretty happy about the fact that that was the true success of the whole thing. Isabel was definitely have a great time, and the four boys were in the thick of it all.

The food planning had been done weeks in advance, and we all had some things we'd planned to do. We each had a breakfast, various parts of dinners, and lunch was just a bunch of stuff people could make into whatever they wanted, especially if they wanted to pack something for a hike. So it was all working out well, and I was going to be first up for a biscuit breakfast in the morning.

So, having been up since 4:30 Mountain time (or 3:30 West Coast Time) at around 11:30 West Coast Time, I decided to just turn in and went to sleep to the murmur of voices still going in the rest of the house.
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