Happy Thanksgiving!

Champoeg State Park was going to be full from tonight through Saturday night when Wendy first made a reservation for us this last week.  By the time I got on last night to make a reservation beginning December 1st, the park was full until the 8th.  That’s what procrastination gets you!

I had contacted my cousin, Dave Brim, last week in a panic.  I knew he lives in Sherwood and I explained to him that we didn’t have a place to stay over Thanksgiving weekend, so he gave us permission to come and stay next to his home.  I could have sworn that in my email to him, I had told him what our RV length is and how many vehicles we have.  We got up early so that we could come to my cousin’s place before Mark had to go to work.  Dave moved his car so that Mark could back the RV up the driveway and he was impressed with how big our RV is.  It’s 35 feet, which seems small to me when I have to live in it for six months out of the year, but Dave was just a little surprised.  He was even more surprised when I mentioned that we have a pickup and a car.  Later, I went back and checked the emails I had written to him, and I had failed to share that little bit of information.  However, he gamely moved another vehicle so that there would be room for our two in his driveway.  I am terribly embarrassed that I failed to prepare him for all this.  Add to that that I had to tell him we don’t have a place to stay the first week of December and I was sure he and his wife, Sue, would begin to feel used, but they have been very gracious!

Mark was here long enough to get the RV set up and hooked up and then he was off to work.  I had asked my nephew, Nate, if I could take him out for lunch, just a little Auntie-Nephew time together, and he said yes so I left to go pick him up.

Nate has recently been diagnosed as being gluten-intolerant like his dad, so I took him to Pieology where they have gluten-free pizza crusts and you can pick any toppings you want. This statue of a boy with a mastodon is in front of the place.

Then I took Nate back to Champoeg State Park.  When Mark and I camped there, I realized what a goldmine of history this place is.  Nate just graduated from Oregon State University (Go, Ducks!) with a double major in International Studies and History.  Now he’s working as an assistant ELL (English Language Learner) teacher and saving his money to go back for a Master’s degree so that he can become a history teacher.  Can you tell I’m proud of my nephew?  😉

We went into the visitor center at Champoeg State Park and watched a movie about the part Champoeg took in forming the government that led to Oregon’s statehood.  They also have a cool display about the Kalapuya Indians that lived here before either the British or the Americans.  One of their main food staples was Camas lilies.  They would dig up the bulbs which were kind of like onions.  The British were fine with them being nomadic.  They traded with the Kalapuya for beaver pelts which were made into beaver top hats.  They also employed some of the Indians.  The American settlers were different.  They wanted to farm the fertile soil, and they plowed up most of the Camas lilies in favor of wheat and barley and other such crops.  They also brought diseases with them that the Indians had no resistance to – measles, malaria, and smallpox.  Thousands of the Kalapuya died and their tribe became only a fraction of its former size.  Marcus and Narcissa Whitman, a missionary couple who tried to convert the Native Americans, cared for both the Americans and the Indians.  The Americans recovered.  The Indians didn’t.  That was what led to them massacring the Whitmans and several other people living with them.  And the massacre led to the American government sending an army to fight the Native Americans and send them to a reservation.  Not one of the brightest times in American history.

After looking around the visitor center for a while, we drove down to a part of the park where they have marked out the streets that were in the prosperous town of Champoeg before the flood of 1861.

Nate and I walked down a trail until we came to a tree that records the height of the two biggest floods.

The marker near the bottom of this tree is how high the river rose during a flood in 1996; the much higher marker is from the flood of 1861.  Nate went and stood by the lower marker and said, “This is only knee-high to me.”  I reminded him that this piece of land is up a ways from the normal river level.

This is the Willamette River within its proper banks.  It’s further down than it looks in this picture.

We also visited a marker commemorating the meeting where the vote was taken to start a new government here. Fifty-two names are engraved on the other three sides. Those are only the names of the Yea votes. Fifty people voted Nay, and their names have been lost to history.

Right near the historic marker is a very old looking building with wavy glass in the windows. In front of this building is a covered picnic area.  It looks like the kind of place someone might have a wedding and hold the reception in the covered picnic area.

The day was beautiful, but it was super chilly.  Nate didn’t have a hat, so we didn’t do a lot of hiking on the trails.  When we got back to the car, I headed back to my mother’s house to drop Nate off where he and his parents are staying.  On the way there, I asked him what he enjoyed the most during the day and he said, “Spending time with you.”  Awww!

I didn’t have to work this evening, so Mark and I went next door to visit with Dave and Sue.  Sue and I went into her quilt studio where I oohed and ahhed over her various projects and finished quilts.  She is such a better quilter than me.  She’s made quilts that I have only dreamed of.  Mark and Dave sat out in the living room and got to know each other better.  Finally, Sue and I joined them and we all had a nice visit.  They told us that Dave’s brother, Alan, and his wife, Claudia, are spending the winter in Mesa, Arizona, so Mark and I are thinking we might try to meet up with them at some point when we’re down there.

Dave had some health issues this year and in June he started on a plant-based diet.  A week ago, Sue decided to join him on it.  He says he’s been feeling a lot better since he started the diet.  Their plans for tomorrow (Thanksgiving) are to go for a 5K walk in Sherwood in the morning and then to prepare a feast without any meat, dairy, sugar or oils.  I told him it sounds very healthy.  I don’t know if I could stick to a diet like that on Thanksgiving and Christmas.  For me, the holiday foods are so tied up in tradition and happy family memories that I would really feel deprived if I couldn’t have a normal feast!

Whatever you eat and whomever you eat with for Thanksgiving, make it a time to count your blessings from this year.  I know I’m thankful for the time I’m able to have with family members I don’t see very often!  If you’d care to, write to me what you’re thankful for this year…

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