Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Anderson Reunion, Day 3 (Saturday, Oct. 16)

Finally, right? It’s only a month late…what fun, warm memories, though. Even in the morning when we got up it was warm, or at least warmer than it had been the day before. It was less windy and I think that helped.

When we walked past the camping area I couldn’t help but snap a picture of the matching tents. There were a bunch of Germans staying in the campground—they rented equipment so all of it matched. It was just so quaint.

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I imagine this was a lot cheaper than all the Europeans we see in their “Cruise America” RV rentals. Those are upwards of $1000 per week. Anyway…it’s fun to have foreigners around. Everything in America seems so bland sometimes. When we were riding in the shuttles we heard some Germans talking and I understood everything that they said. At least, I understood everything that I understood of what they said.

“Ist das die ‘Lodge?’” (Is that the Lodge?)

“Nein, das ist die ‘Grotto.’” (No, that is the Grotto.)

“Oh.” (Oh.)

Isn’t my German impeccable?

Our first stop of the day was Weeping Rock. (In German that would be Weinein Felsen, or something like that—Weinein Stein, maybe). It’s a steep but fairly quick and easy hike to a little alcove of hanging gardens. The rock weeps ancient water—like thousands of years old…I think the bus tour said it took 1800 years, or something like that, for the water to seep through the sandstone. Eventually the water hits an impenetrable shale layer and basically squeezes through the sandstone like a sponge.

We all pretended to be grumpy at the top. Except for those of us who actually were grumpy—those people didn’t pretend.

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We all had our happy moments, though, and the view was amazing.

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Grandpa helped Miriam get nice and wet with ancient rock tears…

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And then styled her hair…

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Emily was impressed.

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Rachel had a lot of fun hiking down that steep hill. She stepped on every rock she could find—she was all about exploring.

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When we got to the bottom, Daddy took her down to the river. They found some tall grass and I took a picture of her yelling up to me, “Mommy! This grass is taller than me!”

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I don’t think she thought that was possible.

We got back on the shuttle to ride to the Temple of Sinawava to do the Riverside Walk again, this time with Auntie Em. Miriam read the map for us to make sure we didn’t get lost.

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Grandpa, Grandma, Auntie Sarah, and Rachel all ditched us to head back to the hotel but not before witnessing Auntie Emily see a squirrel. And that is a sight to behold. Emily loves squirrels and gets a little too excited when she sees them—she screams and jumps and points and squeals.

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It’s almost kind of embarrassing.

We were talking about Emily’s upcoming wedding a while back and mentioned something about giving her a stuffed squirrel.

“Don’t do that!” Rachel warned, “Emily will freak out!”

And she probably would, but in a good way.

We hiked for a long while without seeing many squirrels. I kept promising Emily that we’d see more and was really hoping that I was right. The day before the trail had been absolutely overrun with squirrels.

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And then, just when we were pausing to take some heroic pictures on an overhang…

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…we found some squirrels.

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And then, after Miriam did some rock climbing, we turned around to head back to camp for craft time.

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Aunt Marcie and Cousin Therena (not to be confused with Aunt Therena (and Andrew thinks my family is confusing)) brought some cute Halloween crafts for the little cousins to do and some felt and material for the bigger cousins to make flower headbands with.

Rachel was all over craft-time. This is a terrible picture of Rachel—you can see her ponytail peeking out behind Talmage’s head…and the pumpkin she’s painting purple…and that’s all—but she had a great time. She was so self-contained that I just left her there while I worked on headbands.

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I’m so glad I left her on her own because that was the first time the whole weekend that she took the initiative to begin playing with her cousins. I guess I can’t hover too much but…I just worry about letting that girl out of my sight.

Luckily the children just played in and around the pavilion so they had adult supervision but without adult interaction. They did great until they stumbled into a big ant hill…then they got adult intervention pretty darn quickly. I don’t remember who it was who was being bitten—one of the boys, poor thing. Rachel just found it fascinating. She had to take me over to show the hill to me over and over again while she recounted the tragic tale of her cousin being swarmed by angry ants.

I thought my headbands turned out rather nicely. The girls wore them to dinner that evening and, by some sort of random miracle, left them on for most of the night. I don’t think either of them has worn them for more than five minutes since then.

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Andrew played volleyball. I did not.

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I mostly made sure that this little thing was safe and happy.

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I also watched her sister beat up play with her cousin Adrian. Adrian is a big kid so his parents, Ashley and Jon-Paul, were sure to tell him to be gentle. And he was…oh, so gentle. I was just waiting for him to turn around and shove her back but he never did. Later I heard Jon-Paul tease Adrian, “How’re you going to be a football player if you let girls push you around like that?”

She was jumping on him and making him give her horsey rides—he just took everything in stride. I went over to ask him if he was having fun and he said he was.

“She’s not hurting you?”

“No! I like to wrestle!”

They’re the same age, pretty much, but he’s a full head taller than she is. And apparently he likes to wrestle as much as she does.

Uncle Morris brought a gag camping chair for a photo op. I think he took pictures of everyone in it. I only took a picture of Emily and Miriam in it. This chair is huge!

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Dinner was interrupted by a spontaneous “snowball fight.”

One minute I was eating my food and the next thing I knew my plate had been hit by a “snowball” and my food scattered. That was the end of dinner.

From there on out it was war.

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The “snowballs” were nylon stockings filled with flour and tied off so by the end of the evening we were all covered in flour.

Rachel and Adrian went around collecting “snowballs” and then instead of throwing them they would stand there and hit someone with them over and over and over again. Both of those two were saturated with flour—probably from hitting each other so much.

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I was, unfortunately, wearing a fleece jacket. I had to wash it more than once to get all the flour out because the first time I took it out of the washing machine it was all goopy and gluey instead of clean.

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The evening ended with a piñata for the kids. They all waited anxiously in line—this is a great picture to show how big Adrian is compared to Rachel. He’s standing right in front of her. The boy behind Rachel (I can’t remember his name…it’s one of Jana’s boys) is also three. I think.

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The kids had a ton of fun whacking the donkey.

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The stick broke on someone’s turn—I can’t remember whose now, which just goes to show that I should have written about this weeks ago—but the donkey was much more durable. At the beginning they were limiting the kids to three strikes each but then they started just letting the kids go in and give the donkey a real good beating. Eventually it broke, obviously, and all the kids flocked to the spilled candy.

We went back to the hotel and put the kids to bed and then I went out and talked until “lights out” with the grown-ups. It was fun to hear stories of Karen’s childhood. Personal histories fascinate me.

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In the morning we packed up, ate breakfast, said goodbye to family, took one last view of the stunning landscape, and drove back home.

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It was a good, good reunion.

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