Saturday, December 31, 2016

My last day of the year adventure

Normally, I don’t like having to get up early on a Saturday morning. Saturdays are my “downtime days.” They are the days I like to sleep in, relax with a cup of coffee, and stay in my jammies until noon. My weeks are so busy and hustled and I usually DON’T get to sleep in for all the other days. Especially last week, when I kept waking up earlier than usual to try and make more progress on finishing some things. (And unfortunately, I didn’t finish them by today, like I wanted to. At least I got some other things done.) But earlier this week, Jen told me she’d been invited to the movies with a friend who she hasn’t seen for some time, and we had to leave in the morning for her to get there in time for her to meet with the friend. I was just glad they were going to get together during the daytime and not at night (I don’t like being out at night). So I prepared for today.

Of course, I was still cranky about getting up in the morning and showering and getting ready to go, but after what came after I dropped Jen off, I am grateful for today.

So I drove Jen to the mall that she was supposed to meet her friend at. At first, she thought it was Gateway Mall, and I kept asking her if she was certain she was supposed to go there. They did some renovations at Gateway some time ago and a lot of things were either moved around or shut down (like Chuck E. Cheese). I wasn’t familiar with a theater being there, although it could be hidden away there somewhere among all the other stores. Or recently opened. But her friend insisted it was at Gateway. Then, right before I was turning onto the street for Gateway Mall, she got a text from her friend that, oh, no, it wasn’t Gateway. They actually had to meet at the Valley River Center. ARGH! So I turned around and we drove out to the VRC.

When we got there, I asked Jen where I had to drop her off. She said in front of the theater. I was not sure where that was so she directed me on which way to go. After I dropped her off, I asked her to text me when she met with her friend to let me know that she found her and that everything was okay. Meanwhile, I drove to an adjacent parking lot and parked the van there. I noticed a “Park & Ride” sign near where I was parked but didn’t think too much of it and just waited for Jen’s text. Which didn’t come. So I texted her to see if she was okay and she replied that she was.

Than I looked up from where I sat inside the van and saw it. There was a river!!

I knew which river this was because I passed it on the way to the mall: The Willamette River. I never knew this mall was located so close to it! But then again, I had never been in this particular area of the mall parking lot, either.

I love water. The ocean. Lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and even dams. Just, ANY water, really! I dream of one day living near water – and  the pond we live near now doesn’t count because we can’t go fishing there, can’t go out on a boat there or even play in that water. Sigh! So, yes, I dream of living near water we can actually do those things in. I just love being near the water. So OF COURSE I got out of the van to go explore this area. I wanted to see the river! (I always grab any chance I can to see or explore a river.)

The area near the river was really muddy and I was concerned I might slip on the mud because I was wearing just my tennies and not hiking boots, but I looked around and I saw an asphalt path. There was also a bike path near the wooded area that borders the river. I went along this path and made it past an area of mud-covered leaves to the shore of the river. I stood there and looked out at the wide expanse of water. It was just beautiful. I stood there for a long time looking out at it and enjoying the view. I also took a lot of pictures!

Then I started to explore that area. I found it easier to walk on the muddy areas if I stepped on branches for traction or just stepped more carefully in the mud. Even so, I did end up slipping in the mud, but thankfully I was not hurt. I continued to explore the bank of the river and look at the different areas around it. There was some trash there and even a sweater someone had left behind. At one point during my exploring, I thought I should take a rock as a souvenir from my visit here. I looked down to see part of a rock sticking out in the mud. I grabbed a stick and dug it out. It was a heart-shaped rock! How cool! The perfect souvenir.

Thankfully, I made my way back up without slipping again and took one last look around before deciding that it was time to leave. I was cold (it was 31 degrees!) and while I was grateful I had grabbed my jacket to wear over the flannel and T-shirt I had on, my hands were freezing. (I really should have put on gloves, too!) I was also hungry, as the only thing I’d had was coffee, and it was almost noon right around then. Still, I was satisfied with the exploring I had done and made a mental note to come back – maybe with the kids so they could see it too – when the weather is better. As I left, I saw families walking along the path overlooking the river, as well as people riding bikes along the bike trail.

On my way home, I stopped at Dizzy Dean’s to get a doughnut for me and Jesse. I was thinking about walking into a place with mud on my jeans and jacket, though. Then I just laughed that off. This is Oregon, a state of explorers! Me walking into a bakery with mud on my jeans probably wouldn’t attract much attention or criticism, because people here actually DO things and go places! I’m just another person who was in the outdoors! (I may not be a native Oregonian, but after living here for over 10 years, I’m starting to adopt that “outdoors life” thing. Which Jesse pretty much already possesses!) So I got the doughnuts and drove home. When I got home, I saw my friend, Julie, outside with her daughter. I walked over to her house and told her about my adventure. I showed her the rock and she said, “It’s a heart!” I told her about the river and how I never knew that it was there all this time. She didn’t know about it either and I recommended that she check that area out sometime. (She and her family often go camping and out to a river—though I don’t know which one.) I told her it was a pretty neat area to visit and the view of the river was just beautiful.

Later, as I sat at the table in the kitchen eating my doughnut, I kept thinking about my little adventure. I had a huge smile on my face and I said, “That was awesome.”

And I thanked Jen for dragging me out of the house on a Saturday morning so that something like that could happen!

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