48+ hours of driving, 4 days of manic reunioning, and 40 minutes of pure joy…

…so, not complaining here, but it was a grueling weekend, so much so that I’m just now getting around to posting about it.

Sunshine and I drove north to Jefferson, Oregon, with her parents, to be at her maternal grandmother’s family reunion (of sorts).  It was 20 hours of driving (left at 5:30 pm, arrived at 1:30 pm the next day) which went reasonably well, but still was quite long.

After crashing for a couple hours in the hotel, Sunshine and I continued north to Portland, to meet my buddy Satan for some Sushi Hana, and then hove off to the airport to pick up Sunshine’s brother, and bomb back down to Jefferson (3 hours round trip).

Saturday morning, we were up in time for the continental breakfast (let me say that the Phoenix Inn has the *best* continental breakfast I’d ever had: scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy, fresh belgian waffles, three kinds of juice, coffee, and your typical motley collection of cereal and danish), and then off to gramma’s house.  We spent the whole day eating: I eventually took over at the grill, churning out burgers and hotdogs and the such for most of the afternoon.  Met some fine folks, including five generations of MacNeals: Gramma, her daughter Bev–Sunshine’s aunt, her son Randy, his kids (whose names escape me now), and his grand-daughter Maia. Here’s a group shot (sorry, it is slightly fuzzy, as the low light caused a longer exposure than I was expecting):

As you can tell, there were plenty of other fine folks, including the sweetest baby I’ve met in a long time, Harli: she was cute, quiet and very happy.  Really, the ideal peanut–here she is with Gramma:

See?  Isn’t she a peanut?  Here she is again with her dad, Lee:

Anyway: Saturday was all about the eatin’ and the chattin’ and the hidin’ from the rain.

Sunshine and I got up butt-crack-of-dawn early on Sunday to try and get a little hiking joy in–we drove about an hour north and east to Silver Falls State Park. Unfortunately, when we arrived, everything was closed, and we didn’t have proper change for the self-pay permit stations, so we ended up parking and furtively running up the trail to Upper North Falls:

The rain and the distraction of the exposed car drove us back into it after just ten minutes or so.  We decided to try the south lot of the park, to see if the “Iron Ranger” there would take our $20. Alas, it was not to be, but we did have a brief conversation with a real ranger, who didn’t have change, and allowing as we needed to be back in Jefferson by 10 am, told us not to worry about parking and hiking before the station opened up at 9.

Getting that monkey off our backs, we turned around and went back to the north end of the park, stopping off at the overlook to get a distant eyeball on North Falls proper:

What’s cool about this 165′ waterfall is that the trail extends out and behind it:

So, there it was, our 40 minutes of joy (yes, mega-shitty iPhone picture, but there it is–I took this to tweet it):

Here’s a better shot of North Falls:

And a better shot of my Sunshine on our way back up the trail:

We hurried back to the hotel to get the rest of Sunshine’s family (2+ hours), and then back out to Gramma’s.  The rest of the trip was pretty unremarkable: we spent Sunday at Gramma’s again, saw some new folks (whose names escape me again), failed to get their pictures, and bugged out at 2:30 to deliver Sunshine’s brother back at the airport in Portland (3+ hours).

On the way back, I insisted that we pause at Powell’s to do a little book shopping; we managed to do exactly that, but holy chit! Never again on a holiday weekend do we go to a popular bookstore. Wow was it crowded.

After arriving back in Jefferson, we soon took our leave of Gramma’s, ran back to the hotel to check out, and headed back to San Diego (left at 5 pm, arrived the next day at 1 pm). It was a grueling trip–the return car ride really did my back in–but still, we got out of dodge, got in some cool hiking, and in general had another exceptional weekend.