Family Trip 2019

25 Jul

This summer we put a little extra effort into planning because we realized that it might be our last summer vacation trip as a whole family.  Blueberry Pie is 19 and will be leaving soon on a 2 year mission for our church.  By the time he gets home, Cherry Pie will be 19 and could be leaving on a mission, moved away to college, or something grown-up.  Basically from now on, we can’t count on our kids all being home with us.  Next time we have all the family together for a summer vacation, it will be more of a reunion than a family trip.  Yikes. How can this be?

I owe it all to my friend that we got to do something out of the ordinary and amazing. But I better stick to a chronological tale:

Sunday, July 14, the resident captain got home from his National Guard Drill weekend at about 4p.m.  The kids and I had spent the week packing, and we nearly had the van packed and ready to go.  I put the food in the ice chest while the captain changed into civilian clothes.  Inspired by my sister, Katie, we packed as light as we could manage, each person only getting a school sized backpack for their clothing. behind the back seat in the van went my camp chair, the sleeping bags, and 3 tents.  We had four rubbermaid tubs on a trailer hitch platform on the back of the van which held tarps, the camp kitchen, air mattresses, and hiking boots for everyone.  I had a first aid kit, and a box for the 5 kindles, 1 car dvd player, dvds, and charging cords for all of the tech.  It helped in packing light that the twins are potty trained, so I did not have to pack a week’s worth of diapers for two.  I also packed less snacks than usual, and zero candy.  The last few trips we have gone on, I brought way too much food.  We did bring a small 2 gallon bucket 1/2 full of kitty litter in case one of them needed to pee between gas station stops.  It had a tight lid and fit under a van seat, and, yes, it was used several times.

Sunday afternoon, I had made 3 pizzas for dinner, and the kids only ate one plus a little, so I put the rest in the freezer (Feeling like a fool for making too much food and not knowing that pizza would bless us later.) I also made 2 sheet pans of garlic bread sticks.  Those turned out to be the twins and my favorite car snacks.  We rolled out of our driveway at 4:30 p.m.  First time ever that we left on vacation at the time we hoped to. Victory!
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Zeke plays Galaxy Evolution on a kindle while Blueberry Pie inspects the backs of his eyelids.

 

We drove straight to Rexburg, Idaho, according to Google, a 22 hour drive, but it took us 24.  The captain drove the most, I drove about 7 hours and Blueberry Pie drove 3 or maybe 5 hours.  I listened to a Great Course on the life of Winston Churchill while I was driving, and it was very good.   I was unable to fall asleep in the car after I took my turn driving, and felt super tired and cranky about it.

When we got to Rexburg Monday afternoon, the weather was breezy and dry and we all loved it.  Almost all of us, anyway.  Zeke burst into tears and sobbed for at least 10 minutes. He was so upset that after all that driving, we weren’t home.  He wanted to go home and play the wii. After he calmed down enough to look around, he joined Key Lime Pie and Skeeter on the slide and had a great time. Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean were already building sand castles in the giant sandbox.  After setting up our tents, I got to go sit down and talk with sisters and cousins and not worry about those babies at all.

 

 

Tuesday morning the teenagers went to do baptisms at the Rexburg Temple.
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I had gotten up to wake them at 5 a.m., so I went in to the kitchen and had a lovely talk with my cousins, Angelic, John, and Tom Pincock, while they cooked everyone’s breakfast.

Then I sat outside in the shade and watched the littles play in the sandbox and talked to cousins and sisters.
After lunch, the captain took Blueberry, Cherry, Pumpkin, Tamale, and Key Lime Pie to explore the ice caves nearby.  (They has planned to climb Mt. Borah, but it was still snowing last week up on the mountain and so the captain decided it wasn’t safe without gear like ice axes and crampons.) They had a super fun time in the caves. (Probably more fun than climbing the mountain would have been, just sayin’.)
I went with all the little pies and cousins to the city splash pad in Rexburg.  The wind was chilly, so even in the sun, the babies got too cold to play after about 45 minutes.  Cousin Olive sure was cute! When we got back to the reunion campground, Banana Cream Pie and Baby Bean were changed out of their swimsuits and in the sandbox playing in less than 5 minutes.  They loved that sandbox.
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Baby Olive

Uncle Sam Bennion had the idea that we should fold a thousand paper cranes for Heidi Jane, our cousin who just discovered she has cancer, so all of us, but especially the teenagers, worked on that folding during the whole reunion.
Key Lime Pie and cousins played many games of Pokémon.
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Rexburg seems to be constantly windy, and someone brought kites.  These were a huge hit with all the littles at the reunion.  So was the huge water balloon fight my mom started.  My dad stationed himself at the swings and pushed little kiddos for literally hours straight.
Tuesday night, my cousin Penny and I had a book club for the book Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.  It was just the two of us—partly because I couldn’t find that anyone else had read the book. Later I found that Uncle Doug and Aunt Lillian had read the book, and Aunt Jeanne read most of it, so I wish I could have found them to be in the book club. Penny and I had a lovely chat about books though, and she brought Scottish shortbread cookies.  That talk was definitely a highlight of the reunion for me.
Wednesday morning most of my siblings and I took our kids to the dunes.  The kids had a blast rolling down the hills and burying each other in the sand.  My cousin, Laura, and her husband, Josh, came with their kids and some of her sister Rachel’s kids. They brought boxes to slide down the dunes in, but it turns out boxes don’t slide on dunes. There was a random family there with a couple of inner tubes and swimming goggles.  It turns out that inner tubes don’t slide down sand dunes either, so they abandoned them. Jimmy snagged their tubes, climbed inside, and rolled down the dunes. He went super fast and in a crazy zig-zag. Lucky for little Hazel, Luke was alert and dived down and snatched her out of Jimmy’s path at the last second—or she would have been creamed.
Morgan tried rolling in the tube and he totally face planted in the sand twice as he rolled down.  Blueberry Pie was going to try it, but the owners of the tubes came back and so we had to return their property.
Peter collected a pocket full of bullet casings and kept joking about collecting “shells” at the sand dunes.
My phone died before I could take very many pictures.

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Wednesday evening we had Mom’s Bennion Family History Quiz Bowl tournament. Mom and I had made 25 poster of family history stories and hung them in the hallway so that people could read the stories while they waited in line for meals.
Peter, Jimmy, and I combined answered lots of questions (Pete the most) so we did very well. Aunt Jeanne answered a lot as well, and the scorekeeper gave the win to her.  Uncle Howard made a lot of hilarious comments but still also knew a fair amount of history.

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The Scooter Pies discovered cousin Joe Bingner playing his Nintendo switch and spent two hours one evening watching him play.
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My little technology addicts

Late Wednesday night I went into Rexburg and washed all our dirty laundry at the laundry mat (because we only brought 3 days worth of clothes for everyone, and Zeke had a few accidents.)  Zeke also stripped naked several times each day, providing extra excitement for us all.  The Scooter Pies both got upset every time I tried to take them with me to the girl’s bathroom–they wanted to go to the boy’s bathroom.  So I kept telling them, “This is the family bathroom.”

Thursday morning we packed up and cleaned up, and headed out by 11:30.

This is where the Pie family parted from the larger Bennion family and went our own way.
We headed to Cody, Wyoming, a 5 hour drive, which took us through the northern boarder of Yellowstone park. Luckily, the Captain gets a free pass into National Parks.  We stopped at a couple of thermal springs to stretch our legs, and saw several buffaloes and a bear.  We camped at the KOA in Cody, and the kids got to play on the playground and jump on the giant Jumping bubble (similar to a bouncy castle without walls) for a bit after we cooked dinner.
The next morning, we met my friend’s brother, Joe, who drove down from Powell with his river boat and took us for an hour ride down the Shoshone river.  He has been guiding river tours for over 20 years and told the kids lots of interesting geology facts about the river banks as well as lots of funny jokes. The rapids we went over were not too big, but there was one big section that was pretty intense, and he had us paddle so that the boat spun in circles as we rode the rapids, so that was pretty exciting.  The Captain, Blueberry Pie, Cherry Pie, and I rowed (when he told us too). Joe had two big oars in a rig that he steered with.  The water was near freezing.  Joe called it “refreshing.”  Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie sat in the very front of the boat and caught most of the water splashes, blocking the rest of us, heh heh. Zeke loved the whole ride.  Skeeter smiled and shivered the whole time, but claims he didn’t like it.  Key Lime Pie and Baby Bean cried —mostly because they were cold, I think.  Banana Cream Pie didn’t cry, but she announced loudly that she did not like the bumpy, splashing parts. It was super fun and like nothing we have ever done as a family before.  Joe was awesome, and we sure appreciated him taking nearly a whole day to make fun for us.
After the river ride, the Captain went shopping for lunch stuff, and the kids and I went and sat in the hot tub at the KOA pool to warm up our numb feet and legs.
Then we had lunch and took a nap.  Some of the kids did not nap but went and played in the indoor playroom at the KOA.  After our siesta we went into town and treated ourselves to Wendy’s frosties and played at a park.  We wanted to go to a museum or a hike or something, but I was feeling tired still and began to feel sick as time passed. So we went back to the Camp.  More and more of us were feeling kind of queasy and tired,  so we just had Raman noodles for dinner. I’m so glad we camped at the KOA, because I was feeling so terrible that I took all the little kids back to the indoor playroom, and I took a 3 hour nap on a couch while they played and watched TV. Ben washed up the dishes, etc. Then I made all the kids go to bed, and I slept again. In the morning, I think our original plan had been to find a place to hike. But I was so sick that all I could think to do was pack up and go home. So that’s what we did.
It was supposed to be 18 hours home, but it took us 21–probably because I needed extra bathroom stops.  🤢 Cherry Pie was a sick too, though not as bad. About 9 p.m. Saturday night I started feeling better. I slept most of the day, so I took the last driving shift from 4:30-7:30a.m.
And that got us back home Sunday morning, just in time to unload the van, shower up and get to church. I tried to talk myself into staying home and sleeping after the 21 hour drive, because we had not expected to be home that early and had arranged subs for our responsibilities at church—but I couldn’t bring myself to skip church when I had the opportunity to go. So I dragged all my tired, cranky kids to church, and felt really happy and grateful to be there.
Also we had a Sunday miracle.  I was worried that after church I would have to break the Sabbath and go buy groceries because the fridge was pretty much empty.  But there was 1/2 a gallon of milk, and Pumpkin Pie reminded me that I had made too much pizza before we left and had frozen 2 whole pizzas. So we had a delicious lunch, and easy, too.  Funny, I was so irritated at myself for making all that food that no one wanted to eat, and it turned out to be a blessing.
Because we are a military family, we always have an AAR (After Action Review) after big family activities.  Here are the kid’s favorites and highlights:
Favorites:
Blueberry Pie: Riding the river, the Japanese Breakfast Great-Aunt Miyuki cooked for us, and drawing alongside Great-Uncle Howard and Uncle JohnnyD
Cherry Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves
Pumpkin Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves, Riding the River, playing with baby Olive and baby Magnus.  (She now wants to move in with Aunt Tahnee and babysit Magnus daily)
Tamale Pie: Exploring the Ice Caves, playing at the sand dunes
Key-Lime Pie: Playing Pokemon with cousins
Banana Cream Pie: the sand box, flying kites, playing at the indoor playground at the Cody KOA
Baby Bean: Sitting in the Hot Tub at the KOA
When we asked what activities the kids would like to repeat, they predictably listed the ice caves, sand dunes, and river rafting.  Banana Cream Pie commented that she loves visiting places where chiggers don’t live.
When we asked what the kids would like to never do again, they voted to pack even lighter so that we have less stuff kicking around the car.  They also begged to not drive straight through, but stop and sleep somewhere along the way, and to not bring the dvd player, because the little kid movies are annoying.
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