Sunday, August 17, 2008

Blakely, Bear Lake, Washington and Idaho

Just when you thought it couldn't be done, we are actually going to include all of the three weeks of summer vacation on one blog entry!

As previously mentioned, we began the journey (after the stopover at Sonna's) at Bear Lake, Idaho with Jonah's extended family. Never a dull moment with 36 people staying in one house. The cousins all had a grand time, of course (and so did we).

Ana got to ride good ole' 29-year-old King. Ana's still a horse-lovin' maniac.

Jonah, Cam and I were on a walk one night when a rattlesnake tried to attack Jonah on the well-used path. Luckily, he won. Barely. To show the rattlesnake who is boss, Jonah skinned it, I dissected it, and then we barbecued it and fed it to Jonah's brave niece and nephews, who are sometimes picky eaters, but not when rattlesnake's on the menu.

Ana happily got lots and lots of waterskiing in. She even got to team ski with her cousin Gracie. After she and Gracie got up together and chatted it up while waterskiing, she said, "I didn't expect it would be so fun!!" She can't understand why school's in and she doesn't get to go waterskiing every other day anymore. She also got up on her first try wakeboarding, but let go of the rope after she proved to us she could do it. Jonah and I did some wake surfing, and it was so much fun!

Jonah's sister Saren and her husband Jared planned a great reunion this year, and the gunny sack races were a real hit.

Jonah and Tal holding Ana and Gracie up on Bear Lake.

Ana and Gracie.
Love that Ana's got the buckers and Gracie has the void.

This is Elsie's little Eyre-side twin cousin (she's got Ruthie on my side of the family, too) who's only three months older than Elsie. They really hit it off more than I thought they would. We may have another Ana-Gracie team on our hands. Aren't they killer-cutness?

Elsie has figured out that if she sits still for the photo sessions, she gets to see the picture on the camera afterwards. Hooray, because I can't get enough photos of this girl!

We left Bear Lake after about 11 days (!) and made the drive to Washington via Missoula, Montana. It was fun to mix up the route a little, we camped a night in Montana and didn't get eaten by bears, and we loved getting a glimpse of the Coeur de laine, Idaho area and all that beauty. We made it to Redmond, Washington just in time for one of my uncle Max's famous Mexican feasts. How did he know we'd been only eating PBJs for two days?!?

The Velas ALWAYS show us a good time (no pressure, guys), and this time was no exception. Ana and Cam loved hanging out with aunt Julie and watching TiVo'd animal antics shows and eating popcorn. We also were joined by my gorgeous cousin Jenye and her three boys at the raspberry farm for some deliciousness. I think my kids found a new favorite passtime. I cannot explain to you the absolute delight of picking fresh raspberries and eating them right there.

Elsie was so focused. She'd search all around and pick a bright green raspberry and pop it in her mouth. About 40 minutes into it, she finally figured out that the red ones are best.

Ana and Nicco, Jenye's oldest boy.

Check out my cousin Jenye's blog (linked on the right over there, and right here Jenye's Blog) for more great photos. She has a great blog. Above is a photo of my aunt Julie (can you tell she's my mom's sister, or what), uncle Max, Nicco, Makai, Ana and Elsie. I asked Cam why he wasn't in this picture and he said, "Because I wasn't standing in the picture". He's a genius.

From Redmond, we made the relatively short drive to Anacortes, Washington after getting enough groceries to last us for the week, and were picked up and taken to Blakely Island in the San Juan Islands. My dad has a couple houses on the island and lives there during the summers, and I've been going up there for summers since before I was born. In fact, Jonah and I even got engaged up there!! We hadn't been there since summer before last, so it was all pretty new for Cam and even for Ana, who could pretty much only remember the four wheeler from her previous visits.

Elsie continually gives further proof that she is my emotional/mental clone. She didn't even flinch with all the amphibians, reptiles, fish, bugs, birds and invertebrates we let her play with.

The lake where Jonah and I got engaged. Horseshoe lake: one of top ten places in the whole world.

There are some GREAT beachcombing opportunities on Blakely:

Cam has been wowing us with his bravery lately! He's been doing stuff that Ana doesn't even dare to try.

August is primo time for foxgloves, and they take over the island.

We only played with this snake. He wasn't big enough to BBQ.

After a long hike to Frog Land (the trail is covered with fallen trees, so we had to hike it instead of ride the four wheeler), where we only found a snake so the kids renamed it Snake Land, we decided to go back to the lake where there are millions of tiny frogs this year (its so strange, about every four years, the lake beach gets infected with these super cute little frogs). Elsie was so delighted, she took a little swim in her clothes. Now we know she can float!

We'd put Elsie down for naps at the house we were staying at (a vacant house my dad has up for sale) (p.s.- The island is about 4000 acres, and its all privately owned or in a trust, so only the owners of the 100+/- properties on the island can go on the island. Such a perfect set-up, and property is still relatively inexpensive, case you are looking for a second home), and then I'd take the kids on a trail ride or something. It was SUCH a fun year for me up there because for the first time in eight years, I wasn't pregnant when we there! Also, I found some new trails that the loggers had opened up, and was more than delighted to be exploring some new parts of the island on the four wheeled. I don't think I've found a new trail since I was 14. SO fun.

On this day, we decided to pay tribute to Jonah's sister Charity who is on a mission:

Our future baller, Cam the Air-man.

Ana's got it. She's especially got some great fashion sense.

I introduced Elsie to one of my favorite activities, dock exploring. What can I say, I love sea anemones. It was tricky this year, though, because I DON'T love otter poop, and it had marked most of the docks.

Ana was in absolute heaven with all the frog catching and releasing going on. One day she brought about 150 tadpoles back to the house with her. Uh, ya... the ones that survived were fed to the snake.

Luckily, Jonah loves fishing on the lake, so he helped the kids work in part of their favorite activities of all time. Ana, Cam, and Jonah each caught a fish!

We tried a new venture this year and went sea kayaking. It was much better than the time I tried it with my mom and sister back in 1994, when we all experienced searing back pain and were dangerously carried away by the currents. It was really fun because you can effortlessly move so fast and quietly. Ana even got pretty good at it.

Here we are at the infamous Spencer Cabin, where the ghost of Bobby haunts. I read a history of the island that one of the old summer-time residents had written, and it really helped me appreciate the island a lot more. There was a big logging operation in the 1800s and early 1900s, and there were even about 100 people who lived on the island at one time! That's when the little one-room school house, Spencer Cabin, Horseshoe Lake cabin were originally built, and then they were lovingly restored in the 1970s and 1980s when people started build second homes on the north end of the island. It was fun to show the kids the old cabins, but they were not even a half as afraid as I was of Spencer Cabin. There are bats there. And, when my friends and I spent the night there in 1997, there were lots of spiders and a ghost named Bobby.

There is no way to show you how awesome Cam's helmet was--you just had to be there. He loved it and would have tried to sleep in it, but you know, those neck kinks. Except for the small portion of the island where all the houses are, the roads are all dirt roads, and most are just trails through the thick trees, so we mostly road the four wheeler and a motorcycle (me and two kids on the 4-wheeler, Jonah and a kid on the motorcycle, a Honda CT-70).

This is the bench I was sitting on when Jonah proposed (except it was up on the porch of that abandoned cabin in the background).

So, I don't have any photos this year, but my dad also came through and found the killer whales/orcas for us again. We got to see a whole pod splashing around and swimming for about an hour. Thanks for that dad!

Oh, also, I don't have any photos, but my grandma Noni was at her house on the island almost the whole time we were there, and she also brought up my very spry 94-year-old great-grandma Meme. Elsie REALLY took a liking to Meme, and Meme carried her around (!) and danced with her and Ana. Go Meme! It was so fun to hang out with Meme and to get to have Noni around and let the kids get to hang out with her and Shorty the dog a lot more. Thanks Noni!

Blakely Peak has the most gorgeous views of the other islands and even all the way to Victoria, B.C. on Vancouver Island.
That's Horseshoe Lake. There's another lake on the island, too, but we usually stick to this one.

While we were waiting for the sunset on the peak on our last night there, Ana decided to build a fort. she took it very seriously.

We also got some photos of the kids while they were mesmerized by the sunset.

Ana's fort. Appropriately shaped like a teepee, as you will find out.

Our other mode of transportation is my baby, The VW THING. Still running after all these years. Amazing. It floats, so I'm told...

So after being stuck on the island for an extra day with the fog, we finally had to leave. My dad dropped us back off at Anacortes, and luckily our good ole' station wagon was still there. Phew.
We stopped at the Ivar's Salmon House on Lake Washington for a quick and tasty dinner. Space Needle in background, FYI. Two totally cute guys in foreground.

So, Ana's tepee fort on Blakely Peak was the perfect prelude to our night's stay in a KOA tepee!! We happened on this KOA in Idaho near Glen's Ferry on our drive back. It was much more spacious than our tent, but not more padded. Luckily, I waded up Cam's dirty clothes for his pillow. Jonah couldn't stop laughing when he woke up and saw Cam laying on a pile of Cam's ninja turtle underpants (they weren't that dirty...he changes them twice a day... it was dark... I couldn't see what I was doing, okay?)
Then, the fake Native American communing got even better when we showed up at the annual Glen's Ferry Three Island Crossing Reenactment (total serendipity that we were passing through on this exact day), and there was a team of 50 bareback riders dressed up like Indians.! Only in Idaho...
I have to admit, though, that these girls were amazing, and their horses were gorgeous. They did a whole show with jumps and everything, all with just that little rope for support and guiding the horse. Skills.

The reenactment of the treacherous crossing of the Snake River was SO cool. SO SO cool . It was scary for a bit when the current took the wagon and horses 100 yards down the river in about 3 seconds, and when a horse and rider got totally carried away down the river and the horse almost drowned. But, to be honest, I knew it would be scary, because this was ALWAYS the part I would have like three of my family members and all of my ammunition wiped out when I used to play Oregon Trail, the computer game.

So, Jonah, Cam, Elsie and I had a really fun time at this big celebration of sorts, but Ana was over the moon. All those horses!!!! Swimming horses, wagon horses, Indian horses... And she could pet every single one of them. She'll never forget that day, I'm sure.

In keeping with our attempts to make the 20 hour drive between Blakely and St. George more enjoyable this time (actually, we didn't account for Elsie screaming through the entire state of Oregon, or we would have taken even more precautions), we stopped at most points of interest. We've driven by it dozens of times, but actually stopped to see one of the falls of the Twin Falls, Idaho fame. This is Shoshone Falls, and in Ana's words, "I thought those top waterfalls were it, but then I saw the bottom falls, and they are SPECTACULAR!!!"

So, after three weeks of so much fun and a much better trip even than we expected (or suspected, as Ana said), we made it back to St. George just in time for Ana to start school two days later. Where did the summer vacation go? I would say where did summer go, but since the only under 100 degree weather we've seen since we got back has been at 4 am, I think summer itself is still here for awhile.

Getting back to reality has been rough, and even being in a crammed car with three young kids and wearing the same two outfits for three weeks, I still wonder why traveling constantly can't be our reality. Oh ya, we need to make money, and get the kids educated, and all that other stuff. Sheesh. I was really really glad to get back to our own bed though. Have I told you how great Intelli-Gel Beds are? Anyway, everybody always wants to get back "to their own bed", don't they. Even swimming star Michael Phelps said he couldn't wait to tuck in at homeafter all that Olympic glory. So, I guess I'll stop blogging and go to sleep, too.


ghd3 said...

great post Aja -- and great pics. I didn't realize you guys were San Juans regulars. We love it up there! We've gone up every summer since moving to Seattle four+ years ago. Let us know if/when you're ever up in the Seattle area again, it would be fun to see you!


shawni said...

WOW, now that is a fun packed summer. I want to go to Blakely!

Amy said...

I am very impressed. That was quite the blog entry - very entertaining and informative! I loved all the pictures and am jealous of all the fun you guys had!! But, I'm not really jealous of the car ride with children - London likes to scream a lot :).

Harts said...

Looks like you had such an amazing time! What great memories and pictures.

Live More Now (LMN) said...

ah! so sorry I missed you guys while you were up here! i wish I had gotten in touch before you left. Looks like you had a fabulous trip - so much fun with all those kids! hope you are recovering from all that driving!! give yourselves big hugs for me, xoxo heather

Constantin said...

It seems you had great holidays !
Congratulations for the beautiful pictures, especially the cute kids. We'll tell Theo and Oscar you've eaten snake : they were so proud to have fished 2mm shrimps and 5 mm crabs with Grand-Pa at the beach...

Karine and Thomas

Eyrealm said...

I cannot believe all that fun you had without all of us (which probably made it a lot more fun)! WOW! I wanna see those whales and tadpoles. How about all 34 of us go there next year? We could do some awesome teepees!