Our destination was Cascade Lake north of Boise, Idaho in the mountains, where the state starts to funnel in toward the narrow panhandle at the top. Ray's cousin, Sue, lives near the lake and invited us all for a Grant family reunion.
It was an 8+ hour drive for us and we arrived tired, but happy to see everyone and just in time for dinner.
Most of the families had trailers that they parked on Sue's expansive acreage. We are the city slicker cousins who don't own a trailer or camper or even any camping equipment, so we opted for the Ashley Inn, which turned out to be very Victorian and frilly, with rose-themed wallpaper, potpourri and schmalzy muzak throughout. Somehow, in the wilds of Idaho, I had expected rustic, lodge-y accommodations. Go figure.
Family reunions are interesting affairs. Some of the family members are people we see frequently, others we see every few years at funerals or reunions and a few are people we have never met—mostly children and/or grandchildren of cousins. How strange it must be for a child to take in all these strangers, who are now "family".
As new arrivees drift in there are hugs all around and lots of back slapping and explanations of just how we are connected—"I'm Ray's wife."—"Jerry's daughter."—"You must be Jim's son-in-law."—"this is our granddaughter."
And then catching up with parents and siblings and anyone else not present. Who had surgery? Who is retiring? Who just went to Italy? Who needs another cold beer??
We gather in a big circle of lawn chairs and visit as the pine trees rustle and the mosquitos buzz and the sun slips behind the mountains. Then Sue, our hostess, hustles everyone up out of chairs and instructs us to grab sweaters and lawnchairs. We are caravanning to the perfect spot to watch the fireworks where we set up our chairs and hunker down to wait for the big show. The kids are impatient. The adults keep promising that it will be worth the wait. Then the show begins and it IS worth the wait! We hear the first high-pitched whistle of a rocket spiralling upward and the sky explodes with color and suddenly the the squirmy, whiny children are enthralled.
We ooh and we ahhh and when it is finally finished with a dramatic flourish of bursting stars and rockets and twinkling showers of sparks, we realize how tired we are and gather up children and blankets and chairs and say our "good nights". Today was a long day. Tomorrow we go to the lake.