Friday, April 16, 2010

Multnomah Meltdown

Kids, I’m convinced, are not built for stamina. Naps. Frequent snacks. Half-day
kindergarten. Need I say more? Whenever things get too long they fall apart. So when choosing a hike for my 4 and 5 year old I decided we needed something short and dramatic.

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia Gorge, the second tallest waterfall in the nation, seemed like a good choice. Having admired the 620 feet of cascading water from below on numerous occasions, I was determined to hike the direct trail to the top even if it meant pulling my children up by their belt loops!

Strategy – Bait the children with a view of the waterfall from below. Point out the viewing deck at the top, “It’s right up there – not that far. Don’t cha wanna go up there? I wonder what it looks like from the top.” Then hike. It’s only a mile to the top. No problem right? Wrong!

As soon as we entered the woods out of sight of the falls, Josephine, my 5 year old, was complaining that everything hurt. She was walking like a Muppet, head and arms dangling pathetically. Bjorn, my 40 pound 2 year old was screaming, “Out!” as he kicked my rear and ripped at my hair from his backpack perch.

“If I don’t hear any more complaining, I’ll get you all ice cream,” declared my husband in desperation. The complaining stopped, but the groans continued. By switchback 2 of 11, Georgia was crying.

“How old are you?” I asked a little girl as we passed, hoping that she was 4 in order to encourage my daughter.

“Six,” she replied.

I spied another child, “How old are you?” I asked again with my fingers crossed.

“I’m almost seven!” he declared proudly.

“What is with all these tiny kids?” I wondered to myself. My motherly-manipulative plan had backfired. I sighed, “I guess you’ll be the youngest kid ever to hike up here.”

Like a flash, Georgia was running up the trail. At the next switchback she stopped, swung around, and beamed a huge smile. Not to be out done, big sister Josephine started trucking along after her. Gotta love pride and healthy competition!

Before we knew it, we’d hit the mile marker.

“It’s one mile,” Josephine read bewildered, “are we at the top?” Nope. Darn kindergarten for teaching kids how to read. The trail was only supposed to be one mile and we weren’t even within earshot of the thundering falls.

Anticipating a Multnomah sized meltdown, my husband blurted, “ICE CREAM!” they were running up the trail once more.

In a quarter mile we were hovering over the falls on the viewing platform. We could see up the Columbia Gorge, down into the pool, and the mist rising from below. However, all I could look at were my girls making muscle poses and telling everyone how old they are and that Dad is getting them ice cream.

Within a few minutes, we had careened down the trail to the foot of Multnomah Falls and were licking soft-serve. Staring up at the curtain of water, I knew that even though it may have been competition and ice cream that took those girls to the top, it was a family memory and sense of accomplishment that they would take away . . . along with some sore muscles. Josephine woke up the house at 5:30 the next morning declaring, “My Bum Cheeks Hurt!”

Totally worth the ice cream bribe!

Pure fruit, nuts, and seeds these bars are easy to make and full of real plant power. Added bonus – sesame seeds! Sesames are packed with calcium. One tablespoon of sesame seeds contains about 88 milligrams of calcium, comparable to a cup of milk. So instead of pumping your body full of fake chemical crud energy bars, try these nature lovin’ Oregon Trail Bars next time you’re out in the woods. Best part – kids love ‘em! (If only I’d packed a couple of these in my backpack, we could have had a healthy bribe and saved ourselves some ice cream guilt!)

¼ cup orange juice
½ cup pitted dates
1 cup whole raw almonds
½ cup dried apricots
¼ cup dried plum (prunes)
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pour orange juice over dates and let soak 5 minutes or more. Meanwhile place sesame seeds into a dry pan over medium high heat to toast. Shake pan to keep seeds moving for about 5 minutes or just barely golden. Remove from pan and let cool in a bowl.
2. Place almonds, dried apricots, and dried plums in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Dates and orange juice and pulse unil mixture starts to stick together. Add sunflower seeds and oats pulsing to incortporate.
3. Using wet hands, scoop mixture onto waxed paper or parchment paper. Form into a log about 1 ¾ inches wide and ½ inch thick. Use your pals to flatten into a par and cut bar into 8 equal pieces.
4. Arrange pieces about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet. Bake 8 minutes, turn bars over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes letting smell be your guide – nuts are toasted but fruit isn’t burnt. Cool on a rack until bars firm up.
5. Wrap individually in waxed paper and store in a Ziploc bag up to four days. Prolong self-life in the refrigerate or freezer.

Makes 8 to 10 bars

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