Lost at Multnomah Falls

So, it turns out I can get online at the coffee shop near where I’m staying at Wallowa Lake in eastern Oregon. I’m currently in the town of Joseph at the foot of the amazing Wallowa Mountains. The town is full of galleries, gift shops and places to eat. Joseph has developed a reputation for its bronze works, and there are bronze statues on every corner. The iced tea I’m drinking is an amazing blend of spices and teas called “Harmony,” which is supposed to balance my chi and make me . . . harmonious. Very Oregonian. Art, soft music, wi-fi and air conditioning, it’s all good.

The only wrinkle is the heat outside, but I can’t complain too much. I’m grateful to have made it here in one piece. Maybe I’ll tell about that sometime.

So what does this have to do with being childless? Well, on the way here, I stopped at Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge. I had never seen them before. I waited a half hour in an endless line of cars before being able to park and join the throngs heading through a tunnel under Highway 84 to see the falls. At the base of the falls is a river and it was full of children swimming, accompanied by mothers, fathers, and grandparents. I wanted to be in that cool water splashing around, but I realized it would look weird for someone my age to go into the water without a child to watch over.

Everyone there, all those mobs eating gift shop ice cream and taking pictures, came with other people, and most of them had children. I had such a strong feeling of not knowing where I fit in the world. Not a mother, grandmother or wife, a mature woman traveling solo, I felt so left out. I decided I’m the observer.

As for the falls, they are spectacular, rivaling any of Yosemite’s falls. I’m glad I went, but out in the world, I am conscious of flying solo, of having no one to turn to and say, “Wow, isn’t that beautiful.”

Did you ever feel that way?

7 thoughts on “Lost at Multnomah Falls

  1. Christmas at the in-laws. No matter how popular of an aunt you are – all the kids want to open their gifts with their parents. When you are the only woman in attendance without a child – yeah it kinda stinks.

    Swimming pools where all your friends have children

    Trick or treating with a group of family and you are the only one without a little goblin.

    Birthday parties
    Farmers markets
    Pumpkin patches
    Mass – augh this one is a tough one for me.

    I could go on and on.


  2. ” …out in the world, I am conscious of flying solo, of having no one to turn to and say, “Wow, isn't that beautiful.” Did you ever feel that way? “

    24/7/365 intensely.


  3. Yes, I have felt that way, and at Multnomah Falls, too.
    I was there on business alone once, and I know what you mean about it not being the same without someone to share it with.
    I had actually visited the Falls a few years prior with my husband, so the solo/2nd visit was the one where I was alone.
    I still enjoyed myself, but traveling alone is different. I don't mind it so much, but I am glad that most of the time I have company when I travel.
    I admire people who travel all over the world on their own, not letting lack of a partner stop them.
    Thanks for taking me back to the beautiful Falls and hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!


  4. I like that you stopped and looked. You can get in, you can experience. The others may or may not be accepting of you saying hi or not, and enjoying the scenery. You should, if you like, feel free to say to someone nearby, “isn't this just wonderful!” smile or not, and continue to have a conversation, or not. I like your blog. You have a perfect place in this world without bearing children. I’ve only read a bit. Thanks so much for writing. Such a wonderful world we live in, and I also have to say that I am totally different from you, quite likely, and understand that our circumstances differ. Thanks for a brief insight into your world.


  5. Oh you guys, thank you for your comments. You make me feel better. I so appreciate your honesty about the situations where it's hard to be alone. Yes, I could be a little more outgoing and speak to strangers. It's hard for me, but I'm doing it more than I used to.
    And yes, I am having a good time at my writing workshop. Here, the first question is not how many kids you have. That's way down the list. It's “Where are you from and what kind of writing are you doing?”
    Thank you all for being here.


  6. I sometimes feel that way…and then I go ahead and do the “weird” behavior anyway. If it were me, I'd go into the water and splash like crazy. So what if people shake their heads? As one friend's child confided to me: “You're not like the other grown-ups. You haven't forgotten how to play.”


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