Sunday, July 5, 2009

It feels like home

Here we are in Utah. I love the mountains and the way the earth smells. It buoys my spirits to be here. It just feels right. We are in Park City at the semi-annual Dittmer family reunion staying at the National Ability Center. It’s a gorgeous facility and perfect for a reunion. It’s nice to get reacquainted with all of Justins’ relatives. It’s especially fun to catch up with Sam and Katie Cowley. Our kids and their kids seem to be hitting it off. Allison became fast friends with Tessa (the only other girl cousin here besides Ava who is one).
Our first day here, I didn’t want to greet anyone until I’d showered. I thought three days of hiking, campfires, and mosquito repellent were enough to warrant one. And it was heaven. We mostly just talked and got settled. I did go into town with Teague in his Audi convertible to shop for church pants for the boys. The only pants they packed were for church and they wore them backpacking.

Justin thrives in spending time with his family. He is out right now (11:51 pm) doing a 15 minute hard core exercise work out thingy with Alex and Tony. They’re always trying to one up their manhood with each other. It’s usually entertaining. Justin reverts back into a kid at heart around his siblings. I love seeing a family like each other this much. I hope my kids will be this good of friends when they’re grown up.
Saturday, we went into Park City and watched the local parade. I like parades. Not sure why, but one of the main reasons is that they throw candy at you. You don’t have to go door to door, or dress up. But they must have a city ordinance because there was no candy! Isn’t that an oxymoron? A parade with no candy???
Later in the day, and after a much needed nap, Justin Allison, and I went with a bunch of cousins to see the Olympic park. That was really cool. It’s amazing how freaking tall those jumps are! Justin and Allison rode the Alpine slide and Justin had to prove his manliness on the zip line to see who could be the fastest. He raced Jeremy and ?. Justin won hands down.
I started a headache after the nap, and it got progressively worse as the day went on. I didn’t have Ibuprofen with me to stop it before it got worse, so it turned into a full blown migraine. It might be the worst one I’ve ever had. So nauseated and dizzy and just can’t think straight. Ibuprofen, Excedrin, a Skor bar, and a Dr. Pepper have helped immensely. I hope I can sleep after all that caffeine.

Meeting up

I'm hating moving pictures around, so here they are...out of order and everything. It's bothering the ocd in me. Oh well.
Grandpa Thomson telling stories from his childhood.
I didn't want to forget two of my favorite stories, so while we were sitting around the fire, I wrote myself a note.
Isaac resting by the Popo Agae river.
These mosquito nets were nice!
Jacob forgot he was wearing his and tried to take a bite of his macaroni noodles.
"I ripped my pants!" rolling rocks. in three places.
Grandpa, Jacob, and Isaac.
Miracle of miracles, Justin found the water bottle.
Grandpa loves to have pictures of trying to push over a rock.
Backpacking in the Wind Rivers was awesome. As a young girl, I always yearned to go with my Dad, but I’m a girl and the youngest, so never got to go, but my dream came true…
Justin and I decided that we would leave for Utah a few days early so we could back pack through the Uintahs or the Wind Rivers. After looking at the map, we decided the WR made the most sense for our drive. In the mean time, my parents had gone to visit Camille in Colorado and I thought, ‘hey maybe my dad would like to meet us there.” So I called him on Sunday and told him that we would be there on Wednesday and would like to go for two nights. You ready for some amazing coincidences??
He said that he was driving to Lander, WY on Mon
day to visit with some rock friends and were going to drive home on Wednesday. Lander is a town about 15 minutes away from the WR. We worked out a few of the details and made a plan. I think Heavenly Father had a role in this backpacking trip.
My kids (besides Allison) hadn’t seen my parents since last summer. I love that initial excitement , hugs, and the feel in the air when you are reunited with people you love.
We figured out the hiking route, arranged the bags for Allison and Ammon who were staying with Grandma Ricky in their camper and left. On the way to the trail head, we stopped and looked at the Popo Agae river, and a trout area. What was awesome was that there was a big horn sheep sitting by the ranger building. I think these are majestic animals and have never seen one in the wild before.
Looking down on the river, there were dozens of HUGE trout swimming. Some forestry workers gave us bread to feed them. My dad and I threw bread chunks down to the fish while the rain started to really come down. This river is
unique in that it goes under ground for several hundred feet, then pops back up.
It took us about forever and a day to get our packs situated and food figured out, but eventually we got going. (It only rained about 15 minutes, thank goodness.) We hiked along the Popo Agae river for some of the hike. That is a big raging river. We hiked to the falls which were spectacular. Hiking on, we were crossing a mucky water crossing with a few limbs thrown in. Yep, I fell in, and have a nice purple/black bruise to prove it. I lost my balance and with the weight of the pack, I tipped over. Muddy pants and wet. Not my favorite way to start a hike, but helps to make things memorable.
We found a place to camp about 2 miles in. Someone had previously camped there but it had been many years before. It was nice to camp som
ewhere that felt like the wilderness. We quickly started a fire to scare away the swarming mosquitoes, then put up our tents.
After we were settled we sat around the fire and listened to Grandpa tell some of my favorite stories from his childhood. He is an amazing storyteller. I want to have them documented for ancestry. My boys were transfixed. Maybe some day I’ll try to retell them, but here’s a list of what we heard: taking apart the gymnasium in th
e middle school for a job and almost getting killed but saved by divine intervention; riding his bike on 8th east in logan and running into a foreigner head on; warming up cans of beans over a campfire; sliding down the hill by Romney stadium before it was built on a car hood and going under the barbed wire fence; getting thrown into the middle school gym naked after a shower in the middle of girls gym time; story of the peanut butter man camping.
The next day we did a 6 mile hike. Some highlights were naming the many wild plants, rock rolling and Grandpa ripping his pants, Justin losing his water bottle and actually finding it later, eating Ramen under a huge boulder while rain started but ended as soon as we were nice and sheltered.
I never thought I would drink filtered water, but I did and seem to be okay. It was tasty water.
The next morning, we packed up and hiked out the remaining two miles, renaming the plants, and enjoying the majestic views of the waterfall on a different route back to the car.

I am so, what’s the word….heart warmed that I was able to go back packing with my Dad and have the boys there too. I hope they can remember this trip for the rest of their lives.
Ammon and Allison supposedly did great with Grandma. On the second day, it rained all day, so Grandma drove into Lander to the local thrift shop and also took them to the Children’s museum. They also went to the playground and watched a little of Shakespeare in the Park. What a fun Grandma!

Driving Day #2

We woke up Tuesday morning to an extremely hyper Jacob. First there was cranberry juice on the floor, then hot chocolate on himself and on the bed. Justin started singing the Dora song, “Jacob spilled on himself and he spilled on the bed and he spilled on the floor, yeah! He did it! He did it! He did it! Yeah!”
The kids and I hiked on an island called La Frambois. It was a nice walk. The kids liked to explore the shores on the Missouri river. Jacob was fascinated with these sand funnels things. I need to figure out what they’re called, but a bug will get caught in one, then the bug in the ground can eat it.

  • Isaac: Allison kicked me in the shin and it made my mosquito bite start itching.

  • Jacob: I couldn’t sleep very well, cause of Ammon. He was rubbing his blankie on my cheek. "I thought it was a hairy spider."

  • Allison woke up at the feet of all the boys.

  • Hiking back, Ammon came up to a sign and said, “and this says…” waiting for someone to fill in the blanks.

  • We hiked after a downpour so we got quite wet. The next morning everyone needed to put on wet socks and shoes. Ammon seemed to have walked right in the stream because we were able to ring water out of his socks. He woke up touchy and didn’t want to put on wet short, socks, and shoes. When I was putting his socks on he cried, “they’re weeeeeet.”

We ate some of the grossest pizza at Wall Drug. Allison got soaked in their water play area and got the giggles. Ammon was freaked out by a Jurassic style looking dinosaur that came alive and growled.

We love this picture of Ammon. It makes us laugh.

After much deliberation with our gps unit, we decided to drive through the Black Hills because it said it was the shortest drive. We got to see Mount Rushmore driving by. Then we stopped and swam in horsethief lake. Justin cliff jumped a couple of times. It’s funny to me how he was too scared to jump from the higher cliff. He’s always up for crazy stunts like that. Maybe if he had someone to egg him on .
We noticed a trail head called horsethief and decided that we would backpack in and camp for the night and pound out the last 8 hours to Lander, WY tomorrow. There were no camp sights on the Wyoming map, so we thought it would be more fun to camp somewhere beautiful, and we weren’t disappointed.
Everyone got their packs on and started on the trail. There was a small gurgling creek to make it even more scenic. Up a little farther on, Jacob and Isaac found a small cave that they wanted us to camp in. We had to convince Isaac that is wasn’t a good camping place: right on the trail and not big enough for two tents. We ended up camping across the creek next to some majestic rock formations.
Some of you might know my aversion to ticks and bugs in general, so be prepared to be amazed. I saw a dark spot on Allison’s leg and sure enough, it was a wood tick. I didn’t scream or anything. I told Justin and he grabbed it and skewered it with his pocket knife. So far, we’re up to Tick Man #5 (meaning we found 5 ticks so far). I was calm at every sighting. Now, I didn’t sleep well because every tickle on my skin, I had to inspect and make sure it wasn’t a tick, plus there was more thunder and lightening in the middle of the night.
We were able to get our tents set up with about 30 minutes to spare before the rains descended. The kids were in their tent, Justin and I in ours. I love the sound of rain on a tent. It’s one of my favorite sounds.
After the rain, Justin pulled out his pocket rocket and boiled us up some Velveeta Shells and Cheese. We had to share sporks and plates, but no one complained. We also did a little more hiking, which proved to be wet wet wet and muddy. The earth smelled so clean. I love a good rain storm.Notice all the kids squished onto one side of the tent...
Justin’s watch alarm went off at 6:30. Of course I was out cold and not wanting to get up, but we were on a schedule. We actually got packed up and back to the car by around 8:30. Not too bad for us Dittmers.