Monday, June 30, 2008

Hidden Treasures

One of my favorite things to do when I'm traveling is to look for hidden treasures. I like to explore and take lots of pictures. In fact, 98% of the pictures that I share on this blog are shots I've taken with my trusty digital camera.

Today I thought I'd share some of the treasures I've found recently while exploring. The picture you see above is of Dry Creek, located just south of Afton, Wyoming. My husband and I drove over Saturday night and this canyon caught my eye. My mother grew up in Star Valley, so this area has always seemed like home. I'm familiar with a lot of the region, but I had never been near this particular canyon, so we drove down Dry Creek Road for a look around. It was gorgeous. Everything is very green this year, compliments of the numerous storms we endured earlier this season. The white water\spring\summer runoff is spectacular, as you can also see below.

A few days ago, my husband and I drove to a local area called Whiskey Flats. He was intent on finding a fishing hole. I was exploring and found wild strawberry plants. These are a tasty treat, if you know what you're looking for. The berries are tiny---about 1\8 of the size of a regular strawberry, but they are wonderful. Too bad these plants weren't full of berries during this excursion. ;)

About a month ago, my oldest son and I were jaunting around the foothills behind our home in Bennington. I was trying to get a shot of a little creek that is about as full as I've ever seen it. But to my chagrin, I had already filled my memory card that afternoon. So I quietly stood, deleting unwanted pictures. As I stood there, focusing on my camera, a hummingbird flew in front of me, intent on sampling a nearby flowering bush. If you're familiar with hummingbirds, you know that they don't like to have their picture taken. I very sneakily took several shots, trying to capture this rare moment. For once, the camera fairies smiled upon me---and as you can see in the picture below, I gleaned a treasure that day. (Note: I've noticed that this picture is pretty scrunched on the blog---click on the picture and you'll see it more clearly. This hummingbird is green and it has a bright red throat.)

This final shot is a sunset scene, overlooking the south end of Star Valley. I took it as my husband and I were heading home Saturday night. He has learned that when I say, "Stop," as we're traveling, it's not an emergency. It just means I want to take a picture of something I think is cool. =) What can I say---it's one of my hobbies. Sometimes I will take numerous shots (as in the case of the hummingbird picture you can see above) to get a good picture. You never know which one will adequately capture the treasured moment.

My challenge to you this week is to look around as you're traveling, camping, hiking, and enjoying life. You may be surprised at what you might find, even in your own backyard.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.
Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Long And Winding Road

For some reason the Beatles' hit, The Long and Winding Road, keeps going through my head this afternoon. The lyrics are as follows:

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to your door.

The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day.
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way.

Many times I've been alone
And many times I've cried,
Anyway you'll never know
The many ways I've tried.

And still they lead me back
To the long, winding road
You left me standing here
A long, long time ago
Don't leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door.

Paul McCartney

Some say this song is about love and memories, others the journey we make in life. Still others have pondered that it is talking about God, prayer, and the meaning of life.

For me, today, this song is about all of those things. We each travel a long and winding road while in mortal mode. At times the way seems easy; our progress is extremely pronounced. Other days it feels as though we're crawling through a mire and we wonder if we're going to survive the journey. There are some nights that are so dark, we have to place our hand inside the Savior's, trusting that He will see us through.

I experienced one of those nights recently. The way ahead was uncertain. I trembled, unsure of which direction was best. It was as though I was blindfolded and asked to walk a tightrope above a gaping canyon. Initially I was terrified, afflicted with thoughts of impending doom. Then a peaceful calm pierced my troubled heart, signaling that all would be well, but it was up to me to take that first, perilous step.

Step by step is how we continue on. Interestingly enough, another one of my favorite songs bears that name:

Well, there's a bridge and there's a river
That I still must cross
As I'm going on my journey
Oh, I might be lost
And there's a road I have to follow
A place I have to go
But no one told me just how to get there
But when I get there I'll know
'Cause I'm taking it...

Step by step
Bit by bit
Stone by stone
Brick by brick
Step by step
Day by day
Mile by mile
Go your own way

Well this old road is rough and ruin
So many dangers along the way
So many burdens might fall upon me
So many troubles I have to face
But I won't let my spirit fail me
But I won't let my spirit go
Until I get to my destination
I'm gonna take it slow
Because I'm taking it...

Step by step
Bit by bit
Stone by stone
Brick by brick
Step by step
Day by day
Mile by mile
Go your own way.

Annie Lennox\Whitney Houston

I'm learning that it doesn't matter how far we get in a given day as long as we continue forward. It's so important to be on the right path, making the journey step by step, even when the road ahead is filled with peril. Sometimes in facing our fears, we find a strength we didn't know we possessed. A gift from God, it is up to us to use it well, helping those who walk a similar way.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.
Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood

Monday, June 23, 2008

Lava Hot Springs

We spent this past weekend at a wonderful place not too far from home---the famed Lava Hot Springs. This hot spot is located here in Southeastern Idaho. It is a popular resort where a myriad of fun activities await the weary traveler or the excited tourist.

We arrived on Friday in preparation for yet another family reunion. About 3 months ago, I had made reservations at a place called CottonWood Campground. I had asked for a campsite in the trees and we weren't disappointed. The RV site we were assigned was wonderful. Not only was it in the shade of tall cottonwood trees, but it was next to the Portneuf River.

The sound of flowing water was soothing, and I found a series of tiny waterfalls, so I was happy. ;) (See my blog entitled: "Water Moments" that was posted last week.) While I was busy taking several pictures, my husband decided to try his hand at fishing. He caught 3 trout that first afternoon, and to celebrate, we decided to fry them up that night. We invited my mother and sister to partake of vittles with us and a good time was had by all. We ate, played games, and watched as several people floated the nearby river on float tubes that can be rented at several locations downtown.

The next day we made preparations for the massive hordes of people (around 70) who would be coming to this reunion. Since our family was in charge, we didn't lack for things to do. We still managed to enjoy some time soaking in the various pools located at the motel where my mother and sister were staying. These pools, which range in temperature from 44 degrees Fahrenheit to 107 degrees Fahrenheit are open to the public but there is a charge for this privilege.

If you're a serious swimmer, I would suggest that you opt for the actual Olympic Swimming Complex that has made this area famous. The cost is about the same as it is to enjoy the pools I mentioned above, but the Olympic pools are larger plus there are slides and all kinds of fun things available.

Incidentally, during the cooler months, I heartily recommend the Mineral Hot Springs that are located just down the street from the Olympic Swimming facility. My husband and I have enjoyed these springs a few times during the winter months. It's quite an experience to soak in the healing mineral water as snowflakes flutter around.

Back to the camping reunion adventure: that night, several of us gathered at our campsite where we enjoyed roasted hot dogs, s'mores, and singing around the pretend campfire. (There are no fire pits in this campground.) Since we had brought along a propane-fueled Cache-cooker, we were able to cook a variety of culinary delights. I had also brought along my guitar and we were soon engaged in a sing-a-long. We were evidently enjoying ourselves so much, our neighbors to the west were inspired to walk over to investigate. =) California natives, they were enjoying this night of Idaho culture. Their teenage daughter could also play the guitar, so we had a fun time learning some of the songs she knew, as well as teaching this talented young lady and her parents the silly songs we like to sing while in camping mode.

At one point during the night, my son, Derek, decided to serenade his wife, Kristen. The guitar was quickly passed back to me when Derek tried to imitate a hound dog. (Incidentally, this son can sing---he was being a smart aleck) It was a lively, fun evening, one that ended too soon. Exhausted, we called it a night and retreated to our various homes-away-from-home.

There are two large parks available in Lava---one on each side of town. Both contain large pavilions. Neither of these facilities can be reserved---it's a first come, first serve kind of tradition. My mother and sister arrived bright and early the morning of our reunion dinner (around 9:00 a.m.) to stake their claim at the west park. Later that day, we enjoyed glorious amounts of food, and held a family raffle\auction to raise money for next year's reunion.

All in all, we had a wonderful time in Lava. There are so many fun things to see and do in this location. It works great for reunions, a simple family get-away, or a romantic escape. If you are passing through Idaho, or you live in the area, take advantage of this awesome resort town.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.
Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood

Thursday, June 19, 2008

In the Good Ol' Summertime

I think summer has finally arrived. Here in Bear Lake Valley, we feel like we've jumped straight from winter to summer. There was no spring to speak of. =) We endured a series of wintry storms during what should have been spring. But summer has arrived, and it is gorgeous. All of the moisture we received has contributed to the brilliant green color of the hills and surrounding farms. Flowers are blooming all over the place, wild and otherwise. And the flowering trees are beautiful. This is the first year that my row of lilacs has actually bloomed. I've been nursing them along for years---last year I had high hopes for them, but the blossoms froze. This year, not only did my lilacs bloom, but so did my flowering crab tree. This is a huge event in my life.

For years, I've tried to grow a flowering crab tree. My first attempt was planted several years ago. Then one winter, my boys flattened the tree, breaking it off at the base when they hit it during a snow machine adventure. They had attached an inner tube to the back of the snow machine, and as they took turns giving each other wild rides, they managed to hit my poor tree. Sigh . . .

So, they gave me a new one for Mother's Day the following spring. It flourished for a short time. Then, while we were gone on a family trip, our beloved dog, Brandy the wonder mutt, ate it. I kid you not. This is one strange dog. She loves the taste of tree sap. She has chewed off more branches than I care to remember through the years. (My family comforts me by stressing that Brandy always takes care of my spring-time pruning.) But when we returned home to a chewed up flowering crab tree, I was stunned. She had chomped right through the small trunk. It lay to the side of where it had been planted---Brandy's way of punishing me for leaving her home. (We had arranged for her to be fed and watered while we were gone. It wasn't like she was starving and had to make do with what she could find. And I'm not sure why it's always my fault when our family does something that displeases her. I'm the only one who ever suffers her wrath---chewed up trees, flowerbeds that are ruined, etc. but I digress).

The next spring, my family once again gave me a flowering crab tree for Mother's Day. This time we used a strategy. We put an ugly, high fence around it for protection. So far, this plan has worked, possibly because Brandy can't chew through metal. ;)

So, yes, seeing this crab tree flower this year brought tears to my eyes. It's beautiful. Everything I've hoped for through the years. I even received a compliment on this tree yesterday from a neighbor. I basked in the glow of what she said for hours. =)

This summer, we also planted a garden, something we haven't done for a few years. Weddings, missionary adventures, family trips, and life in general, put a temporary halt to this yearly tradition. Can I just say that I love playing in the dirt? =) Too bad my silly body doesn't agree with this practice. I have a form of rheumatoid arthritis and sometimes bending to pick weeds is not my friend. But we persevered this year. My husband and oldest son helped me plant our garden. And tiny plants are already starting to come up. (Don't make fun---it takes us longer in Bear Lake to get things to grow).

I love summer!!! I love seeing things grow, spending time outside, and as already mentioned, playing in the dirt. I enjoy picnics, fishing, and reunions. (Especially when I'm not in charge of them.) I also enjoy camping adventures, and watching my nephews play baseball. These are the fine things that make summer a wonderful time of year. I'm sure we all have lists of traditional activities that we enjoy during the summer months. And as the official day of summer speeds on by, I challenge you to do your best to savor this marvelous season.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the summer? Any fun traditions? Don't be shy now, feel free to share.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.
Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the Neighborhood

Monday, June 16, 2008

Water Moments

Is it me or has the stress factor in life increased several notches lately? Everyone I know seems to be enduring a plethora of challenges. Our family has been hit with a variety of unpleasant trials in recent months, including the untimely death of a loved one.

Whenever I'm feeling a bit down, it helps to have what I call a "water moment." I find that I'm drawn to water. I'm not sure why, but water has always fascinated me. [No cheap shots about how easily entertained I seem to be ;) ]

I especially like waterfalls, which is why you'll probably see a lot of those posted in this blog from time to time. During my high school years, we lived in a beautiful area close to Island Park, in a little town called Ashton, Idaho. Ashton is often referred to as a gateway to Yellowstone Park, since West Yellowstone is only 43 miles north of this small town. In the towering hills above Ashton, two spectacular waterfalls exist. They are called Upper and Lower Mesa Falls.

I've always been partial to the Upper Falls. I've often sat quietly watching the water as it tumbles below. The sound of rushing water is calming. The atmosphere is inspiring. It is a place of peace. (Unless you happen to stop by when a tour bus hits the area. During those adventures, it's still inspiring, just a bit noisy.)

I've found other such places wherever I've lived. To me it's crucial to spend some time basking in the beauty that our Father in heaven created for us to enjoy. When worries descend and I feel bogged down in life, it's time for a water moment. A time for quiet reflection as I sit near a bubbling creek, an impressive lake, or a waterfall. These experiences help me sort through a myriad of troubling thoughts, heartache, and sometimes life in general. I think it's important to find a place where you can quietly meditate and draw closer to God through silent prayer and reflection.

It doesn't have to be far from home, and since we're all different, a variety of beautiful options lie in wait wherever you live.
Since I live close to the mountains that lie behind Bennington, it only takes me a few minutes to arrive at tiny stream or pond. If it's a particularly bad day, I will sometimes drive thirty minutes to spend some time pondering life's mysteries near the famed Bear Lake.

These moments always seem to help. I come away feeling better, which I think counts for a lot these days.
Try this sometime, when a bad day hits. Spend some time enjoying nature. I think you'll be surprised at the healing that can take place when we stop to savor the beauty our Father made certain was included in this mortal realm.

Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the yourlds newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more. Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to The Neighborhood

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cow Camping Adventures =)

The following lyrics (sung to the tune of "Home on the Range") pretty much sum up the camping trip my husband and I embarked upon this past week:

1st: Oh, give me a camp
Where the cow people vamp
Where they frolic wherever they roam
They run through amuck
Ignoring our truck

Making our campsite their home.

Chorus: Camping on the vast open range
Where the cow critters act rather strange
Where often is heard
A profane sentence or word
When the bull comes through acting deranged.

2nd: How often at night
When the stars shine so bright
Can you hear bellowing ring through the air
From local beefy stock
Who think our camper's a salt block
Refusing to locate elsewhere.

Cheri J. Crane
June 2008

Yep, that pretty well says it all. We had bravely tried camping near a local reservoir called "Little Valley." Good times. We noticed there were quite a few cows and a couple of bulls in the surrounding area, but we figured if we left them alone, they would leave us alone. WRONG! as the photo above will attest. Once we had driven across the reservoir to try our hand at fishing, they flocked to our camper and were actually licking it to see what it tasted like. Silly cow people. True, it was an open range area (this means local ranchers can allow their stock to roam at will through the surrounding region) but in all the years that we've lived in Bear Lake Valley, we've never quite experienced this type of adventure before.

We finally moved our camper to the other side of the reservoir. Only one stubborn cow followed. She cried out most of the night, looking for a lost calf.
The fishing was horrible, the weather was yucky, and we had to leave early the next morning when it started to pour. The dirt road was turning into a slippery mess and we were afraid we would become a permanent part of the open range realm. Since the road was in such bad shape, we took a different route out and came across a beautiful little waterfall that we would have missed otherwise.

Moral of the story: life rarely turns out the way we envision. But if we'll keep our sense of humor intact and our eyes peeled, we can still find cool stuff along the way. ;)

Have any of you endured similar camping adventures? What was the funniest or strangest thing that ever happened to you while camping?


Join the Neighborhood Newsletter . . . Subscriptions are free and joining is easy. Just by signing up and maintaining your subscription to receive the
newsletter, you become eligible for our "Thank You" prizes. Our dozens of giveaways range from a trip for two to China, to iPods® (each with a $50 gift certificate for LDS music), cruises, and more.

Learn about our amazing monthly, quarterly, and annual giveaways by clicking here.

Return to the neighborhood

Monday, June 9, 2008

Revel in Reunions =)

A huge summer tradition for most families is the ever-popular, (oft-times made fun of) reunion. Mentioning this word can trigger a variety of memories. ;) Truthfully, some of my fondest recollections of past summers involve reunions. As I was growing up, I always looked forward to the annual Sibbett reunion. This meant camping in a cool location like Alpine, Wyoming, eating lots of good food, and the yearly program. The Sibbett program involved a lot of music, humorous readings, and dancing. It was usually concluded by my grandfather and his brothers getting up to sing funny songs like, "My Nose Stuck Out a Feet," or the traditional: "Pinto Pony," a song written about the Grays Lake area, the place where they grew up.

I think one of the things I liked the most about this particular reunion was the camaraderie. It was a fun, joyous gathering of relatives. Held in a relaxing atmosphere, there was no set schedule of events, we winged it. When the food was cooked, we ate. If some people wanted to fish in nearby Palisades Lake, they fished. If others wanted to hike around, they explored the numerous trails available. Sometimes we even went swimming. It was understood that on the final day, there would be a huge luncheon where pot luck dishes would be shared. After that meal, the program everyone looked forward to seeing took place. True, our family was made up of lots of hams. We all seemed to have inherited the ability to play musical instruments by ear from my beloved great-grandmother, Genevieve Sibbett. (My mother is named after this awesome woman.)

Genevieve Hocking and her husband, James Lowery Sibbett Jr., established a ranch in Grays Lake. They had ten children, nine of which lived to adulthood. When my grandfather, who was a middle child, was 14 years old, his father passed away unexpectedly of something they called "telescope gut." Now we know it was due to complications of a hiatal hernia, but I digress. My great-grandmother courageously took over running the ranch in 1922 and raised her children on next to nothing. From what I understand, she was a compassionate, fun-loving woman who could play the piano by ear. When the people of Grays Lake gathered for a dance, it was my great-grandmother who provided the music.

I think one of the purposes of family reunions is to keep memories alive of our ancestors. This information doesn't have to be presented in a dry fashion. Each year as we heard stories about the original Genevieve Sibbett, we grew to love and admire a woman we look forward to meeting someday.

Times have changed and with it, reunion formats. Each family is different. Through the years my husband and I have attended a plethora of these events. We have even helped to plan a few of them. In my opinion, the best reunions are those held in a relaxing environment. This gives relatives a chance to unwind, visit, and share tasty food. Sometimes we play games. One year, my husband and I bought a pinata and filled it with pieces of candy. After the big dinner, we hung it up, gathered the young children together, and let them take turns at it with a soft bat. They couldn't break it. So we went to the next generation, giving the teens a chance at it. It was our youngest son, Mr. Athlete, who finally gave it a whack that showered candy on the waiting children. This event provided quite a bit of entertainment for everyone who attended that year.

This year my family is in charge of the annual Glenn Sibbett reunion. (this reunion involves my mother's siblings and their families) We decided early on that we were meeting at Lava. People can either camp in one of the local campgrounds, or rent a room, or show up on the "big" day when we will once again enjoy yummy food, perhaps a short program, and something that we've recently started doing, an auction. Everyone brings craft items or things like home-made fudge for this event. During the auction, people bid on whatever they want and the money raised goes toward next year's reunion. (This money is spent on food, pop, etc. for the main meal)

The main thing we're after is a chance to relax, visit, and enjoy each other's company. We may even share a story or two about great-grandma Sibbett in the hopes that our posterity will keep her memory alive.

In the rush of these busy latter-days, we are unfortunately seeing a decline with this important tradition. What can we do to keep family reunions alive and well? What are some of your favorite memories of past reunions?

Return to The Neighborhood

Friday, June 6, 2008

Proudly Scottish

Ah yes, it is time to discuss a bit of culture. Since my Scottish roots go extremely deep, I decided to begin with some fun tidbits about my heritage. At an early age I was told by my mother that we had Scottish ancestors. Her grandmother, Agnes Colston, was a native of Scotland. Agnes and her mother were intrigued by the LDS Church, an interest not shared by Agnes' father. My second-great grandmother possessed a feisty, independent nature, and when her husband forbid her to have anything to do with the LDS Church, she sent their daughter (Agnes) with the Mormon missionaries who were on their way back to the United States. This did not set well with my second great-grandfather. =) Soon both mother and daughter were on their way to the States. They eventually linked up with the Church and journeyed West. Thanks to their courage we have a strong link to a wonderful legacy.

When my mother's younger brother was called to serve a mission that landed him in the heart of Ireland and Scotland, we were ecstatic. He brought back a lot of fun souvenirs and information. Among the treasures were recordings of Gaelic or Celtic music. I remember as a young girl dancing about in time to the festive music, developing a deep love for bagpipes, soft flutes, and stringed instruments. It is fascinating to study the history of Scotland, to learn about the clans, the tartans, and customs, not to mention the music. Something that we do each year to help us learn more about our Scottish ties, is to attend the annual Scottish Festival held in Payson, Utah. (This year's festival will take place July 10-12)

I would heartily recommend this event to everyone, even if you don't possess a Scottish background. You will see Gaelic dancing, men in kilts (need I say more), hear beautiful renditions of Celtic tunes, and you will be amazed by the amount of information that can be learned about the various clans.

My family is tied into several clans. (This is a Scottish way of referring to family lines). We are descendants of the Colston line (which is a sept or branch of the MacDonald line). We are also tied into the Watson, Napier, Brown, Campbell, Young, and MacDonald clans, to name a few. There are others, but these are our main lines. =) Each year we walk around to the numerous booths that represent these clans to learn more about our family lines, and to visit with those who are also descendants. Through the years we have also collected treasures. There are usually several fun booths where you can purchase souvenirs. We have found beautiful jewelry, ties and scarfs in our tartan colors, as well as clan badges to wear with our scarves. I even possess a kilt pin, should I ever decide to wear such an item and a Napier family crest with our family motto: Sans Tache, or Without Stain. It hangs in a place of honor in my computer room.

One year, as my youngest sister and I were visiting the clan booths, we came across the booth for one of our lines: Campbell. We listened sympathetically as we were told how the other Scottish Clans have always persecuted and looked down upon the Campbell clan. Feeling a bit of indignation, we proudly agreed to wear the Campbell colors that day; bits of the Campbell tartan were pinned to our sleeves. We wandered around, forgetting the warning from our brother earlier in the day who advised us to steer clear of the Campbell line. We figured he was just being a silly person and we persisted in wearing the Campbell colors. Then about an hour after visiting the Campbell booth, an older woman stood before my sister and I and glared at us defiantly. She spat on the sidewalk in front of us, jumped off the sidewalk, and stomped on past. Wondering at this, we quickly found our brother who instructed us to immediately remove the Campbell patches. He then shared why we had made a social faux pas. Turns out there is a bit of ill will still directed toward the Campbell line. In the past, most of the Scottish Clans felt that the Campbell line had betrayed them to the English. It's a Scottish version of the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys. ;) The feud between the Campbell Clan and the MacDonald Clan is especially fierce, and evidently still in existence today, though it does seem to be dying down.

Our family has come up with a theory about this. Since we belong to both clans, our bodies are constantly at war with themselves. ;) This would explain our tendency to develop things like lupus (an autoimmune disease where the body basically attacks itself) and to be klutzy. We are forever falling down stairs, shutting our hands in car doors, stubbing our toes, etc.

Back to the Scottish Festival: It's fun to walk around, to savor the atmosphere, the music, the dancing competitions, and the food, as well as to watch as the Highland Games take place. Games like the tossing of the caber and the ever popular hammer throw give us a glimpse into the type of recreation that was enjoyed by our ancestors. We also thoroughly enjoy the "Massing of the Bands" ceremony that takes place on the final day of the festival. All of the bagpipe bands that competed earlier in the day gather together and march onto a nearby field to perform. They join in playing several Scottish ditties like Amazing Grace. That song always brings tears to my eyes. Something stirs deep within, a longing to someday see this homeland in person and to savor the legacy I've been fortunate enough to inherit.

Return to the Neighborhood

Monday, June 2, 2008

Favorite Summer Vacation =)

As we head into the summer months, it's natural to reflect on past summers, and past vacations. Today I've been thinking about one of those favorite moments, the last time our family went on a camping adventure in the Grand Teton National Park. It was just before our oldest son was to head off on his mission, and before our second son went off to college. Things were changing in our family and we tried to make the most of this treasured time together.

We went on picnics, saw a lot of cool stuff, and enjoyed a boat ride across Jenny's Lake. While there, we hiked up to see the Hidden Falls. The picture above is of our entire family at the time, posing by the falls.

On our way back down the trail, we discovered a natural treasure: huckleberries. Wonderful, tasty, ripe huckleberries. My sons and husband picked and ate to their hearts' delight. The bushes surrounding us were loaded with the juicy berries. Then someone had an idea: "Let's pick a bunch and make huckleberry pancakes in the morning for breakfast!" I can't remember who said that, okay fine, it was probably me, regardless everyone was a sport. ;) Only one slight problem, we had come unprepared. We didn't have any berry buckets with us. So we improvised. We used my water bottle and filled it as full as it could get.

As we were picking, a group of Japanese tourists came up the trail and wanted to know what we were doing. My husband served a mission to Japan and he was able to communicate quite well with this tour group. When he explained that these were non-poisonous, delicious berries, they were thrilled. They abandoned their tour guide and the trail and joined us in the berry patch. The tour guide grumbled a bit and complained that his group would probably stop and pick every berry that they found along the way thanks to us. So we educated them about the difference. Red berries: yucky, they'll make you sick. Purple berries with the belly button: those are huckleberries and they're the best berries in the world. =)

We camped in various locations that week. I suspect our favorite campsite was in the nearby Granite Campground, near Hoback, southeast of Jackson, Wyoming. Not only is the campground beautiful, but it's within walking distance of a natural hot spring that has been turned into a swimming pool.

This is the same hot spring that my mother used to enjoy as a teenager---years ago it was undeveloped. Her girls' camp adventures included coming to the Granite Campground and swimming for free in the hot springs. Today, you will pay a fee for this privilege, but it's still a lot of fun. You're surrounded by forest and you can watch the spring as it bubbles down the mountain side into the pool. And if you swim to the other side, you can watch as the water tumbles down into the river below.

After enjoying a relaxing swim, we usually walk down to see the river, and the beautiful waterfall you can see below.

When we think about that particular trip, we'll fondly remember the "boat races" in the river (pieces of driftwood we shaped into our boats); the night Derek was stung by a wasp and half of his face swelled shut; not to mention the delicious Dutch Oven meals we enjoyed, and the huckleberry pancakes. It is a moment forever frozen in time, a vacation we enjoyed thoroughly in an area not too far from our home. (It only takes us about 2 1/2 hours to travel to this location)

I guess my point is, it doesn't take a lot of money or planning to make treasured memories. It can be as simple as a backyard picnic, a camping adventure in a nearby campground, or a small trip like the one I just described. Make the most of these summer months and enjoy this time with your family. I promise you'll never regret it. ;)

What are some of your favorite summer memories? [Feel free to share . . . this is a hint] ;)

Return to the neighborhood