We had gap year Ali back with us yesterday for one more night. In the intervening days, he went up to stay with my sister and her family in Puyallup and ventured into Seattle for a couple of days. He was hoping to be able to get a work visa at the Canadian Embassy that would allow him to work in Vancouver BC for a few months before returning home...but as I have found on a number of occasions, anything related to Immigration & Naturalization (of any country) is never that simple. The only way to apply for a work visa is from one's home country.
So a trip up to BC would have been fairly expensive for a short amount of time. Instead, he tooled around Seattle and hung out with the boys in Puyallup, going to baseball games and even going to a birthday party at an inflatable play area (where he was apparently the life and soul of the party)! Fortunately, he was able to get a brief bit of playtime in with my brother-in-law's extensive collection of electric guitars and visit the beautiful hand-built log home of David's brother Dennis and his wife Judy.
Yesterday afternoon the sun came out (even though the weather forecast had called for rain), so we decided to be spontaneous. We picked Chris up from school and headed out for the Columbia Gorge, wanting to show Ali a bit of Oregon beauty. Unfortunately, as soon as we hit Troutdale, the clouds descended and the rain soon followed.
Our outing, intended to be full of some wonderful waterfall hikes, ended up being mostly car viewing of waterfalls. The boys were acting as if they hadn't eaten for days and kept complaining about being hungry, so our plan was to make a quick stop at Multnomah Falls and climb up to the bridge, and then be on our way to Edgefield for dinner.
At the bottom:
At the bridge, Chris had run ahead and appeared to be heading up farther. He had expressed interest in climbing to the top, and Mike had told him that we didn't have time because everyone was hungry. It's a mile to the top--all uphill. I mean, REALLY uphill. I climbed to the top once when I was in high school with a group of friends and thought I would literally keel over. It was one of those many embarassing times in my life when I've been hiking with a group and have felt so out of shape and left behind. Not a positive memory!
At any rate, Chris disappeared and we thought for sure he would come back soon. Nope. For some reason, he decided it would be fun to hike to the top.
This was competely against character. First of all, he's not the kind of kid to deliberately disobey. He does have selective listening at times, and I think this was the case yesterday. And second of all, he has NEVER been a hiker. He would prefer to sit in the car and read. He has gone on short hikes, but he's not usually asking to go hiking on a Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, Mike had to head up after him.
Ali, Kieran, Nicholas, and I were waiting for them, occasionally fielding calls from Mike on the cell phone. Of course, Chris didn't have his cell phone with him because he always keeps it in his backpack. At one point, Mike said he hoped he wouldn't have a heart attack--he didn't have any water and he was wearing sandals. What a way to reassure your wife!
I kept trying to push out my head the news stories of people dying when they have gone hiking. When Chris was just a baby, Mike and I sang at a double funeral of a couple we knew--who had died while hiking in the gorge. Rationally, I knew it was unlikely that this would happen...but a 13-year-old, all alone, on a hike straight up a mountain? It's a good thing I had the younger kids and Ali there with me to distract me.
Chris made it all the way to the top (where he was disappointed because he couldn't see over the falls!) and had started heading back when he ran into an irate Mike. When they finally came tromping down to the bottom, Mike was walking several feet in front of Chris, and our runaway hiker was contrite and apologetic.
Now in retrospect, I feel kind of sorry for Chris--because he desperately wanted us to be proud of him for climbing all the way to the top, and we were just very annoyed (Mike) and worried (me). Ali said he was at a turning point between childhood and adulthood because he knew he'd have to try very hard not to laugh when they returned!
View looking toward the river from the bridge:
By the time we got to Edgefield, ate our dinner, and returned home, it was very late. Everyone had calmed down by then. Chris had accepted his punishment (3 days of no screen time), but even today he keeps apologizing. That's what he typically does if he screws up--apologizes over and over again even though we tell him to stop reminding us.
And the bottom line is...I am proud of him. And I have about ten more gray hairs in my head. Mike's legs are very sore.