Harper Lee on the Oregon Trail
Isaac and Harper Lee making rope on the Oregon Trail.  For one week, volunteers live at the pioneer camp along the trail and do demonstrations for local school children.  We happened along in between groups and had some individual attention from some really nice folks.  I know the South has a reputation for hospitality, but the West rivals it in genuine good grace and friendliness.  
This is taken from the window of the mini-van.  (Yes, much to Harper Lee and Isaac’s delight, we had a week with a super-cool mini-van.)  Now I know why the West is often referred to as “Big Sky Country”.  It did seem bigger.  I know that it’s because the land is flat in between the mountains and there are less trees to frame us in, but it is incredible.
And if you needed any proof that there is a God… here you go.
Yes, I’m wearing Rob’s bike jersey.  It was raining, and Harper Lee forgot her raincoat so she’s wearing mine.  The jersey actually worked pretty well.
Isaac fell in the ice-cold river, but he didn’t cry.  He’s a tough guy!
Harper Lee with her medal at the XTERRA National Championship Kid’s Run.  She looks better after her race than I did after mine.
The archeological dig playground at the High Desert Museum.  Harper Lee now wants to be an archeologist… or sweep up hair at a barber shop.  Both are very cool options.
Literally a hole in the ground.  I’m glad the dude at the bike shop told me that the cave I was looking for was a hole in ground with a “sort of” fence around it.  We drove for several miles before spotting a blue Jeep out in the middle of some sagebrush and a postcard sized sign that read “Boyd Cave”.  It’s one of many free and unregulated caves in Oregon.  It was just me and the kids since Rob was mountain biking in 50 degree rain and since he hates small spaces.  Afterward, it’s easy to recognize the fact that this would be an ideal place to be murdered and disposed of, but at the time, we had a great adventure.  This was the kids’ favorite activity of the entire week.
Look at the street sign.  Yes, Ramona fans, it’s a real place!!!  I was so excited.
Me and a very dear childhood friend– I know this makes me a huge nerd, but this might have been one of my favorite things.  My set of Ramona, Beezus and Henry Huggins books were dog-eared and worn for a reason.  I loved them so much, and I still do.
The tradition continues…
Oregon was just too beautiful for words.  It was grand and spectacular in the way that the American West should be, and if I had to chose a place to live besides North Carolina, that would definitely be it.  But despite it’s grandeur and breathtaking beauty and the phenomenally nice people, I am at my very core, a North Carolina mountain girl.  Our mountains may be smaller, but they’re older… and they’re mine.  
I want to see more of the West and travel as much as possible over the next years, but I’ll always come home.  There’s just no other place like it.