Elk Christmas (Part 4)

Danielle put away the frozen food and turned on the baseboard heater. She read the nice card from the rental’s owners and the invitation to leave a little note in the guest journal. She perused the library and board game selections—all classics. As for the puzzles, there were enough to entertain a medium size penitentiary, and all of them Pacific Northwest-themed.

The kids just sat on the couch and stared at their mother until she showed them the bedroom they all would share, the one with bunk beds. They didn’t know what to make of bunk beds. They’d never seen one before. Finally, the girl climbed up one the ladders and pounced on the bed. She giggled and put her feet up, touched the ceiling with her shoes, and giggled again.

The cabin warmed up with the baseboard heater. A fire in the wood stove was out of the question. Even though the owner had built a perfect starter inside, and left precise directions how to open the flue, start and maintain the fire, and adjust the vents and fan, the act of starting a fire intimidated Danielle. She had never started one before, indoors or outdoors.

Danielle got a pizza going in the oven, poured a mug of rose, the kids cracked the cans of energy drinks and they all looked at each other. Rain had begun to fall with substantial volume so a beach walk was out. Maybe it would clear later. It was noon on the Oregon Coast and raining and a family was trapped inside a cabin without any possibility of escaping to popular media.

Of course! It was puzzle time!

Danielle set up a card table near a large window with a view to the yard and fairway. The boys set up chairs around the table. She told her daughter to pick out a puzzle. The daughter said there were too many to pick from. Danielle told her to grab one at random. The girl grabbed a dust-covered box and dropped it on the table. It was a 1000-piece puzzle of Crater Lake. A 1000 pieces! That would take months!

One of the boys asked what was Crater Lake. Danielle was dumbfounded, but then again, she’d never taken her children to Crater Lake. Disneyland was so much splashier! Then Danielle realized she’d never visited Crater Lake. What kind of Oregonian was she? What kind of Oregon parent am I?