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Great Lakes Road Trip- Day 4- The Hodag and Mt Arvon

28 Nov
The Rhinelander Hodag

The Rhinelander Hodag drawn by Blueberry Pie

As we were leaving town, we saw a large, dinosaur-like statue of a monster.  Then we saw the monster again on the water tower.  “What is up with this monster?” we wondered.  I googled  “Rhinelander monster” on my phone and we found out about the Hodag.  The legend of the hodag was one of the funniest things we have ever heard, and we deeply regretted missing the opportunity to take a picture of the family with the hodag statue.    We vowed to research local legends of the towns we stay in on family trips from now on.

After about a 4 hour drive on the highway and an intense hour of driving on unmarked logging roads out in the boonies of Northern Michigan, we reached the top of Mount Arvon.  I wasn’t too worried because DH was doing the driving.  We almost got the van stuck in a huge pothole/mud puddle at one point.  I think Mt. Arvon should probably have a sign saying 4 wheel drive is needed or park and walk the rest of the way up.  The “road” is extended from the parking lot most online sites describe, so you can pretty much drive to the top now.  But like I said, consider walking the last bit if you are in a large vehicle or don’t have 4 wheel drive, especially if it has been rainy.

Mount Arvon

Mount Arvon

On the way down, DH had a headache from the worries of transporting the family through such unfamiliar territory with mostly unmarked roads.  When we got to the nearest town, L’anse, I suggested we stop at a park to relax for a bit.  We stumbled upon this little playground right on the shore of Lake Superior and spent 20 of the most glorious minutes of my life playing in the sunshine and breeze.  Every time since, when someone says, “picture the perfect place” or “Picture yourself on a beach,”  I imagine myself back in this little park.

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Mom! Watch! aaand cue Chariots of Fire soundtrack: Dun Dun da-Dun Dunnnn daaaa….

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We planned on camping at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  We got there at about 5 pm and all the camping spots were taken.  Online had warned of this, but we have always been so lucky to get campsites, that the DH assumed we would find one.  We did not.  After lots of frustrating driving around, we found a picnic spot, and I cooked dinner while the kids played on the beach again.  We should have just gone ahead and visited the pretty places there at Pictured Rocks that we wanted to see, but we wasted all our daylight looking for a campsite.  Hind sight is 20/20.

As our trip progressed, we learned the hard way that the Great Lakes are a popular attraction and you should book ALL of your campsites/hotel rooms 6-12 months in advance.

After dinner, we checked all the local hotels.  No Vacancy.  So we started driving along the route we had planned for the next day.  I googled hotels all along the way on my phone and called ahead looking for a place to stay.  We finally found a room in St. Ignace, Michigan and stopped to get some rest at 12:30 a.m.  in a lovely little motel called Bay View Motel, right on the lake.  It was low priced, clean, and rustic.  I loved it.  I also loved getting some sleep.  It was our good luck spot for the trip.

 

 

Great Lakes Road Trip 2013- Day 3 – Timms Hill

28 Nov
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Lake Superior

Day 3 we packed up camp and headed down the shore of Lake Superior towards Wisconsin.  We stopped at a lookout called P__ Point and the fog on the lake lifted enough that we had some great views and got some great pictures.  This is the only surviving picture.  The kids loved scrambling over the rocks.

Blueberry Pie sampling Betty's Raspberry Peach Pie

Blueberry Pie sampling Betty’s Raspberry Peach Pie

Then, following the advice of DH’s online backpacking friends, we stopped at Betty’s Pies and sampled the world famous pies to be had therein.  We tried Raspberry Peach and French Banana Cream.  I come from a family of fabulous pie bakers, so I am always skeptical of pies which can be purchased.  Usually, people say they are good because people have never had a good pie to compare it too.  However, Betty’s pies really were good.  The raspberry peach tasted as good as pies my Aunties bake, so I didn’t feel like my money was wasted.  The French Banana Cream was one of the most heavenly things I have ever tasted.  The “french” part was that the cream on top of the pie was like a whipped cream cheese cake.  I just kept eating lactaid pills and pieces of pie all day long.  (I paid for that later.  Even lactaid pills can’t handle everything.) But  Soooo tasty!

We stopped and toured Split Rock Light House, which was fascinating and fun.

Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

After about 6 hours, we got to Timms Hill, Wisconsin.  We all hiked up to the top.  It was like a steep hill.

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Then the big kids and the DH climbed the lookout towers and I went back down with Baby Dumpling and Cutie Pie.  We played on the playground at the bottom of the hill until everyone else came back down.  IMG_0836

That evening, we stopped in Rhinelander, Wisconson, ate cheese curds at a Dogs -n-Suds and spent the night in a hotel.  Ah! showers and soft beds for everyone!

Great Lakes Road Trip 2013- Day 2 Hiking Eagle Mountain

28 Nov
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At the Trail Head

Eagle Mountain in Minnesota was high point #6 for the kids and I, and High Point #7 for DH.  It was a 7 mile hike and most places online say the difficulty of the hike is about the same as Harney Peak, South Dakota, which we hiked last summer.  

I guess that is accurate.  The DH and I were both in better shape for hiking this year than we were last year, so it was easier on us in that way.  I have never hiked on such a rocky trail, though.  And when I say rocky, I mean the trail was full of big rocks that you had to step from rock to rock–like crossing a stream, only no stream.  The rocks were close together, but we had to watch every step carefully or twist our ankles and fall.

Cutie Pie was almost 5 years old and hiked much better than she did last summer in South Dakota–She motivated herself without much input from me for 2-2.5 miles before insisting on being carried.  When the trail got very steep for the last mile, she climbed willingly.  The DH carried 18 month old Baby Dumpling until Cutie Pie needed help.  Then 13 year old Blueberry Pie carried the baby and DH carried Cutie Pie.  I got out of packing an extra baby, since as you can tell from the picture, I was carrying one anyway.

We ran out of bug spray as I was applying it to the kiddie pies that morning, and the mosquitoes were fierce on the mountain.  DH and Blueberry Pie swell a lot when they get bit, and they were really suffering.  We bought more bug spray that evening, but the mosquitoes were never as bad as they were that day on Eagle Mountain.

We stopped at a Lake about halfway up to enjoy some scenery and have a snack.  Some of the picture files on my computer seem to have become corrupted, so I no longer have those pictures of the lake.

At the Top of EMHere we are at the top of Eagle Mountain.  Blueberry Pie is letting us all know how hard he has worked, packing a baby halfway up the mountain.

While we were hiking, we passed several groups of other hikers.  Often they had on sweatshirts or t-shirts that gave away what state, or at least what college they hailed from.  It was really fun for me to know where people were from, and I’ve decided to get a Missouri t-shirt so people can know where we are from when we hike high points.  I learned that the Minnesotan phrase of choice when greeting strangers on the trail is “How’s it goin’? ”  This seems a little more friendly than the Missouri phrase of choice, which seems to be, “Hey.”

The day was fairly cool and I wore my most comfortable and most favorite maternity pants every– my old army maternity BDU’s.

maternityBDU

First off, these sweet pants have pockets, a rare thing for maternity pants.  Second of all, they stay where they are supposed to stay and do not require constant pulling back up when I am hiking, walking, and moving around.  A second rare thing for maternity pants.  Thirdly, they are very comfortable and fit me perfectly, something I have never encountered elsewhere in maternity pants.

I don’t wear them very often outside my house, because cammo isn’t really my style.  But I knew they would be the hands down best choice for this hike.  I have a dark brown maternity shirt that is about the color of those old army t-shirts and I was feeling like a fashion genius in my hiking boots, brown shirt, cammo pants, and pig tails.

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pigtails

The DH seemed a little like he didn’t love my look, which is funny to me since he loves his own uniform so much.

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As we were on our way back down the mountain, we passed a family who were just starting.  The father and son were a little ahead and hiking in pretty normal, adequate hiking clothes.  Behind them came the mom and little daughter.  The mom and daughter were blinged out for a trip to the mall.  Jewelry, cute hoodies, and sparkly manicures to match their sparkly flip flops.  As I passed them, I was thinking to myself maybe I should have worn some makeup or something a little more girly–perhaps I had gone too far to the practical side in my choice of ensemble for the day

About 5 minutes later, I wanted to go back and warn that mom and little girl that there was no way they could make it up the mountain in flip flops.  The flip flops would rip apart on those rocks and they would end up having to walk the rest of the way bare foot.  I wondered if they had actually planned this hike, or if they had just been driving by and were like, “Hey, look, the highest point in Minnesota, let’s hike it.  Sounds quirky and fun.”  I really have no idea what they were thinking, and women who are that sparkly are very intimidating to me for some reason, so I didn’t go back.  (Plus I was ready for the hike to be over and didn’t really want to add to my fatigue just to go back and try to talk sense to someone who thought hiking a mountain in flip flops was a good idea.)

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To be fair, we have been on 4 high points that would be doable in flip flips:  Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Michigan.  It is possible that there are several out east that would also fit in this category.  So maybe that family was from one of those states.

After our hike, we went back to camp and ate something yummy and easy to cook, possibly it was Spinach Parmesan PastaRoni and fried Zucchini.

Then we went drove a little ways down from our campsite to the shore of Lake Superior and relaxed and let the kids play for as long as they wanted.

Baby Dumpling thought it was hilarious every time someone threw a rock into the water

Baby Dumpling thought it was hilarious every time someone threw a rock into the water

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

Pumpkin Pie finds a perfect rock.

Pumpkin Pie finds a perfect rock.

Cutie Pie cannot possibly narrow her collection down to one perfect rock.

Cutie Pie cannot possibly narrow her collection down to one perfect rock.

Tamale Pie posing for the camera.

Tamale Pie posing for the camera.

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Baby Dumpling tries out rock throwing.

Baby Dumpling tries out rock throwing.

DH has as much fun as the kiddie pies.

DH has as much fun as the kiddie pies.

I found this friendly little leech attached to Pumpkin Pie's pinky toe.  After she was done freaking out and able to stand still, I pulled him off.  Blueberry Pie and Cutie Pie went immediately into the water and got their own friendly leeches on purpose.  After pulling the third leech off Cutie Pie, I announced that I would not remove any more leeches, so they had better not "catch" any more.  Pumpkin Pie remained grossed out by the leeches for the entire trip.  A point that Blueberry Pie capitalized on by "just happening" to mention the word leech constantly.

I found this friendly little leech attached to Pumpkin Pie’s pinky toe. After she was done freaking out and able to stand still, I pulled him off. Blueberry Pie and Cutie Pie went immediately into the water and got their own friendly leeches on purpose. After pulling the third leech off Cutie Pie, I announced that I would not remove any more leeches, so they had better not “catch” any more. Pumpkin Pie remained grossed out by the leeches for the entire trip. A point that Blueberry Pie capitalized on by “just happening” to mention the word leech constantly.

Cherry Pie shows the perfect skipping rock she has found.

Cherry Pie shows the perfect skipping rock she has found.

We finished off the day with hot cocoa around the campfire.  It was a good day.

South Dakota camping style: Part 5, Harney Peak

2 Aug
Wednesday we started out early for Harney Peak.  We wanted to be well on our way to the top before the day got too hot.  We knew that hiking with all the kids would make us slower.  Harney Peak is the high point of South Dakota and the highest peek between the Rocky Mountains and the Pyrenees.  It is 3.5 miles to the top, but the elevation gain is only about 1000 feet, so most of the trail is not too steep.
 
Ben started out carrying Baby Dumpling in the baby pack; the rest of us had to hike on our own 2 feet.  Right from the get go, Cutie Pie did not want to hike.  “My legs are broken,” she told me.  Luckily, my trekking pole collapses down to just the right length for a small 3 year old.  I told her she could be the leader and she cheered up.
 
She got frustrated when the other kids refused to hike slowly behind her.  I used Aunt Katie’s trick of super powers next.
 
“Cutie Pie, how will we get to the next rock?  Lets use our Super Dinosaur Power/Super Running Power/Super Star Power/Super Butt Wiggle Power/Super Pooh Bear Jumping Power”  That got us a good deal further along the trail.
 

The views were spectacular along the way.  My photography skills don’t do it justice.
Blueberry Pie offered to carry Cutie Pie and she let him for 100-200 yards. Then I produced apples from my pack.
I promised her that if she would walk all the way up, I would carry her all the way down.
She would go for a bit and then say, “Momma, I just want you to carry me.”
We pretended to be baby ponies. I distracted her by having her tell me what ponies eat.  I told her I knew a story about a pony named Rocket and I told her Grandpa’s story of Whitey & Mimi for the first time.  She loved it.  In this way, we got to the marker for 1 1/2 miles.  We had fallen pretty far behind the others, but they were waiting for us there.  She was excited to be caught up and went a bit further on her own.  Then she just stopped in the middle of the trail.
 
“You just go, Mommy,” she said, motioning me on with her hand.  This was different from the whining and fussing of before.
 
“I won’t leave you here all alone,” I said encouragingly. “Come on with me.”
 
She sighed and took 2 more steps and then stopped again.  “You just go, Mommy.”  That squeezed my heart, so I picked her up and tied her on my back with my baby carrier and carried her the rest of the 2 miles up the Mountain.  She fell asleep almost instantly, so I think she really had walked as far as she could go.
 
Just before the peak, there is a huge flight of stairs.  We had planned to eat lunch on the summit, but stopped at the base of the stairs instead.  Baby Dumpling was getting fussy and so were the other kids.  I broke out a package of chips to go with our sandwiches.  Nacho Cheese flavored tortilla chips are good for troop morale.
 
 Luckily, Cutie Pie was willing to climb up the stairs herself.  I’m not sure I could have carried her.  They were not as steep as the ones in this picture.  This is inside the Fire Tower. 
 
 
 Lucky for me, Cutie Pie was excited to get to the Princess Castle on top of the Mountain.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
When we got to the top, 5 children were miraculously recovered from fatigue and went scampering about like mountain goats, climbing all over the granite boulders.
 
 
I alternately prayed for their deliverance from death  and begged out loud for them to come down.  (I’m not exaggerating.)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   I think that maybe on some of the higher peaks, I’ll stop just short of the summit.
 
 I’m not sure the view is enough to compensate for the sharp pain of fear that goes crushing through me when I am up so high. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Even from the complete safety of the stone walled fire tower, I was only barely able to keep myself from dropping to my hands and knees when I looked out over the Black Hills from 7,242 feet above sea level.
 
I know I look all calm here, but it is only a facade.
 
 
 
 I didn’t know this, but chipmunks live at the top of mountains, and there were about 100 running around and climbing the boulders with my kids.
 
 
 
 
I started to feel better about the whole being higher than anything else I could see feeling and then Cherry Pie started balance beam walking along the cliff side edges of the boulders again.   I finally sat down with Baby Dumpling and leaned against a boulder and covered my eyes and told myself that if they all died, there was nothing I could do about it.
Picture Ben took while I was cowering on the ground .
I stayed there until Ben was done exploring and ready to take us all down again.
We switched things up on the way down.  Ben put the 3-year-old  in the baby pack, and I tied the 6-month-old onto me and down we went.  My trekking poles were great.  Besides helping me keep my balance down the mountain, I loaned them to various kids several times to motivate them to keep going.
 
By the end, all our feet hurt and we were all tired.   The 12-year-old is the only kid who never complained about being too tired or that his feet hurt.  The girls who were sure they couldn’t take another step were soon running about again as if they had done nothing all day.  The grownups to IB Profin and sat in our camp chairs like lumps.
 
For dinner I warmed up 2 cans of chili and we had Frito Pie.  Gotta love that propane stove. 

Belated Trip Report**Now with Pictures!!

20 Aug

Question: Why have I not blogged for over a month??

Answer: I can’t find the cord to link my computer and my camera. waaaahhhh 😦

The DH says it’s around somewhere. I’m pretty sure he’s the last one to have seen it, and thus is GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY. He will receive no mercy when he stands before the tribunal. **after reading my post, the wounded DH went and found my camera cord for me–supposedly sitting on top of our broken printer in plain sight. Wasn’t that sweet of him? I *heart* DH. In addition to that, I got copies of lots of pictures taken by other family members and due to some pregnancy insomnia and my new super high speed internet, figured out how to make collages with PICASA. I *heart* PICASA.

We had a wonderful, wonderful vacation and truthfully I was having too much fun at the family reunion to use my camera much, so I don’t have very many pictures anyway (hanging head in shame)

The treats and games I planned worked well on the 22 hour drive out to Idaho. Best last minute bring along was a library book of quickie who-dun-it mysteries. The older kids enjoyed solving them for as long as my voice held out reading aloud. They even read some to each other after I quit.

On the way home, I decided that we ate as many snacks as we had and didn’t really need so many. So I bought less and everyone was mostly OK. We never felt sick from car food, so I think the choices were good.

The toys/coloring didn’t work very well on the way home. Although Bubba made some improvements to the pictures in Cutie Pie’s “Dora the Explorer” coloring book.

Everyone was so tired of being in the car. The kids just wanted to watch movies and everyone was tired of the movies we had. I considered Redbox, but didn’t want to drive around unknown towns searching for one.

I chose the DVDs we did bring along based on 2 criteria:
#1 what I thought I could stand to listen to while not being able to see it
#2 The kids would like to watch over and over

( the kids would have loved Mr. Bean. But the sound track to Bean is just canned studio laughter and a little background music. Not fun to listen to when you can’t see what is so funny. Also no good is any of the Lord Of the Rings Movies. That entire sound track can be summed up as follows: “da-nuh- nuh, du du dunt…I’m glad you’re here Sam…da-nuh- nuh, du du dunt…I’ll always stay with you Mr. Frodo…da-nuh- nuh, du du dunt…*beastial howlings and growlings*…15…16…17…My Precious…da-nuh- nuh, du du dunt.” repeat.

NO!

I only chose 4 DVD’s because I didn’t want movies kicking all over around the car. Four is how many fit in the glove box. Next time I will bring more than 4 movies–the DH and I got to hear “Tangled” and “MegaMind” about 14 times each. StarDust was less popular and only got watched about 4 times.

DH has a lower tolerance for repetition of kid stuff than I do, so when he couldn’t take any more, I put in “Fiddler on the Roof.” The kids watched it at least twice, and now if Bubba sings, “Do you love me?” to Cutie Pie (who is 2 1/2), she will say back very vehemently, “I wash your clothes and milk them!”

LOVE IT 🙂

So we broke up our drive out west by stopping at the highest peak in Kansas, Mount Sunflower. I can’t say we climbed it, because we drove up and parked on the top. It was about 9 hours into our drive and made a lovely rest stop.

Cutie Pie is hardly in any pictures because she didn’t stop running from the time I let her out of the car until the time I caught her and forced her back into her car seat.

A few hours later we stopped in Denver at our Priceline-won hotel. We ordered pizza for dinner and swam in the pool for over an hour. Tamale Pie said to me, “Momma, I dreamed of staying in a hotel and this is just like I dreamed it would be.”

Lucky us, we got a room with 2 queen beds instead of the usual 2 double beds. DH, Cutie Pie and I took one queen bed and we lined 4 kiddos up on the other queen bed, with their heads from side to side, so they would have more room. It was quite the pile of humanity. (I never tell hotels how many kids we have because they invariably insist that I can’t put that many people in one room and must buy two rooms. But they also refuse to guarantee me adjoining rooms and I will not have half the family down the hall, let alone on a different floor. The DH and I would have to split up so as to have a parent in each room and that would be no fun. So we crowd in one room and make do.)

The next morning, refreshed and rested, we finished the drive to the family reunion (my dad’s family) where we spent 4 days and 3 nights camping at a place near Rexburg, ID.

We ate good food,


ran lots of relay races,

the little kids tunneled in the giant sand box,

and we talked and laughed ourselves hoarse.

(speaking of the giant sand box–my favorite part of the reunion place–My family was assigned to clean the bathrooms at the ranch on the last day. My dad commented, somewhat perplexed, that the women sure tracked a lot more sand into the showers than the men did. I pointed out that the women were the ones who supervised the showering of most of the 38+ little kids each day, and the mystery was solved.

I, myself, showered 4 very sandy little girls each day, hoping to reduce the amount of sand that was carried into the tent and sleeping bags. I’m sure that my efforts made a dent, but the tent was very sandy, nonetheless.)

The DH ran off with my sister’s DH for 24 hours to climb the highest peak in Idaho: Mt. Borah. –if you think you are seeing a pattern here, you would be correct. It is his goal to summit the highest peak in all 50 states. We have to fit a couple in on every family vacation. The kids and I are happily doing the little ones with him. He is on his own for Rainier and Denali.

One of the events at the reunion was Family History Skit Night. Each Family Group was asked to come up with a skit about one of our ancestors. All the skits were amazing and fun. The other family groups all did fun, spiritual skits. Of course, my family group (comprising my parents, all my siblings and their spouses and kids) chose the irreverent route. We picked my dad’s grandfather, James Edward and a particular event in his life. We set it to the tune of “The Beverly Hillbillies” theme song. I wrote up verses and then Dad helped me refine it until it was 100% historically accurate and balanced as far as length. No artistic license was allowed, even for the sake of a good rhyme or meter. (you know how at the end of each stanza the Beverly Hillbillies tune has sort of parenthetical expressions–well the rhythm of some of ours is WAY off–but it was really funny anyway.) We sang it and acted it out. My brother James (Jimmy) played James Edward.

You have to imagine it complete with a full stop after the first line and an argument–not even staged–about how I had supposedly started the singing at too high of a pitch. I swear, I was just trying to match Dad so we were singing the same note. It still ended up being a bit too high and got screechy on the last line of most of the verses. I blame nerves and the fact that we were trying to sing loud–the microphone had quit working.

Here it is for posterity, our family history skit:

Come and listen to my story ’bout a Mormon pioneer
Raisin’ horses and a family in the wild frontier
James Edward was his name and he married Bertha Lamb
And they moved to Canada to live and work the land
(soil that is, planting crops, growin’ wheat)

Well he had to dig a well, to meet the family’s needs
So he and Uncle Nels got one dug down 60 feet
The hired boy was careless and the windlass flipped it’s lid,
James dropped right down the well, the windlass landed on his head.
(knocked him flat, caved his skull, scalped him clean)

So Nels and the hired boy ran and grabbed a rope,
They pulled the windlass up, though they didn’t have much hope
Down they sent the rope again and pulled with growing dread
And up from the ground came a bubblin’ red
(blood that is, straight from his arteries, spurtin’ left, squirtin’ right)

**at this point, Jimmy smeared ketchup all over his face and continued squirting watered down ketchup from a bottle every so often. We had quite a mess to clean up when the skit was over.)

They carried him inside and they laid him on the floor
Then to fetch a doctor quick, they both ran out the door
The boy ran to Mountain View, the doctor wasn’t there
Nels took a team to Cardston and waited in despair.
(All he could do, just wait until the Doc came back)

Bertha put down dish pans to catch all the blood
No matter what she did, she couldn’t stop the flood
James wasn’t even moving–blood was spurting everywhere
She finally browned some flour and put it on his hair.
(or rather, where his hair should have been)

The kids were all a wailin’ and a cryin’ heaps o’ tears
But Bertha calmed them down and she quieted their fears
She said, “the Lord will care for us, have faith, do not despair.”
At 2 am the doctor came and sewed back James’ hair
(tried to, but his mangled scalp could hardly cover the gaping hole in his skull)

**my kids and my brother’s kids provided the wailing.

Well, true to Bertha’s faith, James recovered real soon
And survived many more accidents that couldn’t fit in this tune
The family grew in numbers, in strength, in faith, in love
And we can all be thankful for these blessings from above.

So there you go. Now you have a good glimpse into my family’s humor. If you need more, you can check out the birthday posts on my sister’s blog. She even has pictures from the family reunion!

When the family reunion was sadly at an end, we drove down to Salt Lake, mercifully only a 3 hour drive, to visit the DH’s sister, Linda. We spent about 2 and 1/3 lovely days with her and her 3 girls. It was not nearly enough time! “Anne of Green Gables” was watched. Amazingly, the girls also watched “Tangled.” Ben got to see some of the movie he had, up to this point, only heard. Dress-ups were donned. Chickens were fed. The tortoise was petted. The sunbird bit everyone’s fingers. Linda cooked us delicious foods. We went and tramped around the huge (for a city) lot they just purchased and will be building on soon. I can’t wait to see it when it’s done. Linda’s DH is quite a green thumb and the landscaping will be breathtaking. They have over 40 houseplants–all of which made the move across country 2 years ago when they left their home in New York City. I am still amazed by this, as I have a total of 3 houseplants that I have managed not to kill, and they were large and sturdy when I got them.

Our last evening with Linda, we went to the park for our first attempt at pulling together a family reunion for DH’s family. I got to meet Sarah and Rena for the first time. (I’ve stalked their blogs for at least a year now.) and re-meet his cousin, David, whose wedding reception we went to about 11 years ago. Also their cute, fun kids and spouses. We are so glad they came. I loved getting to know them all.

Then we headed North again and spent 3 days of heaven at my mom’s family cabin on the Weber River. Again, my sister Katie has pictures. I’m not sure how she manages to take pictures and keep track of her boys, but she is amazing like that.

The DH, Bubbah & Katie’s DH, Nate, plus Orville snuck off to go camping again.

I don’t think Orville had a great time, but it turned out that he was sick 😦 DH was, as always, super impressed with Nate’s fitness because he (Nate) was a faster hiker, even though he carried a pack and Orville most of the time.

After those 3 idyllic days in Weber Canyon, we headed back home to the Midwest. It was 37 degrees fahrenheit the morning when we left the Weber. Then next day as we crossed Kansas, it was 105 degrees fahrenheit. We were definitely going in the wrong direction is all I can say. We stopped at Panorama Point, Nebraska on our way home and bagged another highest peak.

We saw a dust devil. The mosquitoes were murderous. We stopped in North Platte for dinner. All I have to say is Perkins may be a Family Restaurant, but it isn’t easy on a family’s budget. $4.99 for a kid’s plate of mac-n-cheese with a few grapes on the side, ouch. We stayed at a hotel with free hot breakfast, but the DH was so anxious to get on the road again that he wouldn’t let us stay to eat it. 😦 Sad day. We ate cheerios in the car instead and Cutie Pie spilled hers in her car seat. That was nasty to clean out later, let me tell you.

I thought that last day in the car would never end. As we watched Nebraska and Kansas go by, I was so tired of the car that I thought pulling a handcart would be great fun and a nice change. The DH pointed out that we can go faster in 1 hour in the minivan than the pioneers could go in a week with their handcarts. I still sort of wanted to be out of the car and walking.

Now we are home and have to do stuff like clean house and weed the garden again. Truthfully, I’m happy to be home. But I sure do love all my family. They are the most awesome people on earth–the cool ones that I’m sure I’d never get to be friends with otherwise, but they are stuck with me because I was born in their family. 🙂