We returned last night from the perfect little getaway. It was to be a Riches Family Reunion at the Church’s Campsite in Heber. The reunion portion was rather sad, as only 16 of the 32 Riches family members were able to make it.
I suppose that when you plan something for and Monday and Tuesday the last week of August, anyone with children in school won’t be able to make it. Truly, what child wants to miss the first day of school?
However, you will hear no complaints from me, as the smaller numbers meant that I didn’t have to sift through as many people when trying to determine where each of my children were.
Carly is such a busy-body that you can’t take your eyes off of her for more than 2 minutes or she will be gone. It’s as though Carly is constantly watching me waiting for me to turn around so she can make her great escape. When she gets the chance, she knows full well what she is doing as you can see her laughing all the way and checking back every moment or so to make sure that she has a good enough lead on you.
This was like no campsite I had ever been to! Although, there are some who would say that it isn’t truly “camping” there...I say...go hug a tree. This was MY style of camping. At our particular site, there were two cabins.
Each cabin had 16 bunks in them and 4 of them were partitioned off. Those partitioned areas made for perfect little rooms tucked away for the pack ‘n’ play, thus allowing the youngest ones to keep to their ever-so-important schedules and getting their naps (thank heaven for naps).
We had our own little covered pavilion with nice clean picnic tables and a storage area equipped with a refrigerator and shelves. I can’t forget to mention the nice cook tops they provided as well as the sink with hot and cold water. It would be silly of me to forget to tell you about the building that housed the shower stalls and toilets. Yes, this was definitely my kind of camping.
We arrived Monday in the late morning hours and were able to set up camp (un-load the blankets and food...no tents to pitch or fires to get started), put Carly down for a nap and enjoy an impromptu lunch of Chicken Wraps with veggies and chips. There was no shortage on food at this camp site!
The rain began to fall and it was a little bit chilly, so we headed into the other bunk house and started a game of Phase 10. That game lasts almost as long as Monopoly does! That’s not a game for the faint of heart (or the overly competitive either). Hail followed and it just seemed perfect to have this type of weather in the mountains. It reminded me so much of Hawaii (you know how it rains almost every day there, but not for long). Especially when the clouds broke and the sun shone down through the windows.
When I couldn’t get to phase 3 after about 8 attempts, we gathered the children and began a little nature hike down to the lake. I was absolutely astonished at the pace Abigail kept and her cheery disposition the whole walk. She never complained and just kept moving along singing her songs and talking to herself and the trees and anything else that would listen. Carly was a trooper off and on, needing a little break after her chubby little legs had worn themselves out. She really surprised me in that she runs as fast as our long legs walk and I was out of breath just keeping up with her on those hills. Connor was okay on the way there(smelling every flower he found)...the way back was another story. We need to work on his endurance a bit.
Upon arrival at the lake, we were the only souls there, save the two missionaries who were keeping an eye on things. They offered to let us ride in the paddle boats and there was one just the perfect size for our family of 5. With Connor and Abi in the back and Carly lounging in between Todd and I, we peddled our way around the little lake. My legs are sore today...always a sign that I should be working out a little harder than I currently am (What? Running up and down the stairs isn’t enough of a work-out?).
There was a sand pit near the lake that the kids made good use of getting sand in ever single crack and crevice of their little bodies.
I noticed that Carly’s rear seemed more wet than normal, so we decided to head back to camp to change her diaper. She must have soaked up everything in the boat, because half way up the trail, no one wanted to hold her because the holder would then get drenched. So, off came her diaper and we let the little thing romp around with her rear airing out for the deer and dragonflies to see (yes, we did spot a deer or two). There is just something so adorable about a baby’s bottom, isn’t there? Especially one that has super fat legs! Remind me again why it isn’t so cute on me?
Once we made it to the camp...practically dragging the kids up the last hill, more of the family started to arrive. This meant DINNER TIME!!!! YUM!!!! Mom had made Sloppy Joe’s for us. Of course, there are always those few little ones who will vent out loud...LOUDLY...that they don’t like what is being offered for dinner. It sure made me feel good when, for once, it wasn’t Connor doing the complaining about the meal placed in front of him.
Speaking of little ones speaking, I absolutely had to crack up when my little nephew Thor blurted out, over his meal that he was gladly eating “You should have heard my mom when she said that these were great directions on how to get here. She didn’t mean it in a nice way either.” Andrea started up and sweetly whispered something in Thor’s ear. The truth is, the directions weren’t very good as there was construction and a detour wasn’t obviously marked. Andrea had reason to say that….we were all just thinking it (not to mention that the 45 minute drive we had planned on was actually 1 hour and 45 minutes). So poor Andrea pulled her kids up to Heber, on the first day of school and would be turning around that evening to do the same. I would have been a tad bit frustrated as well.. We tried to text and call her to tell her the drive wasn’t worth it, but there is no connection in the great outdoors of that area.
We played a great game of whiffle ball...I could manage this game as the bases were a short distance apart and there is just something magical about a whiffle bat and ball. Everyone can hit it! And, I am not afraid of getting hit with that little white ball with the holes in it, it can’t cause too much damage, can it?
To try to make Andrea’s kids time more worthwhile, after dinner was cleaned up and out of the smelling reach of any black bears, we headed back down to the lake. This time I forced Connor and Carly in the car with Tish and her kids. I wasn’t ready to carry the whole 33 pounds that is Carly back to the lake and definitely didn’t want to deal with Connor who was now cranky because Carly woke him from his sweet slumber.
On the walk down it was fun to hear the little boys excitement as to what they were seeing and what they would get to do when we got down to the lake. I sure have cute nieces and nephews.
We started a rousing game of volleyball. I avoided the ball when it scared me (yes, covering my face with m y hands and dodging the ball) and didn’t play round one very long...mostly blaming it on Carly and the fact that she was making herself at home on the picnic bench of another group trying her best to make cute faces and get some food for herself. She is worse than all of those little chipmunk’s when scrounging for food.
Someone must have sensed my exhaustion when they saw me holding little baby Jack (who is definitely NOT little as seen in these photos) and dragging Carly back from trying to run into the center of the Volleyball game by the hood on her jacket. They subbed me BACK into the game. This time I was ready to conquer! I totally hit the ball a few times and only coward from it a few times. I have the bruises on my hand and arms to prove that I made contact with the ball.
The game eventually dissolved, as did the energy to hike back home. So, fewer of us hiked back...but not Abi! She trekked right on with us singing her songs (Single Ladies, Tomorrow, Give A Little Whistle, Let’s Get It Started, Popular, Apologize) the whole way and telling us about the tigers that are in the jungle.
It was a wonderfully exhausting day. Andrea and her kids headed back home and we got the little kids settled into their bunks. We thought they would just go to sleep that easily. I had a monitor in our cabin so we could hear what they were up to while we finished our game of Phase 10. I think we had to go in another 4 times to tell the kids to be quiet and go to bed. Finally on the 5th try I just sat in there with the lights off and kept saying “shh” everytime someone spoke up. Eventually they all fell asleep and we were able to continue on our “game that never ends.” At phase 9, none of us wanted to continue. Our eyes wouldn’t stay open any longer, so we agreed that mom won the game and each of us settled into our beds.
I was afraid that one of my kids would wake up in the night and I wouldn’t be close enough by, so I slept in the bunk with the kids, so did Tish. Her kids slept oh-so-soundly. Connor joined me in bed only 10 minutes after I got settled and curled himself up into a ball at the top of my head, like a cat. A BIG cat. A cat that gets mad when you try to make them sleep like a human. So, I didn’t sleep too well, especially when I heard the grasses rustling outside our window. I could have sworn that a bear was going to come into our cabin and take all of our children away and use them in their next Bear Circus Side Show (it was a dream, a vivid dream).
Carly woke up bright and early doing her beautiful and throaty yells. So I scooped her up as fast as I could so that she wouldn’t wake anyone else. It was 6:30am. I let her lead me on a little tour of the campsite and practice her yells in the pavilion that provided for excellent echoing (my kids love to hear their own voice, especially when it is raised to a level they aren’t allowed to use in the house). I am guessing that the others in our camp heard her yelling, as they started to venture out of the cabins and gather under the eating pavilion for some of those gigantic muffins and O.J.
The rain was coming down hard and long by this point. There wasn’t too much we could do, and Carly was ready for another nap (you would be too if you were up that early and had been for an early morning hike). I put that little baby down and we all went into the other cabin where we played a variety of games that are always much more entertaining when the oldest of the kids is 4 and they just don’t get it. Hide & Seek (they jump out and say “here I am” when asked where they are), Duck, Duck, Goose (your heart doesn’t really race when they just sit down as soon as you stand up to chase them), Button, Button, Who’s Got The Button (those teeny tiny hands can’t cover a button so well, we all knew who had it). Eventually we let the kids just run around and go crazy while the adults played Hearts.
The rain gave way to blue skies and we headed to the challenge course. This truly was my favorite part of the whole...I keep wanting to call it weekend, but it wasn’t on a weekend….I will call it vacation. I was the first to hike up the rope ladder, walk across the wire bridge and fly down the zip line. I am glad I went first, as I probably would have psyched myself out of doing it if I hadn’t gone first.
Might I add that those harnesses we have to wear do nothing for your figure...especially a male figure.
Oh well, we all looked goofy. Except for the kids, they looked darling! The missionaries let the kids put on a harness and had them swinging around. All of the kids loved it except for Abigail. She wasn’t too sure about the whole thing.
The next challenge was walking across a series of tight ropes tied between trees. Each wire was about a foot off of the ground and we had to get our whole group across...including the children. They all did pretty well, considering their attention spans and that it was time for naps again.
At about the second tree, Abi needed to reach out for my hand and walk across the rope to make it to the third tree. I had my right hand on the tree to give me support and reached my left arm as far as it would go to her. She was afraid to let go of the tree supporting her, but she didn’t realize all she had to do was stretch her right hand out a little further and she could reach me. I started to feel heart broken when tears formed in her eyes and she cried out, “Mommy, just grab my hand.” I couldn’t reach any further, she was the one that needed to. It was one of those epiphany type moments when I realized that our Savior has reach out has far as he can, and done all for us possible. The remainder is in our hands to reach out just a little bit further than our comfort zone and we can accomplish great things.
The kids had just about had it by this point (nerves and all) and we completed just one more task...the spider web. This one was a little bit easier and more fun for the kids as all they had to do was be passed through a small hole and not touch the sides.
The trip was coming to a close and we cleaned up camp and loaded up our vehicles. Grateful for the time we got to spend together and that no one needed to go to the Emergency Room and no need to stop at a First Aid Station.
Just two solid days of fun family togetherness.
Family….isn’t it about time?