Traditional Mother’s Day

My favourite camping partner.
My favourite camping partner.

Our traditional Mother’s Day is not likely similar to yours. Nonetheless, aren’t traditions sometimes the whole reason we look forward to a holiday? For Tara and me, it’s camping.

It all started because I am the outdoorsy one and Tara less so. And when the kid was little, I just laid down the law and said, “I’m the parent and I say we are going camping.” When Tara got to be a teenager and had a mobile phone, and friends, and a bedroom where a teen could close the door and avoid interaction all weekend long rather than go trudging into the woods…well…there was resistance.

One year I got a little desperate and pulled the Mom card on Mother’s Day. “I don’t want a gift, or for you to make me breakfast, or anything else. Your gift to me on Mother’s Day is that you are going camping with me.” Surprise! Tara seemed relieved to know what I wanted, and happy to give it. Maybe they were grateful to have the excuse for friends, “I’d love to cosplay at the park with you, but Mom is making me go camping.” Whatever their reason, I had my kiddo with me in the forest.

It’s our sixth year and Tara confessed to looking forward to it. “When you called and said, ‘Mother’s Day is coming up,’ I got excited because I knew it meant camping.”

Tara set up the tent while I got the fire started.
Tara set up the tent while I got the fire started.
View from our camp across the river.
View from our camp across the river.
I was delighted by this God's Eye woven by a previous camper and tucked into a tree beside the tent.
I was delighted by this God’s Eye woven by a previous camper and tucked into a tree beside the tent.
My Jeep Dragon-Wagon is a great camp car.
My Jeep Dragon-Wagon is a great camp car.

Tara is at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. It’s about 3 1/2 hours’ drive from home. It made more sense to find a place to camp closer to the university, so I wouldn’t have to do so much driving. I found a place we had camped at before, and I blogged about it for Mother’s Day 2014. I went onto campus Friday evening and picked up the kid.

There was no cell phone service and so we had nothing to do but be together and talk and explore. Tara told me about their classes, the food, possible changes in majors. Right now they are most excited about the History of American Film classes, so we talked about those most often.

Tara's still having fun with hair colour. This year it has been the Cruella de Vil look.
Tara’s still having fun with hair colour. This year it has been the Cruella de Vil look.
Tara brushing their teeth at the creek Saturday morning.
Tara brushing their teeth at the creek Saturday morning.

The place is called House Rock Campground. Across the river is an enormous slab of rock that seems to lean against the ridge, forming a large protected space beneath. From the outside it’s hard to tell, but beneath it there is room for 20 or 30 people. You can stand up under there! The rock is along an old wagon road, and got a reputation as a good place to stop for shelter. Thus it was named “House Rock.”

Look carefully and you can see the long horizontal mouth of House Rock above the ferns.
Look carefully and you can see the long horizontal mouth of House Rock above the ferns.
That's me, inside the huge space.
That’s me, inside the huge space.
Trail between House Rock and House Rock Falls.
Trail between House Rock and House Rock Falls.

Saturday we walked across the wooden foot bridge to the trails on the other side of the South Santiam River (pronounced like “Auntie Em” – Santi Am). I was captivated by everything, as usual: the beautiful trail, the jungle plants, the bugs, the birds. I can’t help myself. We played under House Rock for awhile, then hiked up to the falls, which is simply gorgeous. From that trail, we could connect to the old wagon road, and hike a loop on that. Isn’t it exciting to walk in the footsteps of your ancestors? I love that it was a wagon road originally.

Information board out on the highway.
Information board out on the highway. Click to enlarge.
Footbridge from the campground to the trails. If you click the link to my 2014 post, you'll see the original ballet pose. We decided to recreate it.
Footbridge from the campground to the trails. If you click the link to my 2014 post, you’ll see the original ballet pose. We decided to recreate it.
Jungly plant with jungly flower
Jungly plant with jungly flower
slug
slug
milipede
milipede
Harlequin Ducks along the river
Harlequin Ducks on the river
South Santiam River
South Santiam River
At House Rock Falls. Tara said, "Pose!" So I did.
At House Rock Falls. Tara said, “Pose!” So I did.
less of a pose, but a better smile.
less of a pose, but a better smile.
On a rock ledge down by the water.
Rock ledge down by the water.

Sunday morning it was time to head out. I packed up the tent still soaked with dew, said goodbye to the families on either side of our camp. On both sides of us were young parents with small, active, vocal children who discovered each other immediately. Since our camp was in the middle, it became something of a connecting route, to the chagrin of the frequently apologizing parents. Luckily they were decent children, not being hoodlums, and I was able to easily forgive their shrieks and their bikes because they were doing exactly what I think kids should do: run around in forests and climb trees and get dirty and fall in the river and get wet.

I drove out of the Willamette National Forest early Sunday morning, intending to get home with enough time to get a few chores done before my 4:30 am alarm Monday morning. It seems like weekends just get shorter and shorter, and my enthusiasm for waking up at that obscene hour is fading over the years. I look forward to retirement and being free to go camping whenever, and for as long as, I choose.

A covered bridge near the campground.
A covered bridge near the campground.

20 thoughts on “Traditional Mother’s Day

  1. I am so glad that you two had a great weekend. Mother’s day in UK is a lot earlier in the year and probably not that suitable for camping! Father’s day is in June so that could be a possibility!

    1. Yes, too much earlier and the weather would not accommodate. Father’s Day is in June here too. I’ve also been invited to a Father’s Day camping, with my Great Uncle and his family. I didn’t even think about that till you brought it up: how interesting we’ve got two in the family who go camping to celebrate Mother’s/Father’s day. Must run in the family.

    1. It’s such a neat location. Not all campsites have so much stuff to see within walking distance. I also noticed some great swimming holes in the river. May is not the time of year I want to go swimming in an Oregon river, but later in the year I’ll bet it’s ideal.

      1. Smiling on the swimming. The river that flows in front of our house has many beautiful swimming holes but they are icy all summer since the water comes out of the bottom of Applegate Lake. Above the lakeβ€” a different story. πŸ™‚ –Curt

  2. You two looked like you were having a blast. It’s gorgeous there! A tradition is whatever you want to repeat from year to year and so you have your own unique one for the two of you. We had a picnic on our hill after a funny movie the 3 of us enjoyed. No traditions here. Just pot shot at a good time. Weather was somewhat cooperative. I’m surprised you weren’t chilled by the water. Glad you got to spend precious time together. Hugs.

    1. The weather down there in the southern Willamette Valley is warmer than us. You probably experience some of that in Oregon City, which I am guessing is warmer and drier than Portland proper, and certainly warmer and drier than Rainier. So anyway, it was in the upper 80s there, so we waded in the creek and our feet only froze a little bit. The temperature cooled rapidly when the sun set, as you suggest, but it was nice after the warmth of the day.

      Tara was particularly pleased, since their dorm room is on the 6th floor and the one window faces the afternoon sun. Tara has been roasting and said, “All I want is for it to get cool enough so I can wear long pants.” ha ha. They got their wish and we wore pants and sweaters and jackets in the evening and morning.

      Your tradition is that your kids spend time with you. I guess it doesn’t much matter what you’re doing, since you get to be together while you do it. ❀ A picnic sounds lovely.

      1. It was a lovely impromptu picnic. We were going to a park but the back hill was as inviting and quiet as any park. Glad you got to have time together as well.

    1. Thank you! We did have a wonderful time. I really enjoyed hearing Tara talk about their film classes. I got to learn many of the things Tara is learning, and it was fun to have them discuss a film I had seen, but discuss it from an educated perspective. I know nothing about what makes a movie good, I just know what I like. So Tara took me through cinematography and plots and constructs and actor portrayals of characters. It was really interesting and also fun to watch my kid get very excited about the topic. We had a good time, and it was easy to fall back into our easy roles that we used to have when we were a little team. I wouldn’t mind re-living all those years again, watching that person grow up once more. I’m so glad I became a mom.

  3. Of course, I had to go back to the 2014 post and was reminded about how wet it was that time.
    You all have created a wonderful tradition and I hope you continue (if only to see how Tara’s hair changes πŸ™‚ )
    I’ll be you do miss having Tara home! What a huge change for you, Mom.
    Glad to hear that they are enjoying class and being at college.

  4. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and all are quite new to us, in India, so is camping πŸ™‚

    Camping is getting really popular now a days and I just loved that experience once I got a chance …

    Really enjoyed this post, beautiful write up and images πŸ™‚

    1. Trained as an anthropologist, I frequently try to step back and look at what’s going on from “outside” the picture. And isn’t it just so funny that now that India and the US are so modern and advanced…once we are financially comfortable it is a distinct pleasure to go into the wilds and live in a fabric home, sleep on the ground, and cook over a fire? It’s actually hilarious. We just spent millions of years to get ourselves OUT of that necessity, and now we find it entertaining and pleasurable to go back. ha ha.

      1. Absolutely πŸ™‚

        We played in open fields, watched and took part in farming, caught fish in the nearby stream and played in rain…

        Now we have designed a travel programme for kids in the city to experience all these activities as part of our sustainable tourism initiatives.

        Parents are queuing up to book, so that their kids could experience all these.

        It’s always great to be back in the lap of mother nature, at least a few days in a year to remind ourselves, the connection πŸ™‚

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