Sharing treasures, Motherís Day style

May 17, 2012 12:55 pm

Whether living as close as a two-hour flight or a six-hour drive to Portland for a very long time, I often use Mother’s Day as an excuse to visit my parents.

When the idea crossed my mind this year I turned it around and asked my parents, whose Japanese rice burner requires a lot less rice than mine, to come here for the weekend.

They quickly decided to blow off their previous plans and headed east last Friday.

We met at the Lostine Tavern for dinner. My parents chose a table far from the regular rabble, with whom I normally sit.

One of my Lostine friends sitting at the “head table” came over to say hi and introduce herself. She even tried to take our order while our cook/bartender/waitress bustled to care for all of the customers by herself on a Friday night. Upon introduction I told my parents, “She lives up the canyon.”

My mother asked, “What does that mean?”

I was puzzled. Everyone knows what up the canyon means; at least in the mid-Valley it would obviously mean the Lostine Canyon. You know, that geologic formation upon which we gaze from my living room’s picture window?

Nope. Neither of my parents were exactly sure where the Lostine Canyon is and how you get there. They’ve been to Wallowa County 14 times in the last four years. Dad floated the Wallowa River to Rondowa and road the train back to Minam. Mom went to quilt camp at Wallowa Lake. Last September I was expecting to meet them at Terminal Gravity after work when I got a call, “We’re in Halfway.” Halfway? They went on a drive to Imnaha and ended up in Halfway?

One time, Mom took a wrong turn coming from Joseph to Lostine. She didn’t know she was headed toward Lewiston until she got to the Joseph Canyon overlook.

Yet, despite all of their adventures, they had not been up the Lostine Canyon. Not even a little bit. Of course, I needed to quickly fix this gross oversight.

Sunday we loaded up in the hungrier of the rice burners, left the dogs behind and drove as far as the Francis Lake/Bowman trail heads; near the end of the 17-mile road.

Our first stop was Pole Bridge picnic area, a favorite stop of mine with stunning views and virtual privacy. Some parts of the Lostine River were in a hurry that afternoon, especially the falls before the bridge. Despite its rush, the water was beautifully clear.

I warned them about the washboard curves before gently driving to Williamson Campground where we sat overlooking the river in the wonderfully hot sun. We admired the tenacity of the pop can burners and the audacity of those who dare to burn and carve into a picnic table.

Memories of childhood camping trips in Forest Service campgrounds flooded back. I didn’t know campgrounds had flushing toilets until our trip to Glacier National Park…a whole different world than the campgrounds along the Lostine reminiscent of some we visited long ago.

I once met a man who described the canyon as his backyard. Well, yeah … in winter it’s easy to drive to Pole Bridge and clip into the skis; in summer Williamson is a great destination for beachy afternoons.

Did I neglect to share my “backyard” with my parents because it so routine? What other treasures have I forgotten to share?


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