Monday, January 13, 2014

Expedition à la West Coast USA


Coming home to Oregon is always an adventure.  It never ceases to amaze me, how quickly my four brothers and my sister grow and change.  It's awesome to see them growing into their beautiful and unique personalities, exploring different passions and hobbies, and developing such a great sense of humor.  Laughter unites.

And every time I come back - which is certainly not often enough - I always wonder how I could have forgotten the beauty of the Rogue Valley and its surroundings.... Mountain trails, serene lakes, grassy plains, pine forests, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines... we have it all!

We like to dabble a little in a lot of different outdoorsy things.  This past month has been a lot of fun as we show my Finnish friend Sini around the West Coast.  We met in Helsinki and - after spending a lot of time together playing soccer, relaxing in her family's summer cabin, and hanging out with friends this summer - she moved to work in Toronto this autumn just days after I left on business to the US.  Perfect timing to catch up in North America over the holidays, and we've had so much fun welcoming her to our family Christmas and taking her on LOTS of mini family vacations.


New Year's Morning in Eureka, northern California - with my sister Tori & friend Sini


It's not so often you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a wild boar. "Oaky", adopted by our friends, is such a sweetie. Talk about someone in need of a deep-moisture hair conditioning treatment.
Just north of Moonstone Beach on Highway 101 
(remember: you can launch a full-screen slideshow by clicking on any photo. This one's worth it!)
A crisp, sunny afternoon in Central Point, Oregon - looking across the Rogue Valley toward Roxy Ann Peak

There's something beautiful about rust on an abandoned, weathered forklift.
The mud ponds in White City, Oregon call out for some good old puddle jumpin'.
My brother Chason prefers crawlin' in custom modified monster trucks.  Sometimes he takes his sisters for rides, much to our delight :)

Chase and Sini, ready for another go 'round.


Who ever said men don't stop for directions?

Fat tread = fat tracks
Rainy day target practice at Salt Creek


My brother Cole will start gunsmithing school next year.  Meanwhile, we have a private instructor.



Ear protection, target selection.

parental supervision :)

Ninja gear
Sometime during the past few years I've started to get a bit jumpy around firearms.  I'm sure it has nothing to do with the past few landmine rich countries I've been traveling in...  Nevertheless, it was time to get behind the gun again in a low-stress environment and learn some more about how these things work. Knowledge is power!    



That's my sharpshooting mama!




After many years of exploring other countries, their people and cultures, only now have I come to realize what a rich, unique culture I was raised in. It seems I've spent enough time away to look at "home" with new eyes and to truly appreciate things I've always taken for granted. Like road trips. Roads long enough to warrant a trip. Refrigerators big enough to hold all your groceries for the week.  Fresh deer meat.  Barbecue sauce.  Unmanicured forests.  Shooting guns after church.  The fact that much of the population steps foot into a church on any given weekend. Animals in the house (and chickens in their own house out the back door).  Mountains on the horizon.  Makeup not mandatory - not even expected.  The annual expedition to hunt and gather one's own Christmas tree from the forest.  Drive-thru coffee kiosks.  Dinner table discussions where religion and politics are the main course.  Potlucks.  Costco.  Homegrown (mom-grown) lemons, tomatoes, avocados, peppers, cabbage, apples, etc.  First real jobs at 13, 14 years old.  Freedom that comes with a driver's license at age 16.  School sports.  Five cars in the driveway (if one of them isn't yours, at least your odds of getting a ride are pretty good).  A garage full of randomly acquired skis, snowboards, skidoo, snowmobile, jet boat, river raft, tents, hiking boots, bear-proof food containers, and a giant tub of all-weather gear in every possible size... that all gets used EVERY YEAR.

I didn't even know how good we had it.  This place is awesome!

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