Taking a wild hair, Dad and I made plans about a month in advance to visit his side of the family in Idaho over Labor Day weekend.  I decided to take a couple days off work, Friday and Tuesday, to make it a nice extended weekend of happiness and nostalgia.  Of course Nikolai was on the trip as well.  I wanted to show him off to the family and get their approval, and I wanted him to see my people and love them.

We left after work Thursday night, stopping in Pendleton for delicious pizza which we ate precariously in the car.  My cousin Panda tagged along, as she is of that side of the family and wanted to go home, so to speak.  I mean, her husband and all live over here in OR, but her brother and stuff are back in ID, and she grew up there so it’s a kind of home but she keeps all her clothes with her husband and cat, so I think she does call that place home. . . I really like to ramble nonsensically.  READ IT ALL.

Nothing of much import happened, except I got to drive to spell Dad who’d been awake and functioning since save-me-Jesus thirty that morning.  Well, and we got to stop 1 of our marvelous journey roughly 3am PST.

It was a cabin in the mountains, the spectacular, gorgeous mountains.  Grandma’s rustic, wonderful cabin built by the generation before me, only recently got a phone line and electricity via the gas generator out in the shed.  It smelled just the same.  The carpet was the same under my toes.  the curtains that count as doors for the two rooms upstairs were just as they’ve always been.  I spent so much time those two days there just stopping, looking around with a goofy grin, and taking huge deep breaths as if I could pull the essence of the place into my heart via my lungs (yes, I have taken anatomy and some things do too pass from heart to lungs so there) and take it away with me.

While we were there, my dad hacked up a few trees that had come down last winter, and we stacked the wood in the woodshed to cure.  Obviously.  I had a vague memory of grandma from previous trips deep in my childhood attempting to get us all to help her with a similar task, and us grandkids being simply dreadful help.  This time, the chainsaw didn’t work on the first day like we had expected so Panda and I pouted because we had been excited to carry and stack wood.  I suppose that’s a good a sign as any that I may in fact be a grownup.

On Sunday we drove down the mountain to grandpa’s house.  I am delighted to report that he and his wife too, smelled the same.  I confess that my biggest concern in eventually losing my grandparents is that I will not be able to smell them anymore.  Do you know what I mean?  That perfectly him or her smell that meant sleepovers and summer vacation and treats for breakfast and a big hug, no longer able to be found.  ANYWAY NOW THAT WE’RE ALL DEPRESSED.  there was napping, and showering, and seeing Nikolai’s Friend that lives nearby and, true to form, I walked through a patch of goat heads ( a weed, btw) wearing flipflops and got one in my foot and about six in my shoes.  Ah, just like always.

Monday saw us going to a gun range with the Friend and popping little metal targets with little metal bullets. I’m not half bad, as long as the target is perfectly still and it’s a very low caliber gun and someone coaches me the whole time.  So, you know, watch out n stuff.  After that, and a little cleanup, there was a party at my aunt’s house.  Apparently, in describing the event to Nikolai, I had implied that there would be a large crowd of at least fifty people and all of them would be watching him with a jaundiced eye.  Oops.  There were about 25, counting small children, and all were delighted to see him and talk to him.  The night ended with kickball that got renamed Chrisball, after the cousin in-law that changed the rules whenever he got bored.  My aunt was laughing too hard to tag people out, so she may not have been the most efficient third baseman.  I got scraped up from second and third base, mostly because they were trees and it was easier to evade the baseman by running around behind them.

I got to see almost all my Idaho family, got to introduce Nikolai around, and got to hug them all again, and it’s been a few years.  I don’t think I’ll wait as long, next time.