“Son, I can breathe,” my dad said in astonishment. Or in Spanish, rather, ¡Mijo, puedo respirar! as we got out of the car and made our way to the boat rental docks at Clear Lake. It wasn’t until the moment he made this seemingly profound statement that made me realize how quickly I had gotten used to living in Oregon, especially considering we had moved to the Salem area the year before.

Standing next to the car, my eyes followed the trunk of a tree up high, higher, higher still, until my nose was pointed toward the sky and I was able to see the tree tops cast a shadow, blanketing everything underneath. The shade made it feel incredibly cool and crisp on that August afternoon. My attention then switched over to my ears, noticing how simultaneously quiet and vibrant the soundscape was. Absent were the sounds of cars, horns, and machines, the “everyday” of a typical LA commute, replaced by the chirps of birds in the distance, the softness of the wind dancing between the trees, and the satisfying crunch of dirt and pine needles underneath my shoes.

This was the introduction of their Oregon adventures.

My dad and his wife had never been to Oregon before. They came to visit for a couple of days from Mexico, so we knew we wanted to take them to the Silver Falls hike. Growing up in Southern California myself, waterfalls were not easily accessible. We've seen them in movies, how grand they are, but seeing them in person inspired us to ask so many questions: How does the water get here? How does it not run out? How cold is the water? Why is it so loud? How many waterfalls are here?

The next adventure consisted a boat at Clear Lake, a new staple for anyone that visits us during the warmer months. Imagine, water so clear you can see to the bottom of the lake. How can it be so clear, you ask? I debated writing it down, but it's worth the trip to find out yourself.* As we rowed across the water, we met the acquaintance of three ducks. They began acting aggressively, following us here and there around the lake as we tried to put distance between us and them. As it turns out, Rocio was throwing food at them in an effort to make them go away. They did not go away. They followed, and followed, and were relentless with following 'cause they wanted more food. Luckily for us, I was able to row faster... well, I don't know if I rowed faster or if the effort was simply not worth it for them anymore.

As with all adventures, it is not the destination that is of value, but the memories you create along the way. The experience. This is one adventure I will not soon forget.

We are grateful to live in a place where we can "breathe." Create your adventures. Create your memories.

* If you really want to know, I won't leave you hanging. Comment and I'll send you a personal message.