I had a delightful birthday celebration (#74) on the 8th . . .
. . . that included several highlights: (1) passing the vision test for my renewed driver license, making it no longer necessary to wear glasses on the end of my nose when I drive, and (2) a surprise hot chocolate delivered by none other than son-in-law Dusty!
Early the next morning we packed the van to the gills with the usual travel suspects along with coffee gear and cooking gear and photography gear and protein-shake-making gear and what you see pictured: the results of a few Goodwill toy-section shopping sprees, strategically packed into the allotted space. What you can’t see is the 10-inch red Lightning McQueen car certain to delight almost-4-year-old Declan.
We were Park City, Utah, bound with a sleep stop in Boise. Absolutely nothing beats a summer road trip through God’s country! If you’ve never driven through the Columbia River gorge and over to eastern Oregon and down to Salt Lake City, get something on your calendar pronto!
Members of the Nill clan traveled from Florida, Virginia, Arizona, California, and Oregon for the reunion. The Carlsons started their day at 4 a.m. to make the two-flight journey.
These two were two weeks away from turning two, still eligible as lap children, but their parents thought it worth spending the travel miles to guarantee their own seats.
Meanwhile, all two of us making our way to the reunion on the ground found a rare opportunity to buy gas out in the middle of nowhere, where we met this guy. We were getting by on fumes and quite relieved to put $65 worth of petrol in our tank.
This would be our headquarters for the next four days.
This is only one of four sets of stairs to climb, not to mention the thin air at 6,500 feet! It would take the whole village to prevent trips to the ER for that climbing duo.
Avery is particularly prone. A week earlier a plastic surgeon repaired the damages to her face after a fall down the stairs.
You wanted to see, right? Oh, baby girl, please take care!
The house had a baby-safe room with ping pong and air hockey and room for all those toys we hauled for their entertainment.
A six-person couch for watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine . . .
But best of all amenities, the house came equipped with two, count them, TWO high chairs just like the ones the girls use as home!
You might imagine there was ongoing cleanup involved, and Daddy appreciated Avery’s help, you can be sure!
Of course there was plenty to do in the area. The four golfers got an early start the first morning,
while the horse riders went a different direction.
The rest of us headed to the park!
Mauri’s and my vast plans for the afternoon turned half-vast when our car wouldn’t start. AAA to the rescue! The original battery on the only car Mauri ever purchased new chose this moment to bite the dust! Interesting timing, we thought, but then would we rather it had died at that two-pump station out in the middle of nowhere? Certainly not!
And so went four days of togetherness with my family of origin and its branches. You know me well—I love my family and I love pictures. So bear with me while I share a few* of both (*undefined).
Two of my brother’s three granddaughters.
The other, older one. Recently graduated from Taylor University.
Stirring peanut is hilarious business!
Brothers in law
You know what I always say: “Every family needs a Dusty!”
Krista, ready to pass out the marshmallow roasting sticks.
Um, this might take a while! Too windy, not enough flame.
The s’mores prep had to move inside.
An evening stroll with the girls, a reunion highlight for me.
They are irresistibly cute and impossible to not photograph!
Their grandma Gus is not the slightest bit biased!
Nephew Kevin and his family ski here in the winters, so they guided us along the way.
Mauri and I bought unlimited lift tickets and got really good at the loading, unloading process.
Just another crummy day at Deer Valley, Utah!
Carol lost her hat in the wind. Oh well, no jumping off to capture it!
These three brave climbers got off half way up to hike the rest of the way to the top, equivalent to 91 flights of stairs! (For the record, they didn’t jump off; it takes two lift rides for us to reach the summit.)
So they missed out on being in this picture at the top with the rest of us. You’re right, the Carlsons are missing too. For some reason Taylor and Beth decided their wiggly children weren’t quite ready to dangle from an open chair high above the ground. Good call!
Now that is some view, wouldn’t you say?
The hikers head down on foot. . .
. . . while those less inclined take the easy way.
Here they come, looking no worse for the wear.
Our tour guide, niece Cheryl, gives us the lay of the land.
Four of us sit in comfort, sipping iced lemonade, watching for the true hikers (those who went up and down) to return. See them in the center of the picture?
So how ‘ya doin’? Hanging in there? Take a little break from scrolling and watch Dusty entertain Declan with Rock Paper Scissors.
Or High Fives.
Or listen to him giggle with Cassidy. Cousins are the best!
Shhhh. Beth texted this picture to show me how much Declan liked the Lightning McQueen car from Goodwill.
OK, here we go again! Today we’re at Park City Mountain Area, a more suitable place for the littles. Except for one thing: it isn’t stroller friendly, no working elevators!
Mom and Aunt Quinn take in all the possibilities.
But first—something very important. Set up the camera,
pose the people, set the timer, and run to your spot (Krista).
Now one with the signs (that go back to the first reunion in 1998).
And a flashback to 2007 (of course…)!
Here we are, the original Nill siblings. Our shirts say (to the chorus of “We Three Kings”): “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.” Our family song has verses too. Doesn’t everybody’s?
OK, enough posing for pictures. It’s time to play!
Declan suits up for the ropes course.
And the zip line!
And back flips on the trampoline.
While Declan has his parents’ full attention, his sisters hang out with Gus and Gum, who are laughing because Avery did a world-class backwash into Gum’s water bottle.
It’s the girls’ turn! With three adults to two littles, Taylor agreed they could go.
Holding on tight!
Is it any wonder?
Don’t worry, the big kids had fun too!
Mauri and I left the park early and took a most beautiful scenic drive that ended in an epic aspen forest. Did you know aspens are interconnected underground, a community of trees that look after each other? You might enjoy reading about them—click HERE.
And not far down the road, this—a high nest with a mama osprey, the papa, and their baby chick.
Reunion finales always include gathering to call out highlights from our time together. Then we reminisce through reading previous highlight lists and skim pictures from past reunions. Lots of laughter ensues.
This year we read that newly married Bailey pledged himself to bachelorhood after sharing a bunkroom with 5 giggling sisters and cousins. Ooops! Sarah changed all that!
It’s my very favorite part of all!
Shout out to the reunion planning team!
At 5:30 a.m. the first of several white-hanky farewells—the Carlson family departs for the airport.
And three hours later . . .
It would be a temptation to share every farewell, this being the Nills’ departure.
Haha! All the rest of us left at the same time, an hour later.
Carol waves a white paper plate. It works. We’re just a little bit silly.
Clearly, temptation to share all of them got the better of me.
Farewell, dear family! See you in three years! Lord willing.
[up next: return road trip story]