Decades ago, JB’s parents bought a tiny cabin on the Umpqua River. They put a lot of work into it over the years, it is an integral part of JB’s childhood memories. He always wanted the cabin to be as much of a part of our lives — of our children’s lives — as it was for him, but we were so far away. We drove there over and over, but the pleasure of our visits was often overshadowed by the sheer effort of getting there.

Now the cabin is a little over an hour from our house. We go there almost every Friday, and our routine has become as comfortable as a broken-in pair of jeans. We leave around 4. We stop at a McDonald’s in Cottage Grove for Happy Meals. We put coins on the train tracks in Drain. We stop for a half-gallon of milk, and more often than not, a pint of Umpqua Dairy ice cream, Blackberry Revel flavor. We start a fire to warm up the cabin, pop popcorn, play a few disgusting, giggly games of Would You Rather? and curl up in front of Shark Tank.

Saturday morning JB bundles up the boys and they spend hours trekking through the chilly, secretive woods. I drag a chair over to the window and drink cup after cup of coffee while gazing out at the river. The days of swimming and sunning are gone but fall brings a peaceful sort of pleasure all its own: no need to get up, no need to go anywhere, nothing to do but sit and breathe and look for the silver-fast splash of a fish jumping from the water (like watching a meteor shower, your eye is sure to be in the wrong place. By the time you see it, it’s over, but how delighted you are all the same), the foggy tendrils caught in the autumn-tinged trees, the way the river’s glassy reflection transforms to a matte, pockmarked surface when the rain sets in. The osprey that circles its dinner before dropping in a sudden startling rush, the ragged V of geese heading upstream in a comical flurry of honks.

It’s just a short drive down the road now, but oh, it’s an entire world away. I think this over and over: we are so lucky.

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65 Responses to “72 miles away”

  1. Lynn C Dot on November 5th, 2012 3:55 pm

    It looks beautiful!

  2. Maureen on November 5th, 2012 4:06 pm

    This entry? Sounds like heaven to me, and the knowledge that you are giving your own boys these wonderful memories, must be the icing on the cake.

  3. Randy on November 5th, 2012 4:07 pm

    Like a fairy tale come true!

  4. Jen on November 5th, 2012 4:12 pm

    I love this. I love your beautiful writing. Those boys of yours…they are so very lucky you’re giving them these amazing childhood memories. They will no doubt be at the cabin someday with their own children, passing on this Sharp Family tradition.

  5. Terri on November 5th, 2012 4:16 pm

    Beautiful!! You know ‘they’ always say how you should work towards giving your children experiences rather than things. It makes your children better rounded people. I think you two are making AMAZING memories for your boys, which they will cherish forever!!

    Kudos to you and JB!! You are lucky!! And you are also awesome because you know and recognize that :)

  6. TheRachelSyn on November 5th, 2012 4:22 pm

    Indeed you are so lucky. Beautiful place – and no sailboats made of souls. So glad you guys made the journey!

  7. Betsy on November 5th, 2012 4:27 pm

    Sounds magical! Your words are beautiful.

  8. Jessica on November 5th, 2012 4:33 pm

    Beautiful writing and a beautiful place. We have a family place here in Texas that’s similar, and I’m loving seeing my kids enjoy it just as I did as a child.

  9. g~ on November 5th, 2012 4:35 pm

    We, too, have our tiny cabin on the river. And it is a haven for the soul, to be sure…er…on the opposite side of the country, that is.

  10. Evelynne on November 5th, 2012 4:39 pm

    I wanted this so much for you, and was so happy when you got it, and to see you cherishing it like this made me teary.

  11. Anonymous on November 5th, 2012 4:42 pm

    That sounds amazing…brought a tear to my eye, too.

  12. Mary O on November 5th, 2012 5:07 pm

    I know the area that you’re talking about. My family makes lots of treks from the coast to Portland, and we pass through the highway along the Umpqua. It is so beautiful, and you are so lucky to get to spend a lot of time there. Love those pictures!

  13. Heather on November 5th, 2012 5:36 pm

    I love everything about this.

  14. Chloe on November 5th, 2012 5:51 pm

    Oh wow, it is so beautiful.


    Wonderful childhood memories for your kids, too.

  15. ste on November 5th, 2012 6:06 pm

    That looks like the most perfect little piece of the world.

  16. Jill on November 5th, 2012 6:09 pm

    Your writing is beautiful…

  17. ccr in MA on November 5th, 2012 6:13 pm

    Beautiful, the photos and writing both.

  18. Meagan on November 5th, 2012 6:28 pm

    When the boys are older, the Umpqua is great for white water rafting (McKenzie is good too). When I was a teenager I went every year with a bunch of other fencers.

  19. Suburban Snapshots on November 5th, 2012 7:01 pm

    Oh stunning. I’m not a nature girl, but that is just gorgeous, and this entry is lovely.

  20. Navigating the Mothership on November 5th, 2012 7:12 pm

    This looks so wonderful and the pictures are amazing. Oh, to have a cabin to yourself for a few hours sounds heavenly. Yay. Good for you. Glad for you.

  21. Angella on November 5th, 2012 10:20 pm

    I’ve told you a hundred times, but I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU.

    But, you know, you guys can always come here if you want to drive. Matthew and JB can hunt, our little dudes can run around and you and I can just hang out. It’s been too long, you.

  22. Jenny on November 5th, 2012 11:06 pm

    Good golly, yes you are very lucky. I feel like I’m in a perpetual paradise when I stop to look around my surroundings, but . . . yours is better. Much happiness to you and yours in your pretty peacefulness!

  23. Donna on November 6th, 2012 1:26 am

    So very lucky to have found your little piece of heaven on earth. I would be hard pressed to EVER leave.

  24. Anais on November 6th, 2012 6:03 am

    Great entry and gorgeous pictures. The way you described it makes me wish I were there, sitting on that bed with that picturesque window and a book just the same. Oh Linda, when will you write us a book? I’m happy for you and your wonderful family. What a great place for Riley and Dylan to grow up! No doubt that they will carry on the tradition when they have children of their own.

  25. Robin on November 6th, 2012 6:18 am

    It’s absolutely magical… what a treasure for you and your fellas.

  26. Nicole on November 6th, 2012 7:00 am

    Since your move, I have told my husband many many many times, he is tired of hearing it I’m sure, how much I want to vacation in Oregon. I can only imagine your pictures don’t even do it justice and I want to see the beauty for myself. You ARE so lucky and I am so glad your family made those dreams come true!

  27. Jeanette on November 6th, 2012 7:14 am

    How beautiful is that view from the bedroom? You are so lucky to have somewhere like that to go to and you are creating such wonderful memories for your boys!

  28. Renee from GA on November 6th, 2012 7:27 am

    So very happy for you and your family! We sold our little cabin in the woods a few years ago. It was the right decision for sure but I miss it every fall. Many happy memories there.

  29. kristin on November 6th, 2012 7:47 am

    Wow! That view!

  30. Mare on November 6th, 2012 8:05 am

    I’m so glad all your dreams are coming true.

  31. amy a on November 6th, 2012 8:12 am

    its a fairy tale place!

  32. Em on November 6th, 2012 8:36 am

    Lovely! It sounds amazing. Can I just say that I am more than a little jealous?

  33. Redbecca on November 6th, 2012 9:04 am

    We’d love to be closer than a two-day drive to our place in Maine (and also that it was winterized so you could live in it more than 3 months out of the year). I am jealous and so happy that you and the fam have a place like this that is close and full of love and memories.

  34. Elaine on November 6th, 2012 9:04 am

    Beautiful entry and very familiar pictures. We’ve driven from I-5 through Drain to the coast countless times (parents used to live in Gold Beach) and that’s such a lovely area. My dream is to retire and move to the Oregon coast – seeing your dream come true makes me think maybe mine can as well. Thank you for that.

  35. shygirl on November 6th, 2012 9:16 am

    Oh, *Sundry*. I could just hug you, reading this. Heartfelt congratulations on having the stones to take the risk and make your dreams come true. So, so happy for you guys!!

  36. Annie on November 6th, 2012 10:55 am

    Those pictures almost look like paintings ! Beautiful.

  37. Amy Neto on November 6th, 2012 12:44 pm

    You are very lucky and I’d like to crawl through the computer and smack you right about now for showing us these awesome pictures over and over. Completely green with envy down here in Sacto!

    Enjoy. I wish I had a place like that for my boys. We do enjoy our trips to Monterey and the Aquarium…but it’s not as rejuevinating as that sounds!

  38. Judy on November 6th, 2012 2:10 pm

    My eyes just filled up at the beauty, and from the homesickness for the PNW.

  39. Carole on November 6th, 2012 2:56 pm

    Yes, you are lucky. : D
    I am planning to head for my childhood getaway next weekend. There’s nothing so good as a woodburning fire in a cabin high above the lake. Life is just easier out there than in the city.

  40. Amanda Brown on November 6th, 2012 3:25 pm

    Sounds beyond wonderful.
    Also, this post was stunning. Very Anne Lamott…beautiful moments captured.

  41. warcrygirl on November 6th, 2012 4:18 pm

    Absolutely gorgeous.

  42. Nancy on November 6th, 2012 5:05 pm


  43. mamadoc on November 6th, 2012 7:07 pm

    Looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. Beautiful.

  44. Jessica on November 7th, 2012 6:33 am

    The Umpqua is an amazing river. I have a huge crush on a little town called Elkton… have always imagined it would be the ideal place to live – close to Eugene, close to the coast. You would still get hot summers but could go to the beach quickly and easily. Drive into Eugene on the weekends for shopping. Wineries. Arlene’s. And that gorgeous river. And my favorite season on the Umpqua is fall – the leaves are extraordinary. Thank you for sharing this piece of your life.

  45. NancyJ on November 7th, 2012 6:46 am

    You are definitely so lucky! It’s so great that the boys get to enjoy this time with the two of you while they are young!
    We camped alot when our son was young – alone and with my sister and her family – and there are alot of good memories from that for all of us.
    Now we have a small house in a lake neighborhood and although he’s in his 20s and can pick and choose when he comes up (we’re there every weekend April to October), he’s there much much more than 5 years ago when we bought it.
    Beautiful pictures!

  46. Linda on November 7th, 2012 8:31 am

    Jessica — we’re right down the road from Elkton, across from Bob’s Market in Scottsburg. JB’s dad was the superintendent of the Elkton school for several years.

  47. Staci on November 7th, 2012 9:54 am

    Here’s to making dreams come true!

    (I’ve always dreamed of a cabin in the woods just like that!)

  48. lisa-marie on November 7th, 2012 11:24 am

    Beautiful! You ARE lucky!!

  49. Clueless But Hopeful Mama on November 7th, 2012 1:09 pm

    That is some Sierra Club calendar worthy shit right there.

    You ARE so lucky. I just focused in on one of your pics for a few moments and I swear I could smell the clean air.

  50. Kami on November 7th, 2012 3:52 pm

    Lucky indeed. Enjoy every minute you deserve it.

  51. Em on November 9th, 2012 6:50 am

    I’m so jealous. My grandparents had such a place when I was little. It is still my happy place (you know when you are on a crowded subway and getting sort of claustrophobic and if one more person touches you, you might scream? So you close your eyes and imagine what you just described. Happy place.). I keep trying to convince my husband that we could move to such a place now, full time. That people live in such places and go to work and school from there but he’s not into it. I think his happy place IS the crowded subway.

  52. H on November 11th, 2012 2:02 pm

    Matt and I decided we are definitely making the trip next summer. Part of me aches for that place and part doesn’t want to know the cabin without grandpa. Silly. Hope we can see you when we come. Zac and the boys can fish.

  53. Willyn on November 12th, 2012 5:26 am

    i just love the place.. it’s like heaven on earth :-)

  54. Linda Geertsen on November 13th, 2012 12:37 am

    The view from the bed is killer. Of course JB wanted this cabin to be a part of your lives. I get it. As you said, “no need to get up, no need to go anywhere, nothing to do but sit and breathe.” OK! Sign me up!

  55. agirlandaboy on November 13th, 2012 11:06 pm

    You have the thoughts and words of a person who can really, really write, but you also have the effortless rhythm that’s a total giveaway that you’re natural Writer. At the risk of pretending like I’m some kind of authority, I have to say: YOU HAVE IT.

  56. Sheelah on November 14th, 2012 5:20 pm

    In the thick of a stressful week as the mom of a 2-year-old and 5-month-old and the wife of an obsessed fisherman/outdoorsman, this post (the first I’ve ever read of yours) is just what I needed. Something peaceful to look forward to for our whole family… Though admittedly pretty far down the road since we still want one more :)

  57. Sarah on November 15th, 2012 8:21 am

    I’m late to this but I wanted to say that seeing this ace through a new lens makes it magical. I know it’s the same place that used to bring you so much stress, but it looks so different now. I’m so happy to watch this unfold from afar. And like others I’m so jealous. My husband grew up 6 hours from where we live but there’s no serene escape at the end, just LA. :)

  58. Erin@MommyontheSpot on November 17th, 2012 5:52 am

    This is such a beautiful post. Whenever you write about how you and your family decided to go after the life you always wanted, I feel inspired. thank you.

  59. Anne on December 2nd, 2012 12:18 pm

    Wow. What an amazing place. Lucky ducks.

  60. Katie on December 11th, 2012 2:35 pm

    This is a late comment, but it’s so nice to see good things happen to good people. I’ve been reading your blog since before you had kids. Nicely done Karma.

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