Crater Lake, Oregon

Posted on
Aug 23, 2012

Do you ever look back at events, with the hindsight of years gone by, and wonder how exactly you were able to get through them?

In high school, a friend of mine commented on this phenomenon. She and I had gone to Homecoming (with our respective dates) a mere two weeks or so after another friend of ours had died.

“How did we do that?” she asked me much later. “How did we go to a dance after all that?”

And how did we have fun? Because I remember having fun. I know that aside from grief there was laughing and happiness. That on my front porch, I kissed my date on the cheek because I was too nervous to actually kiss him on the lips. And I ran up the stairs to my bedroom and could hardly sleep, even though it was so, so late. How was all of that possible?

Looking back, I still don’t know. I guess we did it with the resilience of youth. I’d like to think it was that more than callousness.

Nowadays, I don’t have that feeling very often – I don’t marvel at my ability to handle things, because I don’t think I handle them all that well. I’m known to freak out. I am bad in times of crisis. But I get through things, for better or worse, like everyone else does. Okay, fine – maybe with slightly more napping and cake eating.

The other day, Rand and I were discussing our Ashland trip. And we realized it was a scant two weeks after my surgery. Now, two months after it, it seems insane that we did that. I don’t even know if it was a good idea.

And we didn’t just go to Ashland. We drove out to Crater Lake, too.

Gorgeous, right?

It’s a two-and-a-half hour drive (broken up by stops for ice cream) away. I slept most of the way. I still wasn’t at the point where I could stay up for the whole day. Even now, I’m still sleeping about nine hours a night. Sometimes ten. I’m not exactly complaining. My life is such that I can get away with stuff like that.

Holy crap, I’m lucky.

We arrived at Crater Lake a little before sunset, and we were able to hike around a little bit.

And by “hike”, I mean “walk around slowly on dirt paths while taking lots of breaks.” I let Rand go ahead of me most of the time, because I couldn’t keep up and didn’t even attempt to.

He was excited – darting around and exploring like a little kid. I think he felt – for the first time in several weeks – like things were going to be okay. Like they might go back to normal.

But I couldn’t relax. I was worried he might go tumbling over an edge.

It was really steep. A few times he dangled my camera over the edge and took a few shots.

I was petrified. I hooked my fingers through the loops of his jeans, and leaned back, in case he should slip. I begged him to stop, and finally he did, and came back to standing next to me.

Eventually, this happened:

Rand insisted on taking a few photos of me. I didn’t want him to because my face was still round from steroids. Let me say this now: that is an idiotic thing to worry about. Really, really stupid. I’m still mad at myself over that.


I think I was so self-conscious because nothing felt the same. Whenever I complain about something physical, Rand stares at me and says, “Really? That’s what you’re worried about? Seriously?”

And I’m reminded that our appearances shouldn’t count. Weird to think that a lesson I learned a child is so easily lost. Outsides don’t matter. OBVIOUSLY. But after my surgery, I felt weird on the inside, too. Everything felt off.

Well, almost everything.

We stayed out by the lake until sunset.

It gets chilly late at night. There was still snow on the ground.

Rand had made us a reservation at the restaurant up at the lodge. If you want to eat up there, you kind of have to make a reservation – it gets pretty crowded at night. Otherwise, you can order food and sit around the fireplace in the lounge. Which, arguably, doesn’t sound all that bad. But you will have to fight for a seat.

Since I had a teeny, tiny bit of roid rage, it was probably for the best that we actually had a table reserved. Fighting over seats is no way to spend an evening.

I started with a spring green salad with Oregon blue cheese, pears, and hazelnuts.

For my entree, I got trout, I think. I have trouble remembering.

I still had steroid tummy, so I demolished that sucker. It was delicious. That part I remember.

Rand got the surf and turf, which was a filet mignon topped with a crab cake. He was less enthused by the crab (“Too much cake,” he declared, and I gasped), but assured me the steak was excellent.

And then we “shared” a berry cobbler. Or we shared it as much as Rand and I ever share dessert. Which is to say that I ate most of it, and he snuck his spoon to the dish a few times.

It’s funny – every time I eat in old lodge restaurants like that, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been pushed back in time. Not terribly far, but just a few decades. I ate my meal thinking that this must have been what gourmet food was like in the 1970s. It’s delicious and beautifully presented, but something about it feels pared down and rustic.

Like, “Here’s your steak, which is perfectly cooked, alongside a pile of lumpy mashed potatoes the size of a toddler. Enjoy.”

I know it’s silly, but I love that quality in a restaurant. It’s so unpretentious.

After dinner, we went outside to look at the stars. That was the whole reason Rand wanted to go up to Crater Lake in the first place: to see stars. And we did. So many, in fact, that we could see that band of foggy light that signifies the arm of the Milky Way in which we reside.

Fact: that’s something I’ve always wanted to see. And that night up at Crater Lake, I saw it. I saw where we fit in the whole universe.

I tried to take some pictures of the night sky, but I lacked the photographic skills to capture anything, so it resides only in my memory.

And then we went back to the car, and back to Ashland. We listened to music, and I dozed, waking up every now and then to offer to drive, even though Rand and I both knew it wasn’t sincere.

“Just sleep, kitten,” he said.

I did. I slept then, I slept the next day, I slept and slept for the weeks following. Until I woke up, the haze of surgery lifted, and looked back on that trip. And wondered how, exactly, I managed it, so soon after someone tinkered with the innerworkings of my brain.

And while brain surgery is far less traumatic than losing someone you care about, my friend’s words from all those years ago once again seemed apt. How did we do that? How did we go? How did we have fun?

This time, it wasn’t because of the resilience of youth (obviously). It certainly wasn’t due to moral fortitude or strength of character. Instead, the answer was as crystal clear as the water in that lake and the cloudless sky above it.

He simply makes everything easier.

Leave a Comment

  • OMG, I’m bawling like a baby! That is EXACTLY how I feel about my Hubs – “He simply makes everything easier.”

  • Katie

    So simple, yet it sums up so much. Gorgeous pictures and post.

    PS- Just found your blog a week or so ago… Great writing!

    • I just found her blog a few weeks and I absolutely love her writing as well! <3

  • Awe … yes. Feel the same way about my man.

    And gorgeous place … might have to go some day and see those stars!

  • This post was beautiful. I love your writing and your blog and your undeniable love for your husband. You both are so lucky and wow gorgeous pics!

  • Christie

    This post is an exerpt from the classiest romance literature I have ever read. I love it; I hope I have this kind of relationship someday.

    • Kayla

      You said it so much better than I could of, Christie. But HELL YEAH. My sentiments exactly.

  • Wayne Gillespie

    Five years ago I survived a sub-arachnoid brain hemorrhage…it was not a pleasant experience, but I got through it. I remember going for a walk with my wife Heidi around our neighbourhood (I couldn’t walk very well at the time…excess blood in your brain cavity does nasty things to the pressure in the spinal column so my legs were not working properly). At the time we both commented something to the effect of where does this “end”. She was with me every step of the way…

    Love your posts…

  • Just wanted to add that you look beautiful in your picture in front of the lake, you might have felt like you had a goofy, round face, but it doesn’t show.

  • Kristina Cline

    Oh! We see your kissy pictures all the time, we know you are devoted to your rand. But I was scrolling down slowly still thinking about seeing the Milky way when the final line pops up. So sweet! Print that one and laminate it or something. That’s one of the things I love about your posts is that you are happily married and you never stoop to snarking about your husband, you are are always so positive about marital bliss it makes me happy with you. I think its one of the things that keeps me coming back.

    • Dawn

      I agree with Kristina. It’s delightfully refreshing to see a wife genuinely in love with her husband and speaking well of him publicly — as opposed to the cheap shots we usually hear from people in an effort to get a laugh. (At least that’s what I assume, since it’s too sad to imagine people might truly feel the way they speak about their mates.) I have enjoyed reading your posts and knowing there are married couples who really are in love, even after the honeymoon.

  • Oh geeze, I’m crying. We are taking a trip next week that I’m nervous about because I’m dealing with some unresolved health issues. This post was just perfect. It’s amazing how much strength our husbands can give us!

    I agree with Kristina. I love how you are always so loving and positive toward Rand. It’s just so refreshing to see a happy, healthy marriage and someone who isn’t afraid to show that.

  • It is too early in the morning to be tearing up!

    That was a beautiful post. Gorgeous photos. And I love that your relationship with Rand is so strong. You guys are an inspiration 🙂

  • Andres from Miami

    This post was amazing, I have never thought about going to Oregon but now I want to visit in the future. Crater Lake looks amazing the pics that you got were phenomenal. I also love those homey warm lodge restaurants. There is nothing like sitting around a fireplace. This is why I come back everyday because of posts like this.

  • What a beautiful sentiment! In our youth, we are in such a rush to grow up yet time seems to pass so slowly. I bet those two weeks after your friend passed felt like a month or more. I know it’s cliche, but time really does seem to go faster as we get older. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to appreciate what really matters. Kudos to you for doing just that!

  • Christina C

    That sums up what every partner should be for us and what we should be for them. Beautifully said.

  • One of your best so far! I really enjoyed this post.

  • Wow this is wonderful. It must feel great to be at a place where you can look back at this time and appreciate the difficulty and the beauty of it.

  • Yet another reason why I have a man crush on Rand. He puts me to shame in the relationship department. I think he might be a keeper Geraldine!! 🙂

  • Wow, if that is you with a round face…You look fantastic just as you are! I love this story and I love Rand’s love for you. What a great guy. Thanks for the story.

  • Penny

    I needed this a little bit today. Thank you. And how lucky you are that you found your soul mate (and he found his!).

  • Andi

    This almost made me shed a tear at work! Love it. You guys are too adorable, stop it. (I may me slightly jealous) Does Rand have any single friends in SF? :p

    • Andi


  • You are one lucky lady, in more ways than one. I hope you are still going strong at 25 years like me and my hubby are.

    We made it through the very horrible attempted suicide of our daughter. She was 15 at the time. Husband and I didn’t see eye to eye on how to handle very much during that time but we made it through. Your prom story reminds me of a night we had. Our daughter was away from home for a while after the attempt and we took our other 2 kids to dinner. It had been a very stressful time for all of us, I cried a lot, there were fights, we did a lot of therapy – individually and as a family, there was still a huge amount of uncertainty for all of us. But that night we went to dinner and we laughed. My son who was 13 then mooned us in a parking lot. We had a great time. It felt so WRONG later. How could we be happy under the circumstances? I felt so guilty about that for a long time. Now I know it was exactly what we needed and was better for us than any other “real” therapy ever could have been.

    • Cam

      Been on the other end of that stick. Yup, my family probably needed more fun in our lives.

  • Cam

    Yup, crying. And you’re gorgeous, inside and out.

    Thank you for reminding me about my favorite part of living at my gran’s – she’d let me sleep on the terrace in the summer, where I could see the Milky Way all night long. It was incredible. R doesn’t get it when I complain you cannot see the stars from the city. Bah, city boy. 😛

  • You are always so amazingly lovely about Rand, but that was really special. Everyone gets to find someone they fall in love with like this, right? … right?!

  • Inspirational! Keep on reaching for the stars and wondering.

  • You’re really lucky. I really hope to have someone like that in my life.

  • I don’t know you, but I read your blog from time to time, and I felt compelled to comment and say that this post was just wonderful. To have this kind of love, which you two so obviously have, is very special. 🙂 Hold onto it.

  • Michal

    Thank you!
    your post made my day:)
    I got this sweet kind of hubby too, and feel so lucky!

  • I loved this so much. I may or may not have teared up a little. I also tear up during videos of sloths, but that’s beside the point. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful story… and, um, yay!

  • Dani

    Third time today I have read this post! So incredibly sweet 🙂 my boyfriend (Rand-like in amazingness (yup, that’s right, amazingness)) recommended this blog about a month ago, and I am hooked!

  • Sha

    Just so glad you were able to have that day and all of the many more to come for you both.

    I have a theory that driving together in the country has its own special brand of healing energy and quite likely helped you get through the trip.

    Not so long after I finally got to say Hi to you in Seattle I got to spend 13 heartbreakingly beautiful days in Pennsylvania with the most beautiful man in the world (sorry Rand, excruciatingly close second!). We went lots of places that he wanted to show me and spent some time hiking in the mountains, not unlike your day at Crater Lake, but it was one day when he decided to surprise me and I had no idea where we were going that I suddenly realized I just love driving with him to nowhere in particular.

    There is something so special about just being alone in that small space, him reaching out to squeeze my hand every now and then, and just…driving. I had such an overwhelming feeling that there could really be no other more perfect way to spend the day. Wherever he was taking me, I knew it was where I wanted to go. I found myself each day loving those drives as much, actually more, than all of the wonderful places we went and things that we did.

    It was so hard to catch that plane and fly back to Australia a week ago, but the one getting me through so far is the memory of those hours we spent just driving.

    Yes, your post made me cry, but you also gave me that driving time to hold onto again, so thank you.

    Besides, I usually end up in tears when I read your blog … if not from the glimpses you give me of your love for Rand, then from uncontrollable laughter!

    Keep doing what your body tells you it needs to recover and keep taking beautiful rides with Rand


  • el

    I don’t usually leave comments about things on the internet (in fact this is the first).

    I just wanted to say that although I am to young to have hardly any experience with life, love and loss, this post just made me want to find more people to love and to go out and be more… lifeful! (not a word but it is now). Thank you for inspiring me.

  • Lovely post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Beautiful… I clicked ’cause I’m incredibly nostalgic about gorgeous Crater Lake, but thoroughly enjoyed reading every word of your story. Thank you for sharing it…

  • Emily

    I cried at the end.

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