May 27, 2010: 11:10pm PST. Bend, Oregon. 3,600 feet. 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wow. It's been a wonderful few days. I made it to Portland in about 8 hours on Tuesday - it rained most of the way. In Crescent City, CA, I bid a fond farewell to the Pacific Coastline

crossed the OR stateline

and turned eastward to catch I-5 North to Portland. The drive went well - except for loosing the seat to my bike, which is attached to the roof of my car. The seat must have flown off at some point. I can only imagine the frustrated motorist behind me swerving to avoid my bike seat flying at his windshield at 60-plus miles an hour. He probably took one look at my license plate and said, "California freak!" Well, I needed a more comfortable bike seat, anyway. I also realized that my Thule car-top carrier was NOT waterproof and got soaked at a little po-dunky gas station while standing in the rain for 30 minutes putting all of my camping gear into garbage bags while some sleepy, half-amused sheep baah-ed at me from across the street.

Since Monday night, there's been no more camping - just cush. I was able to visit with my mother's sister, my Aunt Barb, in Lake Oswego, Oregon. We had a great time laughing, walking our dogs (she has two Goldens - Sedona and Tioga), visiting with extended family, grilling, and soaking in her hot tub overlooking Lake Oswego.

The moon on Wednesday night was spectacular!

Before I left she handed me a birth announcement. It was the birth announcement my mother hand-made in 1972 - when I was born.

Aunt Barb and I had a nice cry over that one. I took it as a little sign from my mom that I am on the right track with my trek back east. She never ceases to pop up in the best of ways.

Due to a last-minute connection on Facebook, I took a short detour and drove to Bend, Oregon this afternoon to visit with a very good friend, Bari

- one of the only friends I made in California (she's from NYC - go figure!) - who just moved here to be with her partner, Teri, in an amazing house that overlooks the high plain and the mountains surrounding. The drive was gorgeous - lakes, tall pines, rivers. LOVE the rivers in Oregon...wide, rocky, and gushing! Even hit some hail in the high country (about 5,000 feet up).

In Bend, the weather cleared enough so we could take her dogs for a walk (Duncan and Ernie, two Goldens, and a Chocolate Lab, Kelsey) on this great off-leash run.

They were a happy pack! Bend, and nearby Sisters, are two beautiful areas! I would love to get back here and spend more time. I daydreamed for a few minutes about, after finishing my PhD, landing a teaching job at the local community college up here. Lots of space, outdoor folks, ski mountains, wide fly-fishing rivers (will someone please teach me how to fly fish!!!???), dogs galore, pines, snow-capped mountains - the works! Though I think New England is where I'll want to hang my hat for the duration, this is def on my list of places to visit again! We gorged on amazing filet mignon with a Gorgonzola red wine reduction sauce that Bari just "threw together" (jeez, the woman can cook!)

and sipped a little Oregon wine. For dessert, we had a Blueberry Cobbler - or "Pandowdy" as my Uncle Steve calls it (which I thought was much more creative!) - that my aunt made for me for the road (gotta love family hand-outs!). I played a few songs for everyone before we hit the hay.

Good times on the road :)

I have to sleep now. LOOOONG drive tomorrow. Trying to make it to Salt Lake City. That's 12 hours from here. I'm not sure if Winni will be comfortable for that long. Though she does have more room than I do - the entire back seat, in fact. This afternoon, likely suffering from boredom and a lack of squirrels to chase, she popped her head up front while I was driving and I let her share a bite of my Twizzler!

Ha! She's a trip. We might just get to Idaho tomorrow. Not sure. I'll keep you posted! Peace out.