Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vacation Days 15, 16, and 17: 4th of July and the Long Road Home

I figured I'd better wrap up the vacation before the memories of it begin to cloud over and fade away.

Day 15 (Sunday) was Independence Day in the good ol' U.S. of A. It was another lazy day in Simi Valley, lifting myself up off the family room sleeper sofa, and pouring a cup of fresh coffee prepared by my dear sister-in-law as she had done over the last several mornings. I was guessing it would be a somewhat bittersweet relief for her when we're all finally gone. Soon the family was all gathering here again, sitting around the patio, engaged in conversation, the conversation somehow a little more subdued on this day after the previous days of boisterous banter and laughter.

My brother-in-law (our Simi Valley host, one of three here), the expert griller, grilled up rack upon rack of baby back ribs, grilling and smoking them slowly. My brother-in-law has the admirable trait of grabbing hold of an interesting hobby or endeavor, focusing on it like a laser beam, and becoming an expert. Grilling is one of his specialties. Needless to say, the ribs turned out fantastic.

Personal fireworks are banned in Simi Valley as they are just about everywhere now. The danger of fire is particularly acute in southern California. We were relegated to watching from afar the fireworks display down at the local high school. The view from my sister and brother-in-law's backyard overlooking Simi Valley is pretty nice and we got view of the fireworks display.

Our planned departure was the next day. We had packed and had most of our gear stowed in the vehicle ready to roll at 5 a.m.

Day 16 (Monday), the observed day-off holiday had us on the road north by 5:15 a.m., not bad for our family. The traffic was light leaving LA, with most folks heading inbound after their long weekend. We were quickly over Tejon Pass on the Grapevine and soon sailing through California's Central Valley punctuated by a couple Starbucks stops. We stopped in Redding at a Carl's Junior then climbing through the mountains around Shasta, Weed, Yreka, up and over Siskiyou Summit. When we reached Roseburg, it was time to stop. We checked into a Best Western that overlooked the South Umpqua River.

I was in Roseburg back in 2006 for a work project and, as a result, I became fond of it, an old logging town now given over to tourism of sorts. It was nice to drive around the town a little. The building I looked at in 2006 was a closed-down tire store being viewed at by United Rentals for expansion of their existing rental facility next door. The building is now a Goodwill store and United Rentals has left town, perhaps a sign of the bad economic times.

Back in 2006, I had flown into Eugene and driven the rest of the way down to Roseburg. On my way back to Eugene to catch my flight, I took the slow way back to explore and look for old teepee burners, those icons of the Pacific Northwest used to burn off sawmill wood waste. Air quality regulations in the 1970s put these burners out of commission but there are still a few around.

This one is located at Drain, Oregon

Photos of Wigwam Burners / TeePee Burners

Day 17: Home. The drive north from Roseburg to Edmonds went quickly. We were home by 2 p.m. It was good to walk in the door and smell the smell of your own home. It was good to be finally home.

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