A Magical Place: Camp Westwind Day 1

A few weeks ago we spent Memorial day weekend at Camp Westwind. We had a wonderful time exploring, hiking, playing games and making new friends. Sadly it ended in the worst way imaginable but, with a couple of weeks behind me, I feel as though I am now ready to share the happier parts of our weekend.

Camp Westwind is located just outside Lincoln City on the Oregon Coast. The camp is accessible only by barge (or canoe) over the Salmon River at high tide or a 2 mile walk in from highway 101. We arrived with the main group early on a Friday morning to catch the barge across the river. It was raining and a little miserable and I found myself wondering if our choice for a 3 day weekend at camp with relative strangers was a good one. The boys kept themselves busy skipping rocks and finding friends while we waited for the barge.

After a short wait the boys and I found ourselves on the very first ride across the river while Kei stayed behind to help load the luggage on the barge.

After we reached the other side of the river, our small group started walking up to camp. It was on this walk that I met some new friends who told me they had been coming to Westwind for years and that it’s a magical place. I remained skeptical while my legs grew weary of the walk along the dirt road. I’ve never been fully comfortable in new environments, especially those that include shared bathrooms and cabins and the prospect of meeting about 50 new people. But these new friends with their warm welcome gave me hope that it would be less scary than I imagined.

And, you know what? It wasn’t scary at all and it was even more than a little bit magical. We made new friends, enjoyed long walks along the beach, explored tide pools and hiked up (what felt like) mountains. Our little family enjoyed three days of feeling disconnected from the real world, figuratively and literally (I couldn’t get a phone signal). It was like being stranded on a deserted island, but with three good meals a day and a keg at night.

Here are some photos from day 1, including a a baby seal sighting that made me grateful for my new zoom lens.

No need to check your eyesight – that’s Thomas running with a friend, not Samuel.

This boat came all the way from Japan.

Back soon with photos from Day 2 when the sun made a rare appearance on the Oregon coast.

Another Week, Another Tragedy

I hate having to be a broken record. Another school shooting today, on the outskirts of Portland. Another family who has to plan a funeral for their child. Only this time it wasn’t a terrible accident, it was something that shouldn’t have happened. Something completely avoidable.

I have strong views about gun laws in my adopted country and, quite frankly, I’m tired. How many more times does this have to happen before we see some real change?  I know there are crazy people out there and I know that some of those crazy people (or depressed people or people with a vendetta or people just having a bad day) would hurt someone with or without a gun, but why are we making it easier for them? And to those who say we need good guys with guns to stop bad guys with guns –  I don’t want to rely on that good guy with a gun. I would rather the bad guy have a harder time getting one in the first place. We don’t need more heroes – we need fewer avoidable tragedies.

I’ve been caught up in a Facebook discussion today that went back and forth between people on opposing sides. For the most part it was a civil conversation with everyone respecting each others point of view, but then there were the people who asked how we dare debate this topic when someone has to say goodbye to their child today. In my mind, is there a better time? This country has a very short memory when it comes to gun control and next week Reynolds High School will be another dot on the school shooting map.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – your right to own a gun is not more important than my child’s right to go to school without fear of being shot.  Not changing anything with regard to gun laws is not working. In fact it’s getting worse.

Life trumps guns. It’s that simple.


It’s Friday and it’s sunny. The only thing that happens less frequently in Portland at this time of the year is a sunny weekend but it looks like we’re going to be blessed with that as well.

The last couple of weeks have been strange and difficult but I feel as though I’m slowly coming out of the fog. People warned me that I would think that I’d moved on and then suddenly an image or a feeling of grief will overtake me and they were right. Driving seems to be the most difficult time, when my mind wanders and there’s no one to jump in and change the topic that’s running through my head. Unfortunately my complicated commute means that I’m on the road for at least a couple of hours a day. Ira Glass and The Moth have been keeping me company but it sometimes feels like pop culture is a minefield. The smallest reference to anything remotely related to our experience can send my mind running through the events of that morning one more time. And then there’s the family suffering an unspeakable loss that I can’t stop thinking about. My heart breaks for them every day.

Still, I feel as though the fog is no longer the that black cloud that it was on those first few days. I am grateful for a community that came together to hold each other up – literally and figuratively. I’m grateful for a school counselor who gave my son the extra listening ear he needed. It’s been less that two weeks (two weeks!) but somehow feels like a lifetime ago. And while I want to move forward, I really don’t want to forget. There have been a few events in my life that have helped shape who I am and I’m determined to ensure this one shapes me in many positive ways. It seems like the only suitable memorial.

So, I plan to move forward with this little blog that almost no one reads. And, although I’m sure most people didn’t need to read that whole convoluted intro, it was important for me to put these thoughts out there because I didn’t know how I would go back to blogging about sunshine without it.