The location: South Lake Tahoe.
The Date: July 25 through July 30th, 2007
The reason: CJ's family's annual Brekke Family Reunion, which occurs around every 5 years (give or take).
The trip: Wednesday ~ We flew out of our airport at 8:30 AM, had a layover in Salt Lake City, and arrived in Sacramento after 6 hours of travel. Keifer did excellent on both flights, and actually LAUGHED as we were taking off during both lift-offs.
It was hot and sweaty when we arrived in Sacramento, and with all our luggage, carry-ons, stroller, car seat, and baby (in Hotsling the entire 2nd plane ride, through the airport, and on the shuttle to our rental car), it made for an exhausting arrival.
Waiting in the Salt Lake City airport for one more flight
We picked up our Ford 500, and took off for stop #1: Lunch with my friend from my private, online message board: Jeri Anne, and her two beautiful boys, Austin, and Ryan. Jeri Anne is honestly one of the sweetest women on earth, and it was so nice to connect face- to -face with her, and CJ enjoyed meeting another of my friends "in real life". Jeri Anne drove an hour to meet up with the Soup family, and when we got lost due to Mapquest not giving us all the info upon finding our destination, she helped navigate us to the Applebees. She and I took the obligatory pictures after our lunch , that us message board ladies try to do at each "real life" meeting, and then it was back on the road, for the 2 hour trip up the mountains to Lake Tahoe.
Ryan, Jeri Anne, me (after 12 hours of travel, blech), & Keif)
Keifer did great on the ride - it was mommy that experienced being car sick for the first time EVER in her life (guess the older I get, the less movement I can handle). I fought the morning sickness feeling the entire drive, and begged CJ to slow down each turn we came upon, which was every 2 feet it seemed. We arrived and were in awe of the beautiful Lake Tahoe, truly a small piece of heaven on earth. Driving in, I took this picture: the first of what I could see of the lake:Thursday ~ we woke up, enjoyed our free continental breakfast (gotta love those,although most places could stand to be a little less carb-loaded *LOL*), and met up with a few members of the family, who were starting to straggle in. The rest of our immediate family arrived around noonish, and then we all hung out by the pool, after CJ, Keif, and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll up and down the street in front of our Hotel - The Inn By The Lake (which we highly recommend this beautiful place! Very friendly people, always ready to help us, and ready for the family that descended upon them). Keifer had her first experience in the pool, much to her dismay (see the dropshots of this), and then we met some more family members as the continued to arrive from far and wide.
Keif (monkey girl) chillin' like a villain before her first pool time Gotta keep up with our reading every day (Keif LOVES her books! Yay!)Abby and Mason were enjoying every second in the pool, and Abbers convinced her Uncle, Daddy, Mom, and Uncle (as well as her new friend, Tom: CJ & Corey's cousin's hubby) to give her rides and "flip her" off their shoulders. I think she was a mermaid in another life.
Mommy tries to ease Keif into the pool - much to K's horror! CJ, Great-Aunt/Cousin Geri and Keifer hanging out (Keifer in the Snugride Swing frame, thanks to Jen Prince for borrowing us this lifesaver!)
CJ and I let Nana Marge enjoy Keifer for an hour while we ran next door to the Tahoe Bowl and enjoyed one of the yummiest pizzas on earth, along with a few brewskis (yeah, mommy got a buzz very quickly). Then it was back to the Inn, where Mama relaxed with her Harry Pottter and Daddy went out for a fun night with his cousin, Brent, dad Jimbo, and his brother, Corey.
Friday ~ In the AM, auntie Jill and I worked out in the Inn's "exercise area", worked up a great sweat, and then enjoyed another breakfast. Some of our family members took a walk down to a local art fair, and enjoyed the sights. We picked up some sub sandwiches on the way home, and then relaxed before the 5 PM Meet and Greet picnic, scheduled for that evening.
Mason & his Daddy in front of a big, big tree
Keif tried showing Nana how she can sit up (or tried to!)
That evening, we cleaned up and joined the rest of the family for a reunion picnic. Uncle Carl welcomed us all, and gave a little speech, and then it was time to break out the food, wine and spirits, and get to know each other. Keifer turned out to be the youngest relative there, at a wee 3 months old, the next oldest being Braden, at 10 months old. The younger kids ran around, mostly boys (poor Abby!), and were tackling each other, swiping at each other, and jumping off fences with each other like they've known each other forever. Must be nice to be a youngster. LOL. I got to meet so many family members - it was almost overwhelming, but yet my memory proved to be quite good, and I was able to connect who is who and who belonged to whom, etc.. It was great to see that all families seem to be alike - everybody was so friendly and I immediately felt at ease with the large group -around 60 people or so, plus children.
We enjoyed the food and company, and that evening, Keifer had a late night. I went back eventually to rescue Papa Jim from watching her, while CJ stayed out til around 2 AM with his cousins, catching up and enjoying reconnecting with them (*side bar: next time, I get to enjoy a night doing this! Right, Nikki?!*).
Getting my ears filled with B.S. from Dick (on the left), while Papa Jim hangs outGriffin & Mason: cousins and new pals
Abby taking advantage of cousin Brent (Uncle Brent's) shoulders
Marge (my MIL), her cousin Ingrid, & me
Saturday ~ CJ, Jill, Keifer and myself, along with some other various family members, took a short drive to the California/Nevada border, to Heavenly Mountain Valley . CJ, Jilly, myself and Keifer took one gondola, and CJ's uncle Kermit, Uncle Carl and Aunt Wanda took another one up to the top. When you talk about taking your breath away, this was what that phrase means. WOW. Just wow. We stopped at one lookout point, and took the obligatory pictures, ones that resemble a postcard. I could feel the high altitude in my shortness of breath, although Keifer seemed just fine with the traveling up high. We then took the gondola up another 1000 feet or so to the top of the mountain, where we enjoyed a lunch at an outdoor restaurant, and enjoyed chatting to our lunch neighbors about Keifer (*everywhere we went, people commented on her*). What a fun time. We wished we had more time to just sit and relax at the top, but it was back down to get back to the Inn, to clean up for our buffet dinner that evening. After our dinner, we went back to hang out, and CJ enjoyed game night in his cousin Missy's room, with other family members. Again, I hung out and finished reading Harry Potter - partly sad that I wanted to get to know his cousins a bit better - but also enjoying every last drop of Harry.
Up, up, up we go in the gondola (eeks, not for the faint of heart!)
Doesn't it resemble a post card?
In front of Heavenly Mountain ski trails
My new favorite Keifer pic: getting ready to go to dinnerSunday ~ We got up and got ready for our picnic at Pope Beach. This was "the event' of the whole reunion: imagine almost 100 people gathered around food, on the beach, with children everywhere, in and out of the water, with geese stalking you for food, and a million cameras all going *snap snap* at once. It was the most beautiful weather, and Auntie Jill took over Keifer duties for awhile - she really enjoyed holding her in the hotsling. I had Keifer all dressed to the nines in the most adorable watermelon and ant outfit that she inherited from cousin Aubrie. It barely fit her, but I'd been planning this "picnic" outfit for months! LOL. CJ's cousin Denise had brought some pinatas for the kids to whack at, which proved to be quite the hit, and so much fun to watch. We had such a great time, again, getting to catch and up chat with many people, take more pictures, and exchanging promises to keep in touch and hopefully get together again in the future.
Keif is a lucky girl to have such great Papas! Here she's gazing adoringly at Papa Jimbo!
Some of the kids gathered around for a whack at the pinata
One of the group shots: this is MOST of the family that was there, minus the few "out-laws" (those who married into the family), taking the pics
The whole Soup familyWe headed back to the Inn, enjoyed our last evening of pool time, and ordered pizzas by the pool. CJ and I did some laundry (mostly our spitty burp clothes and bibs), and re-packed up all our suitcases, as we were leaving Monday for the next leg of our trip: Portland, OR, to visit our egg donor, Mooshie/Michele, and her family.
Great-Uncle Kermit & Great-Auntie Beth: Kermit gifted Keifer with this froggy outfit at one of my baby showers: (get it? Kermit? LOL)
It was sad to say goodbye to our family, and to leave the beautiful South Lake Tahoe area. The time seemed to go by in a blink of an eye, and as always, I was a bit choked up as we drove out of town. I hate having to leave places that have proved to be so memorable for us, and hopefully, we'll be able to visit this site again in the near future.