Monday, August 8, 2016

Gone Campin' ;)

Thursday afternoon, we packed up the van two hours later then planned and we were on our way to Rainier! Leaving behind the 86 degree weather of Brush Prairie, we were all ready to feel some cold mountain air. If the weather predictions were right, it would be reaching low 30s during the night at our little Ohanapecosh campsite :) Everyone had packed warmly in the event of that happening :) The campers were quite lively for the first part of the car trip, but by and by, they slowly faded into silence. When I looked at the seats all around me, I found that I was the only one of the kids still awake :)

We passed through the town of packwood, a kind of backwoods country town. Little old men stood at the gas station fueling their old trucks, clothes were hanging out on the lines to dry as we rolled through Packwood's farmland...we passed Packwood's little two-room college and an out-of-place looking "Great Wall of China" restaurant.
But it was the general store that we were bound for to purchase four bundles of firewood ;)
For some reason that day there seemed to be a large population of Model A's and old trucks rolling through town. Leisel tried not to look too longingly at every coffee shop we passed ;)

I began getting a little nervous as we neared our campsite because the temperature hadn't even dropped ten degrees from what it had been when we were back home :/ (but we did finally get our colder weather the very next morning;)
Our noses were immediately greeted by the smell of campfire smoke. Jonathon and I started counting the raindrops as we put together the tents.
Setting up camp this year was much easier then in years past since we were doing it in the light of day. By the time we had both of the tents set up and Austin had a good sized fire going, mom had the chili and cornbread already heated up. 

We finished dinner with just enough room left in our stomachs for a s'more and toasted marshmallow :) The kiddos were ready for some good ghost stories as the sun began to go down. For the next half hour, we older ones reached back into our memories and figured out the scariest ways of retelling old ghost stories. The mosquitoes put up a good fight that night attacking our small circle of campers.
The only thing that gave of us some relief was the smoke from the campfire that kept them away. Dad never could figure out why the camp smoke always seemed to follow him. It brought him little comfort to be reminded that smoke does follow beauty ;)

 As the fire slowly faded, we all decided it might be a good idea to head to bed a little earlier that night. Everyone quickly adjusted their sleeping bags in the dark and settled in for the night. Jonathon made a passing comment that he thought it had been a bad idea to stick the two tallest people in the family with their sleeping bags at either end of each other as his foot came in contact with the camper opposite of him.

There had been a running debate the previous night as to whether or not to put the fly on the tent. Everyone was relieved that the fly had won out when we woke up the next morning to a steady rainfall...It wasn't just pleasant little droplets falling from the sky either but large, intrusive boulders :)
Jonathon had woken up enough to start singing "Oh the weather outside is frightful..." None of us felt quite ready to brave the elements, so after exchanging a few words, we rolled over and went back to sleep. The rain had tapered off an hour later as we all began to slowly rise. But rain or shine, it's hard to have bad weather when you're all together as a family :)

Most of us have become full-fledged campers in a matter of four years! But there are still some that do not fully appreciate the romance of roughing it. We definitely get to see each other in our most unglorified states for those four days...without any make-up and no showers at all :D

It always looks like a family reunion is going on at our campsite :) 

Even after twenty-eight years, Dad still can't figure out why it takes 11 people so very long to make it out to the car :) But alas, we finally got all of those last minute things that we needed and we were off to go hiking. Leisel took out her iPod and piped John Denver songs in the car because Jonathon said that it was tradition to listen to that on the way up to our hikes.

We ended up taking two totally different routs on our hikes this year, both completely unplanned. Our first hike was to be up to Burrows. When we reached the turn off in the road, someone advised us that unless we had hiking sticks and the appropriate shoes, it was probably not very doable. There were several glaciers along the pathway with a rather steep drop-off on the side. The trail that we turned off on instead was equally lovely though. Although, the view was obscured at the top because of the dense fog. 

I love the differences in scenery between the two hikes that we take. Sunrise has a more kind of arid beauty that reminds me of cowboy country. Paradise, with its lush green hillsides covered in wildflowers, has some (literally) "heavenly" views :) There really is no way to describe it...It just leaves you breathless, wondering at the Creator who made all of this for me! 

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together." Psalm 34:1-3

Most of the family ended up taking a nap on the way back, but for some, the fear of a tired dad's driving kept them awake.
That night, there were few people willing to brave the cold temperatures of the creek below our campsite. But when you're keeping such close quarters, it does feel good to take a dip in the water to freshen up :) Austin always had a fire ready soon after we made it back up to our campsite - shivering. 
We came to the conclusion that we actually end up getting more sleep when we're out camping then we do at home. As soon as the sun began its descent, the tired campers began thinking about bed and started the process of retiring for the evening.

When we got up to Paradise the next day, the parking lots were completely packed and cars lined the street all the way down the hill. We drove down until we found a spot near the bottom and then began the long trek up.

Somehow along the way, our trail had been redirected and we ended up going a completely different rout then we usually take. We came across spots completely covered in snow where it was either slide by accident or just sit down and sled purposefully :)

At one point along the way, Austin seemed to be getting a little weary with the heavy load that he was carrying. When I offered to take a turn at carrying his backpack for him, he responded, "What I'm doing is wimpy compared to what they marines do. They run up these hills with their heavy backpacks. I'm just walking. So I'm training."

The view just kept getting lovelier as we reached a higher elevation and the snow-capped mountain rose into view...till suddenly we came face-to-face with the mountain! It was then that a few of these campers decided that one day they were gong to climb Mt. Rainier. The Lord had perfectly planned that moment, because just then we had a perfect view of Mt. Rainier, unobstructed by the fog. But as we began our descent, the fog began to roll in again and shroud out the mountain.

I've heard Washington described as looking somewhat similar to Switzerland. But I got to thinking about that on the hike, and I don't think you can compare the beauty of Washington to anywhere really! It has a very specific kind of stunning beauty (And Switzerland may share just a few of those aspects  ;)

As we reached the end of our hike, Jonathon stopped me to listen to something that he was hearing in the distance. Someone at the bottom of the mountain was playing Bonnie Prince Charlie on the bagpipes.

It seemed Sunday morning that the whole campground was emptying out.
 We're never really ready to leave when the time comes for it. But we left with the blessing of knowing that this is only our first vacation of the year...we have yet to enjoy the many wonderful traditions of Manzanita beach :)

When all thy mercies, O my God,
my rising soul surveys,
transported with the view, I'm lost
in wonder, love and praise.

O how shall words with equal warmth
the gratitude declare,
that glows within my ravished heart?
but thou canst read it there.

Thy bounteous hand with worldly bliss
hath made my cup run o'er;
and, in a kind and faithful Friend,
hath doubled all my store.

Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the last a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.

When nature fails, and day and night
divide thy works no more,
my ever grateful heart, O Lord,
thy mercy shall adore.

Through all eternity to thee
a joyful song I'll raise;
for, oh, eternity's too short
to utter all thy praise!

Mt. Rainer 2016 from Lynnae Spafford on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

An Overview of My Summer :)

It happens every time! I publish a new blogpost and then before I know it, another month has rolled by and it's time for another update ;) Alas, time goes by too fast and this past month has been extremely busy for all of us :)
So what is it that's been keepin' our household so busy, besides the normal "trying to stay out of trouble" that goes on around here ;) 

Let's see, first of all...Mom and Dad made a trip up to Victoria B.C. this past month to celebrate their 30th Anniversary :) They had the most amazing time getting to enjoy the beauty of the Butchart Gardens, the Craigdarroch castle, relaxing for a loving evening carriage ride, indulging in some of the finest foods around and just enjoying spending five days of uninterrupted time together! 

For three nights they stayed at the Abbeymoore Manor in Victoria BC. They were supposed to leave for Port Angeles on Thursday and get to Victoria by Friday. Dad spontaneously decided that Wednesday night they would head up to Port Angeles one day early. This would allow them to spend an extra day in Victoria B.C. Completely unprepared, mom rushed to get everything packed that night in only an hour. Leisel made all of the phone calls booking a room for them at the port, moving their ferry reservation forward, and calling the Abbeymoore Manor to let them know that mom and dad would be there an extra day :)

As it turned out, dad ended up taking a "short cut" to Port Angeles, and when they finally arrived at their lodgings at two in the morning, they found there was no one there to let them in to their they spent the night in the truck :) 
All adventure aside, they had a splendid time escaping for five days and celebrating their 30th Anniversary in Canada. :)

Only months ago, Chris was a declared bachelor becoming quite content with his single lot in life :) But one woman changed all of that for him in literally "the blink of an eye" ;) For years, we girls have talked about how wonderful Melinda is and how we would love to see her married. At the time though, Chris was completely blind to that fact and had never given her a thought ;) Then one day, in the Lord's perfect timing, (and with a little match-making going on at the church ;), the Lord opened Chris's eyes to see the wonderful lady that He had prepared for Chris.
Chris and Melinda's plans to take their relationship one day at a time didn't last for more then a week. Their first date together was on April 2nd and we are looking forward to their wedding on August 20th :D

We had a very special birthday to celebrate this June...Grandpa's 80th! Friday the 17th, we packed up our van, stuffed everyone inside and headed down to Redding California :)
We left behind the cold and rain looking forward to crossing the border of California and being greeted by sunshine :)

Around noon on Saturday, 40 people gathered together as a family to celebrate that very special birthday :) A wonderful barbecue had been prepared, and the evening turned out to be a wonderful time for everybody! 

For my dear family, this trip turned out to be a whirlwind trip for all of them as they turned around to head home on Sunday. For Leisel and me though, our time there had just begun. We stayed behind to spend some extra time with Grandpa and Grandma after everyone left.  :) 

It's been wonderful having Leisel off for these last few months of Summer! With no work, I've made sure that every minute that she isn't using to do her college work, we are spending together :) 

We always begin our trip at Grandma's by making a shopping trip to Railey's :) Of course, Leisel and I always double Grandma's grocery shopping list and she leaves the store looking like she's providing enough food for an army :) 

We took full advantage of Grandma and Grandpa's lovely porch view while we were there, taking every opportunity to sit out there. In the morning when the sun was just beginning to rise over the hills, we'd take our breakfast plates and our coffee cups and go sit out on the porch and talk for hours.

In the evening, when the day's heat had begun to cool off, we would bring out our second cups of coffee and relax for another while :) Grandpa and Grandma would tell us stories of their growing up or we'd take our competitive games of aggravation out there. Not a night went by when we didn't pull out the game of Aggravation. The oldies music would go on and two intense rounds would be played before we ended our evening. 

Dad's 7th grade teacher
Leisel and I tossed aside any thoughts of eating healthily while we were there, promising each other that when we got back home, our diets would begin ;) When that had been decided upon, I collected the ingredients for a Bailey's Cheesecake and that was the end of it :)

While we were there, we had a chance to visit our favorite spot at turtle bay's sundial bridge where we had a lovely view of the sun setting over the Sacramento River. Grandpa made sure that we got a ride in the rumble seat of his Mottle A as well :) We even had the opportunity to attend a local Redding baseball game :)

The house dad grew up in 
Grandpa also took us to the home where our dad grew up and the man that now lives there let us take a look around :) One of my favorite things that we did there was look through a very old box of Grandpa's. There were notes that he and his parents had written, letters from my dad when he was a boy, and so much more history :)

Eaten-house museum
We tried to be a little productive while we were there too so that we didn't spend the whole time playing around :D Grandma had us sort through some family pictures and attempt to organize some of them :) 
Finally, Monday morning, we began the eight hour car ride back to Washington :) 

We've had quite a few birthdays to celebrate over the summer months, resulting in an over-indulgence of cheesecake :)
Birthdays are no small matter here at the Spafford household. You will usually find the birthday
menu turns out to have at least five large courses, and the preparation starts early in the morning :)
(not that the birthday is centered around food and eating or anything like that ;)
We celebrated Charae's birthday right after returning from Redding, and mom's celebration followed soon after that. I knew it was time to get my cooking apron on...I had another full day ahead of me in the kitchen prepping for the birthday meal :-) Leisel and I worked together to prepare pork roast, crinkle cut fires, fingerling potatoes, and vegetables.
Jonathon contributed the bacon wrapped filet mignon. A coconut chocolate cheesecake was the finishing touch :-) 

The 4th of July is a large event in our family as well :) We have two picnics to get ready for that day and it's always a wonderful time to thank the Lord for the freedom that we enjoy here in America! 

Our celebration began the night before the 4th when we kids all sat down to watch "The Patriot". That night, the sky looked like it had been painted red, white and blue :) I think the Lord prepared that specially for the occasion :)

The next morning we prepared lunches for our church picnic and got the house ready for the barbecue that would follow afterwards :)

Eighteen people gathered with our family to celebrate this special day :)

We potlucked it with the meal :)

Following the meal were games of Frisbee, volleyball, corn bag toss, and boccie ball all going on at the same time :) 

Our evening ended with what has now become our annual 4th of July walk...we have our own little firework display going off in our neighborhood coming from all directions. 
Those who didn't participate in the walk sat out on the front lawn enjoying Portland's firework display :)

Annalise, Austin and Ania officially finished their school work at the beginning of May. We lost a little incentive at getting our "end-of-the-year presentations" completed :) Finally, one bright and sunny day, I got them all together and over the span of two days, we put together this little music video :) We try to have something fun to show the family after the kiddos have finished giving their poster board presentations :) Now, it's up to their teacher to prepare their after-school tea party ;) 

This Saturday, we took a 9 mile hike up to Hamilton Mt. The weather was perfect: cloudy and crisp :) It was a well rewarding hike when we reached the top, and even more rewarding when we all collapsed at Twilight Pizza for some well-earned pizza :)

Then of course, there are the happenings of last may have wondered before, what would a crazy redhead have on her bucket list? Well, how 'bout "sleeping in the back of a truck under the stars" for one ;) Last night, at 11:30, Leisel and I lugged two sleeping bags out to dad's truck, pulled the truck over to the perfect spot and set up camp :) It was all cloudy when we first came out, but as we laid there a little bit longer, the clouds rolled back and the sky lit up with the twinkling of the stars. Pretty soon, Leisel and I heard what sounded like music coming from Dad's window. Sure enough, Dad was holding up his phone to the window playing "God Bless the USA" and "I Drive Your Truck" :D added to the perfect atmosphere :)
Cinnamon, our little cat, kept guard over us all night ;) I think she was wondering what her crazy owners were up to :)

It's already the middle of the summer! I can't believe how quickly these last few months have sped by! And we have a crazy busy last few months of summer ahead of us. First on the schedule is our annual camping trip to Mt Rainier :-) Already, the food preparations have begun, the camp supplies will soon be taken out again, and the Spafford van loaded up for another great adventure:-)
Of course, following soon after that is our Summer Family Camp. We're looking forward to Pastor and Mrs. Huggins flying out from Japan to join us for that special time! Hope y'all are having a completely marvelous summer :)