The timing of Rachel’s departure allowed us to take part in my original family’s every-three-years reunion. My coworker Denise provided the encouragement that it might be good for us to “get out of Dodge,” having had several days to just hang loose with the local family, to eat together, to process together, to grieve together.
Off we went, south, through Vegas and on to Phoenix. After choosing a rental car, we continued up the White Mountains of Arizona.
I took this picture on our way back down the mountain to show you where they got their name. But our evening drive up the mountain was windy (the tumbleweed whipped sideways across the road) and stormy (we had to pull over to wait out the downpour).
Our destination was Show Low, named by the turn of a card (a gambling term, I had to be told).
Through the generosity of a friend of Quinn and Dusty’s friend, we enjoyed every blessing of this remarkable home (remarkable being an understatement). You’ll see what I mean in a minute. The owner refers to it as “the cabin.”
Four large bedrooms and a bunkroom on the upper level.
Two huge round tables seating eight each plus these counter stools. I’ve never seen anything like them, have you?
In the lower level, two fully automated bowling lanes
next to a complete game room.
As if that weren’t enough, a theater big enough for our full family of 18!
The house even has its own firepole, quick transportation from the bunkroom to the garage.
This wasn’t the first reunion when some arrived with raw emotions, having just suffered a devastating loss. My family loved us gently, acknowledging the recent events in our lives while steering clear of maudlin.
They assigned us the master suite, one of two large suites on the main level. I was glad I thought to take a few pictures before we messed it up.
The shower room is built around the back of the Jacuzzi and is also a steam room. But Mauri discovered its coolest feature when he played with the switch that turned these clear windows overlooking the forest
into opaque windows to keep us from scaring any passersby.
Dear Quinn knows I spell comfort h-o-t c-h-o-c-o-l-a-t-e and had this waiting by the bed.
You’re right to assume this fabulous “cabin” was a big part of our time together, but even more wonderful was getting to hang around with the people who make up the Nill clan. It’s a reunion of the descendants of my parents, Carl and Winifred Nill.
My brother, John, is in the middle. He’s the oldest. Sister Carol to his left with her husband, Bill. I’m the baby.
Not the complete set, but we are the ones who show up for reunions. To the right of Mauri and me and brother John is his son, Kevin, and family (Cheryl, Peyton, Cameron, and Aubrey). Beth and Taylor next, surrounded by the Andersons. By Quinn is Krista, my sister’s daughter. You often see Krista on my posts about our Thanksgiving Juarez builds.
The cousins, commonly referred to as “Bailey and the girls.” Bailey and Peyton head off to college in a few months, so we especially cherish these days of guaranteed time with them.
Indulge me one more posed picture. Beth made the effort to put on her pretty pink top, then got hidden behind the bowling apparatus. She happily joined in her first Nill family reunion and was loved by all. But what’s to not love about Beth?
Now that you’ve seen our spectacular surroundings and met the family, I’ll drag you along on our adventures.
Our hostess baskets had supplied us with sunblock and protective Chapstick, but that didn’t guarantee us beautiful weather for our ski lift ride to the top of Sunrise Park Ski Resort.
Oh well, we still had a few minutes to look around at the top before this:
Rain and hail! I worried some about Quinn and Peyton, who braved the hike up the mountain, despite threatening weather and bear warnings from other hikers.
We hadn’t seen hide nor hair of them, but after the weather cleared the younger generations set out to hike down the mountain. Here you see them waving a farewell, but look who is just rounding the corner when I snapped the picture!
When they turned around, surprise!
A chance to tell some stories and bear warnings.
Now you know why Bailey is carrying a big stick!
Other fair-weather adventures included a hike into the ice caves.
The brave ones who actually went on the hike! I opted out when I learned commando crawling was involved.
Indoor activities appealed more to my generation.
A strike for Beth! I bowled too, though the laughter and shouting were more fun than the actual game.
For posterity, Mauri recorded one of my two hangers in our shuffleboard game.
We took our turn at cooking for everyone.
A whole breakfast planned around the use of this manly stove and grill.
There was a nearby lake to enjoy.
Golf, of course.
A cactus caption contest.
Mauri and I ran away with four prizes!
Food and table prep for a traditional shrimp boil
that turned out to be a surprise birthday celebration for yours truly!
Blue and white flags. It’s all about tradition.
Come and get it! You don’t have to call me twice.
I’ll be 70 on Wednesday . . .
A heaping serving of chocolate trifle.
A suitcase of old family photos provided hours of stories (who is this?), laughter (hair styles, fashion), and memories.
I had already scanned or set aside the ones I wanted to keep from my vast photo collection, so I could offer all of these up for first-come-first-grabs. Most have now found happy new homes.
Every evening the aroma of popcorn filled the house, drawing us to the theater.
This became known as the “Cousins Couch.”
Toward the end of our stay we all gathered to review pictures and hear the reading of last reunion’s list of highlights. Three years is a long interval, so we need reminders of fun shared in the past. Of course there were lots of highlights to write on this year’s list.
The signs from our first reunion in 1998 came out for photos.
Here’s the matching one from nine years ago.
Always just one more picture!
And a shout out to this reunion’s planners, cousins Krista and Quinn. They are also dear friends, only six months apart in age, and photographed for my series every time they are together.
The first, 1971. (They’ll love me for this.)
“Nills we are and Nills we’ll be
Nills for all the world to see
Names may change or rearrange
But Nills we’ll be for eternity!”
(the chorus from “We Three Nills of Origin Are”)
Ha! Not when there’s a blogger around!