Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Reunion: The End

So, we packed up the campsite and headed back to Portland (eating lunch at a Burgerville on the Washington side of the river), and after showering off all of the camp-grime Martha and I took the kids on a grand adventure to Powell's bookstore. Martha gives the kids a book or two for their birthday every year, but needed to catch up on the last birthday for all of my kids. They were more than happy to oblige. I swear I could spend a week there without leaving. Maybe more.

After we visited Powell's, we headed to my brother's place for a 4th of July barbecue. He has a great big yard that's perfect for the kids to run around in. For real, see?

With such pretty flowers, too.

We lost my brother, Rib, and his family to further adventures, and my sister, Opera, too, but the rest of us were there. It was a nice and relaxing end to our reunion. I sure am glad the cousins get along so well together.

Luckily the adults were still getting along, too. You never know with these family reunion things. (Ems is included with the adults, of course, now that she's 21)

I was just happy that even my own little family (I use the term loosely, of course) still seemed to be getting along. 

I loved seeing my family members having such a great time together. "Hey, stop talking for a second so I can take a picture of you."


We crashed for the night at my sister, Martha's, house and headed for home the next morning. We left Bud there until the end of the month (lucky duck). He didn't seem too broken up about it. 

We were all so bummed to be leaving the place we love so much. At least the kids had their books from Powell's to ease the pain.

Guess I should have gotten something for myself, too. It was a great family reunion in a fantastic place. Can't wait until next time.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Reunion: Punchbowl Falls

On July 3rd (our only full day of camping), the majority of us went on a hike to Punchbowl Falls. It was beautiful, although slightly treacherous. Let's just say that I ended up being really glad that Edith refused to go at the last minute (Rophone stayed back to hang with her) and that my kids were far enough ahead of me that I couldn't see them as they traveled over the narrow, rocky portions with the ginormous drop-off. (And I'm really glad I didn't realize they didn't have an adult with them...yikes!)

I was actually with Big for a portion of the scary part of the trail on the way back out, and it definitely scared me. He's just not as sure-footed as I would like. And when he tried to hang on to the cable handrail placed along the mountainside it made him trip over the slope of the mountain where it met the trail. Not meant for short arms. We read later that the hike isn't recommended for kids under 10. Yeah. 

Anyway, we all made it in and out alive and had a blast. I took a bunch of pictures, but I'll just post a few. I was just so happy to hike along a trail that reminded me of the hikes I took with my dad as a kid. 

I was carrying a backpack with water and snacks for all of us (my family, not ALL of us) with a grocery bag containing water shoes tied to the outside. It was a pretty hefty load, all things considered. Ginger was kind enough to carry my mostly empty camera case with her flip flops tucked inside (thanks, Ginger!). Anyway, Big started putting up a stink about how he wanted to carry the backpack. I kept telling him that it was too heavy, but he kept insisting. My mom finally suggested that I let him carry it because it probably wouldn't take him too long to change his mind. 

I thought he would quit right away after the weight of the pack made him stagger to the side as he started out, but Big was determined. He lasted a few minutes and then quietly admitted that it was too heavy and he needed me to carry it. I'm proud of him for wanting to share in the work of the hike and for giving it a go. Thanks for the help, Big.

Since my kids ran so far ahead, they aren't in any of the photos I took on the hike in. Luckily, nephews on leashes are cute. 

Seriously, my kind of trail. Love it.

My brother-in-law stole my camera to take a few pictures. Nice shots, Plumbean.

Then I hiked for a bit with my sister, Martha. We were so busy talking that we missed the turn-off for the trail down to the falls. Oops. 

I think my kids were happy when I caught up with them at the base of the falls with the snacks and water. Maybe next time they'll think twice before leaving me in the dust... :)

I get this look sooo often. I'm immune now.

It was a really beautiful spot. I definitely want to hike in again one of these days (when the younger kids are older) and spend a little longer. I'm for sure going to wear my suit so I can swim at the base of the falls. So pretty.

What a great way to spend a few hours.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Reunion: Phase Two

As much as I really enjoyed the reunion, there is one thing that I wish had been different. The big switch to phase two (the camping phase) of our reunion fell on my birthday. That meant that I had to spend my birthday morning organizing and packing up the beach house (so sad to be leaving it), my birthday mid-day traveling to the campsite (with ornery family members), stopping at stores along the way to make sure we had necessary food and supplies, and my birthday afternoon setting up camp. 

I am fully aware that birthdays as an adult aren't the same beast they were as a kid. Especially once you have kids. However, I do feel like I deserve (and want) at least a little relaxation and special treatment on that day. We used to go camping all of the time on my birthday while I was growing up, and I loved it, but I realized this year that I didn't mind because my folks did most of the work. Now I am one of the "folks". Bah. Three years ago (when I was pregnant with Edith) we did the same thing-- drove all day and then set up camp. I didn't like it.

I know, I know, I'm a big girl and should pull my panties up. Whatever. Anyway, I hereby declare my birthday off limits for travel, set-up, and take-down. Unless we're going on a once of a lifetime trip. Then I might give a pass. I don't mind doing a little work on my birthday (I'm not unrealistic), but I don't want a day where I can't put my feet up if I feel like it. It's probably the forgotten-middle-child in me that still needs to have someone make a big deal of my birthday. I just need to be special, please.

Anyway, I really was excited to go camping, though. I absolutely love to camp and we go far too infrequently. Over the years I've been getting camping supplies for Mother's Day and my birthday, so I was really excited to use some of my gear.

I really adore my ginormous tent. Isn't she a beaut? I brought my dad's hatchet along to use to pound in the stakes just like he would do. I thought it was fitting.

Instead of being scared like I had feared, Edith loved going to sleep in it all by herself before anyone else went to bed. So she could get naked, apparently...

The group site my brother lined up for us was just beautiful. There was plenty of room for the individual families to spread out, and there was a lodge with minimal power to light the bathrooms which had flush toilets (aka "comfort stations"). We were able to set up my screened enclosure over one of the tables outside the lodge so adults could play games away from bugs and sleeping children. Perfect. I just loved living under a canopy of trees for a few days. And the fact that we could see the boats go by on the Columbia was an added bonus.

Here's a photo of my sister and mom manning my awesome birthday camp stove outside the lodge:

The cousins loved camping together. Camping with cousins and friends-who-are-like-cousins is the best. One of my favorite memories from growing up. I wish I would have gotten more pictures of the kids together at the campground (I even missed documenting Edith's first s'more!), but I took a few.

My sister-in-law organized a great activity for the kids-- blowing bubble slugs. She called them snakes, but I think they looked more like Oregon-sized slugs. Edith listened intently to the directions and rocked it. I never cease to be amazed at her focus and reasoning. She had a blast doing the same activity as the big kids.

The kids also had fun giving themselves bubble beards...

...and working together to create a bubble mountain.

The camping was really so much fun. Even Rophone (who hates going without a shower) remarked that it would have been nice to camp for a few more nights. Next time. We decided to cross the Columbia River into Washington to make the drive home (great idea, Bud!). The Bridge of the Gods was so cool. 

It may seem like we're done with camping, but we're not. I actually have another post to write about a hike we took while we were there, but I took enough pictures with my big camera that I should probably dedicate a separate post to it. That will be next...