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August 8, 2021

My little sister took us out to the lake! It was me, her, Holly and Claire. We picked this lovely little spot my sister likes and enjoyed the beautiful weather. I didn't really want to swim, but I did wade out a bit, and the water felt perfect with the sun and the breeze. Even though it had been a bit smoky off and on because of fire season, it was clear and you could see all the delicate contours of the forested mountains miles away. I felt really at home.

After a while a big family of ducklings and their mom swam up out of nowhere and splashed around near us for quite a while. It was a treat, and it was really nice that they felt safe enough to hang out with us and come pretty close. We watched them look for food, dipping their little spoon-shaped beaks in the water and popping their little heads up to catch some of the mosquitos that came out as the sun started to set, and just swim around and have fun. I was really reminded of how beautiful the world is in its delicate detail.

On the way back from the lake, we stopped at this decrepit little bridge we had spotted on the way there to explore. Claire stayed in the car since it was pretty rickety, but the rest of us got around the rotten old barrier and very, very carefully, walked out onto the bridge. The metal supports were intact and many parts of the original wood planks were surprisingly thick and sturdy, but some parts were too rotten to feel safe to put all your weight on. Same with some of the graying plywood slabs someone had laid down on top. The view of the river below was really beautiful, and the bridge itself was, too.

Photo of lake Photo of lake Photo of lake Photo of lake Photo of ducks on lake Photo of ducks on lake Photo of ducks Photo of ducks Photo of sunset on lake Photo of river Photo of river Photo of abandoned bridge Photo of river Photo of river

August 14, 2021

I am always struck by the sincerity and joy of Enchanted Forest. The amusement park was built by Roger Tofte and his family starting in the 60s, "one bag of cement at a time" on weekends even though "[everyone] but Roger thought it was foolish to think that this idea could work." (Quotes from the park's history page, which you should also read!) It's become a beloved place in Oregon since it opened in the 70s and celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month despite some immense challenges due to an outpouring of community support. Man, what a special place.

It was really wonderful to go with my little sister -- we grew up going here, and getting to experience it with her again was a delight! It was also so wonderful to share it with Holly and Claire for the first time, seeing them discover just what makes it so special.

Money was pretty tight so we could only afford so many ride tickets, but we got to do each of the big ones once. Challenge of Mondor was the ride I was most excited to show Claire, and she and Holly were both really delighted by it. I think it was also a little less dim this time than in the past, which I appreciated -- you could see all the cool details better! It was a little too quiet to really hear the quest Mondor was actually giving us, but the spirit was there. On Ice Mountain, Aub and I were in one of the "bobsleds" together, which was really fun. Holly and Claire had their own bobsleds in a different set so we did have a chance to wave at them while they were riding! We actually had to wait quite a while in line for the Big Timber Log Ride -- it had a long line and they had to flush and rerun the water -- but we had fun playing 20 Questions while we waited. On the actual ride, we got to a part without water that was just on rails, something unusual and fast for log rides. Holly wasn't expecting it and started freaking out when they realized what was about to happen, which was really funny, especially because after that dip the big drop was almost immediate, so they were still losing their mind. We got totally soaked by the big splash at the bottom, too, way more than I remember the splashes being as a kid. It was kind of nice, though, since it was so warm out!

Me and Aubrey acting silly-scared in the giant witch structure's mouth Holly and Claire acting silly-scared in the giant witch structure's mouth Me, Claire and Hol outside the castle Photo of Holly, Aubrey, me and Claire Photo of Holly, Aubrey, me and Claire Me and Aubrey goofing around Me and Aubrey goofing around Castle at Enchanted Forest Castle at Enchanted Forest Holly entering the sweets house

December 25, 2021

Some particularly special moments this Christmas:

My mom seeing the Merry Mushrooms pendant I was so excited to get her and immediately recognizing it and tearing up. She had gotten rid of her collection years ago, just like I thought since I hadn't seen them in a decade, even though they made her so happy when I was a kid. They were too fragile to take with us when we moved to Oregon, she said. I wanted her to be able to carry that happiness with her even if the dishes were all gone. I hope that's what her reaction meant.

My dad speechless when he saw the copy of Metroid Dread I got him. I thought he knew it was coming, but his reaction felt so genuine that I think it was really still a surprise somehow. I hope he takes the time off of working -- he's too hard on himself, I think -- to enjoy it. He deserves it.

In the car with my little sister on the way home, singing so loud and goofy and genuinely happy to "Wonderful Christmastime." (The really fun Paul McCartney version, of course.) I'm so lucky to have her in my life. I hope that she knows that always.