So we went to The Dalles this week, just like I told you we would. Did I overpack? Just a little bit. But I also forgot to pack socks for Elvis, so it kind of evened out.

Speaking of Elvis, he was sick last week and over the weekend. When he woke up on Monday, he seemed fine. Back to his old self. Then we drove out to Multnomah Falls and hiked to the top of the waterfall. He didn’t seem very fine after that. More to the point, he didn’t seem very fine during that. He started coughing again and every few minutes he’d yell out, “I hate it! I hate this walk!” On the one hand, I appreciated his direct communication. I can’t recall him ever telling me he “hated” something before this. “I don’t like,” sure, but never “hate.” So that was like a milestone achieved, and that was cool. On the other hand, 1.2 miles and 11 switchbacks of “I hate it!” got a little annoying. The good news was that he felt a lot better about the experience coming downhill.

I wasn’t going to buy anything from the gift shop because I already have two Multnomah Falls magnets. But then I found one with Big Foot on it, and I just had to get it.

We had lunch at a place called Char Burger. Sugar Daddy described it as “charmingly low-rent.” I’d say that about covers it.

On our way out to The Dalles we stopped at Rowena Crest Viewpoint or Vista Point or whatever it is. We were just going to look around a little bit, but then we started following this path to see where it led, and it led, like, a couple miles away. Needless to say, Elvis “hated” that walk, too. I can’t say I blamed him.

When we finally got to the hotel, I lay down on the bed and fell asleep. SD gave me the best Spring Break present in the world: he didn’t wake me up to take the kids swimming in the hotel pool. I completely missed the hotel pool experience. I just slept until dinner. It was kind of awesome.

For dinner we ate at Spooky’s pizza parlor in The Dalles. Spooky’s is charmingly…something. We ate there the last time we went to The Dalles and were so charmed we just had to go back. I just have to ask you, how do you resist a restaurant with a mascot like this?

There is a knitted afghan of that logo hanging in the dining room. That’s what I mean by charming.

Also, the pizza is quite good.

The pizza might have been more enjoyable if Elvis hadn’t been coughing up a lung and yelling, “I’m sick!” every five minutes. Good thing Spooky’s was hopping that night, or our party might have drawn undue attention to itself. (Or maybe the attention would have been due. But it wouldn’t have been wanted. That’s for sure.)

I can’t remember if I mentioned this in the previous blog post, but we did take Grandma along for this trip. I only mention this now because Grandma, Princess Zurg and I were sharing a hotel room, and Grandma does snore. Which is fine, really, because I understand that sometimes I snore, too. I mean, people snore. My mother snored like a chainsaw. So does my mother-in-law. But this is not really what I meant to tell you. My MIL volunteered to sleep on the couch-that-folds-out-into-a-bed so that PZ and I could each sleep in our own bed. (I really wouldn’t have minded sharing a bed with my own daughter but she’s kind of particular, and anyway, Grandma volunteered so who am I to argue?) PZ and I fell asleep while my MIL stayed up watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. (I can’t watch that show ever since SD pointed out that it’s 20 minutes of two-second edits. Now the thought of it makes my brain hurt.) Anyway, I wake up in the middle of the night and my MIL is snoring. Okay. I get up to use the bathroom and I see that not only has my MIL not pulled out the couch-bed, but she is in fact sleeping on the coffee table. Okay. I mean, not okay. That’s really pretty odd, isn’t it? I mean, my MIL is used to sleeping in different places, I guess. She slept on her couch every night for 30 years until she moved up here and bought a bed. (It’s a long story.) And she’s not very tall, so if she’d decided to just fall asleep on the not-very-big couch in the hotel room, that would have been one thing, but the coffee table? That was unexpected.

But I digress.

The weather on Monday was sunny. On Tuesday it rained. So we went to the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center, which is always a pip. Then we went into Washington and visited the Maryhill Art Museum, which was interesting. It’s in the middle of freaking nowhere, and they have a large collection of artifacts from Queen Marie of Romania. Stuff like her crown and thrones and jewelry and stuff. Lots of furniture that did not look remotely comfortable. I can understand maybe a throne that isn’t comfortable. I mean, how much time does the queen really spend on her throne? Probably not that much. But sitting chairs and benches and stuff? It was all made of bronze or something. Absolutely no cushioning whatsoever. There were pictures of her and her children lounging on them. Really. I don’t know if they did that often. Maybe those Romanians are just made of sterner stuff than I. Probably so. I mean, most folks are, and heaven knows the Romanians have had a time of it. Uncomfortable furniture was probably the least of Queen Marie’s concerns.

The Maryhill Art Museum also hosts a large selection of Rodin sculptures as part of its permanent collection. I thought that was pretty interesting, being that it seriously is in the middle of nowhere.

As I recall, the museum is housed in philanthropist Sam Hill’s former mansion. (I made a lot of “where in Sam Hill” jokes that day which were underappreciated.) Sam Hill was also a Quaker pacifist and he had erected a World War I memorial fashioned after Stonehenge. It is not too far from the museum, so of course we had to visit that too. Actually, it was the whole reason we went in the first place. If there had been no Stonehenge, what would have been the allure? Romanian royalty and Rodin? I’m still a little unclear on how all that Rodin ended up in the middle of eastern Washington. But life is a mystery.

Now that I have this new laptop I have the new version of Microsoft Word, whatever that is called. Word 7? Word 24? I have no idea. Anyway, it’s taking a lot of getting used to. I finally figured out how to make the spacing the way I like it, which is the way it used to just automatically be in whatever ancient version of Word I was using for the last five years. I want to tell you kids that I am not enjoying getting old and crotchety nearly as much as I expected to. It doesn’t help that I am aware of the fact that I’m old and crotchety. In fact that may be the entire problem. Old and crotchety people aren’t supposed to know that they’re old and crotchety. They’re supposed to just think that the world is getting worse and stuff just isn’t as good as it used to be. The key to happiness may lie in a lack of self-awareness—in which case I am in a lot of trouble, as I’ve always been very self-aware. Sometimes it’s a blessing, but other times a curse. What can I do?

I spent most of today helping a friend with the last dreadful tasks of moving out of her house. I feel terrible because her husband started a new job on the other side of the country a couple months ago and she’s been here all alone with her four kids taking care of all the house and moving crap, and I have been so absorbed in my own stupid crap that I haven’t been any help to her whatsoever. Until today, of course. Better late than never, I guess, but still, I expected better of myself. I told SD that if he ever decides to take a job on the other side of the country and leave me to pack up and move the house by myself with all four kids, he can expect to hear, “I’ll miss you, honey! Don’t forget to write!”

Seriously, between dealing with my own crap over the last two weeks and watching my friend trying to disposition the last of her crap (really the absolute worst part of moving, in my opinion—all the leftover bits of crap that didn’t fit neatly into boxes but can’t just be thrown out), I am more determined than ever to stay right here until I die. UNTIL I DIE.