I'm so behind... but here I am, nonetheless. So we had 2 big visits from siblings and their fams this summer... the post above chronicles my brother's visit. Our second sibling visit was from Clayton's brother and family. I'd like to start this blog post by thanking God for the lovely weather he sent to Alaska for the AZ Johnson's visit. Last summer, we had rain pretty much every day. THIS summer, we had sun pretty much the ENTIRE time except for one day in Homer and one day in Anchorage. 14 days of sun out of 16. You CANNOT beat that in July, folks. (in all, this has been a GREAT summer weather-wise, for sure)
Editor's Note: I ought to be ashamed about the lack of good pictures from all our summer visitors this year.. I'm telling myself that since this was the AZ Johnson's second visit, I was less diligent with the camera... Don't spoil that for me, it's working. I seemed to get good pics of the kids but there is a severe lack of group shots this time around. Will work on that next summer for ALL of our visitors.
So how did we spend our second annual AZ Johnson visit? First answer: OUTSIDE, baby, outside! The weather was so much more cooperative this time around so we did, we went outdoors (and sometimes in shorts and sometimes without rain jackets!). One of the days that Clayton worked, we took the kids to a campsite at Eagle River Campground.. that is about 5 minutes from home but it feels like several hours removed. We built a fire (eventually) and the kids rode their bikes, hiked and ate their way through the afternoon. It was a really fun day. Some of the highlights were the kids finding a moose across the river (no pictures, take it on faith)... grilling the perfect hot dog and the boys putting out the fire in a way that only little boys can (I do have pictures but you'll have to message me for them, I'm not that stupid to post them on this blog!). Suffice it to say, nothing in the world smells quite like a campfire put out by urine. NOTHING. Super disgusting!!
Playing with or in the fire.. it never gets old for boys, does it??
The ONE thing we didn't bring enough of on this day trip was water... and all the water faucet things in the campground were out of order. I can't remember how exactly we solved the problem (without driving home or to the store).. I sort of think I found some water bottles in the car leftover from a previous hiking trip.. all's well that ends well as none of the kids ended up with diarrhea :)
This is Evie wearing the shark bike helmet, always a hit with kids.. this is also one of the last days that Evie got to be called by her Christian name. Our neighbor Ryan thought everyone was calling Evie "Debbie".. it stuck. Evie's Alaska name is heretofore Debbie or Deb. However you are moved. And the sad thing is, she answers to it!! Hilarity at the expense of an innocent child. It was also around this time that Troy was rechristened as Roy. Same circumstances. Too funny!! What goes around comes around, however.. Loges decided to rename Ryan's mom Christy "Crispy".
Our biggest adventure on this trip was a 3 dayer down to Homer. We rented a fabulous house overlooking the bay. It had plenty of actual beds, an enormous yard and an awesomely stocked kitchen. The boys (adult ones) went on an overnight halibut charter with the benefit being 4 halibut coming home versus 2. This is a pic of the kids on the beach at Homer.
On the docks, sending the men off on their fishing adventure.. You want to make a bunch of adults sweat?? Let 6+ kids run wild on a dock.. Seriously. I kept saying "They'll roll to a float if they go in. I promise!!" It helped not at all. And for the record, no one fell in. But if they had, they'd have been a-ok.
All the guys boarding the boat. A few coasties, a few reserve pilots and some granddads.
The white boat is the dads' fishing boat heading out to open waters (I guess).. it was cool for the kids to see them head out.
So what does one do with a huge rental house in Homer?? You invite all your friends over for a fish fry! We made the most tasty fish tacos ever. I suppose it doesn't hurt to fry halibut that had been swimming peacefully in the ocean with its friends 12 hours earlier.. I think we had 25+ people in the house for dinner that night. It was so much fun!! This picture was probably taken about 10:00 pm, don't be deceived by the sunlight.. summer in AK and all! We managed to convince the Feuchts to stay and play Nerts. Too much fun.
So how do you top an awesome trip to Homer?? Besides stopping at the DQ in Soldotna for the world's best blizzards?? (side note, the DQ burned to the ground that night.. how horrible for EVERYONE!!!! Hope they rebuild and carry on with their awesome blizzard making) You top off an awesome trip by totaling the Alitma. For reals. The thing is, there is so much more to this story (including, but not limited to the fact that they boys and TJ stopped to fish for salmon unbeknownst to Melissa and I.. which made for a 4-5 hour lag in hearing from them once the moms arrived home in Eagle River.. and no cell service.. suffice it to say, the imaginations tend to get a little wild!). Fortunately, it wasn't Clayton's fault. Some TOURIST in a rented truck/camper BACKED UP on the Seward highway, right into the Altima. The only mammal harmed was the Altima which was promptly totaled out by USAA. As you can tell from the picture (taken at nearly midnight), the hood flew up whilst driving home. MacGuyver and brother did what they could with fishing line to tie it down. Looked a lot like Tommy Boy minus the deer in the backseat. UGH!!! Oh, and if you're wondering, no salmon were harmed on this outing..
A mega hike up the North Face at Alyeska... my absolute #1 choice of hikes in our area by a long shot. This is BEFORE :)
Almost to the top... all the kids. It was an incredibly beautiful day!
The one and only picture of Melissa and I. We were WORKING HARD!!
The kids and I at the top of the tram.. you hike up and ride the tram down (for free). This is what our ski runs look like in the summer. So strange!
The brothers.. the ONLY picture on my camera of them together..So that's it for pictures.. but not the memories!! Some things you don't see on film... Melissa and I conquering Super Mario Brothers (well, it was all her.. I was in a friggin' bubble); ten people buckling into a 9-buckle Tahoe; empty bottles of champagne; countless candy/cookie/brownie treats consumed; hysterical laughing at 1:00 in the morning; an impromptu 4th of July celebration at our house; wild cheering Kara on to her first goal in soccer.. then Melissa and Clayton getting trash-talked by the other team's coach for being too close to the goalie (Kara) during game-play; thousands (literally) of legos spread over the top floor of our house and the hours of entertainment they provided... It was another great trip. Again, we thank Roy and Melissa for dragging their family up here. We love you!!
To Eli, I say this: Thank you for sleeping in Kara's room. I LOVE the sweet relationship you guys have. I hope it stays like that for a long time. I love listening to you school the younger boys on life and legos. Thanks, too, for endlessly entertaining me on our hike as we came up with synonyms galore. I will never forget that :)
TJ: Your quiet sweetness with Clay warms my heart.. You guys look alike to me with your big brown eyes. I also love watching you and Kara forge a new relationship the last few visits as well. Hug Jojo for me!!! The real Jojo would like to come live at your house.. can we work on that??
Oh Logey.. you make me laugh (you and Grayson together ruin my bladder control all together). I love your smelly shee blankets! Thanks for going shopping with me even though it didn't work out quite as well for you as you'd hoped :) I'm sorry in advance for never letting go of Bushee stories.. not even when you're married.
To my only niece Debbie.. As for your name change, well, blame Ryan.. it's just so FUNNY! I love how girlie you are.. but at the same time, you will be able to take any of these boys in another 6 months to a year (if not sooner). I'm sorry you spent so much of your time in Alaska in our guest closet but you really did look tired!!!!! Maybe next year you will be able to hike on your own two feet? Then again, maybe not...