Sunday, July 27, 2008


Jacob and Katie turned 14 just in time to participate in our Stake TREK on July 24-26. The activity involved hiking 22 miles in 2 and 1/2 days, with handcarts. They split up into families with Stake couples called to be the Ma and Pa and assigned 8-10 youth as their family members. They each had to wear somewhat authentic pioneer dress. Katie even made bloomers to go under her ankle-length skirt.

There were Trek cooks who prepared all the meals, so they were not given a live chicken to cook for dinner, as we have heard done in other stakes. However, in Katie's family, shown in the picture, the dad and one of the older brothers "died," meaning they each got injuries that prevented them from helping the family anymore. That meant the hard work of pushing the handcart had to be done by the girls more than in other companies. Katie tells us she spent most of the time up front at the yoke.
In Jacob's family, in the next picture, there were two big 17-year old boys who carried the heaviest burden, so the younger boys and the girls got to take turns and rest. Jacob was ready to do Trek again, but Katie said she was glad she went but would never want to do it again!

Here are some "after"pictures. Our Bishop and his wife, Denise, went as a Ma and Pa. Denise said the dirt was unimagineable. Even Katie's bloomers came home dirt-colored. Denise made her real family members that attended change in the garage before coming inside to shower. She said she couldn't stand all that dirt in her house. We already have plenty of dirt in our house all the time, so we let Jacob and Katie come inside, but we drew the line at laying on our bed!!

You can tell that Anna, in Katie's arms, isn't sure what to think. By the way, Denise's suggestion for future Trek participants is to bring your own package of baby wipes to wash hands and clean the dirt off legs at the end of the day.

In the last few pictures, you get a feel for what the trek was like. In the first one, Katie is pulling the handcart at the yoke in the front on the right hand side. In the second, you see the group of companies traveling along, one after another. Katie "trekked" for Lewis' great-grandmother, Emma Zundel who crossed the plains as a girl with her family. Jacob "trekked" for Elihu Pettingill, who crossed the plains sometime after he was baptized at age 16. Elihu and Emma later married and had 9 children together, including Jefferson Bartlett Pettingill, who was Lewis' grandfather. Looking back, Jacob and Katie both now say it was the hardest thing they have done but that they were glad they went.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Camping, camping and more camping

I had visions of a relaxing, carefree summer. While it has been pretty carefree, it has not been relaxing. There is always something going on to keep us hopping. This is why I am just now posting pictures from our Bodega Bay camping trip from the 4th of July week.

We have become real campers now. Every other year, we have gone (with Rich going reluctantly many years) with my sister on their annual campout with friends. This year, we just couldn't find a week that would work for all of us, so we began our own annual friends campout. I feel like we are real campers now because 1)Rich wanted to go 2)we went without the Keables and 3)we have all the gear necessary for a comfortable and fun week of camping. You might wonder, what changed Rich's mind about camping? It certainly isn't that our children are growing up and it's getting easier, because the older ones are growing up but little ones keep coming along! However, Rich's attitude about camping changed a few years ago when we priced renting a house in Santa Cruz. He became converted when he realized that camping is cheap!

So here is what we did and some pictures to go along with it:

We camped along the Sonoma Coast, which is chilly. However, there are amazing beaches for exploring and also, you are not far from the Russian River (about 45 minutes) for lots of fun in the sun. We spent several days combing the beaches just up the coast from our campsite. Most of the beaches there are made up of small, polished rocks, which are hard on the feet but so much fun for exploring. One day, we went to the closest beach, which is sandy, where there were lots of surfers and the kids could play in the water. Two days, we went to the Russian River, including on the 4th of July. Everyone had fun getting in the water on those days. We saw the fireworks in Petaluma on the 4th, which was a fun show. We also spent one evening at a nearby beach called Shell Beach, where we got to explore tide pools and find lots of great shells.
Our campsite was actually located on a sand dune. The kids had a ball rolling down the sandy slope and playing everything from football to tag games on the sand. They did a lot less bike-riding than usual because the sand dune was so entertaining. It is much less dirty to camp in sand, especially for the crawling baby. However, you bring a lot of sand home in the laundry and camping equipment. I am not sure we will ever get all of the sand out of the laundry room!

Rich came to a grand conclusion this year. He had always thought it would be easier to camp without so many little ones along. And it is. Little children take a lot of care while camping with changing diapers, trip to the bathrooms, changing wet clothes when you don't make it to the bathroom soon enough, changing Mom or Dad's wet clothes after helping little children shower, etc, etc, etc. However, Rich's perspective on all this changed after a comment made by Jeffrey on Saturday morning, as we were packing up to go home. He asked why we were packing things up. We told him it was time to go home. He replied, emphatically, "I don't want to go home! I want to stay here forever!" The rest of us had gotten pretty sick of the fog, the sand, the damp towels, and the skunks (our campsite friends that faithfully came every night at 10 pm with the racoon.) Rich decided that, while the little ones take a lot of work, it is fun they can't get anywhere else. They get to be free to explore and play and ride bikes and throw rocks and be outside and get dirty as much as they want, all things they don't get to do at home.

Here is one other cute conversation Rich had with Jeffrey as we were just waking up one morning:

Jeffrey: Dad. Dad?
Rich: Yes, Jeffrey?
Jeffrey: Dad, is it morning time?
Rich: Yep.
Jeffrey: Did someone turn the lights on?
Rich: Well, the sun is coming up and making the tent light.
Jeffrey: So we can get up now?
Rich: You can get up or you can keep sleeping.
Jeffrey: I think I want to keep sleeping.
Rich: Okay!
Jeffrey: Dad?
Rich: Yes, Jeffrey?
Jeffrey: Those snores we had at the fire before bed last night sure were good!