August 16, 2011

Vacation Highlights

We're baaaaaaack!  We had the best trip to cap off our summer adventures.  It seems like it's been our busiest summer yet with our Moab and Mesa Verde trip, Hannah Jane's girl scout camp which parlayed nicely into a trip through Sundance and a little caving hike at Timpanogas, and finally this pass through Oregon!  Next week my dad arrives for a week long visit and then we're officially back in the groove of day to day life.  I think.  There's a prospect of  a Disney Land trip in September, but I'm honestly completely ready to settle in and mellow out at home.

We started our trip with a drive to the Eugene to stay with dear friends and the kids' god-family for a few nights.  We intended to stay in a hotel at the half way point, but there was no room at the inn and so we drove straight through the night, stopping once to sleep in the van between some big rigs for an hour or so before getting back at it. It was a rough drive.

We hung out for a day, lounging around, catching up, and getting long boarding lessons from 
Nevin and Shirine.

We went for a series of short walks and had a picnic by the lake.
 We hit Enchanted Forest on it's 40th birthday, met the creator, ate some cake, and had a ton of fun!

 On the way to Badasht, we went to Bandon (okay, so that's not exactly on the way, but we made the loop) to see one of Joe's childhood friends for lunch and then had a family beach afternoon before heading to camp.

Finally, it was time to head to our very first ever Baha'i summer school/camp!  I have always wanted to go and just couldn't see it ever happening for us.  But this was our year!  We registered and got our cabin all ready before heading out to meet and mingle with the other campers.  From the very moment we arrived, I kept having people that I'd never seen before come up from behind and grab me or poke me, give me a surprised look, and then say hi.  I thought Wow!  This is an oddly friendly group.  Then I ran into the very not shy Valerie outside the bathrooms and she did the same thing, but then realized that we knew each other and explained that I look exactly like this other girl at camp.  This explained so much.  I said, "I can't wait to meet this girl and see what I look like!"  Valerie ran into the bathroom and pulled out a 19 year old girl named Jessie.  Whenever people say I look just like someone and then I meet them, I'm usually not overjoyed with the comparison.  But this time I was quite honored that at least from behind, people thought I looked anything like this gorgeous young girl.  Joe said it must have been a nightmare for her because no 19 year old wants to be told she looks just like a 30 year old mom of three, but she took it in stride.  For the rest of camp, when we passed each other, we'd say something like, "Hey there, clone."  And as word got around, I stopped getting poked ourgrabbed and started getting, "You must be the Jessie twin we heard was in camp.  It's really eerie how much you two look alike."  So, because I look from behind like someone much more familiar to the other campers, I got an exceedingly friendly reception!

Salamander King
The kids had devotions with us in the beautiful forest each morning and then left for their children's classes.  Well, Hunter didn't go until day 3.  Joe spent the first 2 mornings with Hunter in the cabin because he didn't want to go to class.  But on day 3 he marched off like there had never been a problem and came back to us happily dirty every afternoon, having made art and caught salamanders in the creek with his new friends.

Adults and youth had workshops, speakers, and discussion groups all morning.  I got so many random kernels of insight from these gatherings and made connections I hadn't before.  Twas awesome!  Jeanine led one workshop (which was hijacked from her on day 2 by excited discussion by the participants) about new children's class materials.  I was able to snag a pre-publication copy of all three levels, which is perfect because I start a new Ruhi 3 next week!

I think my favorite thing about Badasht, though, was watching and talking with the youth.  The older, cooler youth and Jr. Youth were so great with the little kids.  They weren't asked to play with them, weren't following directions reluctantly.  They simply seemed not to view themselves as too amazing and grown up to be bothered with kids.  In fact, it was often the teens that initiated play time with kids who were itty bitty.  Everyone was part of the little temporary community there no matter their age or relative coolness.

A few long chats with a couple of  young ladies of 17 and 19 were so profound for me.  These girls spoke so openly about life and their experiences.  I felt like I stood up from those discussions by the fire place a different mother from the one who sat down.  So much about motherhood can be learned from simply listening to young people who are currently in what society tells us is the most turbulent time in life, especially between parent and child.  These girls certainly are passing through that time in life with grace and dignity.

The grand finale of camp was the big art show.  All week we had been working in teams to come up with artistic projects that reflected a chosen Baha'i quote.  We didn't get to pick our groups, so group was a mish-mash of diverse talents and skills.  the presentations were fantastic!  Some were outrageously funny, some touching, some I'm pretty sure I will never forget.

For our group, Hannah Jane and her friend Anya wrote a song by themselves with the words of our quote and the adults did their own little thing behind them and children with fish running all around them.  While it wasn't the most memorable performance of the night, those girls made the song themselves and were so proud to share it.  It was a special family moment.  I couldn't see what Joe was doing behind me during our performance, but when we went back to our seats, the women who had been teasing him all week about having landed a great wife were now grabbing me and saying, "I see now that you didn't do too bad yourself!  Joe's amazing!"  I have no idea what he did back there (I'll find out when Ted sends me the video) but it must have been sweet!

On the last day of class, the boys made crowns and got a sticker on them each time they got caught sharing with someone else.

Haven loved his so much that he slept in it.  Yes, there is still paint on his face.  But it was dark outside and I couldn't see it until the flash bulb went off.  Oh well.

The big reason we made this camp fit into our budget and into Joe's vacation time is because our kids are the only Baha'i kids in the valley and while that's working out just fine for them for the most part, we really wanted them to have a group of Baha'i kids that they could count on seeing summer after summer and develop friendships with so that they didn't begin to get the impressions that they are aliens in a foreign land.  Hannah Jane is the only one old enough to have misgivings about her difference from our otherwise homogeneous valley, but it's coming around the bend for the boys too. 

Well, if ever our plans worked out, this was the time!  We left right after breakfast on Sunday morning.  There we were in the dining lodge filled with 100 or so hungry Baha'is and around Hannah Jane was a group of about 4 girls who had formed something of a human barrier trying to keep us from taking her to the van.  After addresses had been exchanged and about20 last hugs were given, Joe finally swept her up onto his shoulder and ran with a crowd of girls running along behind him.  Hannah Jane smiled and waved, basking in the love.  We said goodbye to the Taylors outside and headed for the van.  Like magic, two of the girls were back, prying her out of the van.  They ran alongside our moving vehicle as we pulled out, yelling their I love yous to Hannah Jane through an open window for the full drive to the road until finally Joe hit the gas to break up the goodbye party.  It was more than we had hoped for.  If we show up next year and the girls hit it off again like they left off, it will be our isolated Baha'i dream come true!

Hannah Jane cried for the first hour of the drive home.  The boys happily agreed that they wished they lived at Baha'i camp forever and began their plans to buy a salamander and frog farm when they grow up so that other kids could come have the fun that they had.  Joe and I agreed that it was money and time wells spent.

The drive home, however, was poetically bad.  Seriously.  I have to write a poem about it otherwise the epic and symbolic horror of the drive would be wasted.  We didn't have printed out directions for getting home from camp and we'd never driven that way since we had gone to Eugene first when we had come.  We were counting on picking up 3G in Roseburg and getting it all settled once we had cell reception back.  But there was no 3G.  I later realized it was because I had accidentally disabled my 3G.  Oops.  So we stopped at a McD's for wi-fi pirating, got directions, and went on our way.  But then there was a wildfire in the middle of the interstate.  Seriously.  And the cops made us U-turn on the interstate into opposing traffic and go back where we had just come from.  There was a semi behind us for the U-turn process who was apparently in a major hurry and an all around bad mood who sat on our tail and honked his giant size horn at us no less than 8 times in 2 minutes.  So we got into town and were trying to use our phones (now 3G enabled) to find a detour route that would get us back on the interstate past the fire point.  Well wouldn't you know it, our favorite trucker, Mr. Sunshine, was right behind us through town, honking at us the very second every light turned green.  It was majorly irritating to say the least.  We cheered each other for having found our way back only a single exit past the flames and thought we were on track.  But then we missed a turn because I couldn't read the tiny little map on my phone fast enough and that set us on a new route that added a full 45 minutes to our already long 13 hour drive.  Joe and I bickered a little about the situation, never blaming the other outright, but both deflecting blame in a completely passive aggressive way that only rears its ugly head when we're in these ridiculously unfortunate scenarios that could have been totally prevented had either one of us simply printed directions.  So we said things like, "SOMEONE should have printed directions."  and "In the future it would help if the navigator was actually looking at the map."  Oh, it was lovely.  But at least it was midnight by then and the kids weren't awake to take notes on how to completely blame someone without ever actually coming out and saying it was their fault!

So neither of our drives were blissful, but the time in between was simply priceless.  Loved our time with the Taylors (especially getting to see Shirine before her solitary 10 month trip around South America!)  and Badashted exceeded our expectations in every department!  Can't wait to repeat this trip next year!


  1. All for the lack of a paper map. They last for decades.

  2. Don't get me started! I'm sure marriages have ended over lack of paper maps. Ours has recovered, though :)


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