This past weekend, a group of friends from high school and I all went out to the ranch to hang out like the good old days. It's beginning to seem a little impossible, but I've known most of them for fifteen years or so now (!!) and we've managed to grow up together in a way that let us all stay friends. We used to go out to the ranch in high school when we were in high school and college, but we hadn't gotten a trip together for a long time--almost four years. A peril of adulthood, I suppose. No one has time off and if we do it's never at the same time. But we made it happen over the weekend, and I was so glad we did. There is nothing like spending time with people who have known you as all the selves you've been, from the worst hormonal version of your middle school self to the punch drunk love we all walked around in during our teens and then into the wild abandon of college, and loved you through all of them. There are so few people who get to see that progression of self outside of our families--I'm glad I've had friends who've born witness to my journey for so long.
Anyway, one of the things we did (besides play a rousing game of Hearts and have hilltop happy hour in the rain) is visit The Painted Hills. They're one of Oregon's 7 Wonders--which I think is just a marketing campaign, but I've taken it to heart--and they were pretty spectacular. The color of them wasn't wholly unfamiliar to me, because there are spots on the river that open up to vibrant surprises of red or pale green dirt, but the way they blended together was. It really was like they were painted, a sort of pastel effect in the way they smeared into each other and stood in stark relief to the landscape around them. I was rather awed by it all, that a place like this exists. We weren't there for long--an hour or two--but we must have exclaimed a hundred times, it's just so weird! Because it was. A mix of a lunar landscape and Georgia O'Keefe, right before our eyes. I was astonished I hadn't been before, and I'm sure I haven't because I would've remembered this--wouldn't I have? Maybe one of the earlier versions of myself would've. This version wouldn't. In fact it's a visual feast I'll keep in my mind's eye for a long, long time.