We went camping over the weekend! It was so much fun. Instead of going to Seward this year, as we have for the last three years, Shane's parents wanted to go to Kenai Lake. They sold their motor home and bought a small boat earlier this year, so they wanted an excuse to use it. It turned out to be fantastic! I was worried that we'd go to Seward and it would be the same-old thing. So the camping trip was perfect.
My friend Amanda came into town from Utah on Friday night, so I spent the evening with her and her boyfriend. We had dinner at Silver Gulch, and then we went back to my apartment to hang out. After dinner, Shane went out to play one-handed kickball with friends. (One-handed because the other hand had to have a drink in it.) Amanda, Scott and I were going to go out, but that idea got scrapped. Amanda is five months pregnant, so bars were out. Plus, she was tired. They'd been camping in Denali, and I was looking at an eight hour drive the next day, so staying in and chatting seemed really great. James came over, too, and Shane was only at kickball for about two hours. So it was a fun evening.
The next morning, I woke up to the phone ringing at 8:00. My mom was calling to let me know that my grandfather had died. This wasn't a terrible shock, because my aunt had let me know that he was sick the day before, and he hasn't been in the best of health for years anyway, but it was still sad. So I got up and took a shower, then made pancakes and bacon for everyone for breakfast. Amanda and Scott were staying at our apartment while we were gone, and taking care of the cat for us until they left on Sunday. So that worked out well. James and Lucy were supposed to take over the cat duties after that, but we're not sure if they did. When we got home, the bag of cat food was on the floor (he's never before pulled it out of the cabinet) and his bowl was empty. His tummy pooch seems a little smaller. But he's fine. He had water and he obviously could get food. He was just really happy to see us.
Anyway, after breakfast, a few last things to pack up, and stopping for gas we were good to go. At first we were really cheerful and chatty. The dog settled down pretty quickly, so I think she's getting used to these long car rides. I don't think she likes them, but she's getting used to them. And as scared as she is that she'll be thrown out the window, she does like having the window open to smell everything. When I put it back up, her nose goes up with it. So cute!
Anyway, we switched at one point because Shane needed me to drive so that he could take a nap. And in the car, with Shane napping, was when I finally cried over my Poppa.
I drove the leg into Anchorage, and Shane woke up when we were getting into town. As we were pulling up to one stoplight I said, "Hey look, a moose." Shane thought I was saying something about the Moose's Tooth, where we were stopping for lunch, but then the moose walked less than five feet in front of the truck and he said, "Oh, a moose!" He tried to get the camera, but grabbed it too late. All we would have gotten was a picture of the moose's butt, and we already have plenty of those pictures.
The Moose's Tooth pizza was, of course, fantastic. BBQ chicken. After eating a few slices, we pushed on. Shane took over the driving to the lake. We saw a young black bear along the train tracks around Turnagain Arm. That was cool. Otherwise, the drive was uneventful. We got to Kenai Lake just before 8:00, parked, and waited for Shane's parents to come pick us up in the boat. Pepper was quite happy to be running around the parking lot, and we were amazed at how calm she was in the boat. I think after hours in the car she just didn't care any more, because on the other boat trips we took around the lake and then back to the truck she was a bit nervous.
There were about fifteen people at the campsite on Saturday night. Most of them were people I had met before, like Shane's Aunt Liz, her husband Chris, and their (teenage) kids. They each had a couple of friends, and then there were some friends of the whole Tachick family that were there. So it was a big, happy crowd. And it was so much fun! Spencer (whom we haven't seen for six months) was already quite drunk when we got there, and was very boisterous. It was pretty funny. He'd been playing horseshoes with Ryan for a partner all evening, and apparently they'd won every game, so he was challenging Shane and a partner to play and said he'd jump in the lake if he lost. Now, Kenai Lake is glacier water and it was past nine o'clock. So Shane played against him, and won. So Spencer jumped in the lake.
The whole time we were camping, Pepper stayed near me or Shane. She's a little busybody, so she was totally overstimulated and trying to keep track of everyone. Poor baby. But she was so well behaved! It was great. It was like having a toddler around, only one who only threw one tantrum. And that one was because Shane and I went canoeing on Sunday and didn't take her with us. She sat on the beach the whole time we were gone, staring in the direction we'd gone. While she could still see us, she freaked out and wouldn't stop barking. We went around a deceptively large island. Anyway, when she could see us again, Pepper once again started barking. She didn't let me out of her sight after that, even to go to the outhouse.
Spencer had to leave on Sunday evening to go back to his fishing job. But he'd brought some red salmon home (he's allowed three every time he goes home) and it was SO TASTY. We usually have frozen at home, and that's all right (we pull it out when we don't know what else to have for dinner) but fresh is just worlds better. I feel sorry for anyone who never gets to enjoy salmon straight off the boat. (Before we left Soldotna, Sally and Steve gave us the three Spencer brought home that day so we could take them home.) We also ate s'mores with Reese's peanut butter cups and the most giant marshmallows you've ever seen. It was really fun and funny.
By Sunday evening, most of the people had cleared out for one reason and another. Chris and Spencer needed to go back to work, Ryan and Laurie and their kids went back home, Chrystal and her boyfriend needed to go back to Anchorage. So it was just me, Shane, his parents, Liz, and her son Colton and his friend Keith. It was still really fun, though. I played horseshoes for the first three times. The first game, against Shane and Keith, (Steve and I were partners) I scored the winning point. That felt really good. I couldn't do it for any of the other games, though. Oh well.
Monday morning we got up and packed everything up. It had been rainy all weekend, so we were packing up in the rain. We left one of the tarps there because, the day before, when when everyone was out either on the boats or canoeing, it had fallen down right into the fire. Luckily Liz's kids and their friends were just canoeing right near the camp and they noticed it quickly, so we didn't set the whole camp on fire. But the tarp had a hole in it. So we left it for anyone else who came along.
We drove back to Soldotna, and I immediately gave the dog a bath. She was so dirty, all her white parts were gray. When I rinsed her, the water was still coming off black with dirt in some places, but she hates baths so I declared her good enough. I did have to cut some pitch off her butt and tail, though.
Then the three of us wandered down the path to Shane's Grandma Tachick's house. It was fun to visit with her. Mostly she asked what we were up to, and then she and I talked about knitting for a bit.
Since I've been hearing all these stories from Shane about his Great Uncle Melvin, I've been asking him to take me out to his farm. We actually did that this visit. Melvin is the most redneck person I've ever met. Apparently at some point the city told him he couldn't hunt moose on his property, so he built a watchtower so that he could get the ones off his property. There were tractors and cars all over the yard. And rabbits everywhere. When Pepper discovered those, her instincts took right over and she began chasing them all over the yard. But they were way too fast for her and she never did figure out what the holes were, even after stepping in a few of them. So she started chasing chickens, and that made me think of "Lady and the Tramp". We had one happy dog, going home.
Melvin was very nice, and I know his grandson Will from UAF, so I got to meet a couple of his siblings and that was fun too. Shane kept teasing me that he wants Melvin's den, which has moose heads all over the place, and a display of his trophies from a safari he went on in Africa years ago. I told Shane no.
Monday night, a friend of ours came over for dinner, and it was nice to see her. But I was so tired, I was almost falling asleep! Shane took her home at about 10:30, and stayed to chat with her family (he's known them all since he was a kid). I tried to stay up, because Spencer was supposed to be home for a little while that night (apparently a new corridor was opened up, so he came home for about 20 minutes to say goodbye to Shane, then left again) but I ended up falling asleep on the couch. I have only the vaguest memories of Shane dragging me and Pepper up the stairs to go to bed. My poor dog was at least as tired as me, and just fell right asleep anytime she was sitting still for more than a minute. (I even had a hard time waking her up this morning.)
The drive back was mostly uneventful. I drove the first leg so Shane could nap, then he drove after Anchorage and I took a nap. Pepper napped most of the car ride, and I got a couple of cute pictures. We of course stopped at Jersey Subs (best sub shop ever!) and then again at the Moose's Tooth for more pizza. As soon as we got back home (after 11:00) and unpacked the food Shane's mom sent up with us (as always) I did my workout and then went to bed.