July 2019 Part II

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We went camping again, this time at Larrabee State Park. It’s a nice place, but there’s a train track that runs really close to it with both commuter and industrial trains that go through up to sixteen times a day, and it can interrupt your sleep a bit.

This time we camped alone. After our last camping trip, I challenged KrisDi to go all in on one tool for cooking on the camp fire, so she planned our meals to be made with the pie irons. Kids of course got grilled ham and cheese (and so did we), but she also made calzones (using Pillsbury dough) and philly cheese steaks (interestingly, cooking the meat and vegetables in the pie iron before putting it inside dough).

We found evidence of a previous visitor in our site. I bought a single propane burner to use for coffee this time, and it worked just fine. Chilkat and I had reading club, but she wanted to stay inside the tent and I wanted to sit in the zero gravity chair, so we compromised. We saw more wildlife than usual (a bird, a seal, a different bird, a rabbit, another bird, a chipmunk, another different bird, a bird, and a bird).

There was a little beach a short hike from our campground, which faced west toward the ocean. I thought it might make a nice place to see the sunset, so we took the kids and the camera and a strange Texan 11 year old named Connor to go see it. It was beautiful, and I took too many similar but still slightly different pictures making it difficult for me to pick one favorite.

Connor was one of two boys Chilkat and Chilkoot made friends with. Watching this reminded me of my experiences out camping, making sudden friends for life at various campsites, and never seeing them again, not a single one of whom can I remember at this point in my life.

Anyway, their group arrived on our second day. They walked into our camp site, and said, “Hey! There’s kids here. Do you want to play with us?” I envy the charmingly straightforward social norms of children. Connor’s older brother’s name is already lost to memory, so I’ll call him AJ. AJ was 13. Both of them were friendly and outgoing.

They a “murder mystery” game that grew increasingly complex as more arbitrary rules and roles were added, until no one could follow the game at all. AJ came and sat by the fire with KrisDi and I for half an hour or so, telling us much more about himself than we really cared to know. He even cooked and ate his dinner at our fire. I’m not sure, we may have fed him something we made, too.

I’m moderately convinced that Chilkat had her first crush on AJ. She really wanted to be on AJ’s team all the time in the murder mystery game, and got awfully bashful when I asked her why.

We took Chilkat straight from camping at Larrabee to girl scout camp — a four day day camp where they did lots of activities. We don’t have any pictures of it, because we weren’t there, just Chilkat. She remembers finger knitting, playing with friends, made a play, cooking something, taking down the flag, making new friends. She enjoyed it and she want to do it again.

Our next major event was B False Alarm‘s birthday party, which was at a trampoline house in Federal Way. Weezy and crew came up for it (which was more crazy than usual, since they only stayed the one night and went straight home in the morning). I didn’t jump on any trampolines, I just took pictures.

After the party, the Oregonians stayed with us for the night. We drank beer and played games.

The next morning, we headed up to Bellingham to visit Mom, and Weezy’s family headed down to Medford. Chilkat demonstrated her newfound finger knitting skills. I went out to three breweries to try to find beer to take back to the house, while everyone else stayed at Mom’s. Mom made pancakes for dinner, if I remember correctly.

KrisDi went blueberry picking with the kids and Les and D.

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July Part I

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The kids stayed with Nana and Papa, and we went down to join them on the 4th of July. We had breakfast at Mitzel’s on the way down. Chilkoot and Chilkat both got to go tubing behind the new boat (currently informally dubbed “Polish Delight”). My back was still too shitty to risk unexpected impacts, so I didn’t get to tube. The kids enjoyed it, though. KrisDi’s coworker and her husband brought their boat out, so we literally had two boatloads of people.

I haven’t spent much time on boats since I left North Dakota, but when I lived there, I spent a lot of time on them in the summer. I realized there’s a lot of things I learned and didn’t think about anymore, that a lot of other people haven’t ever learned — like how to hold boats against a dock, how to approach a trailer on the ramp, the fact that you need a spotter and some kind of signalling system when pulling tubers…anyway, we had a lot of fun, no one got hurt and no boats were damaged. We did have one weird experience where our boat was going (very slowly) through a confluence of wakes, and hit it at just the wrong angle and just the wrong time, taking blue water over the bow — completely drenching KrisDi and her friend and changing the balance of the boat to be much more nose-down than is appropriate. Luckily the bilge pump worked.

My back was pretty sore by the end of the ride, just from impact and from twisting around trying to help with ropes and tubes.

Mild firecrackers were lit offsmoke bombs, paratroopers, sparklers, etc. All was well, until some sparkler dropped into V Dubs’ shoe, yielding a small but deep burn.

Les and KrisDi grilled up some dinner. The cousins played. The uncles and aunts and grandparents drank beer and shot the breeze. Bonney Lake is in a county that doesn’t legally ban the personal use of fireworks, and it was like a war zone — fireworks everywhere. It was a good day. In particular, on our drive home, we were on the downslope into a valley and you had a huge view of the skyline on the upslope on the other side — and it was just blanketed in fireworks.

The kids didn’t want to go home with us that night. So, they stayed, and the next day KrisDi and I had a little parents’ night. We went to a few breweries and a beer store, and ate at The Cutting Board, a Japanese place in Georgetown.

The next day, the kids finally decided to come home with us. KrisDi and Chilkat went on a Mommy/Daughter day, mostly visiting the zoo and Chuck E Cheese. Chilkoot and I went on a Daddy/Son day. We went to the Snohomish aquatic center, went out to lunch, and I can’t remember what we did with the rest of the day.

We went to Wild Waves to ride rides (again, my back prevented me from participating, but I read on my phone a lot). We went to The Bine after dinner, and both Chilkoot and Chilkat drew stuff and asked the restaurant to put them up on the wall. You can see in their drawings that they both know what hops looks like, which was also noticeable by Chilkoot asking if the grocery store was selling giant hops.

KrisDi won a major award for some kind of cooking contest at her work, but I don’t remember what it was.

Chilkoot’s been in T-Ball this summer. He’s done all of the classics — skipping to the base, covering his face with his hat when he’s supposed to be fielding, picking flowers when the ball is headed toward him, walking instead of running (and claiming that he was in fact running, and only stopped running because we were telling him to run).

I finally enjoyed my birthday present: A night out to see Eddie Izzard. The first time I saw Eddie Izzard, it was on VHS in Oklahoma, and I got eight stitches in the fat layer and eleven stitches in the skin of my left hand. This time, I didn’t get any stitches, but he was funny and it was fun. We also went to a couple breweries and ate dinner at a Malaysian restaurant, which included some pretty tasty frog legs.

The next day, our Oregonian friends came up for the weekend for Chilkoot’s birthday party. We tried all the whisky we brought back from Scotland (and more) while preparing for the party. The kids goofed around. After they went to bed, the adults goofed around, too.

Chilkoot picked a baseball theme. KrisDi went over the top. Her cake was fantastic as usual — we disassembled an actual hat to use the brim as a support for the cake brim. We had a pinata. We learned my back isn’t very good at holding up, swinging, and stabilizing a heavy item at the end of a long stick while it sustains impacts from children wielding baseball bats. Lots of kids and lots of adults came.

Chilkoot got a haircut (before and after). The kids went to the dentist. Chilkat’s been nursing a mostly-detached tooth for weeks, and Chilkoot finally has a couple slightly loose teeth.

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American June Part II

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This is where the actual end of school year occurred. 27 June. Can you believe that? It seems insane. Chilkat and Chilkoot posed for their regular end-of-school-year photos.

Les got a boat, finally — a good deal on a used ski boat. He bought it without D seeing it (apparently this is a good method for major purchases; its also how they finally ended up with a house). The kids got to ride on it; they had a good time.

We had our first camping trip of the year. We went to Twanoh State Park with the False Alarms. One of the things I find I enjoy about camping is experimentation — looking for alternate methods or tools or completely different solutions. Experiments for this trip:

  • New camping cookware to heat water for coffee in the morning. Previous trips, attempted to heat water over the fire in a pie tin. Which kind of worked. New method was much easier, but still used half a bag of charcoal to make one cup of coffee, which wasn’t satisfactory.
  • KrisDi decided we should have a cast iron pan for cooking over a fire. I think we only used it for pizza on this trip, which was another experiment. How many people do you know have made pizza dough from scratch at a campsite and cooked it over a campfire? The pepperoni pizza and the tomato mozzarella basil pizza both turned out great.
  • Color fire — I remembered from my youth that Dad had a canister of some kind of chemical we could add to the coal furnace that would change the color of the fire, which was amazing when I was a kid. Turns out, Amazon has handy little packets you can toss into a camp fire for the same purpose. Kids loved it. But it’s a pain in the ass that they burn forever, and you have to wait until they’re gone to cook over the fire.
  • Welding gloves — recommended by my little brother as a handy means of rearranging your fire. They’re insulated enough you can actually reach into the fire and grab burning logs and move them around. They also make great oven mitts. Don’t dawdle, though, they’re not heat proof, they’re just really effectively heat resistant.

Repeats of past successes include pre-made grocery store shish kebabs, breakfast burritos placed directly on coals, grilled cheese sandwiches in pie irons.

I woke up early one morning and got at least one nice sunrise photo (see above). We hiked a little bit, but mostly we hung out by the camp site. The kids played a bunch, drew or colored a bunch, spent some time crawling around on top of the False Alarms’ car (don’t ask, I don’t know), and I amazed the kids and the False Alarms with an old trick that amazed me when I was little: Put water in a paper cup, and put the paper cup in the fire, and the cup will burn down to the water level but no more. As the water evaporates, more cup will burn.

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American June Part I

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Of course, the first thing we did after we got back from Europe was dress Chilkat and Chilkoot up in their new Scottish outfits. They also received their new stuffies — Chilkat named her Icelandic puffin Puffy, her Scottish bear Fluffy, her Irish lamb Sheepy. Chilkoot didn’t name his Scottish bear; his Icelandic puffin bobblehead was named Lunda (Icelandic for ‘puffin’); and no one can remember now but we think his Irish sheep was also named Sheepy.

We went to a local YMCA for Popita’s pool party birthday celebration.

We lived regular life for a while. Chilkoot made me an awesome sloth. The kids were cute. They continued to be cute. They were self-centered and grouchy enough to whine about the donuts I gave them for breakfast. We made pizza and had friends over. Chilkoot posed in baseball garb for his birthday party invitation.

The Washington Brewers’ Festival occurred. We went twice — Friday night for adults only, we took Les for Father’s day. It was fun. Mom came down and went on Sunday with us — the whole family.

KrisDi went to San Jose to hang out with her internet mom board friends. They played in a pool and visited wineries in a limousine, and (in the absence of actual observation) seemed to fuck around and drink.

While she was gone, I enlisted her family to watch the kids while I went to see the Pietasters with HB. We visited a distillery and a couple breweries first. I turned “I want to drink and see the Pietasters while they’re in Seattle for the first time in a decade” into “Happy birthday, HB!” The Pietasters were great.

Also while she was gone, I let the kids sleep in the bed with me. When I say, “Sleep in the bed with me,” I mean, they slept in my bed, took up all the space, and I slept on the floor.

The kids finally finished school in June (would have been earlier if it hadn’t been for snowmageddon). Chilkoot started going to karate practice with a different, much stricter and ‘with it’ instructor. He has tested and passed for his second belt (white with a red stripe).

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