In about 10 days, I’m leaving for a road trip clear across the country. I’m heading to Grand Teton National Park and then driving through Native American lands to take pictures for a project I’m working on. One of the perks of my day job is that I get to go on excursions and trips for work. You all know my love of travel and it meets a deep-seeded need of mine to just go. In all honesty, if I don’t travel, I get angst ridden and restless. It’s like I have to fill a wandering well to be able to make it through the next stretch of stability before I wander again.
The downside of my work-related wanderlust is that I often leave the children behind. There will come a time when they’re capable of sitting in a car for 12 hours a day for several days on end, but now is not that time. Knowing that I’m going to miss Parker’s last 2 out of 3 weeks of summer, I decided to keep him home from camp for the 2 weeks before my trip so that we would get some much needed one-on-one time. Since Lexi’s arrival, she has been my shadow. My very cute, high maintenance shadow. As a result, Parker has more often than not gotten less than his fair share of attention. I’m not sure if that’s just mommy guilt talking or reality, but either way, we needed to spend some time together without Miss Lexi.
He took this opportunity of uninterrupted mommy time very seriously. He created a very ambitious list of everything we would accomplish in 10 days and put it on the fridge. Knowing how much he was looking forward to it, I decided that I wouldn’t do any work during our time together. That complicated things since I have a number of deadlines looming, but to make it work, I’ve been waking up at 4am to get a solid 3 hours of work in before the rest of the house gets up. I’ll tell you all about that experiment in a separate post, but it’s been working marvelously thanks to the automatic brew function of my coffee maker. For some reason, knowing that hot coffee is sitting in the pot just waiting to be consumed makes it easier to roll myself out of bed.
So, with my work dilemma somewhat taken care of, we were ready to embark on Day 1 of “Camp Mom.” We started off with breakfast at Hooper’s, a local diner. Our service was super slow, but we didn’t mind – we had all the time in the world.
Parker told me to close my eyes so that he could draw me a picture on a napkin. This is what I saw when I opened my eyes. Sweetest kid in the world.
After our hearty breakfast, we decided to head over to the new trails that were built by campus. They’re 6+ miles through our beloved mountains and I knew that Parker was old enough to hang in there with the climbs.
After picking our trail (we decided on the yellow path, which would be about 4 miles)…
Off we went!
That’s actually no camera trick – the trail really does start off that steep. It leveled off for a bit and then would get steep again as we wound our way up, up, up.
Parker started noticing a vast array of mushrooms on the ground.
We decided that before our next hike, we’re going to get a book on which mushrooms are poisonous and which are edible. Parker loves watched the survivor shows (his favorite is Man, Woman, Wild) so we had some great discussions about what we would do if we got lost or were stranded. Parker identified a water source (which is easy here with creeks every 50 feet) and he thought that mushrooms would make a great food source if only we were more knowledgeable about them. I promised to help him put together a survival backpack with a lighter, water purification tablets and a First Aid kit. In fact, that’s probably a good backpack to take with me to the Tetons.
We also found some beautiful flowers and plants.
The foliage in this part of the world is very dense. Our climate has been described as sub-tropical and you can see why here. It does rain a lot, but we have this glorious green cover to be thankful for.
This is looking down the mountain.
After Parker fussed at me for taking so many pictures (I can’t help myself), we made quick work of the rest of the trail and found our way back on level ground. On our way back to the car, Parker spotted a small man-made lake where we have gone before to feed turtles. We didn’t have any bread with us, but he wanted to see the turtles anyways.
We watched the turtles for about 10 minutes, but we decided to leave because dozens upon dozens of fish and turtles came to greet us and expected some food. We didn’t want to tease them with our presence, so we started walking back to the car. About halfway there, a maintenance worker pulled up in a golf cart. He said that he saw up on the dock and wanted to bring some bread out to us so that Parker could feed the fish and turtles. I have never seen a sweeter and more surprised look on Parker’s face. It was like he won the lottery! He thanked the maintenance worker profusely and off we went back to the lake with renewed purpose.
We spent about 30 minutes feeding the fish. We even named a few. Parker named a huge orange carp “Zach” and I named a blonde-ish one “Goldilocks.” The large turtle was very originally named “Bread Eater.”
We left the lake and still had about an hour before we had to pick up Lexi so we picked up a snack and went to the river for a picnic.
It was such a delightful day and set a great tone for the rest of our time together. Parker is such great company and game for anything. He declared it the best day ever and while I wouldn’t argue with him about that, Parker thinks every day is the best day ever.
The Eternal Optimists