Knudsen family staycation

March 31, 2012 at 9:00 pm (Uncategorized)

We’d thought about spending spring break in a sunnier clime. Maybe Arizona? Southern California? Dave said he’d “look into it.” But he never did go looking. I took that not just as laziness but that he really didn’t want to gear up — or pay — for any kind of trip, even one not-too-far away, such as in a state just south of ours. And, really, I shared his mentality. So, I said how ’bout I plan a staycation? He liked that idea. He could go on being lazy, and I could tailor the trip to my whims. And so I did.

While Dave was going to take the week off, I was going to need to weave in a couple days of work at Portland State University. I planned those days for the girls, too.

The vacation started off, on Mon., 3/26, with each girl getting an overnight at a grandparent’s house, followed by Hayley getting a trip to Oaks Park and Alyssa to Kohl’s and out to lunch with Auntie Snoo and Uncle Mer. I went to work and Dave stayed at home and did some laundry. That’s the point at which I should have altered our plan. Imagine: You come home from work and the house is a sea of calm; its home decor is punctuated by neat piles of clean, folded laundry and a sleepy, sleeping dog. Dave had even walked Jacky Fudge. The lawn was mowed, too.

It was at that moment, with a pang of what could be in my gut, that I reflected: If we head out of town for the next few days, this house will not be maintained in our absence. Or, rather, by Dave, in our absence. The week — if not our entire future!!! — could look like this: I could work and Dave could keep house! I love role-reversal and novelty, and this would be an opportunity for both such loves to play out. As my reflective mood continued and reality began to slowly slime its way into my conscious, I thought about the girls’ younger days when they would joke about Opposite Day where one might say, for example, “I hate chocolate,” and you just knew it wasn’t true. Dave would never be Mr. Mom for any length of time, and I’d never be in a come-home-from-work-and-the-house-is-gleaming world either.

So as we went to bed that Monday night, I prepared to execute our staycation Tuesday through the end of the week.

First stop: The state capitol, Salem, Ore. While being there was interesting and all, arguably the most exciting part of our Salem visit was the fact that I-5 was bereft of traffic. Now THAT was a novelty. I’d purposefully signed up our family for the kid-friendly Capitol Building and Tower Tour. The website said there was such thing, and I know the Internet never lies, so we were set.

The email confirming our tour said to arrive in the Capitol Building 15 minutes before our tour. We did. There was no crowd, which was nice; I didn’t want to elbow anyone out of my way for the best view of the rotunda or House of Representatives’ floor. In fact, it appeared our scheduled, kid-friendly tour would be a private tour; that notion particularly excited Alyssa.

Bud, age 70, told us he’d be our tour guide. He looked right out of central casting…for a horror flick about overturning the 2nd Amendment (‘the right to bear arms’). This guy had a paunch his white, button-down shirt strained against. His gray hair’s part was exacting and nearly straight down the middle. He wore wire-frame glasses and walked ever so stiffly, like the Governor’s cane (had he a cane) was rammed up his pants’ seam. He recited myriad facts about Oregon’s history; the scenes depicted in four murals that surrounded the rotunda’s upper walls (neck strain, anyone?); the carpet adorning the House of Representatives and Senate’s floors; and carefully deflected Alyssa’s burning desire to pipe in her own arsenal of Oregon-history facts and ask probing questions. In other words, Bud clearly had read the memo that ours was the Kids’ Tour. Alyssa did her damndest to remain engaged and follow us as we trundled through the Capitol Building. Hayley made no such effort; like the petite flower she is, she wilted about 5 minutes into the “kid-friendly” presentation. She lolled around the rotunda, took her time getting up and then down the wide and lengthy staircase leading to the building’s second floor and dived for a chair wherever she could find one.

One cool thing: In the Governor’s office, there are four teeny, tiny moon rocks, yup, from the moon! Each state was gifted four such tiny rocks from Apollo 11’s journey to Earth’s satellite. In the Oregon Governor’s office, they’re encased in a round orb that bears strong resemblance to one of those off-white Super Balls we all used to madly bounce around as kids…to our parents’ increasing rancor.

Mercifully and finally, Bud said he was done with his tour. The girls looked thrilled. Then Bud said he’d forgotten to tell us a couple things. The girls’ faces fell. We made our way through Bud’s final few pearls and then left the Capitol Building behind, forever. If the girls ever end up there on a school field trip, I will not volunteer to go along.

We then drove to Silverton, which I’d read about in a AAA magazine. It sounded really cute, quaint, sleepy and something I’d love to do that Dave never, ever in a million years would choose to put on an itinerary. Off we went! It took only 20 minutes to get there, and it lived up to the adjectives the magazine article had used to describe it. We found O’Brien’s, a very cute breakfast-served-all-day restaurant, complete with old-timey curtains, tables full of “regulars” and one overworked but very perky waitress serving all the diners. We all chose breakfast for lunch and the girls got steaming hot chocolate each loaded with a whorl of whipped cream; suddenly, the Capitol tour seemed a slightly happier memory. Next on my itinerary: The Chocolate Box. The girls were thrilled: Mommy’s letting us have breakfast for lunch, hot chocolate AND a chocolate treat?! I need at least one thing to get me off the bad-guy list, right?

This small, nice shop even had dairy-free chocolates; I had one a dark-chocolate goody, and it tasted excellent without the overly creamy aftertaste normal truffles leave on my tongue. I also picked out a few very brightly colored truffles resembling Easter eggs to give to some family members for the upcoming Easter brunch they’re going to treat us to. I thought I was so clever to trek all the way to Silverton for an Easter treat; I was sure the box the proprietor would put them in would recall all things small-town-y.

Next thing I knew, she reached for a Moonstruck box. I’d been fooled! We schlepped to a quaint, out-of-the-way spot for specialty chocolates, only to learn Moonstruck had made them. Perhaps the relatives in mind won’t read this post and they’ll be none the wiser about the fact I could have gone 5 minutes out of my way and purchased their sweet chocolate eggs at Fred Meyer.

Raining though it was, our last stop was The Oregon Garden. The photos of it in the AAA magazine showed lots of sun and many buds. We knew we wouldn’t get the sun there and, very surprisingly, the girls loved that spot, frolicking with umbrellas in hand down and through the Garden’s numerous paths and into its specialty areas. The Children’s Garden was the biggest hit; it even includes a Hobbit Hole that Alyssa recognized right away for what it was, and there also was a “room” made out of plants. In other words, a rickety, wire-framed bed was filled entirely with dirt; its pillow was a sage-green ground cover. This room also had a cracked, porcelain toilet with something green growing out of it, and the sink and lion-claw tub also were planted with verdure. Very clever and a highlight for Hayley.

Coming up next: The waterpark and Aviation Museum in McMinnville!

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