Happy campers

A couple of weeks ago when my husband’s folks came for a visit we took Jonathan on his first camping trip ever. It was great fun sitting around the camp fire enjoying each other’s company and eating some delicious steak and foil vegetables (basically any veggies you want chopped and tossed together in tin foil with whatever seasonings/marinades you want cooked for about half an hour in really hot campfire coals). My husband and I have always enjoyed camping and we chose to camp at Bowman Lake, which I’ve mentioned before as being a pretty special place to us. So we packed up enough stuff to go on a trip for a month (at least it felt that way) and moseyed up the North Fork.

Of course the menfolk began the camping trip with the necessary task of building the fire (and also spent the rest of the evening doing the unnecessary task of tinkering with the fire constantly… if I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that Nebraska men are stubborn and ornery and you can’t tell ’em a thing, so tinker on, boys!)

My mother-in-law, my son, and I had the important task of managing the fire building.

This photo was clearly taken BEFORE trying to sleep in a tent with a baby. We were happier campers in the evening than in the morning (though it was still fun, regardless).

Dinner was delicious. Can’t beat a Nebraska steak.

Here’s my husband in his natural habitat: Enjoying whiskey by the fire while camping.

After dinner we put Jonathan down to sleep in the tent. We put our sleeping bags on either side of the little nest we made for Jonathan out of blankets and quilts. I wasn’t comfortable putting him in a sleeping bag because I didn’t want him to scoot down inside it and have trouble breathing. Shawn and I knew it would be an interesting night, though, because the three of us don’t sleep well in the same room, er, tent. Jonathan has never shared a room with us, so we tend to wake each other up when we share a room.

As I always do when camping, I purposefully didn’t drink much water so I wouldn’t have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I always get creeped out at night when camping, though it’s a bit silly to think I’m safer in the tent than outside of it. If the bear wants to eat me, he’ll just come in the tent to get me. Alas, that little avoid going to the bathroom plan failed. Jonathan woke up about 3 a.m. and had to be nursed back to sleep. And then of course I had to go to the bathroom. But my thoughtful husband kindly set off the car alarm on accident and scared all of the critters in a 10-mile radius away so it was safe to stumble down to the vault toilet. He also woke the entire campground, I think. Though come morning we overheard the camp host berating some Australians (yes, they had the flag) for leaving their food outside all night (that’s pretty idiotic in bear/cougar/wolf country), and decided we saved the Australians from being some bear’s midnight snack.

Jonathan woke back up about 6 a.m. screaming and again we awoke the entire campground (I’m sorry!). As you can see from the picture below I’m not quite as happy a camper as I was the night before. Jonathan, however, is his smiley self.

So that was our camping trip. We are looking forward to camping with our son in the future, but I think we’re going to wait another year or two for the next trip.

 

 

 

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A wedding present

One of my oldest and dearest friends got married this past weekend and I was a bridesmaid in her wedding (she was a bridesmaid in mine). Elise and I have known each other since eighth grade. The first time we met was on the bus ride home from middle school. I didn’t enjoy sitting in the back of the bus with the other eighth graders because they were loud, obnoxious, and derived far too much enjoyment from shouting “PENIS” at the top of their lungs during the bus ride (most of those people are now lovely adults who I enjoy far much more than I did then). So I sat in the very front seat with the lowly sixth graders. But hey, I was always the first person off the bus. Anyway, here is the first conversation Elise and I had (keep in mind that until the very end of high school Elise weighed about 80 pounds soaking wet):

Elise: Can I sit with you?
Me: Sure, but just so you know, I’m an eighth grader. (She was so tiny I figured she was a sixth grader. Man, I was pompous back then!)
Elise (all about 4 feet 9 inches of her at that point): Me too! I’m reading “Les Miserables”!

And thus, a wonderful friendship was born. Elise and I spent many pleasant passing periods together in high school because we had many of the same classes (she always did a shuffle-dance impatiently while I took my sweet time at my locker… we were still on time to class, though!). We also got together after school and on weekends for tea and chats and filming the occasional ridiculous home movie complete with costumes (usually involving the three musketeers along with our friend Melissa). “Vive le signe de trois! Un pour tout! Tout pour un!”

Here’s a photo of said ridiculous costumes. I’m on the left, little Elise in the middle, Melissa on the right. This was taken in high school French class our senior year (those are soda bottles!). We all dressed up for, I think Mardi Gras, and throughout the day people in the halls during passing period would say: “So you’re the third musketeer!” or “Where’s the other one?”

Yes, we were THOSE people in high school. But hey, it was fun. We were well-adjusted, not-very-angsty teenagers, which apparently these days is saying a lot.

After graduation, Elise went to Minnesota for school and I to Nebraska. We started writing each other letters regularly (snail-mail letters with stamps even! 😉 ), and to this day, we continue the tradition. The contents of our letters has changed, but our friendship has only deepened over the years. It is a relationship I profoundly thankful for. It always makes my day when I find one of Elise’s letters in my mailbox.

So for Elise’s wedding, because she is the sort of person to appreciate something handmade, I embroidered a camping scene. She and her husband love to camp and hike and climb. The words on the embroidery are from the Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros song “Home.”

It took about a month of steadily working on it a little bit before bed every night, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. It was a lot of fun to make a wedding present for my dear friend.

To you, Elise! Congratulations! Lutefisk!

 

 

Beautiful Bowman

Bowman Lake in Glacier National Park is a special place to my husband and me. It’s the first place we ever camped together (we love camping). It’s also the first place we camped in Glacier Park. It’s the place where our engagement photos were shot. And it’s the place we took our son Jonathan on his first trip to Glacier.

Of course he loved it. See? What a happy boy. We think he enjoyed seeing the lake. He’s really started to LOOK at things, to take them in. It’s a very cool thing to watch him learn.

While we were there, I snapped this photo of two tree swallows hanging out by the lake.

Today Jonathan will be baptized into the United Methodist Church. Though I want Jonathan to someday make his own decisions about his relationship with God, he will be raised in the church. I will give him the jumping off point, and he can find his own spot to land. Our pastor suggested we get some water from a local body of water (northwest Montana is a lake district) that holds special significance. So of course we chose Bowman. We filled a mason jar with water flowing from the lake into Bowman Creek, at the lake’s end and the creek’s beginning. We are passing on the significance of this place to our son, but want him to experience his own journey. We are the lake, he is the creek.

Shawn and I decided that we’re going to start an annual camping trip with our children (yes, we’re planning on another kiddo… but not for a while so don’t get all excited!) at Bowman Lake. We want to share that special place with them. Of course we’ll go other places in Glacier Park, but we’ll always visit Bowman (how convenient that the Polebridge Merc and its amazing huckleberry turnovers are on the way!). Shawn and I want to teach our children to be stewards of the land. We want them to feel the same sense of wonder we do in the forests of Glacier National Park, and in the grasslands of Nebraska. We hope to teach our children that they are a part of the world, unique and wonderful, but also tiny, ethereal, and only existing but a moment in the grand stretch of time.