Thursday, August 28, 2014

{Some River}

About every other year we pack our van to the gills and head south. As we meander through the Mount Hood forests and eventually emerge in the vast desert lands dotted with pine trees, my breaths deepen and my spirit soars. Time slows here. Family gathers -- sometimes quite a crew, sometimes just the six of us -- but no matter who happens to be there, vacationing in Sunriver feels like coming home.

It was my nephew Evan who first called it "Some River" several years ago. He just figured that the family was headed toward some river and he -- as always -- went with the flow. He was thrilled when he learned that not only was "Some River" a specific place, but it was a place where we could stay. Overnight.

This year my cousin suggested a family reunion, and the Sunriver tradition joyfully expanded to include extended family members. The Italian numbers were substantial, so we knew the food would be good. My mom and aunt treated us all to an amazing culinary experience called Bagna Caulda (or cauda -- there's some disagreement as to the correct term -- but I won't even go there). Vats of simmering oil and garlic await our skewers of bread, meat, cheese, and vegetables, and we just hover and go for it while the wine glasses are replenished. Did I mention Bagna Caulda is amazing? Delizioso!

Of course we must bike for miles and miles to work off those calories, but it's worth it. And Sunriver is definitely the place to bike. One afternoon I joined my parents for a ride, and boy can they pack in those miles.

The kids get in lots of rides, too. I always love it when we have a whole crew lined up -- sometimes as many as fourteen of us -- winding our way "over the river and through the woods."

Dancing is also a good way to work off vacation food. My sister and I resurrected our circa 1990 routine to Five Hundred Miles and taught the intricate choreography to Mom and Auntie Cher. ("Intricate" as in there are Three Whole Moves.) It wasn't long before the kids peeked around the corner to see what on earth was going on. It was likely my sister's frequent, emphatic reminder to "Pivot!!!" that grabbed their attention. They couldn't resist, and soon a full-on dance party was under way. (Alas, I have no pictures. You'll just have to take my word for it.)

This year's trip also landed close to Avery's birthday, so we decided to celebrate early. She chose hot dogs for dinner and Goody's ice cream in the Sunriver Village for dessert, followed by a spin on the bumper cars. It was a lovely final evening.

We woke up early on our last day in order to sneak in a ride to the stables. My friend Lisa had recommended that we try to arrange to see the horses when they're led from pasture to the corral. The morning air was crisp, laced with that bittersweet tang of fall which hints at a dying summer. I wished for another layer of clothing and a tissue or two as we pedaled toward the fields. The kids were drowsy and hushed, rosy cheeks with drippy noses. Pedal, pedal, sniff, sniff. My dad timed the ride perfectly for us. There they were.

The horses grazed quietly in the distance, ears perked for the call of the wrangler.

We lined the barbed wire fence and waited . . . and then the subtle thunder of hooves, dust rising to meet the sky.

A new day had begun.


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