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] ;)
Welcome to Crane-ium: thoughts, poetry, lyrics & photography of Cheri J. Crane
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