Grandparenting is fun and this weekend much too short.
One last splash in the creek. One last barefoot in the mud. One last speed-crawl across the dusty grass. Then homeward.
Bill and I explored a little on the way home. We walked some of the Theler Wetlands Preserve trails and made plans to return to kayak the Union River (which we did several weeks later. We had a lovely, lazy paddle, pole, and drag. The tide was pretty low, but the sandy bottom was nice.)
We’re looking forward to our next grandparenting outing!
This morning was overcast and pleasant. I asked Ben how he slept in the over-cab bunk and he said he had “30 winks.” His dad’s morning grogginess verified that 3/4 of a night’s sleep was about right.
Breakfast pancakes were fine even though I remembered too late that the mason jar in the cooler was ice cream mix–the milk was in the other cooler in a mineral water bottle. Sweet pancakes don’t need syrup and we didn’t really need ice cream anyway.
Lynsey, Bill, Rob and Ben spent some time on the beach while Alex and I napped and read. Ben was intrigued by the clams, oysters, tiny crabs and seaweed poppers. He also got used to the mud.
The lovely, shady, shallow creek near our campsite opened into the canal a short walk away. Bill carried the kayaks down for us and I took Ben for a paddle. We have Walden Paddlers. They’re flat-bottomed, extremely stable boats. We’ve had three-year-olds happily paddling around in them.
I hooked Ben’s boat to mine with a tow rope and we headed out. I thought I was paddling in the direction he chose, but quickly realized that he wanted to cross the canal. Um, nope!
Ben used his paddle to poke at the stuff he saw under water, bright green seaweed, dark green grassy water weeds, medium green seaweed with air pockets, many other underwater plants, shellfish, and lots of multicolor rocks. Ben seemed fascinated with his new perspective on the world.
When we beached, Ben got very concerned and very busy. He dug the super big red carabiner into the rocks. Put a big rock on top and let me know “that should hold it for awhile.” I guess he’s been learning about anchors.
I’m learning Gramma skills. Next time I’ll bring regular yellow French’s mustard and Swiss Miss. Save the spicy brown Gulden’s and artisanal cocoa with nibs for other trips.
I’m not a total Gramma-fail. I remembered to pack my marshmallow guns. The adults had some sustained conversation time while Alex crawled around and Ben gleefully shot marshmallows at tree, stump, and rock targets and ran off some energy retrieving marshmallows.
It’s Saturday afternoon and we’re heading back toward Hood Canal to camp at Belfair State Park. Covid is still raging as I’m very well aware.
I’ve spent the last month calling people with positive Covid tests and their close contacts. My team collects data to inform our state public health response and to make sure those who need it most have accurate information about isolation and quarantine. We’re also trying to provide resources so these folks can safely stay away from others.
Most of the people I talk to are conciously trying to help stop Covid spreading– doing their best based on their understanding. Me too.
Bill and I have been been staying home. He goes into the office once a week for about 20 minutes to swap paper files. He wears a mask and there’s usually no one else there. Bill does our shopping once every week or two. Sarah and a Erik are at our house for Pinniped practice on Sundays–outside and distanced with more tunes and less songs–Sarah’s immune system is not robust, we’re especially careful around her.
So why am I spending the weekend camping with my grandkids and their parents?
It’s not the safest choice for us or our society and I’m not certain it’s a responsible choice.
Yes, I will hug the kids, hold hands with the kids, and read books to the kids while they snuggle on my lap. We’ll wear masks in public areas but not in our campsite. We’ll self impose a 2 week quarantine on ourselves just in case. Enough? I don’t know. I’ll check back in two weeks with an update.
Rob picked great campsites. A few trees, a perfect creek, and the beach just down the road. They rented a motorhome so we all had comfy beds.
Ben is four. He wanted to take off his water shoes so they wouldn’t get wet in the creek.
He happily stood right on the edge of the water and built a line of rocks. A particularly nice rock in the middle of the creek caught his eye and he asked if I’d carry him out to it.
I said I’d hold his hand.
A minute later he was tromping up and down the creek, giggling when it reached the bottom of his shorts and generally having a great time.
The line of rocks turned into a very long T.
Alex, at nine months, isn’t quite walking, but he’s close. He pulls himself up and cruises along. He loves to walk if you hold his hands. Alex got very grubby, very fast crawling everywhere. (Alex takes after me!)
We always bring our scope for looking at birds. Tonight we used it for spectacular views of Saturn, Jupiter, and the Moon. Saturn was tilted just right. The rings were so clear. We could see several of Jupiter’s moons, and craters on our moon. Lovely.
UPDATE: All is well. Parents, Grandparents, and kids all fine. I’m limiting my interactions to Zoom, Skype, and Teams from now until an effective vaccine is available.
Not too hard, but enough to test our huge purple batwing tarp. It worked–covering the entire picnic table with room on the sides for supplies and at the front for our folding chairs.
Breakfast was a little chilly even with coffee and cocoa.
So we drove around the mountain
One of the joys of Mt. Rainier is your ability to chase the weather. When it is wet on the west side, it is often dry and sunny on the east. We gathered layers, toys, snacks, and other essentials and headed for Sunrise.
As a bonus, we got snow and a deer at lunch!
We started up the nature trail at a pretty quick clip. It’s amazing how quickly you gain height.
Any way you looked it was breathtakingly gorgeous.
The top had it’s own kind of barren beauty.
We saw a hoary marmot up close. Lynsey spotted it right beside the trail. It paralleled the trail for quite awhile before finally crossing and heading downhill. The melting snow left neat tubes of dirt where some critter had burrowed. They were everywhere.
Ben soldiered on, trotting, trudging, stopping to play with rocks, and spending a little time on dad’s shoulders. He decided that a very short pair of hiking poles would be pretty fantastic. Rob’s telescoped down small. Score!
Lynsey took most of the pictures on this trip. Thanks Lyns!
Rob reserved our spots months ago. We were across the campground road from each other, they on the downhill and us on the upslope. This is the highest we’ve had to crank the leveler. Works great.
Our picnic table was up a couple of steps, which was fine. Our fire ring was wedged into the pointy part of the site, which was workable but not ideal. It felt a little like being displayed on the prow of a ship, and you could only sit on one (pretty crowded) side
Strider bikes and nature talks
A joyful, curious, very busy three-year makes camping a delight. Ben on his strider bike zipped around the campground loop a lot faster than Lynsey and I. I was impressed with his control on downhill curves and the quick way he left the middle of the road when we hollered about cars.
Ben and his strider bike raced to the naturalist talk and we tagged along behind. I didn’t catch the young ranger’s name, but he was marvelous with the kids in the audience. He’s from Mexico which was especially nice for the kids who spoke Spanish.
We learned about the mushrooms that grow in the park and their life cycles. Ben was the smallest in the group and Rob the tallest. They acted out a mushroom’s life from spore to mycelium to fruiting body (I missed a couple stages). I especially liked the spores all crouched down with their arms wrapped around their knees.
Smores with Gramma Mary
Smores are interactive fun! We got a little ghost-scummed and had fir needles stuck all over, but we had FUN!
Rob typically hammock camps, both with a group of adults and a boyscout troop. I always bring my $15 camp hammock. It’s a great napping and reading couch. Rob’s is different. A high tech roomy, long hammock with a rainfly. I flop into mine from the middle. You enter Rob’s from the end.
Grandpa Bill and I had Brave Horatio, of course. His Pendelton blanket and down comforter and pillows keep us happy.
Lynsey and Ben opted for a tent. In and out the zipper was fun, as was THROWING each item inside. When actual bedtime came, though, the tent was disconcertingly strange…
…but Ben had his puppy and pillow and eventually snuggled into his sleeping bag.
Lynsey took most of the pictures on this trip. Thanks Lyns!