Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Great Loop

We left last Wednesday to take our children to college. Kaley's belongings filled up our Honda Pilot with no room left for anything but Dave and me. Lucas's stuff filled up his 1987 Jeep Cherokee with room left only for him and Kaley. Kaley chose to ride with her brother rather than with one of her parents even though the Jeep is not air-conditioned and the handle to roll down the window is missing. It seems she wanted to arrive at her college in the vehicle with the bumper sticker, "Who Would Jesus Bomb?", driven by a cool and handsome 21 year old. Gosh, we have had that Jeep since Lucas was two years old and before Kaley was even born. It just keeps going and going. We brought Kaley home from the hospital in that Jeep when she was born and now the Jeep has delivered her to college.

The Jeep doesn't have much power when it comes to mountain passes---unlike our Honda. But we stayed together for the five hour drive from Mukilteo to Walla Walla and then the six hours from Walla Walla to Missoula on Friday. We left Kaley in Walla Walla. When we arrived in Missoula, we moved Lucas into his apartment and left Dave with the Jeep to attend a meeting at the University of Montana. Lucas and I then drove another 100 plus miles to Helena to see my Mom, my sister-in-law, my nephew, his wife and their two darling little children.

On Saturday, Lucas and I drove back to Missoula. Dave and I left him there with his Jeep and his new apartment and we drove five more hours to Post Falls, Idaho to see Dave's sister. After a short stop, we drove another 20 minutes into Spokane to have a celebratory empty nester dinner with Dave's brother and wife. Dave and I are the youngest so we are the last to become empty nesters in both families.

Finally, on Sunday, the final leg of our trip was Spokane to Seattle and another five hours of sitting. The only day without at least five or six hours of driving was Thursday in Walla Walla at the Parent Orientation. I do not even want to think about the amount of money we spent on gas.

I am always amazed at the incredible hundreds and hundreds of miles of emptiness and wilderness in our great northwest. After we drive over Snoqualmie Pass and out of the Seattle metropolitan area, we left the urban world behind. The drive from Walla Walla to Missoula was particularly wonderful and remote. Outside of Walla Walla were forest fires causing such thick smoke that we needed our headlights and we had to share the two lane road with water tanker trucks and fire fighters.

The two lane highway took us to Lewiston, Idaho and from there we followed the Selway River through the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area. We had no traffic and no RV's to pass. We stopped to fill up our half empty gas tanks not far outside of Lewiston because virtually no human civilization exists over this stretch of wilderness until almost to Missoula. The rivers were crystal clear with only an occasional fly fisherman in hip boots. Lewis and Clark followed these rivers and I dare say it hasn't changed much in two hundred years.

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Walla Walla is located near the Oregon border where it says Snake River

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Kaley's dorm at Whitman College

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Hall of Music where Kaley will spend most of her time.

Kaley is excited and phone calls so far have made me happy. The first dance caused a little drama between her and her room mate over a boy but that seems to have passed. The last time I talked to her she had been "jamming" with a boy on African drums, a boy on guitar, and Kaley on guitar doing vocals. They were out on the grass with their makeshift ensemble and evidently drew a little crowd. That is my daughter--always performing.

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Lukie's apartment

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University of Montana

Lucas is staying in University housing although it is a new three bedroom apartment. Upper classmen with good grades are allowed to stay in these facilities. Two of his friends are his room mates and none of them are able to cook. Lucas has gone to bed after only eating cereal or the brownies his Grandma sent with him. He is shoved out of the nest. He figured everything out in Europe. Certainly, he'll figure it out in Missoula.