HOW IS EVERYONE?! Oh, I have missed this — sitting down at my computer with a bowl full of snacks (today it’s carrots & club crackers) and having so much to say but lately, I’ve had exactly zero time to say it. The good news, though, and the update about us is: WE SURVIVED THE INTERNSHIP! For those who are just tuning in and haven’t read previous posts, my husband has been interning with KPMG, an accounting firm in downtown Salt Lake City, for the last few months. Let me tell ya, it wasn’t something easy but what good comes from easy things? Sure, it was long, exhausting hours for him to work and to be away from home but together we were able to find ways to keep our relationship strong and our love so passionate. I’ve been humbled by him, too. Somehow through all his responsibilities, business trips, and coming home to cold dinners, he was able to find time to nurture me and treasure those precious moments we did spend together — morning prayers & pillow fights while making the bed, to name a few. The last three months have taught us a great deal and have prepared us for what will be his successful future career but as he’s stayed busy, so have I. Does anyone follow my personal Instagram account? If you do, you’ll know that I’m a traveling nanny (yeah, I totally just made up that term) but basically I’ve been nannying for a number of different families as the moms & dads have traveled. Some families I worked with for 4-5 days with 3-4 kids; others, well. They were a bit more work. One family I nannied for a full seven days and not only with 5 or 6 children… but 7. AHHHHHH. Yes. Seven kids for seven days. Some moments during these weeks were more trying than others but I am incredibly grateful for the experience. I’m grateful for how I stayed occupied while Aaron wasn’t home for so many hours during the week, how I was able to financially contribute, how I was able to learn Christ-like love and patience more than I ever have before, and practice caring for kids. I’m excited to be a mom, please understand, but right now just isn’t my time. Motherhood is a topic for another day because it’s been heavy on my heart lately but I haven’t had the time or the guts to write about it. Instead, I’ll write about what it’s been like to have Aaron “off assignment” for a while. That seems a little more safe and a little more fun. Plus, we’re loving every minute of it!
Two days before Aaron’s last day of interning, we were lying in bed telling each other about our days. Mine consisted of 2 year old Mackenzie and I going on an afternoon walk in her red wagon before the big kids came home from school, helping with homework, and making bean & cheese quesadillas for dinner. Aaron’s was all about conducting official financial examinations on a handful of different companies, eating lunch in the break room, and driving home past 10:30 at night. Suddenly, both of us quiet and tired-eyed, we realized, “Wow! We don’t have work on Monday! What should we do?” That’s the exact moment we were stung by the travel bug. We searched different cities and different states but by early Monday morning we were on our way to Oregon and Washington State. Aaron had never been to the west coast and I knew there was so much there to show him. We had to go! So off we went.
Spring is a magical time to visit one of Oregon’s most magnificent and memorable sites! My father spent much of his growing up years there so as my older brothers and I grew up, he took us there every few years to explore its beauty. It’s a 611 foot-tall roaring and awe-inspiring cascade of water that lets you experience the power and beauty of nature up close (and with ease — Aaron isn’t one for heights or anything dangerous!)
For an even closer view, you can walk another several hundred feet up the paved trail to reach Benson Bridge, which spans the falls at the first tier’s misty base. Standing on the bridge you have a perfect view of the top tier’s full 542-foot height and a knee-wobbling vantage point over the second tier’s 69-foot drop! I kept telling Aaron, “This is the place I was telling you about!”
Our first night during our 3 day stay in Washington, we were searching the web of “things to do.” There’s museums, gardens, and phenomenal hikes but those we couldn’t really do. We took a drive up to Panther Creek but half way up we were barricaded by fallen trees and hazardous mud slides. Trust me, we tried but it wasn’t happening and I didn’t feel like dying that day! Once we saw the Oregon Zoo in our Google search, we knew that was our spot. It is UH-MAY-ZING, you guys! With 64-acres of elephants, lions, polar bears, rhinos, hippos, flamingos, bears, goats, cougars, beavers, otters, bobcats, penguins, seals, leopards, orangutans, chimps, giraffes, monkeys, insects (ick!), and reptitles (also ick! except for turtles), there is always something to see and discover. With the density of greenery and the sprinkle of rain, we really felt like we were in the forest! It’s a site to see if you ever make your way out west.
Travel tip: YOU MUST DO THE VOODOO WHEN IN PORTLAND. I’m not kidding. Over the years I’ve seen friends post photos of them holding pink boxes from some gourmet doughnut shop and I’ve always been curious. As we left the zoo, we were starved so when I discovered that VooDoo doughnuts was only 15 minutes away I said, “See, Aaron! That’s the other place I was telling you about!” It was definitely going on our appetite agenda. We parked in downtown Portland and walked our way to the beloved pastries and how perfect that was because we got to see the city as we went. As we turned onto 3rd Avenue, that bright pink sign made itself known so we knew we were close. I was BEYOND shocked to see the line of customers that flowed out the door on a Wednesday afternoon but I just had Aaron take pictures of me to kill the time. #instagramhusband
Beware of the menu though. You won’t be able to decide so that’s how they get you to walk out with a box of half a dozen! Also beware of their names; some of them are naughty to say out loud! Check out the menu and you’ll know what I mean. At the register I still had no clue what to order so the worker with a big bushy beard and colorful tattoos suggested “The Old Dirty” (but it’s really not called just “The Old Dirty” FYI). I’m sure glad he did. I ate that thing in one day! And I don’t even regret it.
BACKWOODS BREWING COMPANY
In a logging town just north of the Columbia River and the town where we stayed with my Uncle Kevin & Aunt Berta, Backwoods Brewing Co. is a locally operated brewery in the backwoods culture of Carson, Washington. They have house salads (the MAPLE SPINACH, oh I’m drooling over it already), and loaded pizzas made entirely from scratch. I dine here every time I visit the Matta family. It may be one of two restaurants in small town Carson but IT. IS. SO. GOOD! You definitely should add it on your list of go-to dine in’s. Also, speaking of family….
When it came to planning our trip, we had a plethora of places we wanted to visit, but undoubtedly was a (surprise) visit to Grandpa Ray the trip we wanted to take most. Growing up I couldn’t just walk to his house as I pleased or spend the time with him that I’ve always ached for. Aaron had yet to meet him anyway so it was time to pack our bags and visit one of the world’s sweetest and kindest person. He is 92 years young and works on his truck, exercises every morning, and eats his favorite cookies while watching old western T.V. shows. He earned a purple heart while serving in the army, worked as an electrician and a carpenter with only an eighth grade education, and met my Grandma Rose at a dance. They married and raised four strapping boys before he lost her twenty-one years ago and has subsequently lived alone in his home. Grandpa Ray is quiet, he lives a quiet life, but he still has his wits about him. I secretly recorded him as he recalled his time in the service and the second I told him what I did, he responded, “I hope that thing don’t work!” But it does and I hope it will forever. I look forward to sharing his stories with my children, his great-grand-children, one day. We continued to visit and laugh and as Aaron and I sat in his front room learning from his library full of stories, most memories, some faded, others clear as day, I realized they were stories he loved to tell. This was my favorite story of all: Shortly after Grandma Rose passed away, he made the drive to Utah to visit us. I was four years old and as soon as he pulled in the driveway, I gave him a hug. “Grandpa,” I said as he held me close to his chest. “Why did grandma have to die?” Grandpa looked down and his wrinkled hands and sighed. “I didn’t know what to say to you as such a young girl,” he paused. “I told you she was with the angels now.” I teared up as he retold this memory to me and I reached for his hand. “She is an angel, grandpa.”
We then looked at his photo albums and he told us all about his 21 day trip to Europe with Grandma Rose, her sister Martie and her husband George. The four of them also had a double wedding in December of 1946. We talked about technology and taught him what a “selfie” was. It totally freaked him out! He told us how he added onto his home in Stevenson, Washington with my dad and his three brothers and how they decorated for the holidays. He told us how last Christmas, he was alone and all to himself. I clenched Aaron’s hand as I choked back tears. How could I not be there with him, to dispel his loneliness, if only for a short while, but just enough so he knew he wasn’t truly alone? Be it a phone call if you live far away, a quick visit or a surprise trip with your whole family, make time to see your grandparents. You need them more than you think. Grandpa Ray was, and always will be, the highlight of my trip. He is the grandpa I have loved telling Aaron about. The same grandpa who lives in that place called Carson, Washington.