Funny thing about right turns- you take them too soon and they lead you in an entirely different direction. Sometimes you end up discovering wonderful things you might not have never seen had you taken the expected path. Other times you just want to get the heck back on I5 so you can get out of the car already!
Silver Falls State Park was our big stop to break up a long day on the way to our ultimate destination, Aunt Dianne's house in Tenino, WA. It is an absolutely gorgeous place highlighted by ten waterfalls on a seven mile trail. We didn't have the time nor the ability to hike to all ten but we able to walk under the spectacular 177 foot South Falls. It was truly an oasis from the scorching heat and made me feel like we were on a tropical island instead of central Oregon. I loved being able to walk behind the waterfall and gaze at the solid rock that had been carved by thousands of years of pounding by water. Its a place I can't wait to return to as soon as the kids are old enough to make the full seven mile hike.
After we stopped to take a couple pictures of North Falls we started to make our way back to the interstate. Everything seemed to look the same. Wheat fields and Christmas tree farms. Was that our turn off? It looked like our turn off. But I don't remember passing that school. I certainly don't remember passing those fields of fluorescent orange flowers. No. That was definitely not our turn off. We had already driven so many miles. Was it worth turning around? We just needed to keep heading west. And so we did, in a round about sort of way. Finally after a few u-turns to follow the tiny signs the pointed us in the direction back to Salem, we reached the interstate. We were all drained. And we still had three hours of driving left. Or so we thought. Then- we hit Portland. The traffic in Portland is horrendous. It rivals anything I have ever had to deal with in LA. At 3PM on a Thursday we were barely crawling. It took every ounce of mental strength I had not to just drive down the shoulder like a bat out of hell. We drudged. And drudged. And then after what felt like 5 hours later, we left the Portland metro area. From then on it was smooth sailing. I had never been so relieved to pull onto a dirt driveway in my life. We were free! The kids were in heaven. Acres of land for them to run free and a dog to trot along side them. Cows in the forest across the street to clanging their bells and popping out their heads every once in a while to say hello . Hummingbirds to watch zip around and feed off of the vibrant flowers in the front yard. And Aunt Dianne happy to spoil them rotten.