Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chambers' Family Reunion 2011

So I continue to slowly slog through all the stuff that I need to blog about. This time, our story centers on the weekend of July 15th when my dad's side of the family had our reunion. We have reunions every two years and it is usually just my dad's immediate family, so his sister, brother, and parents. Since he and his siblings were all born on July 20th, but different years!, the reunions is usually close to that day.

This year the reunion was set near Glenwood Springs, CO at the Sunshine Ridge Guest House, which was a pretty amazing place. Here is the view from the porch, where many a nights were spent just chatting.

Since I am currently on an internship in Austin, TX, I wasn't able to spend the entire reunion there. The reunion actually started on Thursday, but I wasn't able to fly in until Friday night at about 11 PM. I was met by my parents and Conor, we then had about an hour long drive to get to the house, so we didn't get there until about midnight which, since I was an hour ahead was actually more like 1 AM for me.

Needless to say, everyone else was asleep. My Aunt Wanda was kind of awake, so I briefly said hi to here, but I was pretty tired from a day of working and then travel, so I passed out pretty quickly. As was customary I was sharing a room with Conor. For some reason he took the small bed, which meant that I got the bigger, King Sized bed. (I suspect this may have been partly his mom's doing.... but he claims it was because he likes sleeping by the window.)

Saturday, July 16

I actually woke up at like 8:30 the next morning and headed out. The morning was pretty slow, but I eventually saw everyone except Phil and Laurie, who were off hiking. I spent some quality time on the porch with Conor, who clearly seems happy to be talking to me.

One of the traditions of the Chambers Family Reunion is that we do a puzzle. This started back in... 1999 I think when the family embarked on the most epic puzzle ever, of Napoleon leading the battle at Waterloo. This puzzle is actually now glued and hanging in my Grandparents house somewhere.

This year the puzzle was provided by my cousin Erin. There was a slight twist on the puzzle in that it wasn't actually the picture on the box. It was related, but it was actually a picture of what someone on the box was seeing. Here, Erin and my uncle Jeff fit the last few pieces of the puzzle in.

Since the morning was kind of slow, Erin, Conor, and I decided that we would go into town and watch the last Harry Potter movie which had come out the day before. Erin brought Conor and I Quidditch goggles to get us in the mood. Here you see Conor modeling the goggles on his "Quidditch" broom.

Luckily, the movie was in Glenwood Springs, which was only like 10 minutes away from the guest house, so we got to the movie way far in advance... well... maybe like 40 minutes. So we decided to walk around Glenwood Springs for a little bit. It is very much a tourist town, but the scenery is great and the bridge over the river was nice. It was so crazy to see it so full of water, especially since Texas is.... in a really bad drought.

At the bridge we turned around and headed back to the movie theater. Stopping only to fix our goggles so that the blinding wind speeds from our dash run fast walk! wouldn't blind us before the movie. I realize it looks like my eye is closed in the picture below.... I swear that it isn't. :P

The movie was really good, I mean it obviously requires some knowledge of the first 7 movies and preferably the books. But they did a good job wrapping up the series.


I think that Conor's review of the movie sums it up best. Voldemort does Forever, finally! That is pretty succinct right there. There was a lot of discussion about what his favorite part of the movie was... sadly I seem to have forgotten that.

Amongst my friends there has been much grief over the epilogue in which the kids are shown as 18 or so years older and they have kids.... the epilogue is exactly the same in the movie. I do have to say Draco looks amazing as an older gentleman wizard... I can't really describe it, but they made him balding and a little chubby... lol... it is a very good look.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie, I thought it was very well done, and other than the plot problem that I have with the book, which was also in the movie, I thought it was great.
**********END SPOILER ***********

So when we got back from the movie it was my mom and dad's night to make dinner. I said that I would help, so we made fajitas, which I am passably ok at making. My dad grilled up some steak and pork on the grill, while I cut and cooked the veggies. We then mixed them together. It was a pretty good meal... which I am sure that this image of the fajita fixings does not really convey, but rest assured, it was edible! For dessert we had homemade banana splits since Conor had never had one in his life! So clearly we had to fix that.

In addition to my dad's family, my moms sister who lives in Denver came out to visit. They were staying in Glenwood Springs and came out and had dinner with us. Then my cousin Kyle spent the night with us. Before they left we had a game of "baseball", really there were only 5 of us... so the offense scored a lot of runs... but it was fun. Sadly I damaged a few of the whiffle balls. Yes... I am that powerful!

(Or maybe we had the wrong bat.... but I am going with powerful)

Sunday, July 17

So Sunday was another pretty slow day. The main activity of the day was the Women's World Cup Final... unfortunately... the U.S. lost. It was a pretty good/frustrating game... and I wasn't very happy in the result, so I went and sat on the deck for a while and read. My grandpa came out and sat with me and we talked a little and each read our books... at least until it started raining on us, which was a signal to head inside.

Phil and Laurie were in charge of the dinner for the night and it was pretty amazing. It was a slow grilled pork with pasta... it was really really good. I was just glad that I had made dinner the night before and was not after them.

After dinner we had a peach-raspberry crunch or cobbler that Phil made and sat on the deck and just talked, mostly about my dad and his siblings childhoods and stories from them growing up. I think that this was probably my favorite moment of the reunion. It was just really nice sitting with my family and hearing all the stories. I am fairly sure that I have heard them before, but it was still really nice :).

Perhaps the most exciting thing from Sunday was the humongous storm that happened around 12:30 AM. It actually woke me up, which is rare, since I sleep pretty deeply. But there was thunder and lightning really close and a huge amount of rain. It was a pretty epic storm really and.... words just absolutely do not do it justice.

Monday, July 18th
So this was the day that I was to fly out, but my plane didn't leave until about 6:30 PM, so there was time in the day to do stuff. There were two hikes that were happening. The first one left at like... 7 or 8 AM and was hiking up a ridge where some firefighters died fighting a fire. (Typing that is seems like an obvious statement... however... it is best to clarify... ). The other hike was with my parents and my mom's sister and her two kids and left at a much more reasonable time. It also promised a more scenic final destination... Hanging Lake!

Based on my descriptions I bet it is easy to guess where I went... I went on the Hanging Lake Hike.

The scenery is this area of Colorado is really quite breathtaking. I mean there are huge cliffs and the river was raging due to the storm from last night.

Since Kyle is in the boy scouts he took the lead. It was pretty rugged going in the beginning. As you can clearly see we were basically making our own trail through the terrain before we got to the trail head. We are lucky we had a guide such as Kyle!

Once we got to the trail, it was basically a straight shot up the cliff. It was a pretty steep climb, which meant a lot of stops on the way up. Here is one stop

Here we are underway again.

We eventually made it up the 1.25 mile hike and to hanging lake, which was really pretty. The lake itself was really clear and the waterfall was just gorgeous.

There was a log that led out to the middle of the lake, Kyle stripped his shoes off and hiked out to the middle. Here he is about to begin the hike out to the middle. Thos shows both the clarity of the water in the lake as well as another great shot of the falls.

A little ways up from the lake was the Spouting Rock... I was unclear about what this was going to be, but I decided to check it out to see exactly what it was, and I am super glad that I did. Here is a brief video showing it. It is called Spouting Rock, since the water seems to come right out of the rock, which can be seen in the video.

Here is a static picture that also shows it, as well as some people in the background that provides some scale as to how impressive this thing actually was.

Here is a picture of my dad and me behind the water fall. I am not sure exactly why he has a cowboy hat, seeing as he is from Oregon, but he loves that hat now (he had it for a week, but I swear he wore it whenever he could at the reunion)

Here is my dad and my Aunt Margo (mom's sister) behind the waterfall.

After checking out the spoutring rock we headed back to the lake where my mom and cousins were waiting. We then headed down the trail, which was... much quicker than the trek up it. We were soon at the bottom, and my mom had to say good bye to my cousins as they were headed home. Ok.. so technically we all said good bye... but my mom pretended to cry and I got it a picture of it... :P

We headed back to the house and we ended up watching some of the videos from old reunions, which was much funner than I was expecting it to be. It was really interesting/scary to see how much we have changed since we started doing these in 1997. It was so engrossing that I almost left late to catch my flight. We also had to scramble to take the group picture... and I guess it came out a bit blurry...
So on the way to the airport it was very stormy, like lightning and thunder all around us, so I was a little worried that my plane was going to be delayed. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but I was scheduled to give my presentation on Tuesday, which was the next day, so my schedule was a little tight.

However.... it should be fine right? I had a few hours delay in Denver before my flight to Austin, so I had some leeway. Oh... How wrong I was!
So I was sitting in the terminal and my Dad, who dropped me off and was waiting in the cafe called and told me that a limo driver there said that if the plane can't land they just send it back to Denver... so that was my flight that might not land! The weather was a little rainy... but I thought they might be able to land...
Then the storm got worse and it was near white out conditions outside and it was hailing super hard and the wind was blowing straight at the terminal.. How the Aspen Airport is a little small but what happened next was sooo amazing that I don't think I will ever see anything like it again.
Water soon began to seep under the doors of the terminal. Here it is a few seconds after that started.

The flood continued to spread and soon it was taking over more and more of the terminal.

It even got all the way to the security checkpoint where they were using the little containers that we put stuff in to shovel water... it didn't work. We were soon evacuated and the entire airport was closed down.... I was stuck.

I called United immediately, but there was nothing to be done, I was stuck in Aspen for the night. I was really disappointed since I wanted to give my talk and I felt like I was letting my boss down. Luckily it worked out and I was able to give it Wednesday, and it went quite well... so my grand flooding adventure didn't hurt that much!

I took off the next morning and headed back home . I make it back to Austin at around 4 and headed homa nd rested up/pracriced sins I want to make syre that I do something correct.

Anyway, that is the famly reunion in a not so small nutshell!