Monday, August 25, 2008

Camping Survival 101

Travis, Gail, and Betsy huddle around the campfire.

Chloe had lots of people to throw the frisbee for her.

Ali enjoyed getting into all kinds of mischief.

Roch, Kayla and Alexa planned a "buried treasure"adventure for the little kids.

Our "home away from home" for the weekend.

Whitney makes a "breakfast s'more" while Keith and Roch enjoy the camp coffee.

The beautiful St. Joe River - excellent for floating.

Okay, so I am prepared to admit that there are upsides to camping. I am even prepared to admit that it can be fun under ideal circumstances. This camping adventure on the St. Joe River near St. Maries Idaho was pretty much the best camping experience I have ever had. I could go on, but here are the highs and lows in order to keep this a reasonable length.

Let's start with the lows:

1. Our refrigerator breaking the morning we were supposed to leave. This led to a delayed arrival at our campsite. Fortunately there were still a couple good tent sites for our normal sized tents in comparison to the Mays and Bievers who basically set up personal retreat centers that they called tents, resulting in a bit of "tent envy".

2. Eating WAAAYY too much - the food was so good that there was no way to stick to Weight Watcher points. And I have to say Alexa B. has captured the best smore recipe ever!!!

3. By day four with 15 people, the Honey Bucket was a less than pleasant experience. This was probably the best port-a-potty experience I have ever had, too, but there really is no such thing as a pleasant port-a-potty. I won't go into details.

4. The flat tire on the Escape (company car) that resulted in a 2.5 hour wait at Les Schwab in St. Maries waiting for approval to get FOUR new tires because it's an "all-the-time" 4-wheel drive. Grrrr.....

And now the highs:

1. Camping with people you enjoy makes it better all around. We had good company, lots of laughs, fun with kids and dogs. This was the main reason to go camping afterall, and it fulfilled the "great company" requirement.

2. The campsite was AWESOME! Driving in to a beautiful, flat, well-kept camping area right next to the lazy St. Joe River that we didn't have to share with anyone but our group did convince me that it was better than camping in my backyard which I told everyone would just be easier than hauling all the stuff out to the middle of nowhere.

3. Floating the river on an air mattress with a cold drink was a blast. The St. Joe was made for white-water wimps like me, and I had an excellent time. I didn't get stuck in an eddy, fall off my floating device, or get a hole in it which would have meant walking back to camp. I chose not to go the second day, but it wasn't because I didn't have fun the first.

4. The electrical outlets and hot shower were definite bonuses. To be able to shower AND dry my hair made me happy!

5. Gail's organization and meal planning made it easy for all of us except Duane who insisted on a gourmet Mexican dinner that took hours to prepare and clean up. Keith and I did a pasta dinner with premade sauce, bread and salad and a breakfast that Keith cooked with fresh blueberry pancakes and bacon. Super easy. I began to think that with teamwork, it doesn't have to be a bigger job to go camping than staying home.

All in all, I would say that the highs WAY outdid the lows and I would even consider doing it again. But next year I think a taller tent, a double air mattress, a couple more plastic food crates, one more large cooler....... Oh, oh...... I think an "I told you so" might be coming my way....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Surprise!!! I'm Going Camping

It's true. Though I said I would never do it again, I have succumbed to peer pressure. I am actually going camping. Now, apart from a couple of camping trips with my sister and bro-in-law when I was in high school (and maybe one that I'm not sure my parents know about) that I actually enjoyed, camping has not been a particularly pleasant experience for me.

When we were first married and our kids were little, my husband took me on too many high school campouts on Lake Roosevelt where the honey buckets seldom got emptied, the weather was freezing cold, and you could only get there by boat. It was SOOO not fun to haul half our house, all the equipment, groceries, etc into the woods and set it all up, still having to cook, do dishes and sweep. I've never really thought of myself as a total girly girl, but this type of "boy scout" camping that my husband embraced was my idea of something that rhymes with well. Too much hauling stuff, dirt in my tent, grounds in my morning coffee, smelling like smoke and no showering, mosquitos and bats at night, wasps by day.....and the list goes on. I learned to not just dislike camping, I learned to ha... (that word Pastor Glenn says is a very strong word for dislike) camping. I don't remember at which point I just refused to go anymore, I just know it happened and I haven't gone since.

I thought it would remain that way for the rest of my days, but Gail and Roch kept applying pressure until I agreed to go to Gail's grandmother's campground on the St. Joe River in St. Maries, ID. Gail INSISTS I will like it. I was resistant at first, but never accepting being called a woos, I gave in. I felt a little better when I learned that the honey bucket is cleaned every week and only their family uses it, there is a hot shower and even electricity. I can drive my car there and my husband and others have agreed to cook. It begins to sound at least tolerable. Whitney and Travis agreed to come and we will have great company with the Biever and May families. How bad can it be for three days, right? I think I'll make it if it doesn't decide to rain all weekend. If I have to do wet camping, I think any softening on the camping issue may go down the drain.....

Stories and pics to follow......

Thursday, August 14, 2008

So Many Olympics, So Little Time

Well, I have been pretty much glued to the television every evening and I am staying up WAAY too late at night. I just HAVE to watch all the gymnastics and swimming, of course, and confess to staying up as late as 1:00 a.m. I KNOW I could record and watch later, but I know if I do that, I'll be watching practically every waking moment. Plus I might accidentally hear what happened before I see it and that's just WRONG. But I am loving all of it. It's so interesting to watch all the side stories of the athletes as well as everything that's going on in China. Fascinating place and people. I am more than slightly disappointed that some of the Chinese gymnasts are either way under age or completely growth stunted. Fake passports I'm thinking. Good for our athletes who became great the old fashioned way and weren't taken away from their families as early as age three to be the prodigies for their country. Hmm......'nuff said.

Okay so for the VERY FIRST TIME I am admitting that it would be nice to have a high def t.v. just to watch the Olympics. Whitney and Travis invited us to come watch the opening ceremonies on their big hdtv and I have to say, it was awesome. Everything in me resists the urge to purchase something that would take up a large chunk of our t.v. room and that would just encourage us to be glued to it more. But for certain occasions......
Go USA!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Happy Day

Many of you may remember Baby Seth who is the son of my friend and job-share partner Kathryn and her husband Leland. Seth has been growing and doing so well that I haven't reported on him lately. Today was Seth's dedication day and I got to stand up front with the family because none of their real family could make it. I felt very special! I even got a tear or two as I realized what a miracle this little boy is. He still has two important surgeries to go, the next of which will be in September. Join me in continuing to pray for Seth's health and for his mom and dad's endurance as they anticipate more hospital time. What a blessing!

On the flip side, my friend Mitch who has leukemia has been struggling with all sorts of treatments and the roller coaster ride of not knowing if they are going to work. Presently he is on the brink of either being able to have a bone marrow transplant or being sent home. While of course I wish that God would just do a miracle in Mitch's life, I am also very aware that sometimes He doesn't. As I think I mentioned in a previous blog, I don't believe having faith means that I believe God will heal just because I ask Him to. I know all too well that there are times that we must accept His will and just pray for peace. So while you are praying for Seth, perhaps a prayer or two for God's will in Mitch's life, too?

On a lighter note, I am crazy about the Olympics. This is going to be a LONG two weeks as I am already having to DRAG myself away from the television when the games are on. There's just something so cool about the world coming together in this way and I love all the inspirational stories. Go Michael Phelps! Go USA!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sleeping in Seattle

We had a fun weekend getaway to Seattle. We drove over Saturday, spent the night, took in Ikea and North Bend Outlet malls. We mostly went for Matt Forbes' wedding. We were happy to be part of his special day. We have watched Matt grow up and although there were many challenging times with Matt, we have always liked him a lot and were glad to see him settle down with a nice girl.

The wedding itself was entertaining to say the least. It took place in the historical Georgetown Ballroom near Boeing Field in a very industrial area of Seattle. The facility had character as you can see from the above pic. It suited Matt and Meghan. Matt moved from Helena a few years ago and has embraced the offbeat culture in the big city. The bridal party all wore vintage clothing over their assorted tattoes and piercings. Several arrived on bicycles. The person who was the officiant was, shall we say, gender challenged. The ceremony itself included comments such as "the container of your love" and "the circle of eos", and the vows included, "I am myself. You can't control me because I am free". Keith and I nearly got the giggles more than once. Now mind you, it was not the type of ceremony either set of parents would have arranged, but Matt and Meghan seemed to enjoy it emmensely. The reception included square dancing and vegan food - even a vegan cake.

It might be easy to be judgmental, but the fact of the matter is that we wanted to be there for Matt and to support Mishell and Dan. We never want to close the door on communication with Matt and though we hope one day he will return to the Lord, we aren't going to wait till he does to let him know we care about him. It was an interesting event, but it doesn't hurt to stretch the comfort zone from time to time.

Be happy, Matt and Meghan. Thanks for letting us share in your day. It was memorable.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Another Not So Excellent Adventure

This just isn't my week. After the whole key fiasco, I thought I had met my quota for trouble for at least a week. However, yesterday proved me wrong.

Most of you know that Keith has had issues with atrial fibrilation for a number of years. Mostly he is able to manage it with medication, but once in awhile, he can't convert on his own and has to go to the hospital for a "cardioversion" where they basically shock the heart back into rhythm. Not that this is a fun experience by any means, but it does seem to work for awhile. His "fibbing" has been acting up over the last couple months so his cardiologist scheduled this thing for yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m.

Drug myself out of bed at 4:30, managed to get two cups of coffee on the way to Deaconess and was mostly awake by the time we parked the car in the parkade and checked in. The nurse was getting Keith settled when an announcement came over the hospital intercom. "Will the owner of Ford Escape license number such and such call the hospital operator." I was pretty sure that would be Keith's company car, but he's only had it a month and I wasn't sure of the license number. I called the operator. She patched me through to security. Now as all of this was transpiring, I was certain that we had just parked somewhere we shouldn't have and they wanted me to move the car. But the security guy "Rich" was kinda cryptic. Could I meet him at the entrance to the building? So he meets me and we start walking to the parking garage. "Ma'am, it appears your car had smoke pouring out of it and the fire department wants it moved out of the parking garage". Yikes! Rich's security friend Tom joined us when we got the the car and suggested I pop the hood so he could see if there had been a fire under there. Tom and Rich checked it all out and suggested I move it across the street from their office and they would keep an eye on it for me. I started it up - nothing. I drove it to the new spot - nothing. I headed back to the surgery center to check up on Keith and as I headed back into the building, he came sauntering out. "I converted on my own so I can leave now. Why are you out here?" At this point all I could say was, "Great, honey. Swell. Let's get out of here."

As we were driving off, he told me that he had had the oil changed the day before and they had a little oil spill. Apparently it didn't burn off till the car got hot on the way across town. LITTLE OIL SPILL?!? THEY CALLED THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!!!! I just sat there with a few choice thoughts in my head. All Keith could say was, "Can I buy you breakfast?"

We're headed to Seattle today for Matt's wedding. I'm just a little edgy thinking of the possibility of a next adventure. What might it be? I don't even want to go there....