Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happpppy Halloween!

From our family to yours. . .wishing you a frightfully good time!

Friday, October 29, 2010

pumpkin patch in the dark

Last week we decided it was time to get festive.  The best place to start?  The pumpkin patch, of course!  We have some friends who grew a patch this year and let us come and take our pick.  By the time we got there, it was dark.  The poor lighting did nothing to damper the spirit of things, though.  The girls were giddy at the sight. . . . and a little overwhelmed!  There were so many fabulous pumpkins to choose from!

Emmy and Kate each decided they wanted a middle sized pumpkin.  The girls helped Claire choose a leeetle, tiny baby sized pumpkin.  Ryenne wanted the biggest one she could find.

And me?  Well, I had to pick for me and daddy.  When I saw these two, I knew it was fate.  Lying there like two peas in a pod. . .or pumpkins on a vine (or something corny like that), I knew it must be fate.  Either that, or I was getting tired!

The girls were so happy as we lugged our pumpkins to the car and hauled them to their new home on the front porch.  We sent a picture to Daddy and a "wish you were here" text, and then I whisked everyone off to bed.  It was sweet autumn dreams for everyone. 

Happy fall, y'all!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

enough already. . .clampetts & lake powell, days 5, 6, and 7

Whew.  I had so many pictures of Lake Powell, I decided to break it up into different posts so I could just do a little each day. Like I've said before, the reason I go to the trouble of doing this is for our little family to remember.  Boring for anyone else who might possibly read it, I know.  Regardless, I hate to leave anything out.  But really?  This is taking way too long. . .even I am getting sick of it.  Lets get this wrapped up. . .

Day 5
Already packed and set to go, we got off to an early start to find a new campsite.  One thing we all wanted to do was to hike Hole In the Rock, where the early pioneers brought their animals, wagons, and families down a narrow crevice in the canyon as part of their journey to the Four Corners area of Utah.  We ended up settling on a site in the canyon directly across from where they crossed. 

Something funny about this day. . .when we knew we were getting close to the vicinity where we wanted to stay, a bunch of us adults loaded up in Ronnie's boat to go and scout out a campsite.  AJ and Jodi were already in their boat, skiing.  This left Grandpa, who was driving the houseboat, and a bunch of the older cousins who were engrossed in a game. 

They were slowly making their way down the channel when Grandpa got a little bored.  The main part of the river was pretty wide at this point, and he figured he had a little time to tinker around a bit and make a few minor repairs on the boat.  He left the wheel and thought he'd keep an eye out the window and adjust the steering wheel as needed. 

Well. . .you know how that sort of thing goes.

It wasn't long before he looked up just in time to see the boat heading straight into a wall.  "Brace yourselves!"  he yelled.

The kids all did as they were told, steadying themselves just in time for the big collision.  Later, they filled us in on the details.  Food went flying out of the cupboards, and provisions were strewn all about.  Luckily, Grandpa had noticed in time to avert the disaster somewhat, and the kids were there to help him clean it up (and tease him the rest of the trip!).

After all of his sailing escapades, let's just say he can't tease us girls about "crazy women drivers" anymore.

Once we found our spot, we headed off to hike Hole In The Rock.  Claire stayed in the boat with Grandma, but the rest of us made it the whole way up.  It was incredible.  I cannot believe the faith it must have taken to lead a wagon and team down that steep incline. 

 We saw this little fella on the way (except he wasn't too little. . .probably about 3 or 4 inches long.  Yikes!)

 David and Kye were troopers with Emmy, and helped her the whole way up.  She did inform us, however, that there were a few sticky situations in which she gave them a few pointers.  In other words, she pretty much saved their lives.

 We had to go through this tiny, dark opening.  Grandpa was sure he saw a snake and so he and Nan had to investigate. 
The entire investigation took about 5 minutes, and ended up with the two of them throwing a number of rocks into the opening to scare the snake away.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of them high-tailing it out of there when the so-called snake dropped from a ledge!  So funny.  Grandpa was shouting, "Ewww, I hate snakes!  I hate snakes!"  Turns out it they decided it was just a stick, but we hurried through there just the same.
We hiked most of the way down in the dark and had to make it back to camp guiding the boats by flashlight.  We were tired but glad we had done the hike.   All were in agreement - those pioneers had some true grit!

Day 6

Finally. . .sunshine!

We were all so happy to see the sun, we got going early and went out on the boats for another adventure.  The first stop was the Cathedral in the Desert, one of those places that made me wish I had better camera skills.

Next, we stopped to hike these ruins, way up on a cliff.  (If you look closely at the picture below, you can see a little square house perched up on the ledge, to the right.)
 You can't tell by this picture, but getting up there was pretty crazy.  There were little handholds dug into the side of the cliff, with not much to help with footing.  I admit I was pretty shaky and probably would have chickened out if the girls weren't there to help me be brave. 

 On our way back down, we celebrated by jumping off these cliffs.  Even though it wasn't much more than 20 feet or so, it took me about 15 minutes to actually get myself to take the leap. . .whew!  The whole time I was repeating to myself, "I can do hard things. . .I can do hard things."

From here, we sadly said our goodbyes to the Stosich family, who had to head for home. 

Then, as we were winding our way out of the canyon, we came upon this sad bunch, standing right on top of the water! 
Upon closer inspection, we found them to be fairly familiar. . .

 and just thumbing for a ride home.

We happily spent the remainder of the day enjoying the sunshine (although the air was still pretty brisk!), and playing in the water. . .our favorite kind of days!

Day 7
With our vacation drawing to a close, we set out for one last adventure.  My mom has a really old map, which marked several off-the-beaten-path ruins and a landmark called "Triple Arch" in the canyon we were staying in.  Because the water levels have changed so much, we were having a hard time figuring out where they might be.  Determined to find it, we left Claire, Grandma, and Grandpa behind and headed out with Ronnie's family in search of our treasure!

After quite a bit of hiking around, we finally spotted Triple Arch!  Once easily spotted from the water, it was now hidden because of the lower water conditions. 
After our exciting discovery, we were pondering on the location of some ruins that were supposed to be near the arches.  We couldn't figure out how we could get closer to the arch to see.  As we were trying to make a decision between calling it quits or continuing an exploration, a large boat came near.  Inside were two older couples, about 70 or 75 years of age.  They had spotted us looking around and wanted to tell us that they had figured out an access route to get to the arches.  In fact, they had been there 4 or 5 times and were heading up to see it again.  When they invited us to tag along, we couldn't resist.

Once we saw their chosen route, we knew we had just began our latest adventure.  This trip was full of them!  The two couples were so fit, fun and full of energy.  We watched in awe as one of them men scrambled up the moki steps (actually carved a gazillion years ago by real indians!) and threw down a rope for the rest of us.  Using him as our anchor, we each took turns scaling up the vertical wall.  So much fun!  It's amazing how much better you feel when you've got a rope!

 Ryenne. . .
 Emmy. . .
 and Kate!  Up she goes!

 Once we got to the top of the ledge, we saw that the adventure was just beginning.  We carefully guided the kids over next hurdle (now it makes me a little sick to see it, but we wouldn't have taken them if we didn't feel safe), and continued our exploring.
 Although we never made it to the arch (we ran out of time), we had a great time and felt completely inspired by our guides.  Heck, I'd like to be in that good of shape now, let alone when I'm a grandma!  Watching them scamper across the rocks made me determined to take care of myself so I can always do the things I enjoy.
Never finding our sought-after ruins, we reluctantly turned back. 

It was time to go home. 

I don't know as I've ever had a vacation filled with such adventure.  Each day was a new experience, complete with excitement and laughter.  The girls can't wait to go back and have said it was one of the best trips of their whole lives!  The common consensus among the kids seemed to be, "I'll never forget this as long as I live."  You can't beat that, eh?

And so it is. . .we accomplished our task.  All the memories of our childhood:  the adventure, fun-filled days, amazing scenery, and complete awe of an incredible place- now passed on to our own children.

The legend of Lake Powell lives on.

Monday, October 25, 2010

help, anyone?

Last weekend was one of those that made me think we have no business ever thinking we should have another child.
Not that we are, ahem, thinking of another child.  But if we were, we'd have no business doing it.

No business at all.

Which gets me to thinking, what in the heck do you do when you have a child who argues?  Who argues, and argues, and argues?  Or kids who make you feel like you are a mute?  You know, when you can feel your lips moving, but wonder if anything is actually coming out? Cuz no one seems to even register that I'm talking!  Some days, I tell you. . .

I try to be patient, I try not being patient.  And NOTHING. IS. WORKING!!!!

Not that you ever have any conflict in your pretty little homes. 

But if you do?  I need some help.

clampetts storm lake powell, day four

Day four brought more rain and a zillion waterfalls.  It was pretty cool to see, actually.  Wanting to see some sights downriver, and hoping that heading south would bring warmer weather and sunshine, we made a decision. 

"Load 'em up and head 'em out!"

Everyone packed up as soon as possible.  Boy, did we look like quite the crew.  Towels, blankets, and sleeping bags hanging from every possible nook and cranny, tents set up on top, and kids galore! 

Grandpa was a little nervous to turn the houseboat around and get out of the narrow canyon.  We hushed the kids and all awaited in silence, hoping to give him a little peace and quiet so he could concentrate on the task at hand.  With Courtney and AJ standing nearby to shout directions, he started the 'ol boat up.  He backed up just a bit and then started using the forward/reverse controls to try to turn her around.  We all held our breath and watched as the back end of the boat spun around, narrowly missing the wall.  There just wasn't a lot of room to work with!  Just as we were feeling a touch of relief, we looked out to see ourselves facing the way we came.  Then back around, around and around.  Pretty soon it became obvious that we were spinning in circles, just missing the walls each time.  We were all half smiling (trying not to laugh), and half crossing our fingers that we wouldn't crash into the wall. 

Grandpa called out, "How do I control this thing?"

Just then, AJ noticed Grandpa was only using the hand levers, not the steering wheel.  "Try using the steering wheel,"  he yelled back as a suggestion.

We all started laughing as Grandpa blurted out with relief, "Oh!!!!  I forgot I had one of those!" 

In just the knick of time, we pulled out of our turn and headed straight.  We laughed about that for days.  

To help pass the miles, we sat the kids down and forced a little homework time.  They had all missed a week of school.  Despite many a promise that "We'll do it!", it just hadn't been happening.  After all, who wants to worry about multiplication when you have cousins to hang out with? 

The main channel of Lake Powell is about 150 miles long, and we were only going about 30 miles downriver.  Still, a houseboat doesn't move very fast!  We needed to stop at the marina for water and gas, but about five miles away we heard a weather warning over the radio.  Ping pong size hail, more rain, and a tornado warning. 


Before long, the torrential rain turned into rain.  Ping pong size for real!  AJ and Ronnie watched nervously out at their boats tagging along, waiting for the windshields to break.  Luckily, the wind wasn't blowing and so the waves didn't come into the boats.  It was a crazy, crazy storm!  Once we reached the marina, they had to untie the smaller boats while they refueled.  That meant that Daniel and AJ had to drive around in circles in the pouring rain for quite some time.  Meanwhile, Courtney, Grandpa, and Ronnie got soaked trying to get everything done at the dock.

The rest of us sat inside with blankets and hot chocolate.  But believe you me, we felt really, really sorry for those poor guys. 

Once we were all filled up, we continued our journey south.  Our trek ended up being an all day event and we were forced to pull into a cove on the main channel to spend the night.  We would have to find a campsite in the morning.  Fortunately, we had plenty of food, warm clothing, and games to entertain everyone. 

To top it off, we had each other.  Really, what more could we want?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

clampetts storm lake powell, day three

Day three brought a brief respite from the rain.  A little sunshine and everyone was ready to partaaaay!  The kids and Courtney did a little catch and release fishing (is that legal?. . .don't tell the rangers).  Of course, lizard chasing was high on the list, too.
Later in the afternoon, we headed to see some Indian ruins.  My girls had been so excited to see a few "Indian houses".  Especially because we have real, genuine Indian blood running through our veins (betcha didn't know that!).  Basically, we were getting a look at our roots.  Can't you tell by looking at me?

 I'm the real deal.

Defiance house ruins.

A peek at the boats from waaaaay up there.  Grandma stayed behind to watch over everything.  We hadn't hiked very far from her when we heard her yelling, "Hey you guys!  Smile for Grandma!"  She had her camera whipped out and was all ready.  Only problem is that we were still only about 50 feet from her and she was yelling at a different crew way up by the ruins.  We laughed as they kept casting confused glances toward the crazy lady down in the boat.

The girls were obviously feelin' their heritage.

After our great Indian adventure, we returned to camp to settle in for dinner and bedtime.  After a few arm-wrestling rematches (what self respecting 12 year old boy lets their forty year old aunt beat them?), we hustled everyone to bed. 

We were hoping the worst of the storm was behind us.  Ohhhh, boy.  Not long after we got tucked in, the real storm kicked in. 

A few days later, Ronnie summed up our luck.  According to his scientific research, Lake Powell only receives an average of 6 inches per year.  We're pretty darn sure we got at least that much (or so it seemed, anyway) in a matter of about 24 hours. 

But, hey.  We didn't even bat an eye. 

After all, we had our very own, genuine ark.