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20 July 2008

Vacation 2008 Notes: Day 1

Monday, 7 July

We managed to leave the house shortly after 6:04 a.m. with my parents leaving just after we did. Our goal was to leave by 6:00, but inwardly, I told myself that I would be happy if we were out by 7:00. So I was surprised when we made this particular mark. That meant that if everything went well, we would be in Rexburg around 11:00.

We stuck the children two to a row, with the boys being in back. Each row is equipped with a DVD player with headphones. Looking back, I think the DVD players are a mixed bag. They occupy the children, which is a good thing. The bad thing though, is that the children miss a lot of the trip. Many of my family road trip memories as a child involve the things I did to occupy myself. Whether it was inventing games that could be played using passing license plates or just watching and appreciating the scenery as we passed by—my kids are missing out on that.

Rexburg approached around 11:00 as predicted. First thing was a stop at the BYU Idaho (formerly Ricks). Nicole wanted to shop at the bookstore. Alyssa threw her first hissy-fit of the trip when we told her it was time to leave the book section and move on. This happened to coincide with the time classes were changing. Usually, her fits don’t embarrass me too much. But I could tell by the looks on these college kids faces that a) I truly was embarrassed and b) they had collectively decided that children would not be a part of their futures. Also, there was a touch of "what kind of parent you must be" in their gazes. Our bookstore trip ended prematurely.

We needed to pick up a few supplies, so off to Wal-Mart where we ran into my parents. Rexburg doesn’t have a Super Wal-Mart (what a misnamed concept!), but it did have a few rows of food. What we didn’t get there we managed to pick up at Rexburg’s hometown grocer, Broulim’s.

As all of this went down, we busied ourselves figuring where we would have lunch. We wanted a picnic. Of all the places we passed, Porter Park seemed to be the best. Wide-open spaces for the children to get around and run and enough shade that I wouldn’t need to apply sun block.

One neat thing that I wasn’t expecting was the free splash park they had for kids. There was no swimming pool, but there were plenty of things that your average <12 year-old would get a big kick out of. I wished we had known about it in advance, because the children sure would have loved it. After eating we took them over to the playground to get their wiggles out.

They didn’t play for too long. Nicole and I were anxious to check into the cabin right at 4 and we had agreed to meet my parents for a 2:30 date at the Ashton fish hatchery. I felt bad for hurrying the children so that we could make our schedule.

I admit—fish hatcheries aren’t typical vacation way points. But I have fond memories of my parents taking us to a fish hatchery in western Montana on a trip when we visited my father’s aunt in the early 80s. I remember what fun it was to watch the fingerlings devour the fish food we sprinkled in. The water would become frothy as the fish, now frenzied, struggled for what must have been a scarce commodity. I wanted all this for my children too.

We ended up having a lot of fun there. At first, one or both of the girls were asleep (I can’t remember), so I ended up taking the boys to look at the fish. (Hatcheries are not Nicole’s thing anyway.) As I expected, they got a kick out of feeding the fish. Alyssa eventually woke up and had the same kind of fun.

It was 20 minutes to 4 when we left the hatchery. Our intention... OK, my intention was to take the scenic route to Island Park (our final destination) and see Mesa Falls instead. Reality hit when I realized that it would add 30-60 minutes to the trip, and that gosh, I was getting tired. Our Mesa Falls trip was scuttled. Off to Island Park.

We arrived at the cabin about 4:20, just as the cleaning person left. The cabin was nicer than I expected, which made me feel good since the nightly rental was kind of steep. We unpacked and stuck the frozen casserole we had prepared the night before in the oven. I regret not taking any pictures of the cabin.

There was still lots of daylight left after dinner, so we gathered up the children and went for a walk. Gavan protested, of course. He does so customarily now whenever he is dragged away with the family. Jack was concerned that he might become fodder for some of the local wildlife. He held my hand for a good portion of the walk.

There was a convenience/grocery store about 3/4 mile down the road from us. Country stores fascinate me (and Nicole too, I think), so I had to take a peek inside. It was as expected—an odd mixture of convenience items, staples and, of course, a cafĂ©. It was situated at a four-way intersection. Across the near street was a restaurant and headquarters for the Island Park Chamber of Commerce. Across the other street (highway 20) there was a rental shop of some sorts (we never ventured over there).

We headed back to the cabin, bathed the children and then put a movie on in the upstairs family room where they would sleep. After such a day we figured they would have a hard time falling asleep and that the movie would help. That was not the case—they watched the whole thing, falling asleep afterward, sometime past 10:30.

The three older kids slept peacefully, but Sadie had a rough time. Allergies were getting the best of her.