Rock-Solid Friends

27 07 2013

Some friends come and go, some stick around, and some become a second family. You’ve heard the sayings, seen the cross-stitched pillows. Cheesy, yes, but I thank my lucky stars for the friends that have become more than mere pals, especially on the days when it’s so glaringly obvious that I have no friends in Trout Lake (yet).

You know these friends, I write about them all the time: Ash and M. We’ll call them MAsh from now on. We got to see them all too briefly for the 4th, but I let it slide since I knew I would see them soon – as in last Saturday!

Well, Saturday evening, that is. I had the whole rest of the day to wait. And waiting is not exactly a strong point of mine.

What to do, what to do! The excitement during the week leading up to the visit had already caused a cleaning frenzy, so no need for scrubbing bathroom ceilings this time. J and I threw a delightful little neighborhood potluck Thursday night, so there was already some food in the fridge. What else do you do besides clean and cook when company is coming?

I did the only other thing I could think of: I went hiking.

Nothing like a Saturday morning “Girl and Her Dog” adventure to take my mind off the clock! We drove and drove and drove, winding through the foothills around Mount Adams. After missing our turn and passing a road that had slid off the side of the mountain, we found the right gravel road and headed up. I thought to myself (more than once) that I really should probably have an SUV or truck to tackle these mountainous explorations, but we made it one piece. Steamboat Mountain was calling our name, so we answered and climbed it.

Steamboat Mountain, Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA

Exploring we will go!

St Helens from Steamboat Mountain, Gifford Pinchot WA

Get high enough and you can’t find a bad view if you wanted to.

The hike was really short, not even a full mile to the top. But Simba and I weren’t looking for a killer workout (we torture ourselves enough with running), we were looking for company. The top of Steamboat gave us just that – my good buddies Adams, Rainier, Hood and Helens were all there. Despite Mosquito Lakes being right beneath us, no bugs were biting. The sun was filling the sky with light and warmth and the breeze was dancing in the trees and in my hair. We just sat there, grateful for all this life holds, enjoying the quiet time in the presence of these great volcanoes.

And then it was time to snap out of my internal revelry and leave these rocky friends for my fleshy friends who are rock-solid in a whole different way.

Back home, I showered and dressed to run to Hood River for dinner. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and seeing their familiar Honda pull up to the curb sent my heart racing like a 3-year-old at the doors for Sesame Street Live. Ash finally jumped out and I hugged her with all my pent-up lonely-longing might. Her momma was visiting from Texas, and she was out next so she received the second excited embrace. Completing the trifecta, M came around for his share of giggling hello hugs. Last but certainly not least, I gave their Saint Bernard, Osa, a good snuggle before M settled her down for her wait.

Dinner was filled with excited jabbering as we caught up on latest adventures and plans for those to come. We discussed our game plan for the next day, receiving strange looks of “can you not be so weird” from the table of LBD girls behind us as we repeated “POA, people, focus on the POA!” (Plan of action, for those not used to the company of Ash)

Plates cleared and beverages finished, we made the 35 mile trek back up to my house. We settled everyone in, let the dogs play in the yard (Osa is Simba’s bestie, letting Simba jump all over her and gnaw on her neck ruff like she’s his personal chew toy) and gave Momma E-Dawg the grand tour. Finally, it was time to get serious and focus: time for Settlers of Catan.

If you’ve never played Settlers, you should. It’s a great nerdy-but-not-overly-so board game that J’s family loves, and a game we got M hooked on when he stayed with us sans Ash back in the spring. Momma E-Dawg was not super into it (“hated it” might be a better term…) and Ash accused me of cheating most of the time. I did beat them all pretty bad…. After much name-slinging, card trading, and settlement building, I earned my 10 victory points and off to bed we all went.

The next morning, Ash and I left the others at the house and took a nice little jog. She’s the one who convinced me a half-marathon would be a good idea, despite the fact that I wasn’t a runner and had never done a race before. (She’s very persuasive – “C’mon, it’ll be so fun!” – and is one of those crazy ladies who has a nice collection of number bibs and race swag from all the half marathons and triathlons. She’s one of those.) She’s also one of my biggest cheerleaders and I owe a lot of my progress and improvement to her. So off we went! Our initial goal was to do a long run, 7 or 8 miles. But as we left that morning, we changed our minds and decided a short run would be better.

It was the most enjoyable – and my fastest! – four miles I have run, maybe ever. We caught up on our gossip, filling in details of the lives of mutual friends and family drama. We chatted about our running, our jobs, our dudes, our dogs, our adventures. We were back home before I knew where the miles had gone. I need Ash to run with me every time! Imagine the distance I could cover when I’m distracted by such entertainment!

We showered, dressed and finalized our POA. Off we went, bee-lining for the wine country just east of White Salmon, Washington. I’ve sampled the wines across the river in Oregon, but this was the Washington side – totally different! I didn’t plan on much drinking so we would have a DD, so I just participated in our first tasting: Memaloose Winery in Lyle, WA.

tasting at Memaloose Winery, Lyle WA

Mashed between MAsh. My favorite spot.

windy weather of the Columbia Gorge, Memaloose Winery, Lyle WA

Enjoying a typical slight breeze of the Gorge.

The shenanigans that ensued during that day were impressive. I started a list of “Things I Never Thought I Would Hear Someone Say To/In Front of Their Mother In Law”, which I don’t dare post (sorry, the death threats stop me). I laughed so hard for so long my stomach was cramped and my face was sore. We laughed about everything, made friends with all the staff, snapped photos of all the scenery.

friends in Cor Cellars's garden, Lyle WA

MAsh have a wine fridge at home that is just begging to be filled.

picnic tables at Domain Pouillon winery, Lyle WA

In the process of making my chubby cheeks ache at winery #2, Domaine Pouillon

family at Cor Cellars, Lyle WA

Our whole group, enjoying the shade at Cor Cellars

I don’t remember all the different kinds of wines, or the names of the sweet people that chatted with us. I do remember the ridiculous guy that was pouring at our last tasting room, Pour Moore Winery – he was a giant tool bag. (That’s the nicest insult I could publish on my blog. Much worse names were used in reference to him that day, but I try to refrain from publishing profanity.) It was determined I’m the most straight-laced of our group when others noticed my lack of F-bombs in conversation and my lack of participation in the tastings. But I had no hangover to worry about Monday morning and declared I must just be too classy for F-bombs. At least in the presence of someone’s momma. (And let me be clear: none of them are heathens or lacking in class, either. 🙂 )

Dinner at the brewery was a delight, and I drove us all back home. The drive was quiet (except for the occasional snore from the backseat) but we managed to pull ourselves together for one last game of Settlers of Catan around the kitchen table. Except for Momma E-Dawg – she wanted no part. Ashlee methodically beat the pants off M and I, and we all turned in.

I was crazy-sad to see my visitors pack up the next morning. Our visit was just too short. Their crew was headed off to squeeze in a hike, but I had to work and had to stay behind. I moped around all day, depressingly aware of their absence. J had come home late Sunday night (he was at a training the whole weekend) so I at least had company after work, but I already missed my second family.

But guess what? THEY’RE COMING BACK IN TWO WEEKS! Well, now its only ONE week!!! (Since it took me forever to get this post written….) More shenanigans in store, and so soon! That’s the wonderful thing about best friends – they come visit, they’re around when you need them, and they’re always up for adventure. Rock-solid friends indeed.

Stay tuned for the next Adventures of KSnapped and MAsh!!





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