It was an early summer morning. Dew danced on the newly planted garden, clucking chickens welcomed the day ahead and we had adventure on the mind. We loaded up all of the toys, the family, the dog, and we headed east for a weekend of all things good about living where we live. We were excited, because for the second time in nearly two years, we were getting out of town together. We weren't headed to a work event (including those passion projects we have). We had no agenda other than to just purely enjoy.
After an anticipatory five hour drive, one of which was sprinkled with potty breaks and fuel stops and leg stretching and snack time (and for the record, most of the requests to stop were done by an adorable three-year-old), we were just miles from our destination.
Christmas Valley is an incredible place, and this was our first visit. The land is thick with geological history, boasting nearly 11,000 acres of sand dunes. The incredible part is that these dunes are nowhere near any coastline, but were created over 7,000 years ago when Mt. Mazama erupted forming Oregon's only National Park, Crater Lake. The sand is actually from the ash and pumice that landed from the explosion.
Because it's located smack-dab in the middle of Oregon, summertime there is supposed to be just that - summertime. It was our escape from the soaking wet winter we were inching out from. We expected hot sun, warm days and we were equipped to be greeted by high temperatures. I packed all of the sunblock and all of the summer clothes. We were ready.
So there we were, miles from our destination and instead of being greeted by summertime vibes, we were greeted by angry skies and warnings of flash floods and wondering if we'd even make it to the campground at all. Claps of thunder and flashes of lightning were angry in the air.
On our approach to the camping spot, it was evident that this storm meant business. Several camps were flooded, the road to enter was nearly washed out. My fearless husband navigated the terrain and my daughter laughed as we embarked on the final bit of the journey, literally bouncing through and bumping over water and sand. I laughed too, but only to cover up my nervousness. We made it, though. We had arrived.
We spent that first night dodging raindrops as we ran between motorhomes, drinking wine and snuggling up with the kids as we watched movies while the rain so loudly pelted the outside of the vehicles. We cranked the heaters and we were forced to stay in close quarters and make group dinners and it was magical because it was everything we didn't want in that moment. As it turns out, it's just what we wanted. It's what we needed, too.
When morning came, we woke to more rain, which slowly changed into sunlight. We did all of the things we wanted to do. We adventured. We played. We did a little bit of doing nothing. We watched our kids get dirty as they built sand castles and we laughed as said sand found its way into their lunchtime sandwiches. We made new sandwiches. We watched sunsets and made campfires and we vowed to come back next year. The kids fought and they shared and we all made memories that I can only hope will last our lifetimes.
There was this extra special moment probably better suited for another blog post, where I watched little Elsie put into practice a great lesson about sharing I taught her just hours before.
Really, it was great.
The weekend quickly passed and it was time to go home. And then a flat tire put us hours behind schedule. Our friends waited with us. New memories were created as we problem solved and found solutions and made good out of not so good.
So really, that was great too.
We were almost home, almost. And a brush fire closed the highway and again, we were delayed hours. And we found the binoculars and grabbed the guitar and we played some more. And although the memories are still fresh and vivid, I really hope they stay that way.
Our weekend was full of plans, full of expectations, thick with preconceived notions of what we were in for. And guess what? We were wrong about a lot of them.
Like I said, it was great.
It was great because that's what adventure is all about. It's about not knowing exactly what's around the next bend. It's about having to pivot, to adjust and to decide just how to make things work. And I know, sometimes the very bad turns into the really, really very bad and those times are extra hard. But a lot of times, we can turn the not-so-bad into the really good, and those are the times that are an extra special kind of sweet.
The lesson is this: Look for the light, find your tribe and just power through. Trust me, you will never regret those moments where you found the good in the ugly.
Sometimes the outtakes are better than the plans we make.
And if you let them, you'll find that's usually the case.