Woke up early and made a fire. Shannon joined me after a bit, but it was a good hour until the girl's got up. It was still around 7AM, though. I did not sleep well. We managed to get the playpen into the tent which helped Ryan, and Shannon and I tried using the indvidual blue mattresses instead of the queen-sized inflatable. I think they were better, but I was still sore. I found it a bit damp, the river loud, and I don't like the way the sleeping bag moves with you when you try to roll over. We had breakfast and followed that up with what is quickly becoming a tradition - Jiffy Pop. After that..hmm...getting tired. Let's see...oh, Shannon took the girls to the Junior Rangers program for kids. I don't know much about that. I sat and read a book, and Ryan...hmm..I think he was napping? We had hot dogs for lunch in camp, then the girls and I did the loop trail through the dimunitive and frankly gunky hot springs. After that we drove out to Paradise to see Mount Rainier. The roads were very narrow and windy, often without railings, and that unhinged Shannon a bit. Oh yeah, she drove that time also. It was nice at the top. Clumps of snow, like glacier snow started showing up, and the odd partially frozen lake. At the visitor's site itself, there was a constant stream of water running through the parking lot, down the stairs, everywhere. There's a little hotel up there that I'm guessing is probably rustic and expensive. We had no internet or cell phone access, even in packwood it seemed, so Shannon used the payphone to leave her mom a message. We looked at the shop, had a root beer float, walked around abit, then headed back down, this time with me driving. We had supper at camp, then Mara and I ran into town quickly to get more firewood while Shannon and GIllian took a walk. When I got back we had another fire, then I took the girls to the amphitheater for their program on living with wildlife. GIllian was quite inolved with it, but I think Mara is still a tad young for it. They were both quite scared by the walk back at night and to the bathrooms, even with the flashlights. Shannon and I hung out for a bit, no fire this time, then off to bed.
Oh! GIllian made the fire that night! That was awesome. She had helped me on the previous one, and this time I let her do it. She even managed to chop her own kindling. She was very excited about that, and it was an awesome experience. She built the log cabin with some kindling in the middle, then lit it. It was a great experience. We even talked about responsibilty and not doing it when she was with her friends unless we were there and "I was just thinking about that!" she said.
I love camping. I become a different person. We're so tight on space that there's just no other way to be than militaristic about putting things back exactly how you found them and cleaning up asap. There is no "oh, I can do that later". At the same time, though, cleanliness takes on a new meaning. A little bit of campsite dirt and pine needles in your scrambled eggs adds texture. You CAN go to a family restaurant looking and smelling like you haven't showered for 2 days and not feel self conscious.
So, Gillian learned many things today. She really enjoyed the junior ranger program about water and she and Mara each got a souvenir bracelet that they made out of "water molecules" and a badge. The amphitheatre show at night was all about how man and animal can get along. She learned about bears getting into coolers, and that if you run into a mounatin lion (same thing as a cougar) you are supposed to stay very still and try to look bigger and "when the mountain lion turns back around you can go back to doing what you were doing before". When we went on our walk I said to her that she probably didn't expect to learn so much today and she said "I like learning mom. You just can't help learning. There's always something happening that you don't know everything about"!! I hope she never loses that attitude.
Mara also learned the names of 2 plants on the nature walk. She'll tell you all about foam flowers and deer fern.
Ryan hadn't gotten much excercise from being in the stroller and car seat all day so we let him crawl around the site and get filthy and eat pine needles. He pulls himself up to standing all the time now.
That drive up to Paradise is something I'll try to forget. It reminded me of going through Golden 30 years ago before they widened the road and my mom was curled up in the passeneger seat trying to look anywhere but down the sliff. I'm amazed that anyone even tried to build that road. They held Olympic Trials there in 1936-ish!! I don't know how they got up there in the middle of winter. ACK - I'm getting freaked out again - AAAAAaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!