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July 18, 2002
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White Falls, Mosquitoes, and S'mores

Jet was up once last night, and I made the mistake of trying to move him from his position half on and half off the mattress when I came back from using the restroom after he'd gone back to sleep. He woke up. He also rolled away from me and managed to put his head, sideways, under our bed. When Jet tried to sit up from that position, his head was wedged under the bedframe and he woke up screaming.

Poor tyke. It took me a while to get him back to sleep. John took him for a while, too, and rocked with him out in the loft for a while.

While they did that, I closed the window to the room as there was supposed to be spraying for mosquitoes this morning at 5:30 am. We all slept through 5:30 easily. Jet woke up around 6:30 and John just took him out at that point and let me sleep. It wasn't until 8 that I woke up to the sound of a helicopter above us. I was pretty well slept-out by that point, so I just got up and showered, and had breakfast.

When I came down, it was clear that a bunch of folks had cleared out of the cabin. The rooms that had been used were being cleaned out, the linens washed and the folks left at the other cabin moved stuff down here. It wasn't exactly quiet, but it was obvious that there were fewer people. Jet fell down for a nap around 10, and at 11, he popped back up when folks came back from the fish hatchery down the lane.

Now that he was awake, we packed him into the car, along with Susan and Kelsey. Three other car loads of people came along as well and we went to the White Falls trail. It was a ways away from the lake, down some twisty dirt roads. It felt like it took forever to find the trail head, and for the first time in a long time I felt car sick. I was in the back with Kelsey and Jet, helping her entertain him as we went. Jet got pretty mad just before we got there; but Susan's Tic Tac box and a plastic spoon in plastic saved the day. I think it was a combination of the twisty forest road, the Impala's swaybacked suspension, and my trying to watch Jet closely that made me so sick, but once I got out of the car, I felt much better.

It was a gorgeous little hike. It started at the falls, on a bridge that crossed them right t the trail head. We watched the water roaring over the edge in a white cascade for a long time. Jet was happy to be put into the backpack and he perched, peering out at everyone and everything from over my shoulder. He had one hand on my shoulder, and his feet kicked the frame with every step I took, again. John said he looked very happy.

So we walked. I wore my new shoes, and loved them going over the rocks and path. They were tight enough to stay with me on the downhills, and had plenty of room for my longer toes. My other sneakers keep bashing the second toe on my right foot. To the point where the nail on that toe was never healing. I can now throw those out.

The hike itself was beautiful. Amid cedar and fir. There were cedar trees as big as some of the smaller redwoods that I've seen. The red bark bits making a soft forest carpet under our feet. There were wild flowers in profusion, Bernd found a tiger striped lily-like thing along the path, all red and gold stripes against a cream petal. There were bluebells, white stars as small as pinheads, and tangles of blackberry bramble cut back from the paths. It was all alive. All green.

We walked up and down hill and walked through the filtered sunlight. We hit a stream that had a high road and a low road. The high was a series of boulders, placed for good hopping across the stream. The low road was the gravel bed of the stream itself. Most of us took our shoes and socks off to cross the stream. I'd asked John to take Jet just a little ways before the stream, and he risked the high road. He found a sturdy branch and used it as another support as he moved across. He made it easily. My feet were numb by the time I was across. It felt wonderful.

We headed further in, and Jet watched everything with interest. Everyone looked for a sunny spot by the river in order to eat lunch.

Mosquitoes mobbed us all. There were so many of them, that Jet was surrounded by a cloud of them, and as fast as I slapped at them, waved them off, or killed them, more came. Jet was a sitting target. They even bit John. He nearly never gets bites, but they were landing on him and biting every exposed section of skin plus landing on his shirt and trying to bite him through that as well. Emily said she wasn't going to stay and get eaten alive, and I agreed with her.

We hiked back. I wasn't especially hungry and I was upset about all the mosquitoes. I hate that they steal blood from me. I hate itching for a week or three after. I hate the welts. I have one welt on my left leg that left a bit, dark scar that's been there forever. I just scratched it too much, I think. But it's now a permanent part of me. I hate that.

By the time we got back to the stream crossing, the mosquitoes were gone. It was sunny there. Kelsey and Emily were wading back and forth in their sandals, helping people cross the rock bridge. Bernd was helping as well. It was fun to take a little time to drink some water, and watch them play. I loved the sound of water running over the rocks. We took the last leg back easy, after the rush away from the bugs. We studied some of the fallen cedars as well as one giant one that had gotten its top knocked off, somehow. There were now six different 'trees' growing from the immense base, and some of those were at least eight feet in diameter. The whole was unthinkably enormous.

By the time we got back to the bridge, Jet was asleep. He rode easily in the backpack while asleep, and we got our pictures taken on the bridge, along with everyone else. We finally thought to bring out the video camera and took some film there as well. I probably should have gone back to the ford or to the cedar, but I was too tired. It had been a good work out with the hills and with Jet in the pack.

We had some lunch out there in the parking lot. Water, bread, goat cheese, carrots, and apple slices were plenty.

From there we headed back just a bit, and saw a different stage of the falls. Jet woke up on being put in the car, and I carried him in. It was right by the campsite. The water was channeled into a very, very narrow crevice that fell several hundred feet and the top was more rock chute than drop. The channeled water then fell to a pool. The fall was so hard and so fast, that the water in the pool was shooting up nearly to the take-off point of the water. On the near side of it was a huge boulder, as well, so to look at the falls, we had to scramble up and then either on the boulder or to either side of it.

The mist from the falls filled the air with water. It made all the surfaces just a little slick with water. And the roar and thunder of the falls was hard to talk over. I didn't want Jet running around amid all the drops, the incredibly fast water, and the boulders. So I just held onto him and fed him a slow but steady stream of fruit snacks, water, and baby grahams. He was completely content to be carried that way. I was very glad.

When John left, the fruit snacks and Jet went with him. I then climbed the mossy places, stared into an abyss, at its ice green heart, and breathed the coolness of its breath. The rush and roar of water just rattled my bones, and I could close my eyes and feel the earth tremble with the falling water. I had no one to worry about, and that was an amazing relief, even with Jet quiet and happy while he was there.

We headed home. Took a scenic route home by some property that Walt and Cathie own out here. Then we headed back to the cabin. John took Jet hot tubbing until Jet started to just float instead of swimming around. But when I nursed him, Jet refused to nap. So we just let him stay up and play.

When dinner time rolled around everyone did potluck. Jan made a salad, but everyone ate whatever they wanted to eat out of the ton or two of leftovers that were in the fridge. There were jokes about how we would be bringing home as much food as we'd brought; but there were significant dents made in what was left.

All the leftover salmon, vegetable lasagna, and kabobs were eaten. The green chile stew was demolished. There were frozen tamales that Walt and Cathie brought, which everyone ate with gusto. They were pretty spicy, though, so a few folks opted out of that. Amazingly, to me, at least, Jet ate about half of one of my tamales. I avoided giving him much of the really spicy filling, but he loved the corn wrapping, and ate as much of it as I'd give him. He even picked up my plate and tried to find more crumbs when we were done with the main pieces.

Before and after dinner, Jet was a running Jet. He ran everywhere, inside, outside, around people, around the hot tub, and around with everyone else. Before dinner, some of the kids stayed in the hot tub after Jet had gotten out. He went back to it to play with them. Some of the other kids were having a water fight, and Jet would occasionally get splashed, though everyone said to watch out for the baby. The looks of outrage Jet had were wonderful; but he wasn't scared by any of it. He just kept going back.

I was glad of that.

He'd also discovered a stash of Legos in the closet by the TV upstairs and he loved playing with all the truck pieces out of that. Cathie, Emily and Yuri as well as John and I played with him occasionally. It was fun to give him big structures that he'd happily pull apart.

He also watched a bit of The Nutty Professor with Emily and Yuri. He clapped while the crowds were cheering, danced to some hip hop, and generally ignored it otherwise. He's pretty good about ignoring the TV when it's on.

So by the time it was nine, Jet was pretty tired. He was so tired that when I nursed him, he fell asleep so soundly just off the first side, that I could not wake him after it. I shook him a little, spoke his name, and tried to stand him up. He was just dead asleep. So I finally just put him on his mattress, and he didn't even turn onto his side. He just stayed asleep.

It was an early evening for him. I was pretty well rested from this morning, so I was able to write a little, and then Yuri, Walt and I cooked marshmallows for s'mores on the campfire in the fire pit just outside the cabin. It was a fire we wouldn't have been able to have if we'd been in Colorado. It was small, well contained, and there were some good coals going. It took a little while, but John found me a thin poker that I could use for the marshmallows.

They cooked nicely, though the poker was kind of big and heavy for the job, two fit on the hook, and one fit on the tip. There were four big packages of chocolate, two huge bags of marshmallows, and a giant box of graham crackers. None of which had been broken into until tonight. Between the two of us, we used probably a fourth of the supplies and supplied everyone in the house with s'mores that wanted them and ate a few extra ones ourselves. All the brothers ended up by the campfire at some time, and it was really fun to just sit and talk and be with them.

There really is nothing like having all four of them in one place, bouncing ideas, jokes, thoughts amongst themselves. There's the family shorthand in some of the talk, but not much of it, and little implied. Most of it is just out there. They talk, expand, brainstorm, and there's very little that's negative. They add to ideas. They don't cut anyone down. It's just a very interesting dynamic to listen to and think about.

I roasted marshmallows, avoided the smoke, and made snacks for a while. Yuri took over the roasting for a while as well, and then Walt toasted some beauties. I ate a few more than I should have, but there will be plenty of time to diet when I'm home. I went to sleep with smoky hair and a smile. That was very cool indeed.

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