Sunday, October 30, 2011

Into the Frying Pan

Yes, I am back, and yes, I've got a ton of blogging to do, and no, i do not have even one good excuse.

Even though it is now chilly outside and my backyard is full of leaves (a little strange, since I have no trees), in the world of blog it is in fact still August.

Toward the beginning of the month, Kevin went on a "high adventure" with good ole' Bishop B (our previous, amazingly fun and cool Bishop:) and a few boys from church. Papa Dueck even made it up for part of the time. They ventured out to Frying Pan Lake (amongst others) and had a great time getting swarmed by Mosquitos ... I mean fishing and bonding.

Truth be told, at the time I actually had almost no idea where they were. On his way out, Papa D left a message for good friend MG (who also happens to be a fire chief and trained emergency professional) to let him know where the group would be ... In the event that they didn't come back out of the woods within a few days (in which case I probably would have assumed they were building a log cabin and hunkering down for the winter). MG wrote the location on his hand, as he was outside at the time busy preparing clams or crabs or something fishy (I guess his teachers never told him that the ink would absorb into his bloodstream:). The thing, though, is that preparing, we'll say clams, requires a lot of hand washing, so by the time MG was ready to write the information down, it had vanished into the boiling pot (or more likely down the drain). Enter myself--very knowable, devoted, and attentive wife. MG calls to see if i can tell him where my husband has ventured off to.

My response: uhhhhhhh

Translation: come to think of it, I have absolutely no idea where he is. But factoring in his extremely high level of manliness, and considering that he has his rambo knife with him (I think) I have not a single worry about him getting out alive. Yep, pretty sure.

Anyway, it all worked out just fine, because they did in fact make it out alive; albeit, perhaps a little smelly and certainly covered in mosquito bites. And Sister B. Had the information all along (uh, huh, making me look bad) so no worries anyhow.

Okay, I'll try to stop rambling, and quickly move on to pictures.

























































Thursday, October 13, 2011

6 hikers and a baby

I don't know if we just like to make things difficult for ourselves or what, but we tend to do some crazy things as a family--most of them demanding physical exertion (e.g., pushing a big pioneer-inspired handcart on a 90-degree day along a trail that included a river crossing). Well, this summer we probably topped all our other crazy adventures with an overnighter hike/camping trip with the entire crazy fam, baby included.

So, here's how it all started ... I am brushing my teeth while Kevin gets ready for work on a random Friday in July, when he cheerily states, "why don't we hike into Lena Lake tonight for an overnighter. I'll try to come home at lunchtime so we can go." I smile and nod and mumble something (remember, I am brushing my teeth) like, "sure, Honey. Sounds good," honestly thinking that the chances of him coming home early are about as likely as me spending the morning scrubbing the oven. Translation: I'm in the clear. Whew!

Don't get me wrong. I like camping as much as the next outdoorsy gal. But air-mattress-type camping, where at night I climb into a nice comfy sleeping bag and cozy down with two fluffy pillows just for me. Not the type where I sleep on a pad as comfy as a cardboard box with a pillow that could fit in a lunch pail (assuming I have a pillow at all). Maybe my passion in this regard comes from the two+ weeks I spent backpacking in Chile, sleeping in a tent most nights. And I use the term "sleeping" very loosely.

Okay, so back to the story ... I'm busily going about my day, when Kevin shows up at lunchtime as promised:). Yay for me! Unfortunately I have not prepared one bit for the trip (wishful thinking I guess), and we have a house full of kids who need to be returned to their parents. Needless to say, it takes us quite some time to get packed up and out the door. By the time we are on the road, Friday-afternoon traffic is already in full swing. And as we creep our way out of the city I am beginning to get a little nervous that with the 2 hour+ drive ahead of us (more like 3+with the traffic), this hike is not such a great idea.

It is, in fact, 7:00 by the time we make our way to the trail head and twilight is already settling in, particularly under the thick cover of trees that crowd the mountain. A hiker or two pass us by on their way off the trail, but we seem to be the only ones just setting out (big surprise). Soon there are no other hikers to be found. Only us. Which in my mind makes us the perfect evening snack for a cougar or bear:). I smile, but I'm completely serious. When my mind is not focused on the pain and numbness in my right shoulder, it is intent on reassuring myself that if David could kill a Lion with a large stone (see Old Testament), than so could I. Which leaves me eying the trail for accessible and transportable rocks of very large proportions. No, really.

My only real reassurance is that Kevin and I both look quite large with our packs. The kids, particularly the younger ones, can't pack in much more than a light sleeping bag, so it's left to the two of us to bring up enough gear for the whole group (albeit, the older two boys do pack up all of their own clothing and some belonging to their siblings--great job, guys!). Since Kevin's pack is half full with a 5-man tent, we realize the only way to fit everything is for me to load the baby into a front pack/sling, so I can still manage a decent size pack on my back as well--hence the numb shoulder.

Since this post is getting extremely long, I'll just wrap it up by saying that since I'm writing this entry, we obviously did not get eaten by a bear. Or a cougar. We actually made it up the approximately four miles of trail in very good time and got our tent up just before the sky went completely black. We quickly climbed in and got ourselves arranged--which didn't take long since we had very little bedding;)--and settled down for a horrible nights sleep, which included me trying not to move a muscle for fear of disturbing the 10-month old cuddling against me who woke up crying every couple of hours (hope the other campers didn't mind:)), and all of the kiddies freezing their little behinds off throughout the night.


Okay, okay, so we cheated a little on the whole "roughing it" thing, and brought along my iPad so the kids could watch Rio.




I likely would have watched it as well, but Joseph was exhausted and would only be calmed by my laying really still beside him in the sleeping bag. Not the best thing for my slight tendency toward claustrophobia.




And now this is the scene in the morning: Joseph is as happy as can be crawling around, and I'm trying to hide away for a few moments of sleep ... probably some of my first.



The kids piling on each other in an effort to get warm. Their lightweight, "play" sleeping bags were all they could carry, but didn't provide much by way of insulation.




Mae, wishing she had slept here instead of in the tent ... her and me both!



Cheating again, playing DS by the fire.




Daddy and his boys (minus one). As a side note, all of our breakfast was cooked on that tiny little stove.



Still trying to get warm.




But never too cold to goof around!




Case in point.




Yay! The sun is out, it's a beautiful day, and we will be sleeping in our own beds tonight. Could life get any better?!




Oh wait, it just did ... FISHING!




And on our way back out, after a few hours of exploring. It was Saturday now and many hikers were on the trail. Let's just say we were quite the spectacle ... The story of our life!




Naptime for Joseph ... He was quite the trooper.




A quick stop by a local ice cream shop. Yum.




Okay, so the big question seems to be, would we do it again? Absolutely!! What an experience for our family. What a great opportunity to teach our kids to perservere, to do things even when they aren't easy. And what a great reminder of the fun and bonding that can take place in, well lets just say, not the most ideal of circumstances.

Only next time, no baby! Sorry, Joseph, you'll have to wait it out with Grandma for a couple of years ... make that a few.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saying Goodbye

So here's some family photos (just snapshots, really) of our last day with the extended fam. It was sad to say goodbye since we had so much fun hanging out together. We are already looking forward to the next time! Better start planning ...








Monday, October 3, 2011

Northwest Trek--family reunion continued ...

The day (I think) after we returned from camping, we headed over to NW Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville to, "experience captivating Northwest wildlife" (as their site advertises:).

I think this picture shows everyone present, except for picture-taker Allison, my spunky, blonde sister-in-law. Unfortunately, there is hardly a picture of her to be found in the entire post, or in the one previous--a mystery I'm still trying to puzzle out. Part of the group had already left town or were busy at work.



First, we walked around and checked out some exciting animals ...
An owl ...



Uh, a badger ... Maybe ..



A lively otter ...



Two bald eagles ...



And a very large bird;) ...



A coyote ... I think ...



And a scary looking bear wearing a BYU hat.



Then we went for a ride on the tram and saw more animals ...

These are not animals, just kids (don't be confused)



Still no ...



And no again.
BTW, the guy in the back is not some stranger trying to sneak into the picture, but is in fact the father of the two cute granddaughters in g-ma & g-pa's laps.



I like this picture because it kind of gives an idea of what the tram looked like.
Oh, and still not animals, although on occasion I feel quite bear-ish.



Finally, here is Porter with ... Um ... Elk?



I was gonna say buffalo, but I'm pretty sure it's a bison ...



Cute little Bambie ...



When we were done taking pictures of wildlife, we snapped a shot of our wild family.



Then we made quick stop in the small children's activity center.



It was almost closing time, and we happened to be the only ones there.



And finally, despite all the great pictures we took there of many exciting animals, these pics are my favorite ...









Regardless of what one may assume from the exhausted bench nappers, it was actually a very serene and slow-paced setting--which was quite nice--and we had a thoroughly wild time (which is completely contradictory to what i just said, but oh well, I guess I'm into puns right now). Until next time, NW Trek.

Location:41st Pl S,Auburn,United States