B’s dad and stepmom planned a 5-day family reunion for the last week in July, and all the pieces were in place for a gorgeous, relaxing get-together. Here’s what worked so well:
1. The accommodation was rented rather than any one of us hosting; there was more than enough room (the cabin holds 60 overnight, and we were 51 strong).
2. Food prep and cleanup weren’t onerous for anyone since rotating small groups of us were in charge of 2 meals for all.
3. Lots to do without anyone needing to plan activities or be responsible for fun (house arrest? I want to stay here)– pool, ping-pong, foosball, air hockey…speaking of which, I’m still sporting a bruise that looks like a red and purple sunset in the middle of a dirty grayish-green pond, ewww). I have this beauty blooming on my upper thigh from blithely slamming into the table as I became the air hockey champion. For one night, anyway. So also: hot tub, swimming pool, library nooks, bouncy castle (yes, I did), and quiet comfy bedrooms for escaping from the party.
Setting out with 28+ hours roundtrip in the car ahead of us and potentially excellent reading spots high in the Utah mountains, I piled up a stack of books that filled an entire backpack on their own.
I read my way through Broken Harbor (very good, but less gripping than Tana French’s first three novels), City of Thieves (soooo good), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (driven by a voice bursting with energy and a narrative finale that left me sobbing. Oh, Dominican Republic. Oh, lost love.) Also got through the first third of Power, Sex, and Suicide (rats, they went with a social-sciency title, and then pulled a fast one by lodging a textbook on mitochondria inside), the first 54 pages of The Dante Club (so far: meh, but I might stick with it a little longer) and the first 1/4 of William Wordsworth: A Life (I like this passage: “Wordsworth tried to define truly poetic and creative minds. One of their characteristics, he said, was watchfulness: ‘they build up greatest things / From least suggestions’”(26).
First stop: Sunday with my brother P and his family. We met the youngest member of the extended family: newborn R!
T really liked the blackberries we brought from Bainbridge (they’re on so early this year!)–what’s that? Oh, ok, he really liked the whipped cream and tolerated a few hidden berries.
And on to the colossal cabin, the altissimo abode, the gleaming hewn bones of a mountainous glen:
S with cousin O.
T, B, and K
C and T washing up after lunch for 48.
An afternoon hike at 8,400 feet elevation:
Grandpa D and Grandma K on the trail (which at times was nearly overgrown with a profusion of wildflowers).
Groves of aspens everywhere in the lower areas.
We discovered high-altitude badminton birdies fly like crazy–the workout comes from laughing as much as running after the shuttlecock shooting over our heads.
One last stop in SLC to have lunch with my brother B and his family:
Little O drawing a picture of his daddy.
A showing us K’s version of Uncle B
I and B
On to home again, caravaning part of the way with the Zs–the car ride this time went smoother than most.
20 questions, a good playlist, car games that are only interesting on the road (We tried replacing all vowels with short e sound: after hours in the car, “Pess the wetter bettle” is super-duper funny).
The kids have discovered that even more than run-of-the-mill bickering, singing in augmented 4ths drives their parents loco. Their delight is absolutely devilish.
Getting on the Bainbridge ferry on a Friday evening in the summer takes a couple of hours; I drove up to the ticket booth at 5:45 p.m. and we got a spot on the 7:20 ferry. That gave us time to get a light dinner at Cafe Paloma on Yesler Way, and now my cooking goal is to re-create the red lentil kofta I had last night.