Sunday, July 31, 2011

Ward Campout, A.k.a. Toad Fest 2011

We now bring you back to our regularly scheduled programming. Man, it feels good to have Martin's Cove off the to-do list. I may be slow sometimes, but at least I get things done. Boo-yah.

This weekend we went to our ward campout. I actually missed an hour or so of it, because I went back to retrieve the forgotten bassinet. (Which was a good choice, Pearl would have been lost without boundaries for sleeping.) While I was gone, stuff was happening. Like:

Pearl cuddling with Stephen

Pearl doesn't cuddle with just anyone, so those who receive her affections should feel special. (I know I always do.)

Snowcones and Facepainting

The Toad*

It looks like the toad was found and at first people were hesitant to touch it. Here they are watching and he is jumping away.

And then poking at him, because that is what kids do.

But by the time I arrived, he was in hand and didn't leave hands until he pooped. Then they dropped him til' he was done and picked him up again. He was the hit for sure. I guess June found him, because she named him Jumper and graciously let other children hold him. (Although I heard many complaints that she did not let people hold him long enough.) She looked like a little gang leader, traipsing around with a pack of kids following her. (Like little ducklings.) I wish I had gotten a picture, because it was hilarious. Nothing draws children like wildlife you can hold.

She really wanted everyone to touch it. Some of the moms were not so cooperative, but Pearl didn't know any better.

June was sad when we finally made her put the toad down. (Actually, he might have been a large frog, I don't really know the distinguishing features.) We had a camp devotional and s'mores. Then right before bed, when most of the kids were tucked in, a be's'mored ecstatic face pushed through the tent. "Look, I got another one, and it squeaks!"

Sure enough, this second toad, rightfully named 'Squeaky' did in fact make a little chirrup. (He sounded like a soft squeaky toy.) She was so thrilled. Tyler told her to put him back, but she only came back carrying two. "They both squeak!!" She named the last one 'Squish' because that is how his insides feel. (Her words, not mine.) She was so sad to put them back and she asked me multiple times, once she was in her sleeping bag, if we could keep one.

Also a hit of the campout was Moxy. We didn't want to leave her at home, so she came with. She is such a good little dog that stays close and is very patient with the kids. I think people probably get annoyed that she isn't on a leash most of the time, but I find that just makes it easier for the kids to choke her. (Or keep her captive.)

All in all, it was a good time. Pearl seemed to be a good sleeper, but in the morning, she wasn't interested in doing anything. No breakfast, no walking around. She wanted to be held, or she wanted to snuggle with her bear. She stills sucks on one finger when she is tired or going to sleep, and always while holding onto her bear's arm.

I think it is important for us to make it to these ward campouts, because I am not the outdoorsy type and the girls need some exposure to camping before heading to Girl's Camp. Maybe I need to pack the girls up and send them off for a camping weekend with Tyler...

*No toads were harmed in the posting of this blog.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Three River Crossings: The End of the Trek

After lunch on Saturday, we were headed back towards camp.

I love the sky in this picture
Vineyard 2nd trekkers, or is that trekkies?

However, there were several rivers we needed to cross to get there. I really believe the feelings that attended these crossings were so different than the last. Firstly, we weren't supervised. Before, there were people standing by and a rope. This time, it was good luck and try not to lose any children. Secondly, we were allowed to make noise. It wasn't like we were out there yelling up a storm, but there was much frivolity with each crossing. At the end, the children and adults played in the water a bit before we hiked the short distance to camp. There was so much camaraderie, and trust. Men helped wherever they were needed and friend assisted friend. I noticed this even with the young boys. We encountered a large puddle of mud.

Very large mud puddle

Like the sky and the little boys on the fence here

I think it was Christian Fairbanks who just scooped June up and carried her across.

Go Christian

This was common between everyone this second day. We needed to rely on each other.

So we came to our first river.

Assessing the descent

Pioneer Moms always on watch

The drop was surprising.

Tyler may have ripped his pants on a cart

It took a little extra strength from the men to balance the carts, but they did a good job.

Happy Riders
Check out the caked mud on the wheels (by the way, none of our carts broke down, ever)

Then they would haul those babies across the river; sometimes at surprising speeds. I believe Eni and Scott are laughing here because the bishop didn't realize the cart was going so fast and he took a quick bath and almost got run over.

I think they are laughing with him...maybe

Darren W. Jake F. Scott R.

Ease that cart down

Like I said, it was a fun time. And the kids were doing well.

Slightly puffy-faced Robyn

Energetic June

Sleepy Daisy

Ives kept Pearl company. I think Pearl was talking to her.

June actually walked most of the time. She even let me hold her hand.


The second river was even easier to cross because we were experienced now, and there wasn't quite as much trouble getting into the drink.

That might be Christian again, I'm not sure
I love these mother/baby shots. They touch my heart. (Sunny and Ashley)

Another mother/baby combo (Chelsea and Grant)

Waiting in line to cross

Even the little ones helped...way to go Seth

I was impressed with how well everyone was taking it. I mean, check out Grant Rice...I think he slept through all three crossings.

Sweet dreams of a hot bath I am sure

This wagon held a special story. Bro. Toone had knee surgery shortly before the trek.

TJ, Emery, Anabelle, Josie, and Jordan Toone

He did the first day fine because he had a special cart, but he wasn't going to do the second day because he knew that he would be a burden on someone's cart. TJ especially, but many others as well, insisted that he come, and TJ was proud to pull him along with his daughters. Everyone deserved to be there to experience the good and the bad. And we all knew that had Bro. Toone been whole, he would have pulled as hard as the next man.

There was a short hike before coming to the third river. I was impressed how the trail seemed to change. One minute we were on a trail, then rock, then tall grass.

Don't look closely, but I think THAT flag is right-side up

It kept it interesting. I love this picture. Since you can't see Sunny's face, I feel this could be any pioneer mom with her baby.

Pioneer women were amazing

Finally, river number three.

Last one guys

Like I said, people were feeling the end of the trek near, and mothers let children romp in the water.

I didn't get to walk in the water; Tyler carried me because I had the camera

Judging by Sierra, it might be a little chilly

Most of the time people ignored me and my camera, but every once in a while, someone took notice.

Silly Beaner
Love little David

Deborah and Jon were the last two to cross the river. It was sweet that he carried her.

Bro. Fairbanks was the bishop when we moved in; I still have great respect for him

And then it was over. We were all across. There were smiles everywhere you looked.

Camp is right around the corner
She is smiling because I told her to, not because we were almost done

There was a sense of accomplishment hanging in the air. I carried Pearl for a little while at the end.

Pearl, you did awesome

She too had succumbed to the exhaustion. We trekked the last short distance back to camp and then everyone packed up and headed home. We said a short prayer back at camp, but it started to rain a little and everyone was anxious to be on their way. Plus, it was another six hours in the car.

Yeah, me too Ivory, but I was driving

So, there you have it. What did I tell you, lots of pictures huh? But these are my memories, and all these pictures take me right back. I was proud to trek with those people. If I had been a pioneer, I would have wanted those same people by my side. I sometimes feel that like-people are asked to serve together during different dispensations of the gospel. The women I know now inspire me tremendously, even if they don't necessarily know how to milk a cow, hand-stitch a quilt-top, or bake bread from three ingredients. We are given different talents and different trials in our time now. I hope I am brave in my own right, and can be an example to those who come after me.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Quiet River Crossing and the Women's Pull

In the afternoon on Friday, we reached a river. I am not sure if it is the same river that features in the famous story about the three boys who carried all the people across in the frozen water. There was a memorial statue nearby of some men, but my pictures didn't turn out. Either way, this first river we crossed was meant to be a ponderous occasion. They had three men carry a loved one across. (Eric Neilsen carried Camille across, Ryan Darrow carried his daughter and Grant Mendenhall carried Laura.)

Eric and Camille, Ryan and Emma

Then the whole company crossed quietly in memory of those brave boys who sacrificed for their families and neighbors.

Can you see Tyler back on the bank talking to our chiclets?
The water was not deep, but there was a current

Balani and I pushed our hand-cart through the water and then I watched as Tyler brought Ivory and then Robyn across.

Dad and Ivory

June opted to walk next to her father.

Almost the last to cross

It was a very emotional crossing. The spirit was palpable and even the children could sense the tenderness of the moment.

Camille carrying Savanah with Kellie and Liz behind

After the crossing, we simply had to walk back to the area where we first picked up the hand-carts. There was one steep hill that took some maneuvering and momentum. Balani and I manned the cart while Tyler helped several hand-carts up the hill. My feet were wet and I developed some blisters before we made it back to the car. I can only assume that the pioneers were walking on large calluses by the time they were finished.

We drove back to camp and had another large, filling meal. Even with all the great food, the entire camp was worn out. And lest we forget, there were a billion mosquitoes. Supposedly they sprayed the camp each evening, but I didn't notice a difference. Or maybe there were usually more, in which case, I shudder to think how many there could have been. The insect repellent we used did practically nothing. I was watching my children be eaten alive. I saw one land on Robyn's face and I couldn't get to her in time. (She had a swollen cheek the next day.) There was supposed to be a devotional that evening, but I was done. In fact, I kid you not, if home had been closer, we would have left that very night. I bundled all my children into our tent and we all went to bed early. Tyler and I discussed leaving, but we wanted to last the whole time and we knew that six hours in the car would be miserable, and so we stayed. I'm really glad we did.There were others who did not last or were called away for other reasons. It was noticeable the next day that we weren't all there. And Saturday turned out to be the best day. I was sorry for those who left.

*A lesson I learned from Friday night: There will be those times where it doesn't seem worth it to go any further. It seems easier to pack up and leave, or avoid the hardships altogether. But the blessings do not come without the trial. And perhaps what seems like a impossible task will be possible with some divine help. And almost guaranteed, you will have learned something and grown stronger by the end.

Saturday morning dawned (with Pearl sleeping through the night) and we were ready to go again. Here is our group.

Top Row: Henry, Balani, Maleen (and Pearl), Tyler. In the wagon: Ivory, June, Teancum, Daisy, Robyn

This time we were leaving right from our camp site since we were doing the river trail.

There is bird perched on the sign

There was some talk of rain and it was plenty overcast the entire day, but that gave us relief from the sun and it only sprinkled on us a few times. However, the mosquitoes were out in full force. Day 2 I put Pearl in her carseat and draped a blanket over her and that was a pretty good shield. I wanted to have my hands free to take pictures and I knew that mosquito watch was a full-time job.

We trekked on and enjoyed the cooler morning. I still felt like everyone was very optimistic and helpful. One of the best parts of the trek was being with our ward family. We already knew we could count on these people. They got our back.

The Fairbanks clan was always one cart away
They may look bored, but they are having the time of their life

The scenery was fantastic
Moore and Tumanuvao cart. Charlotte was the youngest baby there (3 months old)

We hiked until we came to our first river, but we used a bridge there. However, before crossing, we stopped for a snack (big surprise) and we listened to a short devotional. This was probably the first devotional that I was actually sitting down for. And can I remember any of it? No. But that is how things usually are; you remember your feelings about an experience rather than all the details. Plus, I was still busy defending five children from a hoard of mosquitos. (Why didn't our repellent work? I should have brought a bottle of pure Deet.)

Waiting for the devotional, I caught Robyn scratching one of her dozen bites

The next large event was the women's pull. There was a time when the men were called away to help in battles. (I can't tell you which ones, because I am not so great on the history and I am too tired to look it up right now.) As the men left, the women were required to take on the load they left behind. They pulled. And we were given the chance to pull the hand-carts as women and children only. But it wasn't good enough to have the sisters pull alone; they had us pull the hand-carts up a very steep incline. The men went ahead to higher ground where they could watch. They were not allowed to help.

The men seemed to stand apart so they could each have their own experience

It was a great moment down below as a sister talked to us about how strong the women were, and had to be, to survive the hardships of the trail.

Women gathered in strength

And our women were strong. We pulled all those carts up the hill. My hand-cart was the last one up.

Deborah, Balani, Sunny

A sister, Camille, Chelsea, and Chelsea (in back)

Deborah, Jamee, Mary Anne and Melissa (in back)

Ginger, Olivia, Aubry, Deanne (in back)

Julie, Sloane, Laura

Maleen, Iryne, Sunny and Lindsay Toone (in back)

The children were a great help too and many women came back to help with other carts

It wasn't easy, but I think we all felt a strong sense of accomplishment when we reached the top.

Melissa Rice and Trent look back on the hill as do Daisy and I

And then we ate lunch, of course. Really though, I should stop making fun of the amount of food we had. It was a blessing to eat well and keep our strength up, and I am sure the kids were much happier with full bellies. Here are some pictures we took around lunch time.

Good Ole Randy Bohn

Our ward with Bishop on the right

Ivory snuggled in the cart

Not a bad looking family

Tomorrow, the river be continued.