Saturday, September 21, 2013

Unexpected Pleasures, aka, the Silver Lining in a Wet Cloud

Days 5 and 6,  Friday and Saturday, August 23-24 (having been written on Day 6)

Oh, where to start!

I'm not going to start at the beginning. I'm going to start right now. I'm sitting in a cabin! A cabin that's not where we planned to be. And the power is out!

Our lovely van outside the Jacob Lake cabin
Joe, Elsie, Clara, Sophie, and John are at a talk on the Navajo, particularly focusing on the weaving and other handicrafts of the women. Louisa and Rachel took a walk around the lake, and it took them longer than they thought it would, so they were late for the talk. Instead, they shopped at the gift shop and then came to the cabin all tuckered out and ready for bed, and grinning ear to ear. I was here with Inge and Donna and we were playing a Pictionary Card Game I picked up at Wal-Mart today in anticipation of the rainy weather.

But what about Stella, you may ask. Where is Stella?

She is here with me now. But a little bit ago, when the power was still up and running, she had been with Joe at the Navajo talk.

A few minutes ago, Inge, Donna and I were sitting in our cabin playing our card game. Suddenly everything was pitch black. And at the same moment, there was a knock at the door. We were all a bit befuddled, trying to figure out where the lights were, and where the sleeping bags and tote bags were, compared to the walkway.  And who would be knocking at the exact moment the power went off.  All I could do in answer to the knock, in the dark, in a strange place, was to holler, "I'm coming, just a minute."

Fortunately, I had left the door unlatched. And in tumbled Stella. She had become bored at the talk, so Joe said she could come back to the cabin. She was walking back here all alone, in a strange forest, through the roads and paths of an unfamiliar inn and cabin facility. Thankfully, she was just about here when the power went off, so she could find her way all right! Poor little goose. She didn't seem too phased, which I suppose it good. Inge was kind of freaked out, so she crawled into bed with Louisa and Rachel until her heart stopped racing.

We got the littles all jammied by the glow of Sophie's dollar store LED lantern. They crawled into their bed on the floor of the cabin. We sang I am Jesus Little Lamb and Jesus Loves Me. We said prayers. Besides our regular nightly prayers, we thanked God for the blessing of this cozy little cabin, in which we can sit out tonight's storms.

We prayed for Matt, as we've been doing each night all summer long. But this time we included his birthday prayer. His birthday was really a few days ago, but with not much for schedule these days, we'd forgotten it was his birthday. We always say a special birthday prayer for each of our children on their birthdays. We thank God for the precious gift of the child, and his or her particular personality. And we ask God's blessing on the coming year. Particularly, we ask that according to His tender Mercy and Wisdom, God grant us another year with that child.

Now everyone under my immediate care is tucked in tenderly, so I have time to write. To share the excitement of the evening, and to talk about the wonders of the last few days.

Yesterday morning, we were still in South Dakota, in the lovely Black Hills.  We woke the kids early and rolled everyone out of their sleeping bags and bedding. And yes, there were a few whom we quite literally rolled out. They all worked very busily to get the bedding rolled up and the tents taken down. I packed the van, which job traditionally falls to me. I'm a pretty good packer. I learned from my dad, a Navy man and an excellent packer. Joe finds packing very frustrating, trying to make everything fit. I find it kind of a fun puzzle. But I'm also discovering that, well, I'm not as young as I used to be. It's kind of a drag, really. the getting old thing. I want to be tough and be able to work hard and stand anything. But by the time I get the van loaded and unloaded a few times in a few days, I am pretty much worthless. I'm sure that it's mostly my age. But I'm secretly blaming the altitude. That must be it, right? I can fool myself into believing that were I simply vacationing in Minnesota, I'd be just as spry as in years past.  Or maybe it's the bruises all along my hips and rib cage from sleeping on the deflated air mattress.  Or maybe all of the above.  But mostly the altitude.

We had gotten the van mostly loaded the night before, and slept in our traveling clothes. And we'd planned to eat breakfast at a stop later on our way. We didn't want to mess with a fire that morning, and we knew as damp and chilly as it had gotten, nobody would want to eat cold cereal at 6:00 am. (We have done that before and trust me, it's really, really no fun. For the parents or the children.).  So all we had to do that morning was roll up sleeping bags and take down the tents.  And pack said sleeping bags and tents.  Just a quick morning pack-up.  Ten sleeping bags; six or eight other quilts and blankets; pillows for all; and two tents.

We ended up stopping at a rest are in Wyoming to eat breakfast. There was another family there at the same time, doing the same thing. They were a young couple, with six small children. It was fun to visit and to be able to encourage another younger couple. We certainly remember those days when the number of littles was still far too great compared to the number of bigs. It's a very difficult time, but so worth the work.

We traveled many beautiful miles yesterday, through the southwestern Black Hills area, diagonally across Wyoming, and on into Utah. We listened to Ann of Green Gables as we drove.

We arrived at the Hamilton's house for our evening sleep-over at about 8:00 pm. They are in the middle of preparing for a move to Wisconsin! In just a few days! When we found out, we made other plans, to travel a different route instead and see a few different sites. But they encouraged us that they were game for a little bit more crazy yet. I'm not sure they really were, but we totally understand. Their children were kind and welcoming, and they all made every effort to accommodate us even through they were in such an upheaval. We are thankful for this very great offering. And we understand, too, their desire to have us stop. They are a pastor's family, too. And we understand the sense of gratitude that comes with a visit from another pastor's family. It's always a treat. I'm glad Aaron and Joe had those few hours to visit and build each other up in their Holy Callings.

We got up and left kind of quickly this morning. We had to run back in once, just before we pulled out for a pair of flip-flops; and then we circled back a few blocks away from their house because a certain one of us remembered she had left her pillow. This time, when pulling out, we immediately got lost. Not really lost, lost. But mixed up anyway, to the point that Joe and I had differing ideas of where to go.

But that was soon resolved and we hit the road. I was quite bleary-headed the first hour or two. Just felt in a total fog. Joe drove until he felt groggy and then he pulled off at a truck stop/travel center. He parked way out away from everything, thinking since I was so befuddled, we'd just sit awhile and let the kids run a bit and he could nap. But by the time we got everyone pottied and bought some snacks, and one of the older daughters painter her toe nails in the truck stop parking lot, I was fully awake and ready to roll.

What a beautiful drive we had this day!  Since our destination for the day was the North Rim area of the Grand Canyon, we listened to Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry as we traveled.  We saw view after view of colorful cliffs, lonely looking draws, majestic rim rock, rugged gullies, and mountains and valleys of every shape and color.

The weather continued wet, alternating storm and sun throughout the day. We wound and climbed and coasted and braked. We took time to pull off the highway and photograph the vistas. We drove like old folks, meandering slowing and pulling off to let others pass us when necessary.

John leaving Utah

And so South through Utah, and into Arizona.

And entering Arizona
But with the continuing dreary weather, we really did not feel up to setting up our leaky, somewhat primitive tents. I didn't feel strong enough to deal with a three day cycle of hauling wet bedding to the laundry mat or hanging it all on our clothesline to try to dry between showers. So we just drove. Without worrying. When the kids asked, we'd answer along the lines of, "We don't know yet we'll have to wait and see."  It's always a challenge to find lodging for a group this size. If places have the space available, they often want us to get two or three rooms. Some places even require an adult in each room.  That's really challenging when they sometimes want to put us in three rooms.

We had reservations for three nights in the National Forest Campground, at the Jacob Lake area, about 40 miles north of the North Rim.  When we arrived, we consulted with the nice lady at the Forest Service information desk about the weather forecast and the various options available for lodging.  She said the weather was expected to continue much the same for the next several days, rain and storms with only a bit of sun peeking through.  She called the Inn area nearer the Rim to check on their prices and space availability.
Then I went next door to the lodging complex at Jacob Lake. I had read they had hotel, motel, and cabin options. When I asked at the desk, and explained about our large family, they were very helpful, even recommending we could all squeeze into one cabin, if we put sleeping bags between the beds and in the hallway area. Wow! I was astounded! Rarely have I had anyone encourage me to get fewer rooms! They usually cite fire code or company policy, etc, to get us into more rooms rather than fewer.

And so we had a lovely, relaxing evening. We had to eat cold supper, since there is no cooking of any sort in or outside of the cabins.  But we all filled up on a variety of good things. Sophie took the littles to the playground. Louisa and Rachel took their walk, and Elsie and Clara did dishes. I got the food put away, and the bedding organized for later.   Joe downloaded today's photos. 

The Main Room

Here's a view of the main room of the cabin.  Joe and I in one bed; Louisa, Rachel, and Elsie in another; we put a sleeping bag on each side of the beds and in between, which were occupied by Clara, Sophie, and John.

The Alcove

But that's not all, ... We still had three more kids to bed down.  Here's the little alcove where we made a bed for the remaining three.

A view of the other cabins and the forest setting

The back deck

Later in the evening, those that were interested headed to the cultural talk.  Joe is still there now, at 9:51.  He must have found a kindred spirit in somebody there. By now, the kids who had been at the talk with Joe are back.  They came in almost an hour ago and brought word that he was staying for the discussion afterward.

Everyone here is nicely settled in. The power is not yet on, and I'm at the end of my tales thus far.

Hope all is well with you, my readers.  Goodnight.

No comments: