The main thing you have to know to understand our family reunion is just what I’ve told you all before: my family is a crazy bunch of giant dorks. This is my mom’s side of the family I’m talking about- she has 5 sisters, and all of their names start with the letter K: Kristina, Karen, Katherine (that’s my mom), Kimberly, Kelsey, and Kennedy. My mom is the quiet one, and my Dad even more so, so of the 10 first cousins and the 5 second cousins in the family, me and Taylor are definitely the quietest. At the height of the reunion we had about 30 people on Washingston Street in Manzanita Beach. Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob built a house there, and we rented 4 other houses next to it and across the street, so that it was like a little Patterson commune. I got to thinking about how this must have been what it was like to grow up on the frontier, with all your cousins all around you and giant family dinners every night. The frontier with my family would have been fun.
But let me start at the beginning, and I should warn you that this will be a long post, with lots of pictures. I want to remember everything when I’m old. Aunt Kris and Jonah picked me up on Thursday morning at 6am for the drive to Portland, which generally takes about 11 or 12 hours. We picked up Tobin, who is Aunt Kris’ son but lives in the basement apartment at Aunt Kim’s house on Buena Vista. It was a tight squeeze, because we all brough too much stuff, and Kris and Tobin were staying in Oregon for a whole week after the reunion. Jonah and I squeezed in back- we weren’t allowed to drive. Jonah got his license revoked a couple years ago for a DUI, up in Oregon (he is a Weaver, Aunt Karen’s youngest son), so now he bikes and skateboards around San Francisco until he gets it back. And I think Aunt Kris just doesn’t quite trust me to drive, for whatever reason, which is ridiculous because she’s the one who is famous for speeding tickets. Maybe it’s the leftover curse of having been the youngest for 9 years, until MacKenzie was born… some people still think of me as a little kid. Oh well. I got to look out the window the whole time.
We stopped in Dunnigan, which is near Sacramento, for breakfast, and saw the cutest litter of kittens:
And then we pretty much did a straight shot from there. I hadn’t driven to Oregon since I was about 10, so it was exciting to see all the scenery that I only vaguely remembered. Driving past Mount Shasta and Shasta Lake was great, even though the water level in the lake was appallingly low. Usually when you drive over the state line, there’s a marked difference in the landscape—Oregon is much greener than California, but this year we got about halfway into Oregon before it really started to look like Oregon. The southern half of the state was still really dry.
(Kris and Tobin singing in the car)
When we got into Portland we took Jonah to the house he owns in South East, and then visited Uncle Steve and MacKenzie at their house, which is near by. Uncle Steve is married to Aunt Kennedy and MacKenzie is 17- she’s going to be a senior in high school, which is kind of amazing to think about. Aunt Kennedy and Spencer, who is 13, weren’t there, but we didn’t stay long. Then the three of us went downtown and met Aunt Kelsey (who has lost TONS of weight) at the restaurant she works at, and ended up having dinner there. Whitney came down and met us to have a drink, which was nice. Whitney is the closest in age to me of the cousins. She’s a year older than me, and we had a bit of a tempestuous relationship when we were kids- she was always bossy to me and I hated it, but we also had a lot of fun together at times. I wish we were closer, but she’s hard to pin down, and even more so since she moved up to Portland. In the end my closest cousin is definitely Tobin, since he lives in San Francisco and we’re movie buddies, plus we’re both Tauruses and very similar.
Anyway. After dinner Whitney drove Tobin to a friend’s house in North East, and Aunt Kris and I followed Aunt Kelsey back to her house, where we spent the night. I only saw Uncle Matt briefly the next morning, but oh well. We were all headed to the same place for the weekend. Aunt Kelsey likes horse racing and taught me how to bet on my Facebook horses so that I would actually win.
The next morning Aunt Kris and I picked up Tobin in North East, and then the three of us drove past the house on Thompson Street and NE 26th where my mom and all her sisters grew up:
(Aunt Kris and Tobin at the house on Thompson Street, smiling the Patterson Smile)
I’d been there before, but a long time ago, so it was nice to see it again. There had been some additions and things, but it basically looked the same. Then we actually got on the way to the beach! Hurray.
Manzanita Beach is a tiny, sleepy little town on the Oregon coast, near Canon Beach and Haystack Rock… and it is ALSO near the rocks that matched the medallion and led to the treasure in The Goonies, which is awesome:
I used to think that Haystack Rock was the rock in the movie, but I don’t think so anymore. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen The Goonies, but I definitely remember it being two rocks and not one.
My parents and Taylor were already there when we got to the beach- Mom and Dad had flown up on Thursday night and stayed at the airport, and Taylor flew in on a red-eye from New York, arriving Friday morning. It was Mom’s birthday, too, but I had already given her my present. Taylor and I were in “the fun house,” along with all the other non-married, over-18 cousins: Tobin, Jonah, Whitney, and Simon. I don’t get to spend a ton of time with my cousins, so it was really great to be in the same house as them for a few days. My parents and Aunt Kennedy and Uncle Steve were in the house next door, the one that looks like a ship inside, and across the street in the house Aunt Karen and Uncle Bob USED to own were Aunt Kim and Uncle Simon, Aunt Kelsey and Uncle Matt, and MacKenzie and Alex. Alex is Nicolai’s (my oldest cousin, Karen and Bob’s daughter) stepdaughter, and is the same age as MacKenzie. They’re best friends in that amazing inseperable way that 17 year old girls are best friends. Nicolai and the rest of her kids (Cameron, who is 14, Riley, 10, and Micah, 7… and Mark, her husband, when he arrived on Saturday) stayed in Karen and Bob’s house. Then down the street were Aunt Kris and David, Jessica and Willa Marie, who at almost 4 is our youngest at the moment, and our token redhead. They- the Thebus-O’Donnells, who live in Chicago- didn’t get there until the next morning.
I have no idea why I just went into all those details, but I did, and it’s already done, so oh well and I’m sorry if it’s boring.
The first night we went across town to the volleyball court at the playground to play volleyball, but there was another family playing on the court! Most people would just wait politely for them to be done, but no, we challenged them to a volleyball match. Now, you may think you can picture us playing volleyball if you’ve watched it on TV or played it yourself, but you’re wrong- Patterson volleyball is nothing like any normal sport. First of all, there are so many of us that we end up playing 9 to a side, which you’d think would make it easier, but no. We still suck. We’re really not very athletic, but we make up for it with unbridled enthusiasm. There’s a lot of falling, a lot of cheering and screaming, a lot of runaway balls and running into each other, and in general, complete mayhem. We have a few people who are actually ok players, like Jonah and Simon and MacKenzie, and Taylor and I and some of the aunts and uncles have been known to be decent players, but it’s a lot harder to get to the ball on sand, especially when you’re worried about knocking over Riley or Micah in the process.
The poor family we challenged looked completely overwhelmed, and lasted about two games before they made their escape. Then we had the whole court to ourselves to be as goofball as possible.
(Whitney, Mom and Tobin)
(Jonah, Micah and Nicolai)
(I'm surprised no one reported our unusual activity)
I was on dinner duty that night, cooking with Karen and Nicolai and MacKenzie and Bob in Aunt Karen’s house. My dad ran the barbecue for both houses (we only cook in two houses each night so that we can all eat mostly together), with help from Jonah and Uncle Steve and Cameronito. After dinner we had cake that Aunt Kelsey brought for Mom’s birthday, and watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, which (as I believe I’ve mentioned before) were absolutely stunning:
(my Mom on her birthday)
It was hard to hear what was going on- the Patterson sisters get so excited that we’re ALL HERE TOGETHER and ALL HAVING FUN that they talk pretty much nonstop, which can get a little annoying when you’re trying to listen to the announcers, but it’s also what I love about them. Eventually Taylor and Dad and Uncle Matt got sick of not being able to hear and migrated to one of the other houses, and after awhile I joined them. I love the parade of athletes and seeing all the different countries flags and everything… I always end up with a soft spot for the countries that only have one or two athletes.
So those were our first two days. I figure I should break these posts up, if I want anyone to actually read them. Stay tuned for Days 3 and 4! Whoo!