This year, I was grateful that at the end of the day I could go back down the mountain to my sister Melissa's warm, dry house! But instead of jumping right into the middle of the story, let me start at the beginning...
We got to Vernal (Utah) on Thursday night. It was too late to head up the mountain to see people already at the reunion, but at least Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) were still at their house. The kids were thrilled to have a chance to go see them right away. We went for a quick dinner at Taco Time (we always have to eat there when we're in Vernal, because we don't have one here) we went to my sister's house. She was already camping, but was nice enough to let us stay there. She has a really nice house, and within the next year she will need to completely rearrange it! I say this because my kids immediately found all the areas that were not childproof. Within minutes there were little fingers poking at the buttons on the TV and stereo, trying to shove things into the VCR, slamming the doors of the TV armoire, pulling the nightlights out of the outlet, trying to spin around on the barstools... yikes! We did a lot of quick rearranging to try and keep things out of reach and otherwise protected. Melissa and Brian are expecting a new baby in a few months, so we've offered to lend them our children for a few hours to help them see the things that they'll need to move when babyproofing! ;)
The next morning we headed up the mountain. It was cloudy and cool, so out came the jackets. We took the kids for a walk through the meadow and to explore some of the places I liked to play as a kid. Brekken was a little freaked out by all the nature at first, but he soon decided he really liked it. For the rest of the weekend, he was constantly taking off trying to go exploring on his own. It was exhausting keeping up with him.
The kids had fun playing with uncles, aunts, and cousins!
It rained pretty hard that evening, but our family is used to some rain. We always have tarps set up to gather under during the rain. That can be fun in itself!
Preston tried to get a drink from the falling rain.
Then we had to head down the mountain before the campfire really got going, because we still had shopping to do for the big family breakfast the next morning. (We were feeling glad that we wouldn't be camping the cold rain!)
On Saturday morning we headed up the mountain bright and early to get ready for the breakfast. I was a little worried when we got to the campsite and my parent and grandparents were the only people up and around. But everyone else soon showed up and we went into a frenzy of fruit preparation. We got it all ready (a little late, but oh well) and everyone seemed to really like the breakfast.
And once clean up was over, my responsibilities were taken care of! After breakfast came time for the country store. We bought a few little trinkets for the kids as the clouds started rolling in. The kids went to play games - they searched a pile of sawdust to find buried candy treasures and got quite a haul!
We moved our chairs under a tarp as it started to drizzle. The country store was quickly wrapping it up because the rain was starting to really come down as my kids immediately started whining that they were hungry... the car was about 50 yards away in the rain, but the country store was just a few yards away and I remembered seeing cheese crackers for sale! So I made a quick dash through the rain for provisions. I'm glad I did, because we were stuck under that canopy for quite a long while as the skies opened up.
The rains came down and the floods came up!! The rain poured and poured. Puddles began growing. Little streams ran past our feet. And then bigger streams...
And then the hail began. It pounded us for a while. It was so loud that you couldn't hear the person next to you speaking!
After almost an hour of this, everything slowly tapered off. We were grateful for the break in the weather and I quickly took the chance to go get our coats from the car. We were all at least a little damp and cold! Everyone tried to put things back in order after the big storm. After about 20 minutes of this, I decided it was chilly and wet enough that I was going to go put all the kids in the car for a little bit to warm them up. So my brother was helping me gather kids to head for the car when the skies opened up again. Everyone came running back to the canopy trying to escape the hail that was pelting them. This was worse than before! There was so much hail on the ground it looked like it was snowing. It was piling up everywhere, including on top of the canopies. The canopy over the country store (where several people had taken shelter) suddenly began to collapse from the weight! So my parents and brother had to run out and try to rescue the collapsing canopy in the midst of the rain and hail. They were able to get it (kind of) stabilized again. It was about another hour of all this. There was finally a small break and we all made a dash for our cars. Then we sat in the cars for another long while through yet another round of rain and hail.
By this time, it was time for the big potluck lunch. But as we crunched and slid through the piles of hail and mud from the last go round, we could see the clouds building to start it all again. The decision was finally made that they every group would get enough pulled pork and buns for themselves and take that back to camp to eat it with whatever potluck items they had. An unpopular decision with some people, but really, what else could we do? We're used to eating lunch in a bit of rain, but this was something else entirely! So we managed to get food back over to our family's camp area. We were even able to put the piles of hail to good use as a camp refigerator!
Some people had more trouble than others... the rains left the ground so muddy that everyone's cars were getting bogged down and stuck. My cousins Casey and Bud have big jacked up trucks... I've always said that there is no reason to have such a huge, jacked up monstrosity, but I guess I was wrong. In this particular situation, there is a reason for them! Casey and Bud were able to get all of the stuck vehicles out of the mud and on their way.
It rained some more while we ate, but not quite as bad. Then... the sun came out!! It was warm enough to take off the heavy coats and play a little.
But the mud... oh, the mud! It was thick and black and slippery and everywhere.
We tried to keep the kids out of the worst of it. But we were not successful.
That was kind of the last straw for our family. Since we had the option, we decided to head down the mountain to Melissa's house and give our muddy kids a bath.
After a bath (and the resultant scrubbing of Melissa's tub) we decided to go to the park and watch the fireworks. Haley and Preston were very excited for the first few minutes - there were many oohs and aahs and excited squeals. Brekken didn't really like it at all. After a few minutes, Preston was done and started asking to leave. Haley stuck it out for a couple more minutes, but then she wanted to go, too. So we left early. Went back to Melissa's and went to bed.
Meanwhile, back on the mountain... the storms had returned. Even worse than the ones we'd been through! Apparently they were all huddled under the canopies constantly trying to push the water and hail off before the canopies were collapsed from the weight. Our group's canopies survived, but some others in the family had theirs destroyed by the storm. Tents and trailers leaked, everyone was wet and cold. Again - this year I'm glad I wasn't camping!
On Sunday morning, the weather was sunny and warm. We joined the campers for our traditional Sunday breakfast of dutch oven potatoes and eggs and sausage and bacon. Yum!!
We had a great time visiting with everyone and managed to keep Haley and Brekken out of the mud. (Preston - not so much.)
We all celebrated my grandfather's 80th birthday - how convenient that it comes around at reunion so we're all together already!
We also celebrated my cousin Laura's engagement. Her boyfriend John came to reunion with her and somehow (between the storms) they managed to find time for a walk in the meadow, where he proposed. Congratulations!
And then the clouds began to build again and Aaron and I tried to say our goodbyes and get out before the next storm hit. We made it to the main highway, but then we had to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out. (Our windshield wipers still aren't working!) After that, though, it was a pretty smooth trip home.
So not the idyllic reunion that I described in my memory posts, but definitely one that will be remembered!!