She was too excited for words, and I wanted to cry. Another week without my girl! It just doesn't seem fair to a mama. I never knew it would be so hard to share them when I became a mother. And it certainly isn't getting easier - quite the opposite. On the other hand, I am happy that she had so much fun at the bible camp she went to last year, she couldn't wait to go to this one. She wanted to go back to the one in Pendleton this year, but it was during her last week of school, so it didn't work out. However, Vancouver is much closer to home. This year, she has Mater. Last year she had Tex. Brady and I feel really good about her being on a new horse. She has ridden him quite a bit, and Pasty Hayes has done a remarkable job with him. Plus, his personality is the good-natured and sweet, people-pleasing kind that jives perfectly with Brailey. This will be a fantastic bonding experience for the two of them. And so what could we do but pretend to be excited to be dropping her off at her second Rodeo Bible Camp on Sunday?
Mater has been known not to like other horses, but Pasty said he is getting over this. He was very friendly with the horse next to him.
And she met a friend right off the bat! This girl was super friendly and owns the black horse Mater is meeting in the picture above. She came all the way from Pomeroy WA, six hours away.
I just really like this picture below for some reason. Tugs on my heart strings...
Brady and Britt got her cot all set up for her, which she borrowed from Papa. Thank goodness he has this and let her use it. Nearly every kid there has one of these fancy cots. They sleep in huge Army tents, and if you don't have a cot, then you sleep on the ground, which is what Brailey had to do last year. I am sure she is doing much better with this cot.
Below, she is checking out the schedule. She was excited and confident enough for us to leave her on her own. I held it together, but I truly did want to cry.
She looks so short here compared to Britt. But make no mistake - she is growing up. Brady, Britt and I can't wait to pick her up and hear all about her experience! And I think Patsy is feeling the same as us - Mater is like a kid to her, and she loves Brailey, too. What can we say? We're all family, now! Stay tuned to hear about the camp and how it went.
After our wonderful week in Harney County, we made our way home last Friday so we could get Brailey ready for her trail competition on Saturday and Rodeo Bible Camp on Sunday. She gave both Tex and Alvin a bath, which they seemed to appreciate. Look how sparkling clean Texi-Man looks - so cute! We made it to the trail competition first thing Saturday morning. Tex is a funny horse - he's always looking at me. If I didn't know better, I would say he is posing for this picture.
After a nice little warm up in the field, they were ready to go! Brady did this course on Mater with Brailey last year, although the obstacles were different. Britt and I had never been to this one, so it was fun for us to see all the different things horse and rider had to do.
Right off the bat, polo! They actually did what they were supposed to, but took too long to do it. This happened several times throughout the course. There is a one minute time limit, and you can't trot. If you take longer than a minute, you get a "no time." But the sense of accomplishment from just doing some of these obstacles is a great feeling. I remember it from when Alvin and I did it last year. I kind of wish I had rode him through this one, too. He would have done well, I think.
She wore her new helmet from one of our favorite stores, Feed Corral in Newport OR.
Spectators. Pretty handsome fellers, aren't they?
Brailey and Tex did the obstacle in the above picture easily, but they weren't fast enough to get a time. The horse has to really step out to make the time, and Tex being so short, he is a fairly slow walker. Still, they completed the obstacle, and did it with ease!
This lady is one of our favorite people! Darlene and Julie are longtime friends and always so sweet to Brailey. They are the founding members of this trail series, and they run it really, really well. We are huge fans of theirs! Brailey started the day with Julie and ended it with Darlene.
And another trail series done! She still has one more to go in August. She didn't even get to ride Tex the week leading up to this event, because we were camping, so frankly, they did really well. They have a lot of work to do and quite a bit of learning, but this extreme trail riding business will make you a better rider, that's for sure. She really enjoys it, and that is all that matters to Brady and I.
Oh, hi there! We made it to the base of the Strawberry Wilderness in the Malheur National Forest! Nobody had more fun on this camping adventure than Britt - he was in his element and had the time of his life! He was so excited to be back at this camp site, because he and Grandma and Papa had been there before two summers ago when Brailey was in Texas. This is his favorite place in the world, and he was busy building dams, bridges and catching crawdads the entire time we were there. If nobody else had had fun (we all did!), it would still have been worth it, as much joy as Britt had in his heart. He gave new meaning to the word exuberant!
It didn't take him long to get in the creek and start building. He was happily building away from the second we arrived, practically.
While Britt built his bridge, Papa and Brady took a nap. That is, until they were awoken by Brailey's exclamation...
"Look! There's a lobster in the creek!" A lobster? No. But there were quite a few crawdads, which we had never seen. And they do look a bit like a mini lobster. The only one in our group who had seen and caught them before was Brady. So up he got from his nap to come and help his kids catch them. This created a lot of excitement for a good long time. Can you see the crawdaddy in the picture below?
They managed to catch way more than this, but we let them all go. Next time, we decided we might try to cook and eat them. Brady said they're very tasty. Below, the only fish Brady caught. He let it go, of course. It was a cutie!
And then the dam building. I believe there were three different dams built. Britt and Papa made one of them two years ago, and most of it was still there, which was fun for Britt to see.
After two bridges he wasn't satisfied with, he reassessed, rebuilt and finally felt somewhat satisfied with this one, which was actually a very good bridge.
Rosin was a good little pug and didn't even attempt to run off. She had a big time camping! She was helping Papa roast our hot dogs.
Papa decided Britt needed a longer pole to make an even better bridge, and so he cut this one for Britt, and Britt rebuilt his bridge once again. And then and only then was it considered finished. It was perfect!
We made our way to the Strawberry Wilderness. Believe it or not, my parents had never been there. They have been everywhere in this particular forest, but not to the top of the Strawberries. It wasn't quite what we expected... The lake involved a super long hike down, which meant an even longer hike back up. My brother and Aunt Sharon said going down was easy, but coming up was hell. We decided not to do it. So we did a little sight seeing from the top, instead. This area suffered a horrible fire last year, as you can see. It is heartbreaking to see the devastation fires leave.
My mom and I are afraid of heights, and believe me when I tell you this is a pretty scary cliff and mountain. It is super steep and if you are afraid of heights, it will make you nervous.
But still, we made it. And it was a first for all of us to see it. History was made!
I asked them to pose for a picture, and this is what my dad did (stood back from everyone). So funny! Look at the mischief on his face in the picture below.
Just below the trail to the lake that we didn't take, is another trail, Roads End Trail, which isn't on the side of a cliff and didn't involve a lot of climbing. We decided to take a hike on it, and we are so glad we did! We all had a really good time. We made it to the end, and even found snow, which Papa threw at Britt. Of course Britt had to throw some at Papa. Can you believe it? A snowball fight in July!
Grandma was posing for me in this picture. Can you tell? What can we say? She knows how to "strike a pose," even on a hike.
A self-timer picture with my camera on a rock down the hill. We are on the very top of one of the Strawberries. Not the best picture, but an interesting and fun one.
Back at camp, more dam building and a tiny bit of relaxing.
Later that evening, we went to the Malheur River for some fishing. We didn't catch a darn thing or even get a bite, but we did see some beautiful country. Brailey is standing in the Ford of the river, which is where you can drive across the river. We drove down on one side, crossed the river, and drove back to camp on the other side.
She hooked her line on a rock and had to go get it. It was tough on her feet, but she did it. I am holding her pole and taking her picture at the same time. Tricky, aren't I?
The next day we had a bit of sadness about us, because we had to leave. By "us," I mean Britt and Papa. Everyone else was camped out, but those two could stay up there forever. Camping brings out the country in Britt - I've never seen him happier!
We drove to Summit Meadow and then to this little hole of water for one last try at catching a fish. We still didn't get any, but had fun trying. We haven't been successful at any of our fishing endeavors. Papa caught a nice Dolly Varton in Summit Creek, but that's it, other than the shorty Brady threw back in the creek.
Summit Meadow is behind Brailey and Grandma. So pretty!
Britt and Brady wrote a note and put it in a bottle and sent it down Summit Creek. Only time will tell if anyone finds it. Brady put his cell number on the note.
While we were watching the bottle float down the creek, we all her a big splash. It was Rosin, who fell into the creek trying to get a drink. Papa and I are drying her off, below. Pugs can swim, we were happy to see. And she was nice and clean after her second bath. Brailey gave her one the day before. Both pugs had a good time and are veteran campers, now.
They were so excited to see a Murray Campground out in the middle of nowhere. And see that Lake Creek Camp on there? That is where my 4-H camp was that I wrote about earlier this summer (The Summer of Camps Galore). It was an amazing trip, no doubt about it, and when we got back, we had a wonderful surprise - Lexi and Shawn got done haying early and came by for dinner. Brady bought us all Chinese from The Hilander. We watched Donald Trump's speech at the Republican Convention and talked and talked and talked until we were so tired, we had to call it a night. It was heartwarming, to say the least, to see Brailey and Lexi so comfortable with each other, and as I mentioned in my previous post about our golfing and family dinner, it is such a treat to have Shawn back in our lives. Our vacation was delightful, and we have been going full throttle since we got home. These are the blessed, summer days. Yes, these are truly the days!
This blog is dedicated to my family as a way to share our history and to document memories. My kids are a dream come true for me (see January, The Best Days of Our Lives), and I've found blogging to be a great way to remember all the magnificent things they say and do. We are a unique, fun, special family, and I thank God every single day for the blessing of my 3 wonderful B's.