Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Packing Some Wood in Packwood

Makes absolutely no sense, but just needed a catchy little title. Well readers, we finally got back from the 5-day annual family camp-out - a tradition with my wife's family, but a first for me. What used to be a entire family affair is now my wife's family and my sister-in-law's family, traveling over to Packwood, WA, and toughing it out at my father-in-law's RV shed.

We had a blast, although our mini-vacation was packed with trips to Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens, along with a bunch of mini-trips to different lakes and falls. Seeing the magnificence of the mighty Mt. Rainier and the devastation of Mt. St. Helens really put this guy in his place. It feels a little odd to be visiting these mountains, partially because I've been in this state for 14 years and haven't ventured, or even wondered what it would be like to see these two up close. But I'm glad I did. Something to really marvel over. Puts all the little things into perspective.

As for the non-nature adventures, my father-in-law was kind enough to teach me golf, which I took to like a fish to hiking. I didn't do that well getting the ball airborne, but it was fun trying anyway. Made a few trips to the driving range and a round of golf with my in-laws, and they seemed to enjoy having fresh blood in their golfing life. I enjoyed whacking the balls at the range, but it's definitely a different sort of sport. Very little to do with strength, but technique and form. Hit the 75 yards distance a few times, but mostly around the 50 yard line. Anthony, my niece's boyfriend, who happens to be a football player in a past life, was whacking them high and over the fence (which is bad for accuracy), but I was pretty happy about my improvement. My father-in-law really seemed to connect with me more through golf, which is cool because he's a great guy.

Alex also had the exciting opportunity to go swimming for the first time - which really is in fact waddling about and swallowing tons of water and making nervous yelps. By the second day, he was having a ball in the water, laughing and playing in the water. By next year, he'll be a pro. He also enjoyed the frequent attention - there was an abundance of eyes that were willing to watch over him. Since we all slept in the RV, the cold wasn't too much of a problem.

We also saw a bunch of elk, ate a lot of toasted marshmellows, and told a lot of stories. Quite a different kind of vacation for me, a return to nature that I haven't done in a long time - and I can't wait till next year for more camping goodness.

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