35 (!) years ago my Camping Family was born. The first generation women (my mom falls here) met while working as nurses as St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, and after they and their spouses all became friends, they began the tradition of an annual summer camping trip.
Throughout the last 33 years, 13 children – the second generation (Sara and I fall here) – joined the Camping Family, and when the second generation was still young, the tradition of an annual winter hotel trip was added.
Throughout the last 10 years, seven spouses and two significant others – part of the second generation (Tom and Jeff fall here) – joined the Camping Family. Then 10 children – the third generation (Will, Hallie, and Lily fall here) – joined the Camping Family. And sadly, we said goodbye to one family member, my kind, thoughtful, “big brother” Camping Cousin Matt.
My Camping Cousin Adam posted a Camping Family group picture on his Facebook page this week, and he captioned the picture, “the loves of my life”. I couldn’t agree more. I have known these people since the day I was born or the day they were born. In addition to our annual summer camping and winter hotel trips, we have spent birthdays, Easters, Thanksgivings, and Christmases together. We have been there for each other’s sporting events, musical recitals, and theatrical performances. We have attended each other’s graduations, and attended or even participated in each other’s weddings. Many of my most amazing adventures and memorable experiences involve these people. Many of my funniest stories involve these people. They are, in many ways, the loves of my life.
So…that is why last week the four of us met up with my parents; Aunt Sara, Uncle Jeff, and baby Lily; and nearly all of my Camping Family in Stevenson, Washington for CC Ben’s (Hyer - hence the title of this post) wedding.
Stevenson, Washington (and the Colombia River Gorge, where we stayed and played), while VERY far away, is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.
The view from our hotel room at the Skamania Lodge.
Checking out the carpet in the hotel room.
Baby Lily has an adorable laugh, but she doesn’t let us hear it all that often (she’s too busy yelling). Turns out Lily finds Hallie jumping on the bed to be just about the funniest thing in the world though, so for the first time ever, a parent encouraged – even begged – her child to jump on the bed.
After the jumping-on-the-bed game, I asked Hallie to sit with Lily so I could take a picture of them together. Hallie is apparently pretty used to be the smallest person in any picture, so she walked over to Lily and sat down – in Lily’s lap. Lily did not seem to mind.
Will, Tom, Grandpa, and Sean playing various ball sports on the hotel lawn.
Remember Hallie’s foot phone? Apparently Anne, Amanda, Marsha, and Grandma – after a few beverages – decided to follow suit and drop their cell phone plans in favor of foot phone plans. The reception in Stevenson wasn’t great.
Photo ops in front of the Colombia River Gorge.
Photo bombs – by the king of photo bombs and his apprentice.
The Skamania Lodge sundial – completely accurate!
Tom and Hallie, sunning themselves on the rocks.
Camping family swimming.
Kyle - very creative.
Amanda and Autumn.
Avery. Those eyes!
Lily and Grandma.
Jeff and Autumn.
Jim and John.
Uncle Jeff and Will, who was on his way up about nine feet in the air.
Uncle Jeff and Will, after Will came down from nine feet in the air on his stomach. Classic belly flop.
Will, passionately jamming on his air guitar.
Hallie and Avery, enjoying their Teddy Grahams and a pretty good conversation, considering they’re both two.
A hug for baby Autumn.
Uncle Jeff and Will watching Wipeout, Will's new favorite show.
Stay tuned for the second installment of "Your Love is Lifting Me Hyer" later this week!