Anyway, here are some of the highlights from the trip:
-Soren traveled up with Grandma and Grandpa on Friday morning, a little earlier than Abraham and I, who both had to work until 2. Abe and I both missed our little toad and were happy to see him at 6:00 when we finally arrived at camp. Grandma and Grandpa were also happy to see us. One bonus for me: the morning of the trip, I asked Soren to wait to have his daily bowel movement--which can often get quite out of control-- until he was alone with Grandma and Grandpa. I told him I would let him have a raspberry cream soda in exchange. My child, who will do anything for a sugary beverage, including back up his own colon, happily complied. Bless him.
-Little Marty helped Abe set up our tent and did a darned good job of it.
-After eating a delicious creamy soup provided by Collette, we all sat around the campfire and talked. No one would sing camp songs with me, though I know they all secretly wanted to.
-Seth and Karen are madly in love. On Saturday morning they cooked breakfast together: Karen cooked french toast, Seth fried up some bacon. That evening, when I made tinfoil dinners, I heard Karen tell Seth that she would be happy to assemble his meal for him. He said, "I was just about to say that I would make yours for you." They genuinely care about each other and enjoy one another's company. Early on in their relationship, Seth introduced Karen to the joy of fishing and she's become very good at it. They spent a lot of their time on the trip with lines in or near the water. Check out Karen's blog for more details.
-Arielle and her daddy were out until after dark on Friday night, scouting for elk.
-On Friday, Grandpa led Tessa on a private fishing expedition. She caught 6 fish. The first thing she said upon awakening Saturday morning was, "When do I get to go fishing with Grandpa again?"
-We camped next to a beautiful mountain creek. Both Calysta and Tessa gave me a tour of the fallen-log bridges that crossed it.
-Soren nearly choked to death. See his 21-month newsletter for more details.
-It was astounding to me how dirty one little boy can become in just a few hours in the outdoors. It's a phenomenon that I believe needs more attention from the scientific community. I wish I'd gotten pictures.
-Abraham, Soren, and I braved the nighttime sub-zero temperatures in our 4-man nylon tent. We brought his Pack-n-Play for sleeping purposes and bundled him up in multiple layers of clothing, a hat, and approximately 5 quilts. He fell asleep happily there, but awakened several times in the night. I was afraid he was cold (I was cold,) so I finally brought him into our sleeping bag, where he found that he could only fall asleep if he was draped across my head, a fistful of hair clutched in each hand. I let him fall asleep this way, then wedged my way out from underneath him so that I could fall back to sleep. This would work for maybe an hour, and then he would wake up, realize that I had moved, and cry until I let him climb back onto my head. It was not a restful night. In the morning, Soren was crotchety. He whined while we tried to talk him into snuggling with us, fussed while got him dressed, cried while we got ourselves dressed, and complained while we cleaned things up. Abraham swore an oath that Soren would never camp again, not so long as he (Abe) was alive.
-On Saturday, Abe and I put Soren down for his nap and left Grandma, Calysta, and Tessa at the campground while the rest of us hiked up to Iron Bog Lake. Abe told Grandma we would be back in about an hour and a half. It was a beautiful hiking path, about 1 1/2 miles up, leading to a lovely deep glacial lake in which I desperately wanted to swim. I mentioned that to my father, who declared, "You'll have your baby if you get in that water." I agreed that it did look a little chilly and so, solely for the safety of my unborn child, refrained from recreating in the mountain waters.
Me, clutching my belly and leaning way back. Look at that HUGE pregnant lady! Apparently I was feeling much bigger than I actually am. Karen and Collette, in the background, try to look away from the drama.
-Little Marty was the most amusing to observe hiking. He started out kind of slow, then ran up ahead of everyone, then became utterly exhausted and declared to his mother, "I never did like hiking," and fell behind. He then dashed up front again, became discouraged, and almost quit altogether. The last stretch was a slow but monumental effort for him. He did finally make it, though, with Grandpa carrying his backpack and tackle box for him.
-Abe and I enjoyed the break from the baby but we were worried about those we had left behind to watch him (Grandma, Calysta, and Tessa), particularly since we had been gone for probably twice the amount of time we had anticipated. We managed to connive my daddy into letting us borrow his Diesel pickup truck (there was pain in his eyes when he handed off the keys), hiked back down the trail, and drove back to the campground. Sure enough, when we arrived, Grandma looked as though she had perhaps been attempting to tear all of her hair out by the roots. Dark circles shadowed her eyes. New wrinkles cut across her face. She walked with a definite limp. "That was an awfully long hour and a half!" she hollered at us. Soren was running around without pants or shoes. His mouth was black. He was caked from head to toe with dirt. A diaper, oozing with toxic-looking wastes and covered by flies, festered on a picnic bench. The little girls had long since become exhausted and had fled elsewhere for refuge. I found some pants for Soren and handed him over to his father so that I could take the diaper down to the Idaho National Laboratory's nuclear waste disposal facility. Grandma disappeared into her camper.
We drove home that evening, feeling that it would be better for the entire family if we could all actually sleep during the nighttime hours.
It was a lovely reunion, and I would really recommend reading Karen's description of the reunion. It is much more lucid than mine. Also, it contains much better photographic documentation.