We are currently in Washington State, visiting my husbands parents here in Washougal (just a stones throw from Portland, Oregon). This is our annual winter visit, and over the years we have somehow developed our weird little traditions that we look forward to every New Year.
Visit Powells Books in Portland. Check! Eat a maple bacon donut at Voodoo Donuts? Check! Eat conveyor belt sushi at Hana Sushi in Vancouver? Check! Go play in the snow? SUPER CHECK!
One of the very first Christmases Jonathan and I spent as a couple (long before the kids came along) Jonathans parents gave us some snowshoes for our treks into the Columbia River Gorge winter wonderland in Oregon and Washington. But as things always tend to do with children, we have taken a step back from grand outings and instead spend our time focusing on the little things.
Like the way snowflakes drift down from the sky. The way icicles cling to vibrant leaves buried in the snow. The way ice crunches underfoot. All the tiny details of creation from the macro to the micro that make a toddler stop, gasp and say OH WOW.
Tessa has been obsessed with snow after being bombarded with Christmas shows, watching Frozen on a continuous loop at Grandmas, and our recent trip into the Sequoias on Christmas Day. So the entire drive up the mountain into snowy country, Tessa was buzzing with excitement. So much so that Jonathan had to pull over to grab a couple of handfuls of snow for Tessa to play with. (At one point I threw the snow out the window when it was melting in the car, to which Tessa started crying… Nooo, that’s MY ice!
We had initially hoped to make the full drive up Mount Hood to Timberline Lodge so we could order the ridiculously large and crazy delicious hot cocoa, but the snow was pretty intense, and the roads were thick with ice, so we decided to stop short and take a small hike along the Hood River.
Want some Wikipedia info on Mount Hood? Of course you do! Ahem: Mount Hood, called Wy’east by the Multnomah tribe, is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc of northern Oregon. In addition to being Oregon’s highest mountain, it is one of the loftiest mountains in the nation based on its prominence. The peak is home to 12 named glaciers and snowfields.
According to the legends of the native Multnomah tribe, the two sons of the Great Spirit Sahale fell in love with the beautiful maiden Loowit, who could not decide which to choose. The two braves, Wy’east and Klickitat, burned forests and villages in their battle over her. Sahale became enraged and smote the three lovers. Seeing what he had done, he erected three mountain peaks to mark where each fell. He made beautiful Mount St. Helens for Loowit, proud and erect Mount Hood for Wy’east, and the somber Mount Adams for the mourning Klickitat.
The mountain was given its present name on October 29, 1792, by Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain George Vancouver’s discovery expedition. Lt. Broughton observed its peak while at Belle Vue Point of what is now called Sauvie Island during his travels up the Columbia River, writing, “A very high, snowy mountain now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of low or moderately elevated land lying S 67 E., and seemed to announce a termination to the river.” Lt. Broughton named the mountain after Lord Samuel Hood, a British Admiral at the Battle of Chesapeake.
There is a special kind of beauty in the landscape of Oregons mountains. It is simply impossible to spend any amount of time under the canopies of these ultra green forests, in any kind of weather, and not feel renewed, refreshed and energized. It makes my heart so happy to introduce my daughters to the natural beauty of Gods creation.
Tessa was mesmerized by the icy water cascading over frozen icicles along the East Fork of the Hood River on the Tamanawas Trail, and literally RAN along the trail, eager to explore every turn and corner along the snowy landscape. She wanted to grab the snow, taste the snow, crawl in it, throw it, build snowmen with it.
Even little Thyme was smiling and giggling and watching the world with wonder in her eyes. I always thought just being in nature was a wonderful experience.. I never knew that it could be blown away by watching my daughters enjoying the beauty of creation.
We didn’t make it all the way to the falls, since Tessa got cold. She was rolling around in the snow so much that she started shivering around the halfway point. But if there is one thing having kids has taught me is that:
It is not about the destination. It is all about the journey!