“I Don’t Want to Be In SIGHT of Water!”

I did a very brave thing this week: I went tent camping with all four children, sans spouse, in Moran State Park on Orcas Island. This was my first trip to the San Juans, and I was just a little bit intimidated by the idea.

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Yes, intimidated. Despite what you see here.

Granted, it was in a group that, counting my brood, included 8 women and 20+ children, so we weren’t exactly lacking for company. But it was still on me to do the packing, prep, transport, set-up, etc. by myself.

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The ferry ride was spectacularly beautiful.
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Several members of our group were on our ferry.
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Just a weeeee bit excited.
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Welcome to Orcas Island!

Okay, the kids helped some. In fact, the three big kids are capable of packing their bags by themselves, and Jeff and William even set up their little tent all by themselves. Bringing the second tent was Brian’s last-minute idea, and it was a brilliant one. It was much easier for everyone to have the extra room.

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Our campsite
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The view looking out from our campsite.

Having a big bunch of kids to play with was rather brilliant, as well. The group campsite at Moran is wonderfully secluded: a circle of campsites surrounded by forest. The kids all skipped off to play and make forts in the trees while the adults talked or got food made. (My contribution was pulled pork sandwiches for dinner on Monday.) My kids are all old enough to wander freely on their own without me worrying about them too much, and it was great to give them that kind of freedom.

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Who needs a campfire when you have a baby?

Jeff insisted on bringing a bunch of different card games (like Munchkin), which I was skeptical about, but the three big kids got swept up in long games while the littles built their fort.

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The rest of our time was spent hiking up to Twin Lakes . . .

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With 30 people in the group, we got pretty spread out on the trail
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Eleanor was very kind to Katie on the return hike

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The water was crystal-clear straight to the bottom of the lake. William kept saying it “was just like pieces of broken glass,” as astonished as if he were the first person to come up with that simile.
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The view from our picnic spot

. . . and having a picnic on the shore. We turned back early (for a 4.5 mile hike) while the rest of the group continued up the hill to Mt. Constitution (for a 7.5 mile hike). My kids didn’t want to hike that long, and I was exhausted from not sleeping well the first night. Nap time and card games seemed a lot more fun than hiking up a mountain.

Feeling refreshed, we headed off to the beach on the shores of Cascade Lake later that afternoon.

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Overpriced but delicious ice cream
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Our friends let us borrow their float toys
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Umm . . . my kids are somewhere in this photo

The water was so cold! I couldn’t wade in more than the top of my legs, but the kids dove right in. Lest you fear that I was bored, I should remind you that I had a book and there was an ice cream stand nearby.

I slept much better the second night, which was great, because packing up camp is not nearly as much fun as setting it up.

We paid a visit to Mount Constitution ourselves before going back home. This was easy for us because you can just drive up there.

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That’s Mt. Baker in the distance. The air was clear enough that we could see Vancouver.
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Gorgeous.
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The “castle” was built as a military installation
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It isn’t a vacation unless you eat ice cream every day.
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Poor William. He hated being crammed in the back of the van with all the sleeping bags.

Aren’t the views spectacular? I love the breezy, emerald-and-azure world of the San Juans. I’m already looking forward to a return trip.

However pleasant my feelings about the location, it was right about then that my children’s tolerance for exhaustion snapped. Katie threw a full-blown temper tantrum in the gift shop because I wouldn’t buy her a stuffed animal; the other three began to alternate between bickering over trivial things and acting hyper. I was more than happy to cram everyone in the van and race down the mountain to catch the return ferry home.

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Mt. Baker in the background again. It looked far larger and impressive in real life.

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Think that was enough adventure for one week? OH HO HO HO.

No.

On Thursday we were invited to a pool party hosted by one of Katie’s preschool friends. My kids got to spend a solid two hours in a swimming pool, with the big kids taking turns springing off the diving board. (They are much braver than I was as a kid. I hated diving boards. Eleanor, on the other hand, spent time trying to dive deep enough to touch her feet at the bottom of the 12′ pool. She succeeded; it made her ears hurt.)

(Yeah, sorry, no pictures of this event. I was too busy finishing my read of Eva Ibbotson’s The Morning Gift, which is a perfect summer poolside read.)

That evening I looked at the weather report and realized that this week was our last chance the temperature would be warm enough to visit the Denny Creek Waterslide. As much as I would have liked to spend a day catching up on the now-insane piles of laundry, I packed up our beach towels once again.

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The Denny Creek Waterslide is a place where a mountain stream in Snoqualmie Pass pours over a large outcropping of slickrock, creating a natural slip-n-slide. Although the storebought slip-n-slide probably doesn’t cause as many torn swimsuits and scraped ankles.

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This and the following pictures give the impression that we had the place mostly to ourselves. This could not be further from the truth. The place was crawling with people, and quite a few dogs as well. (Katie loved seeing the doggies.)
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Go Wimmy, Go! Scrape that ankle up!
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Katie handed me no fewer than five favorite rocks to carry home in my backpack
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That red stuff is algae; it’s what makes the rocks so slippery
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Eleanor and William both dipped themselves in a pool up to their necks, which I thought absolutely crazy. That water was so cold it made my feet ache.

Eleanor and William loved cruising down the rocks. Katie slipped and fell on her first attempt and then refused to try it again, but spent time hovering near the action, collecting rocks (something she’s always loved to do).

Jeff gave the waterslide one try and then declared the water too cold. (It was incredibly cold, so I don’t blame him, but I’m sad that he was bored while the other kids were playing.)

It takes an hour to drive to the Denny Creek trailhead, and another hour to hike the mile to the waterslide. Add two hours of splash-time to that, and with the return journey, this becomes an all-day affair. It’s easily the most exhausting and time-consuming of our various summer outings, but I still look forward to doing it again next year.

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They LOOK cute, but they made the hike back to the car take twice as long as the way there.

Well, maybe. When William found out that our Saturday would be spent at Golden Gardens Beach for a friend’s birthday party, he declared it to be the last straw. “I don’t want to do anything with water — I am sick of being in the water! No lakes, no pools, no rivers, no ocean. I do not even want to be in SIGHT of water!” It’s okay, kid, it was way too breezy to even think about getting wet.

This was a science-themed birthday for our friend, D. His mom (my friend M.) did an incredible job of coming up with science experiments for the kids to do. Just when I thought we’d finished, she pulled another activity out of the box. I was totally impressed.

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The ol’ Mentos-in-the-Coke experiment. Katie’s arms are inside her dress because it was rather nippy that day. Eleanor is wearing a “lab coat” that was in her goody bag.

And then I collapsed. Never have I needed a nap so badly. The only thing that got me up again was knowing that the Puget Sound Dahlia Association was having their annual show in my neighborhood, and I wanted to go and take a gander with Brian.

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Truffula trees — I mean, dahlias — look too perfect to be real.
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I love how this one was outlined with red.
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Plant terminology cracks me up for how obtuse it is.

 

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I am going to nap so hard when school begins this fall.

 

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