Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ru's 60th Birthday Celebration

(5+1=6) + 0 = 60

My mom Rhonda (or Ru to her friends and family) turned 60 on August 1st of this year.  The kids and I surprised Grandma Ru during her lunch break at work with three balloons (one was a casualty of wind in the van – may it rest in peace), flowers and hand-made cards declaring their love for her.  It was really more like “planned spontaneity” since Ru and I coordinated our schedules, but the kids thought they were surprising her.

Nothing fancy about this party.  All you need is love, right?
Our family likes to drag out a celebration, especially one as big as turning 60, so we partied again two evenings later.  Curt barbecued marinated chicken wings on the grill, I made the side dishes and we all pigged out.  When it came time to unveil the mint dessert cake and sing to Ru, I realized I didn’t have a number six candle.  How that happened, I’m still not sure, because three of our four children have hit the milestone 6th birthday.  Regardless, we needed a compromise and fast.  One of the kids suggested turning the nine candle upside down, but then the wick would be buried in frosting so we scratched that idea.  We discussed putting 60 candles on the cake, but didn’t want to mess with the time or the fire hazard (sorry Mom).  Our last minute solution was to put the five and the one candle really close together (it adds up to six) and then put the zero next to them.  Alli wanted to hold up the paper “Happy Birthday” banner while we sang but as she adjusted it, she accidentally drug it through the lit candles, nearly setting it on fire.  Somehow we managed to sing Happy Birthday to Ru and get the candles blown out without burning down the house.  WHEW!  It wasn’t until I uploaded pictures from our party that I realized all the kids were in swim suits with nappy swimming hair.  It’s a good thing Ru doesn’t care about fancy or formal!

Last year for Ru’s birthday, we had a Mom/Daughter day and spent the entire day hiking on Mt. Hood.  It was such great fun that we decided it should become a yearly tradition. Saturday morning, Grant and I arrived at Ru and Terry’s house as close to “on time” as I’m capable of.  Terry and Grant took off for some man time hiking in the Columbia River Gorge while Ru and I took off for the Grassy Knoll trailhead outside Carson, Washington.

We crossed the Bridge of the Gods and drove into Stevenson, a quaint little town on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge.  We stumbled into Stevenson on the weekend of the town’s annual festival and about an hour before the festival’s parade started.  People were lining the sidewalks of the three or four block downtown area, eagerly awaiting the start of the parade.  I decided to be the first person in the parade, rolled down my window and drove slowly past the parade goers, honking and practicing my princess wave.  Who knew my year as a Scio Lamb and Wool Fair princess would come in handy?

Beautiful Mom on cliffs
We giggled our way into Carson, the next town on our route, and a few miles later turned onto Bear Creek Road for a 15 mile drive up a mountain to the trailhead.  In typical Forest Service Road fashion, the road turned to single lane shortly after the pavement ended.  A single lane for traffic going two directions would be less terrifying if there wasn’t a steep drop-off on the non-mountain-hugging side of the road.  I drove slowly, keeping an eye out for the much talked about “car sized potholes.”  It didn’t take long for them to appear and in this case, people weren’t exaggerating.  I dodged potholes and when I couldn’t drive around them, descended slowly and carefully into and out of them in our non-four-wheel-drive minivan.  Good times people.  Good times.

Eventually we reached the trailhead of Grassy Knoll.  It was a much shorter hike than the one we tackled last year, but was billed as “strenuous” for its steep ascent.  The trail gained over 2,000 vertical feet in just over two miles with no switchbacks.  We took our time hiking and chatted it up once we acclimated to the steep climb.  We stopped at some really cool cliffs half-way up the mountain for a snack break and photo op.  Mt. Adams loomed across a vast sea of rolling foothills.  We stood above the noise and chaos of daily life, wind in our hair on the edge of the cliff soaking in the view.  It was glorious.  

Mom, trying to work my camera, ended up with this fun shot
Bear droppings were all over the cliffs and the trail and it occurred to me for the first time there was a reason why the pothole road was christened “Bear Creek Road.”  Ru saw a snake (I ran past the spot on the trail once it slithered into the bushes), we both screamed bloody murder when Ru stepped on something pokey and shrieked (I’m her daughter – it’s my job to freak out too), but thankfully we did NOT see a bear.  Just bear poop.  The poop encouraged us to rehearse what to do IF we saw a bear.  Neither of knew for sure but I’ve recently read about grizzly bears mauling hikers in other state parks and the articles said something like act really tall and make a lot of noise, don’t show fear, and back away without running or making eye contact.  As if…

on top of the bluff - see Mt. Hood peeking through?

We reached the top of the Grassy Knoll too quickly.  The hike wasn’t as hard as Ru had anticipated and we both wished it would have lasted longer.  The knoll, known for its wildflowers in the early summer, was done blooming and was instead covered with dead grass. What the knoll lacked in flowers it made up for in the spectacular views.  Mt. Hood played hide and seek with the clouds on one side of the knoll.  Mt. Adams stood in brilliant sunshine on the other side.  We took pictures and headed back down the mountain, stopping at our cliffs for lunch before heading back to the van.

Me on top of the "Grassy" Knoll
love this picture of my Mom
While we dodged potholes back down Bear Creek Road, Ru told me about a mineral hot springs in Carson.  It sounded interesting so we drove to the Carson Hot Springs Resort (“resort” is part of the official title and is not the word I would use to describe this very cool place) to check it out.  The setting was beautiful.  A hotel built in 1901was nestled in the crook of multiple mountains.  We meandered into the lobby and the old smell and shabby décor made me think it hasn’t been updated much since it opened in 1901.  Next to the hotel was a legitimate bathhouse built in 1923.  (Think Mel Gibson in the movie Maverick and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.)  We peaked into the women’s bathhouse to see rows of ceramic bathtubs with flimsy plastic curtains for privacy lined up in a bare-bones room.  The mineral-rich, 119°F water smelled like rotten eggs but people were taking baths in it.  For a whopping $20, we could join the fun.  It took us all of five seconds to say, “We’ll go get our money and be right back.”

outside the Ladies Bath House
Clumps of dust clung to the ceiling fan in the ancient changing room.  We wrapped ourselves in the towels provided and padded over to our tubs, pulled our curtains, and shrieked and giggled as we tried to force ourselves into the piping hot, stinky water.  It didn’t help that there were hand-written signs all over saying, “Quiet Area – please respect other people.”  It just made us laugh harder.  We suffered in the hot water for 25 minutes then blessedly got out and headed to the massage tables.  We reclined on the table, a bathhouse attendant cocooned us in hot blankets, and then left us to sweat out all the toxins drawn to the surface from the hot bath.  I was just starting to fade into oblivion when two older ladies entered the resting area of the bathhouse.  They made a lot of noise getting situated and then one of them passed gas.  REALLY loud.  I thought I might die as I tried to suppress my laughter and be polite.  I knew my mom was at the next table doing the exact same thing and the vision of her mummified body shaking with laughter brought me to giggles again and again.  Right as we began to settle down, a different lady named Bessie came into the bath house and in a loud disgusted voice asked the bathhouse attendant, “You mean I’m supposed to get naked for that bath?”

ancient hotel
We eventually reclaimed our “grown up” status, stopped giggling, and fell into blissful slumber while our bodies detoxified.  It was really relaxing and definitely worth every penny of the $20.  I plan to come back and bring friends.  Ru, on the other hand, said it felt like two hours of continual hot flashes and she will NOT be taking another trip back in time for a communal mineral bath.

One of the many things I love about my Mom is her passion for life and her ability to laugh.  She makes everything fun and our birthday celebration was no exception.  Happy 60th birthday Mom!  I sure do love you.

1 comment:

  1. Finally got a chance to read this post. Two hours of hot flashes and the "Scio Lamb and Wool" fair made me laugh! (Not to rain on your princess status, the name of the fair just cracked me up!) Sounds like a lovely birthday for your mom (except for the hot flashes, of course). - Faith