Skydiving with Llamas
The combination of several long days spent driving along the west coast interspersed with internet-free accommodations has disrupted our blogging ritual. When Mariah last posted, we were leaving behind our lighthouse accommodations on a cliff in Heceta, on the coast of Oregon. From there we traveled to Gold Beach, Oregon to the Tu Tu’Tun Lodge on the north bank of the Rogue River. We stayed there for two nights without televisions or newspapers, and only very limited cell service. It was a gorgeous and exquisitely maintained property with attention paid to every detail. The landscaping was beautiful, and wild deer, accustomed to the Inn’s guests, frolicked (literally, frolicked) on the property near a cluster of apple trees.
Shortly after we arrived, Harry joined a tame four and a half hour whitewater river trip with just a taste of the rapids thrown in for good measure. He went fishing in the company of private guide on our second day and landed a silvery and spirited twelve pound Chinook salmon. Meanwhile, Mariah attended to University of Pennsylvania paperwork and their required summer reading while I wrestled with the spotty cell service to address matters requiring my attention on Cape Cod. And then we all did absolutely nothing at all for a while.
At 7 PM a dinner bell signaled the serving of an outrageously delicious prix fixe dinner menu to the Inn’s guests in an open-air dining room overlooking the river. We were all assigned to tables of eight, on which overflowing platters of food were placed on a gigantic polished wooden handcrafted Lazy Susan. Would you like a gravity-defying popover that floats above its basket on the table? Rotate the wooden slab to the right. More pheasant with local berries and microgreens from our garden, anyone? Another half turn to the right. Would you care for one more nibble of grilled Chinook salmon caught this afternoon in local waters and prepared by our chef in a honey glaze produced by the bees kept on property? It was as far removed from our regular forays to Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives as you can imagine.
Both evenings, we were fascinated by our assigned dinner companions and couldn’t help being amused by their conversations as the evening progressed. Several bottles of wine or a few dry manhattans into the evening, they oh-so-subtly began sparring with one another in a game I have named “Oh you really must.” We learned that this particular competition is played by recommending to new acquaintances that they simply must replicate your travels by visiting locations and attending events of an increasingly rarified and unattainable nature. Had we stayed another night, I would have recommended that they simply must arrange for themselves the divine time we had Skydiving with Llamas in Dubrovnik, with Nikša, our charming Croatian guide. (The top players always enhance their suggestions by including the first name of the “very best” guide or sommelier or host, as applicable.)
En route to our next stop, Little River, California, we hiked for an hour or so through the 10,000 acre Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park in Crescent City, CA. These old growth coastal trees take everyone’s breath away. Enormous, ancient, strong, straight, stalwart. I don’t understand how they grew there. All during elementary school, I could not get a single avocado pit suspended with four evenly-spaced toothpicks to even sprout just a little bit while partially submerged atop a wide-mouthed Hellman’s mayonnaise jar. Ditto for the recalcitrant beans in cotton nestled between the two pieces of plastic that sat on our kitchen window sill refusing to illustrate root growth as promised. The acres and acres of magnificent groves of redwoods, the world’s tallest living trees, grew of their own accord. As much as anything else I have ever encountered in nature, they astound me. When you are next in Dubrovnik you simply must tell Nikša all about the glorious redwoods.