The reunion idea took off, and we enjoyed each other so much, that it has become an annual event, with the cast changing slightly as new grand-children come into the picture, or students, missionaries, or newlyweds miss the event for a year.
I had flown to Portland where I joined my son Thor and wife Sarah on a long mountain-bike and road trip to Lake Tahoe. I posted photos and told the story in my previous post.
This year our niece, Liz, married Jason, who brought his children to meet all the new relatives.
Jason and Liz are world travelers: rumor has it that Jason proposed on a hospital bed after a ski accident; then a second time (when not on drugs) in Singapore at a candle-light dinner. Liz has traveled around the world, visiting Nepal, the Far East, and points beyond. Jason works internationally, so they are among the wanderers in the tribe. Our family has two kinds of members: those that bought a home and settled down, and those who wander. Each of my brothers and sisters has a daughter who wanders; my own Daphne is the wanderer in my family. I'm caught in the middle, owning a house in Alaska, but wandering half the year.
I had flown from Anchorage to Portland to visit my son Thor and daughter-in-law Sarah; together we would slowly make our way south, riding the extensive mountain bike trails durning the day, and camping at night. Thor and Sarah were excited to see John and Erica, fellow mountain bike racers and spend a day with them on the trails. On Saturday, Erica had planned to quietly escape for a couple of hours and do a race at the local ski area. Thor and Sarah wanted to watch, so I tagged along for the adventure.
At noon we had planned to meet my cousin, Linda, and her husband Garry at "Burger Me" in Truckee. We were late, so the cousins wandered for an hour. "Burger Me" is a fine establishment, and I'm a connoisseur of fine burgers. I of course selected the basic burger; Thor the most extreme one.
On the beach! The sand was warm; the kids were in pig heaven; the adults were like kids. I, with my Alaska tan, sat under an umbrella.
The kids played in the lake, where nephew Will took them crawdad hunting. They came back with a bucket full of the wiggly creatures. Some wanted to eat them for dinner; common sense prevailed, and the little crustaceans were returned to the water and swam back under the rocks.
Jim's wife, Teri, brought her daughter Auri and her children. You'd think a family would know all its members, but I hadn't met Auri all these years, so it was such a treat to finally connect.
Grant had to work on Saturday, hosting the zoning folks. I couldn't believe they hypocrisy of the local zoning commission, which came to visit taking Grant's time to insist on various painting to the buildings and special bushes to screen the condos from the folks recreating on the lake. What I saw was a giant speedboat, painted with flames, powered with two 600 HP engines rocketing across the water in excess of 70 MPH in an ear-piercing motor-head orgasm. I'm not sure the pilot of the boat cared whether a bush was growing in front of my feet.
Tony and Shelly live in Salt Lake City, where we all originated. Our Great-great grandfather, John Tingey immigrated from England in the 1840's and was a Mormon pioneer. I was born living in the same house he built at 245 W. North Temple, a block from the Mormon Temple. Now, Tony & Shelly are the only remaining members of the family to still live in Utah. I love to return home, so after the reunion I would ride with them the 700+ miles back 'home'. Tony makes me laugh, too, and when Jim and Tony get together, the humor never stops.
Their kids were scattered to the four winds: Spencer and wife Amy live in West Virginia, where he is going to medical school. Son Alex is in school in Provo, Utah, while their daughter is engaged and working as a geologist in Salt Lake City. None could make the reunion this year. My daughter, Daphne, couldn't make it either, although she had planned to come. She had just moved from Mancos, Colorado, where she had been working for her mother at Alpacka Raft Co., to Philadelphia to discover the East Coast and attend business school. Shelly complained of 'Empty Nest Syndrome'.
Also, my sister Mardie's kids, Katie, Mark, and Allie were now grown up; my baby sister is now 50??? Her kids are out of the nest??? How did this happen? Anyway, the are all in school around the country. Even her husband Mark had to work, just separating from his law firm and establishing his own practice. What a landmark! Anyway, Mardie couldn't miss the fun, so she showed up alone. None of us siblings have ever missed the reunion. Mardie was actually the greatest athlete in the family. Now, after the soccer mom years are over, I expect to see her once again rise like a Phoenix and get back in shape.
The evenings were a continuation of the fun, but condensed into a small condo. There were only 29 of us this year, but we still ended up in fairly close quarters during dinner. But, it was a time for talk and stories.
My cousin Linda, sister Judy, and I grew up together, but I hadn't spent much time with her in the past 50 years until our reunions started. Now we email each other regularly and have made the reunion an annual adventure. Her father, Hal Rumel, was a master photographer of the West; I have two of his giant photographs in my bedroom of the Teton range, my prize possessions.
Linda's husband, Garry, is an engineer and told us about his latest project to make refrigeration pipe from extruded aluminum, coupled with mechanical couplings to get around the copper and solder problems of the past. It was the most fascinating discussion of the event.
I'm always sad to leave; it's the only time during the year that we are all together. I'm the oldest, the one who grew up first, the one who lives far away in Alaska, the only non-religious one, the wanderer. Judy and I were 'War Babies'. The rest of the kids were 'Baby Boomers' and didn't come till 9, 11, 13, and 15 years afterwards, so I've had very little face time with my brothers and sisters. Thus, the reunion has become the most prized time of the year for me to re-unite, rejoice, and learn the news of the clan. I think we are now closer than I've ever been in my life.