But the Best Ships, Are Friendships…

20 03 2014

A good friend from college had this toast that she liked to give every time our group of friends got together: There are wooden ships, and metal ships, and ships that sail the sea…but the best ships are friendships, and friends we’ll always be!

Our group is scattered all over the country now, and we see each other rarely. But that silly toast stays with me, reminding me that there are all these friends that are still my friends, no matter where we geographically land.

Unfortunately, none of those pals live here, where I live. MAsh is closest, down in Oregon. Most are far off in Texas. And lately, I’ve felt the loneliness as I struggle to find new acquaintances in our super small town, with just Simba, my dog, for company most days. J is around but even my time with him has become a bit rare.

Something always happens to keep me afloat, of course – a ship comes to save me before I can drown. This time is was S (we’ll call him Sir) and his lovely lady G visiting all the way from San Antonio, Texas. Sir and I go way back, and he’s been one of my closest friends throughout the years. We were fishing buddies and drinking buddies, buddies for the good and bad. He helped me move all over the place, including my big move to the PNW, and he’s been the only person to visit me almost every state I’ve lived in (not counting family – Momma has him beat!). He’s been an all-around great friend for as long as I’ve known him.

So when he and G met me for lunch on Friday, here for the whole weekend, I could barely keep myself from running full speed up the sidewalk to tackle him. I jumped in for a bear hug, and tried not to knock G to the ground when it was her turn. FINALLY!! VISITORS!!

The weekend was a blur of good times, laughing until we couldn’t breathe, reminiscing, and catching up. MAsh met us up on Mt Hood for a day of skiing on Saturday, and we skiied until we all collapsed (literally). Then MAsh joined us at my house afterward and stayed the night – Ash is friends with Sir from way back, too. We spent the evening playing Settlers of Catan, dipping into the liquor cabinet, and just having a wildly awesome time. It was a big bummer to see MAsh go Sunday morning.

We decided to explore the Gorge on Sunday and went hiking east of Hood River on the historic Columbia River Highway. J came along and shared his vast knowledge with us, telling us about the wildflowers and lichens and fire ecology and local history. He’s a great tour guide. And we got to know G better, sharing stories and squeezing in that normal chit-chat conversation that reveals a person. (She’s such a gem.)

Then Monday, I finally got to show my pals what I had most hoped to show them – our WATERFALLS! Living in such awesome waterfall country makes a Tour de Falling Water a simple task, but this weekend was special. We had been getting tons of rain, then had a big snowfall (the last one I told you about), *then* we got tons more rain on top of the snow. All the rivers were swollen out of their banks….and the waterfalls were RAGING! So off we went, west through the gorge, on the path to see as many waterfalls in one day as possible.

We did an excellent job – saw so many I lost count – and barely left the highway! We hit another section of the historic highway and didn’t go far before we heard the thunder of Horsetail Falls – stop number 1! Before we even got out of the car, I heard the gasps of amazement, the muttered “holy shit!”s and the dropping of jaws. I’ve seen the falls before, but this was truly remarkable – and just the first one! By the time we reached Multnomah Falls (the famous falls near Portland), we were no longer able to fully shut our jaws. The famous bridge is now closed due to damage from a falling rock, so we couldn’t go very far, but wowzers. Just unbelievable.

raging Multnomah Falls. Portland OR

One tier of Multnomah

Multnomah Falls Oregon, Columbia Gorge

The all-of-it view of Multnomah. Whoa.

Even the historic lodge/giftshop at Multnomah was impressive. We continued on, stopping for every waterfall we came to, and decided to hike one. I don’t even remember which massive waterfall we were at, but we saw a trail heading up into the saturated forest and off we went. The trail was paved but steep, and before long we were shedding layers trying to cool off. Mother Nature must have heard us and wanted to help, sending rain/ice balls down on us. But on we went, finally reaching Fairy Falls after about a mile and a half. It might not have been the biggest waterfall of the day, but it was lovely. The hike through the magical forest was worth it.

flowing stream after rain, Columbia Gorge

Water, water, everywhere!

We made a pit stop for lunch at the famed McMenamins Edgefield. I’ve been told repeatedly by numerous friends what an amazing place this is, and I’m sure I’ll be back to see all it offers. But this day was just for lunch, and after the super-delicious food, we headed back to see more incredible-ness. We hit up the viewpoints and observatory along the old road and the rain broke for us long enough to give us out-of-this-world views of the Gorge.

View from the Woman’s Forum viewpoint. The rock jutting out on the right is where the observatory is. I could stare at this view all day!

Down the old highway, we also came upon this super awesome tunnel from the original highway. It was filled in at one point, after the new highway was built, but has since been restored. I never knew a simple tunnel could be so neat-o!

historic tunnel, Historic Columbia River Highway OR

I see the light at the end of the tunnel!! 😀

It was a glorious day. We were worn out when we finally made it back to my house. We tried to stay up and play cards, but Sir and G had to leave crazy early Tuesday morning to catch their flight home. I had a hard time letting them walk out my door….

But that’s the great thing about friendships, they can come sailing back anytime, or drop anchor and stay awhile. There’s plenty of room in our harbors for the old ones and the new ones, and as long as we maintain them, they’ll never rot out. (I could go all day with this metaphor!) Sir has been a constant ship in my fleet, and sometimes the lighthouse guiding me along. I’m glad his ship has a shiny new coat of happy-paint that G has brought him, and that she has joined our little fleet, too. The more the merrier!

And friends we’ll always be.

😀

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