Summer Camp, USA

Enjoyed in PDX with home made pickles!

After 2.5 years in Taiwan, I hadn’t spent much time going home to the states. This was by design. I wanted and needed to soak up this new life and culture while I had the chance (it’s not forever after-all). We’re lucky, because our families have made the long voyage to visit us here, some even twice! With my sister wrapping up her two year teaching assignment in China and heading home for the summer, Pickles’ work trip in Portland and me craving quality time with family I packed up the freelance laptop and hit the road for a tri-state tour of my three home away from homes: Oregon, Montana and Pennsylvania.

1st Stop: Oregon

Activities: friends, feast, repeat
“Sarah & Scott are Back Memorial Day” wordplay with Vallah
Oodles of new babies and dear friends to see
Allison (a Nike Enginerd) and Kevin used to be our neighbors in Taichung. We miss them, a lot.
Chilling with my buds, Kirvan and doggie Bosco (R.I.P. dear sweet one).
Dinner at Canard with Rachel, my international art collaborator
Forest Park hike with the girls + one chill baby boy
Look at this new little nugget, out for happy hour! I can’t believe I caught a family photo of these cuties: Merritt, Louise, Sylvia & Steve
Happy hour at Basecamp with the fiesties
Rose season in the “city of Roses”
Simone stopping to smell the roses
Our PDX super-duper-awesome foster family: Sean, Vallah and Robin. Thanks for the killer brunch!
Pit stop at the Gale’s home + hula hoop lessons. It’s really hard to get a clear photo with this many wiggle worms: Laila, Eliza, Clara and Elliot!
The Brownsteads! Afton practicing his tough guy look and Maizie her fruity face smiles
Aaron & Alison minus Cam the Man – thanks for the tasty home-cooked dinner!!
Feasting

We didn’t miss a chance to indulge in some favorite eats like Por Que No and Broder. I also meandered down many grocery stores aisles, giddy with all the options and ENGLISH labels.

ÆBLESKIVERs at Broder. Always.
Gorge River

We enjoyed a weekend in the Gorge with our rad kiteboarder friends. We biked for beer. We lounged on the Columbia River’s grassy beach and took in all the colors and sunshine while they got their first surf of the season on. It’s a rough life having such cool friends.

Bike gang jam
A creative solution to opening wine when the cork is buggered.
Feisty wind catchers: Heather & Jessica

One thing that was noticeable upon landing in the USA is the ability to eavesdrop. This is something that I don’t partake in in Taiwan due to the lack of Mandarin fluency. I pick up words, but it’s a far cry from the brain-drain that eavesdropping in your native language (intentional or not) has on the mind. On the flip side, it was euphoric to communicate and read with such ease.


2nd Stop: Montana

Activities: hikes, corgi snugs, happy hours, bears, ping pong & hammocking

Next stop on the tri-state tour: Pickles and I spent a week in Montana with my folks. I then stayed on for the entire month of June. I’ve never spent this much time here and it’s been my home away from home for 24 years! I have never seen it this lush and green either – truly a breathtaking time to visit with all the wildflowers in bloom.

Reunited and it felt so good!
A proper backyard happy hour, in a locally made glass of course

We spent copious amounts of time snuggling THE corgi and hiking in Yellowstone Park. Enjoyed a couple 5-6 hour hikes following game trails. It’s just us and you name it… the occasional grizzly, black bear, antelope, elk, bison, golden eagle or sandhill crane. And because we’re Norwegian and my dad loves to see wildlife, we don’t yak much (rule #1 in bear country is to make some noise) which adds an element of thrill.

Pickles with bison skull
This was a 5 bear day in Yellowstone Park! We saw 3 grizzlies and 2 black bears plus so many more creatures.
My dad, Beth and John (friends from PA)
Hiking with my dad in the Gallatin National Forest at Tom Minor – beautiful and wild country. We saw one grizzly, from a very far and safe distance.
Always carry bear spray and know your scat. FYI: This be bear scat. Luckily it wasn’t warm.
Pickles with elk skull – what a rack!

When we weren’t sneaking up on wildlife in the park, we were social and mobile visiting with friends (they know everyone), baking bread (or rather us eating Wendy’s homemade bread), playing ping pong (my dad’s kinda good), backyard hammocking, setting up honeybee drinking stations (google it), playing mahjong (I can teach you), and connect four (I will beat you), flying a hot pink box kite, watching all the cool kids at the new skate park which just opened (designed and made by a Portland company) and of course going on lots and lots of corgi walks along the Yellowstone River. It doesn’t suck having parents in this part of the world one bit.

Dinner at Livingston’s Wednesday night market along the Yellowstone River (me, Tatiana, Wendy & my dad)
Yes. Wendy nailed it, but of course a bread-master would.
Tatiana making a birthday wish to be the favorite daughter. Nice try!
Lexi-Lulu, the corgi, living the good life
Backyard hammocking at it’s best
Barn pong. That’s my dad on the left, THE PONG FODDER! RESPECT, YO.
When there’s a need, my crafty and talented dad rehairs bows (often fiddle) with… white Mongolian horse tail hair. There’s your fun blog factoid.
Perfect kite flying day!
New skate park along the Yellowstone River… what a view these kids have!
New Bike Friends

It seems every time we’re in Livingston we cross paths with touring cyclists. My dad and Wendy inevitably invite them over for dinner and offer them to stay the night (comfy beds always beat camping). Last time it was two young Dutch guys who were floored at how big and energy consuming American cars are. True. This time we met the recently retired Hank and Kathy on their 16 month, lower 48 state bike tour. Follow their blog  and offer them a warm meal and place to stay if they’re in your hood – they’re great people. They’re in PA as of this writing.

Hank & Kathy heading off after staying at the best B&B in town.
Sheridan, Wyoming

Short weekend jaunt to cowboy country. My sister’s husband, Joe, is from this part of the world. Aside from hiking in the Bighorn mountains, there are 4 places I recommend: The Brinton MuseumKing’s Saddlery and MuseumThe Mint Bar and El Tapitio Dos.

The road to Joe’s mom’s place… not too shabby, huh?
El Tapitio Dos. Joe’s Uncle and wife (here) own it. On this very day she got her USA citizenship too!
Didn’t miss a chance for a beer at this classic
Our homemade response to that tone-deaf event. Sigh.

3rd Stop: Pennsylvania

Activities: Amish corn, shoo fly pie, pygmy goats, lightening bugs & dance

To complete the family tour, my sis and I flew to PA to see our mum and our youngest sister (Shawnee, and her family). We stayed at my mom’s place in deep Amish country, an old schoolhouse built in 1841 surrounded by a massive lily garden, raspberry bushes, tomatoes and a plethora of more edibles. She makes a mean roast beef with garden onions and tomatoes which we ate at sunset amongst the flickering lightening bugs. It’s a slice of paradise.

Mamamoomin sandwich between Pinky and Olive
The Amish stand was sold-out so a young gal hopped on her push-scooter then took off on bare feet in to the corn field. She returned triumphantly with a dozen ears. Now that’s good customer service!
Just us and cows on our evening strolls.
My mom learned all the “finger heart” signs when she was in Asia. She also fell in love with the Japanese washlets and is now a proud owner of one. I’ll admit, they are pretty amazing (we have one in Taiwan). We’ll likely install one when we return state-side and invite you all over to try it out!
Best Neighbors!

My mom’s neighbors (l to r): Nick, Tati (my sister), Jonathan, Abigail, Michelle (mom), Katy (my mom), Theo and Hannah. These kids are the sweetest! They help my mom out a lot on her property too. It was great to finally meet all of them.

They were kind enough to invite us to their annual Fourth of July parade. This is a big family production that includes costumes, acting, music, “sponsors”  and a proper flag folding ceremony for the “Grand Marshall” (their great-grandfather). It’s the real-deal Americana Fourth of July experience that brought tears of joy to my eyes. Thank you for inviting us!

Theo and Nick. How many kids do you know who can do this?
Every parade ends with a proper candy toss.
Sister Reunion!

Our youngest sister, Shawnee, lives in Lancaster and has two boys: Sammy and Kieran. Auntie Passionfruit finally got to meet Kieran, the youngest! I definitely don’t win any Auntie awards, but I do make up for it real good when I’m around in person. I will push a swing or bicycle and snuggle for endless amounts of hours.

Chilling at the Wilbur Chocolate Factory. I needed some dark chocolate nonpareils SO bad.

It was so heart filling to see these peeps! Shawnee, aside from having the best sense of humor and attitude of anyone I know, also has her own legal practice (family and criminal law). Phil is the accountant for Lancaster’s baseball team, the Barnstormers, which explains the love of sports in these children.

Sammy = all sports and accessories
Kieran = a determined young mind, ready for adventure
The Lancaster Scene
Got to see my good childhood and neighbor friend, Callie. She runs her own business, Wellspring Bodywork. Her therapeutic massages are the best!
Tat and I got to see another tight neighborhood friend, Barbara (she was Barbie way back when which is really hard not to say now).
We danced our bums off!

The music scene is out of this world in Lancaster! Back when I was teen it was just Rick’s Place (which is still there, but you have to be UNDER 20 to get in). No biggy. We found three music venues within walking distance and danced like maniacs all night.

Booty shaking at Tellus
Lancaster’s First Friday’s are also off the hook. The city is so vibrant – full of creativity, art, diversity, good food and loads of kind people.
Meimei (younger sister in Mandarin) and Jeijei (eldest)
The Pygmy Goats. Finally.
Our friend’s Sarah and Jonina run the Lancaster Farm Sanctuary. They have a goat that walks like Poppy (you know, our wobbly cat). Amazing place and they offer goat yoga. Duh.
If you made it this far… thank you. Here’s your treat:
My aspiring dance phase. Because no one goes home without seeing childhood photos. You’re welcome.

That my friends & family is the end of my “homes away from home” summer camp edition. Every time I get homesick I will fire this post up and think about how lucky I am to have all of you in my life. You may be out of sight, but NEVER out of mind.

Love, Passionfruit


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5 thoughts on “Summer Camp, USA

  1. Oops, you didn’t mention the Toto Washlet bidet now residing at Smyrna, PA. It’s very sad without your tushy. But, thanks for the pot roast shout out!!! Funny thing— I saw that Tartine Bread book at the shops at the Taiwan Opera House! But alas I did not buy it. Did Wendy get hers there? I’m still savoring that Cheshire Cat cocktail at that sweet little bar they had over-looking the operatic air-born gymnastic troupe. Now those were arias. Well, time to milk the cats, look for bear scat & body surf down the Octorara Creek. I’ll be sure to wear my cow bell when I head out to pick raspberries later. See ya!
    ❤️😊🍷 Kate

    1. I have now amended the blog to include that you are a proud owner of a Japanese washlet. My apologies. That was indeed a huge oversight. Wendy’s book was a gift state-side. It’s a wonderful book if you like big crusty sourdoughs. No fancy and expensive equipment required with Tartine’s method. Stay safe in the raspberry patch and thanks for following this P&P adventure. Miss you and that pot roast! xo

  2. My oh my, oh why did I wait so long to read this post?! Those summer days flew by and now I’m deep in study-mode…reading this post was a delightful study break and took me back to our good times hiking, biking, feisting, and gorgeing…along with extra special ecstatic dancing ha! 😉 I enjoyed reading and seeing pics of adventures with your family and friends. You attract and resonate awesomeness. Love you dear friend!

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