We put the good car seat and the lightweight stroller in the SUV, along with a billion other items, and set off Friday morning, right at NJ's naptime. It was all pretty uneventful. Extremely uneventful, in fact. There's not a lot a couple of foodie/wine lover urbanites can do in a city with a ten-month-old. The main reason we stopped off in Portland was to break up the six-plus-hour drive from Seattle to Black Butte, but we naively thought we might have a little old-school (read: pre-baby) fun in Portland as well. But: no. After NJ's afternoon nap (and mine) at the hotel, we ate room service and watched an in-room movie (the exceptional comic abilities of Carell and Fey overcome a pedestrian plot).
Saturday morning we headed for beautiful Central Oregon, driving through the Detroit Lake area and almost to Bend until we hit Black Butte Ranch (warning: automatic audio track when you click the website). We arrived in time for lunch, but NJ didn't sleep much on the drive and needed her afternoon nap in a big way. The ranch is a beautiful place, but its fatal flaw was the lack of air conditioning in our room (since we were only staying one night, I booked cheap). No windows, only a sliding door to the small porch -- which was surrounded by a six-foot wooden fence, perfect for keeping cool breezes out of the room. We pointed the fan at NJ's crib, and her nap lasted until 3.30 p.m., when we rushed to get ready for the 4 p.m. wedding. Once there there ceremony was about, oh, forty seconds old when NJ decided to yammer loudly about whatever was on her mind (the couple exchanged vows in a spot by a lake with the view in the first photo above), so The Wife spirited her away to the back of the field where they played -- joined by our friends and their kids, one who was ring-bearer and the other flower girl -- while our buddies Jill and Ray got hitched. After wowing everyone at the reception with her off-the-charts cuteness, NJ was hauled off to the sweat box-room by The Wife and put down. Dad Solo remained for a while longer, at one point breaking out his world-famous Mick Jagger funky-chicken dance moves when the band played "Honky Tonk Women."All this for a three-day weekend, and not a single baby wipe in any of those bags.
Sunday's drive back to Portland marked the first time NJ rejected her bottle of formula, a situation that lasted until we got home last night. No obvious explanation -- she was hungry, but wouldn't take the bottle. In Portland again, we toured a street festival and the riverfront -- NJ got a cute little tie-dyed dress out of it -- before returning to the hotel. At lunch The Wife had given her some solid food, but without the formula supplement it wasn't enough and by dinnertime the kid was famished. Dad Solo's decision to eat in the excellent restaurant attached to the hotel proved to be a controversial one: NJ fussed and squawked to the point that The Wife thinks one couple decided to leave rather than listen to her. This was when I defiantly steeled myself, sipped my cocktail, and tucked in to my Kobe brisket. For the first 44 years of my life I weathered countless crying babies on trains, subways and airplanes and in restaurants and other public venues, never once complaining to a parent, sighing dramatically or otherwise expressing my feelings. Now, world, It's My Turn. I will do my best to limit baby-related noise and activity, and you will keep your big yap shut if it doesn't always work out. Oh, and the brisket was ridiculously excellent. NJ devoured four grilled chicken strips and a handful of french fries, which had been cut up into little pieces and piled in front of her. We ordered desert to go. I looked at the mess under NJ's high chair and promptly overtipped. The last night of our vacation? I read, The Wife watched The Food Channel, and NJ fussed for a good, long time before finally drifting off.
We got home yesterday afternoon. NJ took a two-hour nap on the drive (missing out on a lot of Mariners trade talk on the radio). She's back on the bottle, and a slight fever she had in Portland is gone, too. So all's well and her first vacation is in the books. We've learned valuable lessons about packing and planning around naps, hopefully, because our next trip is in a couple of weeks and we're flying across the country for a week. And the It's My Turn rule will be in effect then, too. I hope I don't have to invoke it. But listen up, New England: I will if I have to.
NJ did some reading at the hotel, too.