Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ghost on the Coast

We were given the short end of the summer stick this year. I know that some of this has to do with the record-breaking amount of snow we received last winter resulting in multiple days of cancelled school. I personally think we should be granted an extra three weeks of summer just as a friendly reward for surviving the winter. Isn't it reasonable to suggest that we need to be stock piling our sunlight now so that our serotonin will have some reserves to feed upon during the impending doom of darkness that some people call winter here in the Pacific Northwest?
The school district had some lame excuse as to why they further cut an additional 2 weeks out of our fun, but I was too busy clamping my hands over my ears and saying "la la la, I can't HEAR you" to actually listen to what they had to say.
We had to stuff one more trip into our sunny gunny sacks before pulling out the backpacks

While living in Portland, we visited Cannon beach several times, but never on a multi-tidal basis. You can never become truly intimate with a beach until you are able to witness her many moods.....changing weather, morning mists, evening sunsets, high tides, low tides, neap tides, and sweep tides. I was acquainted with Cannon beach before this trip. Now we have formed a bond that can never be torn asunder.

wishing this was mine

In light of my latest epiphany about coloring books and children, I graciously decided to allow each of us some time to choose our own method of estivating on the Oregon Coast. It worked out fairly well, minus the morning that Corey and I miscalculated the rate of the incoming tide and stranded our barefooted family on a small section of beach. It was only a short pine--padded hike to the road....and a downhill walk on the road through town, but I don't think we will ever be forgiven. (I know my feet haven't quite forgiven me).

Savanna loved to let the sand embrace her knees and toes while she used her artistic fingers to carve whimsical designs. And she proved that she can fly a kite in one hand while she carves in the other.

Emmy loved to make use of her long legs by climbing trees and jumping the waves.

Ansel loved to play with the sand....digging craters and tunnels, rescuing starfish, smothering our many nocturnal beach fires, burying his feet, and generally stowing as much of the beach as possible in his pockets, nostrils, ears, socks, underwear, nether regions, etc. We have been home for two days and I now am satisfied that I don't need to go to the beach ever again because the beach has come to me. Thanks, Ansel.

We were all pleased with the fact that my cousin, Marika, and her family were able to drive from Olympia to spend a night and a day with us. They make everything a jillion times more fun.

Corey and I both enjoyed taking long walks down the beach, looking for shells and sand dollars, and watching the many personalities and dramas that are somehow all magnetized to this place

We saw.........

two weddings

One possible engagement

An anachronistic woman ghost from the early 20th Century

Yes, I said ghost and we saw her 4 times. She wasn't scary, just very mysterious and elusive

5 very tan shirtless boys in blue jeans with stringed instruments of some sort flung at their sides while they flirtatiously splashed in the surf in the setting sun, creating the perfect backdrop for their 1) album cover 2) Northwest boys are Hot Too Calendar 3) HUGE EGOS

A man wrapped ever so delicately in a pink and teal afghan (B.P., you know who you are. We are holding this photo for future political blackmail)

a man and woman fighting about why only she can find whole sand dollars and he is only finding broken ones (oh wait, that was us)

We didn't see.....

the inebriated driver who smashed into the front of our van while we were busy looking for the ghost or sleeping.

I did manage to capture the ghost on my camera phone one afternoon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who has been biking on my coloring book?

It was once called one of the most scenic stretches of railroad in the country and now a portion of the old rail bed is open to enthusiastic bikers of all ages. In it's operating days, the trains traversed through 11 tunnels and over 9 high trestles, covering a 46 mile route that crossed the rugged Bitterroot Mountains between Idaho and Montana. The “Route of the Hiawatha” is most famous for the long St. Paul Pass, or Taft Tunnel which burrows for almost 2 miles under the Bitterroot Mountains at the state line. How many people get to say that they crossed a state line.....on a the middle of dark tunnel, only to emerge to breathtaking view of mountains, rivers, innumerable amounts of wildflowers....basically a canvas of unspeakable beauty? Who wouldn't be thrilled beyond measure by this adventure?
I'll tell you who.
The beginning of our 15 mile ride just before we entered the Taft Tunnel. The kids can hardly contain their excitement.
The end of the tunnel
exiting one of the many other shorter tunnels
Ansel has a pretty posh life today. Next year he will be on his bike.
Emmy was almost able to smile under the pressure of the beeping self-timer.
OK. Now Emmy is looking a little more authentically happy......but Savanna is just too hot to feign contentment.
another tunnel.
Again, how can one not be overly satisfied when looking at something like this?
Ansel has a stare down and wins
Corey found the event to be Absolutely Felicitous.
not so felicitous
Ansel is Ecstatic....but he was being pulled in a biking limousine of sorts, getting drunk on all of our water.
It was 100 degrees at home and cooled to a still uncomfortable 96 degrees at 5000 feet. This could understandably account for the grumpiness of the children; but, alas, it has been something I have struggled with for years. They groan at the mention of hikes or all day outdoor excursions. I have frequently found myself grabbing fistfuls of my hair and, in exasperation, audibly wondering from whence these kids of mine came. The city of Boringville....that's where. Do I force my kids to do these things that I love? Will they eventually learn to love it as well? Or will they resent these activities and purposely choose a life void of everything that I hold dear? I recently watched "The Kite Runner" and was struck by these wise words,
"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors".- Rahim Khan
I will desperately try to let them find their own favorite colors and, of course, color outside of the lines.
But I will still make them do this every year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Homegrown Horror

Lately, at certain moments of the evening, when the heat of the day has exhausted even itself, I have felt as if I am living an ideal "Rockwellesque" life. Those savored minutes between cleaning up dinner and putting the kids to bed, I have been able to put my life on hold, sit on the deck, watch the giggling kids roll around on the thickening grass and sigh, 'This is it. I can't want any more than this"
And during one of these brief overly sentimental moments, Corey and I looked at each other and decided to have a dinner party. We are seldom simultaneously extroverted, and thus hosting a dinner party isn't that frequent of an occurrence. But all signs seemed to be pointing in the direction of a positive entertaining experience.
We now have a table and chairs for our lower patio, which is an optimal location for sniffing the freshly cut grass.
Our serpentine tenant shed his summer skin and moved on to bigger things
Our garden is producing more than we can handle. Tomatoes better than cotton candy. Even the bottle was unearthed in our backyard (but not the pickles)
multitudes of heavenly hummingbirds come with their chorus of flapping wings
Our garden is a jungle of delight
Adorable Twin baby moose have been lounging and nibbling outside our kitchen window (but if they get near my Japanese maple, I will wield the chain saw).
We really needed to share our little slice of paradise.
Who knew that Stephen King would be lurking around the corner to massacre our Norman Rockwell get-together? OK. It wasn't a murder fest or anything...but it sure wasn't fun.
While I was getting all the fresh food ready to serve, I started feeling a little weirdish akin to the weirdish that I felt those 900 or so days that I was pregnant and was outtaking approximately 75% of my daily food intake. I thought nothing of it, being used to entertaining while feeling under the weather.
A wave of nausea overtook me at the exact moment I was pulling the Bruschetta from the oven. Somehow this temporarily rendered me completely idiotic and I attempted to remove the blazing pan with my upper unprotected arm, rather than my ove-glove shielded hands. Also occurring at this precise moment, our friend's son came running in from the deck screaming with red welts all over his body. Apparently, a wasp family also thought our backyard was the perfect place to call home and made themselves swarm and cozy under our deck table. As soon as he sat himself down, eight stingers were quickly implanted in our little guest's belly
Forgetting about my blistering arm and unsettled stomach, I prepared a baking soda ointment to apply to the attack sites. As I was dabbing his skin with the concoction, I knew that this next wave of nausea was one of no return.
I left him and vanished into the bathroom for some serious gut wrenching outtaking.
That was the last my guests saw of me. I tried to venture out between episodes, but never quite made it past the door of my bedroom. It took Corey a while to figure out what had happened to me. I gave up trying to move and spent a few hours with my cheek on the cold granite floor...within an arms length of the toilet.
So if you are in the mood for a good dinner party......
you know where not to come

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sticks and Stones and Feathers and Bones

Monument to 13 years of Marriage


Sunday, August 2, 2009

28 days

I have struggled this week.....waiting to find some ingenious way to blogument our 4 week vacation. It is not going to happen. The longer I wait for this inspiration, the more stuff happens that I am going to need to document. My blogging life is beginning to look a lot like my closet...and you don't want to go there....stuff is piled every where and even though I have some stuff that I know I love, I can never find it. So I am just going to start hanging up our days on the road in an orderly fashion before it is too late. 

This year, our family summer vacation was wrapped around the idea that Corey really wanted to do a small bike tour, his parents had just returned from China where they had been teaching for the past year, his sister was just about to give birth, and they are all now living in Boise, a very bikable 400 miles away!  Wallah!  Family Vacation Problem Solved.  I won't go into the logistics of his preparations, because that is pure torture for me.  Pack, blah, get a new fancy bike, blah, study your route for hours on end, blah.  Ok. He was ready to go.  He left.  I thought it would be fun, or it least less boring than staying home, to follow him and meet him every night at his stopping point.   I skipped the first night and we caught up to him on Sunday night in Grangeville, Idaho.  He had been doing great.... a bit sunburned, but doing great....and was sleeping on his stinky motel bed with the door wide open when we caught up to him.   We snatched a quick dinner at Subway and retired to the hotel for some night swimming in the 4X4 foot pool.  Then it was off to bed for some live repeated night vomiting action from Ansel  in the 4X4 foot motel room.  
Hmmm.  Maybe this wasn't such a good idea. 


I was a little skeptical after the barfacious events of last night, but the minute I saw this Mammoth sign a few minutes after leaving Grangeville, I knew I had made the right choice.  Leaving the main road, we took our first detour....because we weren't in a hurry and could take our own sweet time.  
This is the lake where the Bones of 40 Mammoths were discovered in 1994.  I was as giddy as a young Paleontologist, but Ansel was expecting to see some Mammoths.  I mean, that IS what the sign showed a picture of.  I didn't blame him for being upset.
A few hours later, we were in Riggins, Idaho, One of the possible stopping points for Corey.  I nervously discovered one of the glitches in our cell phone service.  I hadn't had any for miles and didn't know if, and when Corey had stopped.  I ogled every human along the main drag, and then, not spotting any sweaty tall person, decided to move on to town #2, hoping  phone service would be there.  Now I was too nervous to make any unexpected turns or stops.  I was on a mission to find my husband.  
Of course I had over-reacted and we were reunited not much later. Apparently, we had passed him while he had stopped under a shady tree.  We made up for our less than ideal pit stop last night by checking into the Shore Lodge in McCall, a beautiful resort with rooms just feet from the shore of Payette Lake.   

A hot tub was also located just feet from this lake, making it quite difficult to convince anyone to remove themselves from the hot water and actually swim in the colder lake formed by glacial deposits.......

unless floating trampoline in installed on the icy lake. THIS kind of fun,  Emmy and I found irresistible.


We made it to Boise just a few hours after Corey's sister gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and I was able to hold her while she was still hot. This photo was taken by Corey's brother. You can tell because it is actually good.  


We went to Roaring Waters today with Cary Judd and his family. The girls went on all the rides, but especially loved the lazy river and wave pool. The men went on all the rides, but especially loved the Viper's Vortex and took it upon their manly selves to beat some teenagers' tale of some 'mega rad dudes' who once spun 4 times. They made it three times. Ansel went down one scary dark ride, screamed bloody terror the whole way,  and was pretty much finished for the day. Thank you, Erin for taking him home so that I could enjoy the rides myself. Oh, and by the way Corey and Cary....I rotated 5 times when you weren't looking. So I am Mega Rad.  

We spent a sweltering day at the Boise Zoo.  The heat annihilated all other memories of the day. 


One of the highlights of our trip was the Judd family water gun fight.  I was a little surprised that my daughter's took it so seriously.  Thanks again for the great photos, Curtis.  

Today I was able to go shopping in downtown Boise by myself and finally felt an endearing connection to the town of Boise. It has a great downtown. Unfortunately, because I was alone, I don't know if anyone believed me that Henry Winkler passed by me on the street. The sadder part of this story is that when I told my 16 yr old niece that I saw The Fonz, she said with disdain, "Who's The Fonz?"


4th of July. Bought a PYRO Pack of fireworks and made the 90 mile trip to Tamarack Resort, Idaho only to find that there was nowhere that we could safely light the fireworks.  We had to wait until we returned to Boise a week later to finally light them off.   We knew that the Tamarack Resort had recently gone Bankrupt and shut the ski lifts down in March.  We knew this and thus were able to get an amazing rate on an amazing cabin.  What we didn't realize was that the entire Resort would be people, no cars, no stores......nothing but a million mosquitoes and us.  It was so beautiful that we didn't care.


A small historical town was having art show this morning. This one man band was the highlight of the festival for all of us.

Afternoon at Cascade Reservoir

We happily discovered that we could use the pool and jacuzzi at the abandoned lodge.  

Ansel's  first real lost tooth (the other top 2 were traumatized and removed years ago) occurred in this apocalyptic pool. Whether it was swallowed, sunk to the bottom of the pool, or sucked into the black hole where all other humans in the vicinity were sucked, we will never know.


Ansel and I hung out on the beach while Corey took the girls on a bike ride

They complain about a short mt. bike ride through the state park, but will spend endless amounts of time leaping from one large rock to another large rock rather far away. I was sure that I was going to capture a broken ankle shot at one point.

We ran into Curtis and his family in McCall and spent some enjoyable time eating ice cream, swinging, and feeding the millions of trout they have caged up by the shore.

I was able to go for a mountain bike ride......ahem.......a ride up the cat tracks because I am too 'careful' to bike those scary single tracks the way that I used to.

DAY 10

We spent today with Corey's sister and father. It was tough work trying to get them to stay out of the road and such. Those Judds are just a rough bunch.

This is one of those pictures that I am going to keep on my nightstand so that when Ansel is a terror of a teenager, I will look at this photo, remember him this way, and refrain from evil thoughts of changing the locks while he is at school.

We took a long drive down a dirt road, ate a picnic on a burned out log surrounded by stinging nettle, munched on wild strawberries, and hiked through a few streams before reaching our final destination..... VULCAN HOT SPRINGS.

The Springs were too hot to even touch, and although someone had tried to dam a portion of the spring where it was cooled by the river, mud wrestling to the death would have been a more likely activity than soaking in the rejuvenating properties of the so called Vulcan Hot Springs.  

We found an old house to explore, a field to run through, and a dock on which to suck sno cones.  Not a bad afternoon. 

DAY 11

Ansel choose today's activities consisting of first, getting a haircut, and then going horseback riding. I had envisioned a leisurely jaunt along a flat trail. But this was the real deal. We were scaling rock inclines, jumping over downed logs, and galloping through rivers. Ansel led the way without an ounce of fear. Definitely not a foreshadowing of his uncourageous behavior on our river trip the following day or hike the day after that.

Every time I looked back at Corey misfitting and awkward on that horse, I couldn't stop laughing. I don't know if the horse or Corey was in a more tragic position.

We concluded that our attempt at finding a remote, secluded hot spring the day before had been a beautiful, happy failure.  This evening we decided to try the closer, touristy option.   6 separate alkaline, mineral rich pools, each at a differing temperature to suit each family member's individual hydromassage needs, straw laden cabanas, and a life sized chess set all made our trip to Gold Fork Hot Springs well worth the gold we had to fork out to enter the waters.  
DAY 12

We found a Rafting Company that allowed us to book a last minute trip covering a 20 mile stretch of the Salmon River.   Even though it was a little chilly and we were treated to a tooth-chattering downpour for a while, our day on the river cemented our resolve to someday soon own our own raft and take multi-day excursions.  Ansel is the only one who may have some negative things to say about it all, although I don't know why because he doesn't have that many teeth left that could have been chattering.  I suppose he would tell you that he thought that we were going to die.   

DAY 13

Day #13 was spent at the Brundage, the ski resort that didn't go Bankrupt and actually contained live human beings. We took the chairlift to the top of the mt. and Corey biked the trails while the kids and I began our hiking 3.5 mile descent.

We made it about 100 feet before tragedy struck our hiking party.  You may be wondering what kind of horrible mother would, rather than soothe and console her whimpering child who just fell and dusted his knees, decide to snap a photo.  Come with me on my next hike with you know who and you won't be wanting to impart much consolation either.

Savanna found me cold and calloused and was eager to get down the mountain. She took the matter into her own hands.

After Corey biked around the trails of Brundage, I decided to bike from Brundage to a section of the highway that Corey had biked last week on his 380 mile expedition.  I tried desperately to keep on my allotted 3 inches of highway while huge diesel trucks spit gravel and breathed  hot exhaust down my neck. My respect for Corey and his recent highway biking travels grew 10 sizes that day.  

DAY 14
Today we transitioned from Idaho living to Utah living. Ansel helped Grandpa Judd mow the lawn on his John Deere. We said good-bye to Corey. He drove back to Spokane where he said he would be living in his cocoon until we returned (isn't that sweet and sad?) while we flew to Utah. We were welcomed by our traditional lots of food, lots of cousins, lots of aunts and uncles, and lots of noise noise noise noise.

DAY 15

Tonight we met for a family dinner in Highland, where there is almost always a double rainbow, no crime, and everyone is always smiling. You think I am kidding.

Cousin #1 is throwing up

DAY 16

Picnic and Hiking up Emigration Canyon.

cousin #1 and #2 are throwing up

DAY 17

We spent the morning at Liberty Park and enjoyed some of their retro rides that I remember from visiting Utah in the 70's.

I can't even look at this picture without feeling a little queazy. Three of them rode on it twice. Once was enough for Emmy

When a new water feature opens in Highland, it may not be wise to show up to the grand opening because, to be sure, there will be an overpopulation of children and a shortage of free hotdogs.

cousin #3 throwing up

DAY 18

Hiking To Timpanogas Cave with the cousins that aren't throwing up

You don't want to mess with Emmy in a dark cave


Followed by a family dinner and smores up Tibble Fork

cousin #4 throwing up

DAY 19

This is my youngest sister Camille. She just graduated from college and has a fantastic job as an administrative assistant in the Cardiology Department at the University of Utah Hospital. They opened a new wing today and Camille invited us all to attend for a private tour. She may not have realized that too many Porter's in one public place....not such a good idea. Just like trying to fit into this mini-Jeep.....also not such a good idea.

We left and spent the rest of the afternoon at Red Butte Gardens....a little slice of Heaven where children are allowed to run and jump, be noisy, and get as dirty as they want.

no cousins throwing up

DAY 20

Today was one of those days that are almost swallowed whole with preparations for a trip. We were finally ready and drove up to our rented cabin in Heber. The kids ran inside, turned on the television in the basement, and screamed in delight that a POKEMAN marathon was in full swing. Pokeman for the next 2 hours! We were about to tell them to turn it off and play outside in the beautiful woods, but were blown over by a second thought of DUH!. The mothers spent the next few hours laying out on the deck and staring at the aspens while the kids killed their brain cells watching Pokemon.

cousin #5 and #6 throwing up

DAY 21

A perfect day spent at Deer Creek

cousin #7 throwing up

DAY 22

Today was Sunday and we decided a nice way to spend the day in preparation for the upcoming Pioneer Day was to visit an old Pioneer Cemetary. None of the kids thought it all strange that many of the pioneers had a lot of kids and more than one wife.

cousin #8 and # 9 throwing up

DAY 23

We left the cabin and headed back home. We spot an old farm house. The kids don't want to stop. We stop. I can't not stop. My sister can't not stop either.

On our journey home, I looked back at Ansel munching on some wheat thins and noticed his other bottom tooth gone. Another LOST lost tooth. This one was undoubtedly swallowed. We made a pit stop at the Park City Outlets where I found some great deals, but temporarily LOST all of Ansel's teeth and the rest of his body when he somehow thought it a good idea to prostrate himself on the floor behind a clothes rack and remain oblivious to my frantic searching.

cousin #10 throwing up

DAY 24

We were fortunate enough to be here for one of the humanitarian days my mother frequently organizes at her church building. The kids were able to stuff balls (my mother stitched together like a crazy person), stuff and paint bears, and knit hats.

We head to the Scera Pool for the afternoon. It is all going fine until.......yep.....Savanna throws up.  No pictures.

DAY 25

I always try and drag the kids to BYU campus to show them where Corey and I met and fell in love. I couldn't get the girls to leave the newly arrived kitten and Ansel is still young enough to be tricked into coming places with me. Our first stop was the Art Museum which was finished the year that we were married. This art display of caffiene free diet coke reminded me that BYU is like no other place on earth. I still managed to have a great experience here in spite of the wierdness.

This was the last photo I took before being apprehended by the BYU museum police. Apparantly, flash photography may harm the flattened garbage bags installation. Quickly, past memories of being apprehended by BYU security guards were metaphorically dumped at my feet......walking on the Grass (cougars don't cut corners), wearing shorts above my knee, and eating pretzels in the library are just a few that come to mind. It's good to know that Security is just as tight as ever.

This is the day the stray kitten (later named Skitty) entered our lives. The majority of the day was spent fashioning elaborate pillowed beds in the crooks of the plum tree, conducting powwows honoring the arrival of Chief Skitty in Grandma's teepee, and serving her a 20 course meal. This is Savanna's face when she had to say good-bye....just for the night.

The rock stars aligned the two weeks that I was in Utah and I was able to hear Death Cab for Cutie, Andrew Bird, M. Ward, and of course my personal North Star...Josh Ritter. This photo was taken with my cell phone. Obviously, I was front and center stage. There were some real crazies sharing the front and center spot, the proximity to whom, almost cancelled out the benefits of seeing the sweat drip off of Josh's nose. It made me wonder if it was possible that I was the only sane super fan, or is it also possible that I am in a state of sefl-crazy denial?

DAY 26

It climbed to over 100 degrees today and we decided to head to higher ground. All the years that I lived in Utah, I didn't know about this bouldering paradise at the farthest point of Little Cottonwood Canyon. When we arrived, it was only 78 degrees. Needless to say, it was hard to leave.

DAY 27

Pioneer Day

One of many sisters lives just a few blocks from the Pioneer Day Parade Route. We were able to wake up and walk to the parade, while thousands of others camped on the side of the road. I like parades. I don't love them. I certainly would never stay on the side of the road for 12 hours waiting for one to start.

Since Cousin #12 began throwing up this afternoon, we decided to lay low and avoid the big fireworks show in Salt Lake. Savanna was able to spend some more quality time with the cat.

DAY 28

I extended my trip by a day because I hadn't been to Sundance and I couldn't leave without visiting (actually, Corey, the workaholic, agreed to pick up a weekend shift, and there is no way in heck ((saying heck...been in Utah too long) I would come home to a lonely house)

My third backup camera died right after this photo. Time to go home