Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grand Coulee with the Jensens

Anni came first, with Maren and James.  We Knights had been having cousin withdrawals since we left Tucson.  You can imagine how we felt about our visitors.  Serious play commenced immediately.  Maren's favorite game, probably inspired by Sammy, was playing "grown up."  This involved one child being the baby and the other child being the mom.  The baby had to sit in the baby rocker or the crib while the mom sang to them and fed them a bottle.  Eloise loved it.  
 Grandpa Michael really wanted us to come and visit him in Grand Coulee.  Anni and I weren't terribly excited at the prospect of making that long trip with the kids, especially in the winter, and especially right after they had spent the day traveling on a plane from Houston, but my dad really wanted us to come, so we worked it out.  Originally, our plan had been to wait until the end of the week to go.  Anni arrived on the 14th, and Grandpa was leaving on the 19th to make his holiday trip to Utah.  We were going to go out on Wednesday or Thursday.  We were foiled by the weather.  A huge storm was predicted for Wednesday evening (12+ inches of snowfall), so we were forced to move our trip up to Tuesday or face the prospect of getting stranded somewhere.  What is worse than taking seven children in a car on a day long road trip?  Getting stranded somewhere and turning it into a multiple day road trip.
Of we went, jet lagged, runny nosed, and all.  I got this terrible picture of James's first time seeing snow.  My expectations for the drive were low, so everyone did quite well.
 We got to dry falls around 12:30.  Note for future reference: do not take toddlers to the dry falls lookout.  The guard "rails" protecting the public from falling over this sheer cliff are loosely strung chains that children can easily duck under.  Anni was in a panic with James.  We were able to move a couple of the carseats into Grandpa's car here, so it got a little less cramped.
 Grandpa was excited to show us where he works.  The kids were excited to make a copy of their hand on the copy machine.  I remember loving to do this in Dad's office when I was a kid, too.
 Grandpa took us on a little driving tour of some of the landmarks in the area.  We stopped so he could introduce us to his postmaster friend, and then we drove to the Grand Coulee Dam visitor's center which was deserted on this frigid evening.  The museum was fun, and very interactive for the kids.  They all enjoyed trying out the reduced power jackhammer, and putting their heads in the diving suit from the 1930s.
Next we went to Grandpa's house, where he had prepared dinner.  I'm so glad we got to see him this Christmas season!  I think showing us all the life he has made for himself meant a lot to him.  Cheyenne pointed out to me later that this may be the first time any of us has paid him a visit in almost 20 years.  Usually he comes to see us, or we meet somewhere.
 B is a hugger.
 By the time we took our parting photo, the kids were completely done, and we had stayed an hour too long.  I tried to warn Annika that Sammy does not like driving at night, but we were all happy to not be in the car, so it was hard to be motivated to go back out into the cold night.
 We had a hotel reservation in Ellensburg, which is just over two hours away from Grandpa's house in tiny Grand Coulee.  Sammy cried all of the way from Electric City (five minutes out of Grand Coulee) to George (15 minutes away from Ellensburg), keeping most of the other kids awake, too.  When we arrived at our hotel, all of the kids woke up.  Maren was crying that Washington made her nervous, Grandpa Michael made her nervous, and she wanted to go home to Texas.  B fell asleep quickly, but woke up multiple times in the night because he had a fever.  This was one of those rare occasions when the cousins come together with lots of sickness and disease and leave perfectly healthy.  Maren and James both had fevers over the course of the next week, and there was some vomiting, and lots of coughing, but most of it had cleared up by Christmas.  Sammy was restless, James was restless, and no one slept well in the hotel.  I shared a bed with Jared and Sammy, which means I had about six inches of sleeping space, which didn't really matter, since I spent a lot of the night on the floor with B.   Did I mention that my expectations were very low?  The night in the hotel met expectations.
In the morning, everyone was alert and chipper with the prospect of swimming in the hotel pool.  The water was a little cool, but not too bad.   It is a little unnerving to swim with snow and ice outside the windows.   The Texans complained of the cold first.

This is the best picture of the trip.  What a cute bunch of kids!
 We stopped for a little snow play at a parking lot off of I-90 near the summit of Snoqualmie Pass.  James and Sammy had fallen asleep, so Anni took the other kids out of the parking lot to play while I stayed with the babies.
Brrrrrrr!  We were happy to be home safe and sound before the storm started.  This was quite an adventure.

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