Let's continue w/my journey as I headed westward to Washington State for my family reunion, shall we? Car packed, dogs snuggling in the car, dad claiming shot gun (front seat), Cortny and I wedged in the back between dogs, doors are locked and off we go. Approx. 30 minutes into the trip Rich and Cortny realize that his guitar was left behind. Arghhh!!! Hopefully dad can find the appropriate box and send it their way soon. You may be wondering (or not) how we all fared together being in close proximity for more then a week and a half and 3,000 miles later. I am pleased to say that there were no major incidents. You know how corporations, companies will engage their employees in some high-risk exercise where they have to depend on one another to survive so that 'unity' and a bond can be formed? Well, I would like to think (and I maybe alone on this), that the four of us formed a bond. Memories were made as well as recognizing the strengths of our comrades. Let me share a few of my observations. My dad is amazing @ the spry age of 81 and continues to listen to his young mind as he pushes himself throughout the day to perform tasks that a strong, 20 year old young buck would find strenuous. I hope to be fly fishing, sleeping in a tent, taking baths in the river and chopping firewood when I am in my 80's. Along w/his determination comes stubbornness to even consider taking an ibuprofen for pain that comes from the aforementioned. I believe he has pain meds from atleast four years ago that he never takes but always has along, just in case. Just in case what I ask him? Gotta love him for it. Next up...Rich, who my dad has come to nickname "Satchmo" (Louie Armstrong), after Rich did a dead on impression of him singing "What a Wonderful Life" during our karaoke night @ the ocean. This action is the very thing I want to comment on. Some of my extended family can be, well.....let's just say, extremely opinionated (doesn't every family have a few). At one point, they (Cortny and Rich) were referred to as the 'newbies', in a stingily sarcastic way (my opinion). This did not stop Rich from continually situating himself amongst the group, asking questions, showing interest and proceeded to impress the group on karaoke night w/not only a impression of Louie, but Marvin Gaye and Elvis, (with the help of Cortny being his backup dancer w/her signature move consisting of spinning around while spanking her booty, hilarious). He won the hearts of many (not an opinion but fact). At one point, feeling the need to claim him as one of my own..... I stood up and replied "That's my son-in-law". I was proud of them both. Cortny is the ever-constant equalizer as well as having a knack for tactfully approaching peeps as well as hot topics w/questions that defuse and help create a mood you feel at ease with and can express yourself (you all know how I can be a bit passionate) w/out feeling defensive. When you first meet Cortny, she is quiet but engaged. Once she feels at ease, she opens up and is a 'gas' (fun Rich and Cort). Every group needs a Cortny. This was their first time to camp and fly fish and they took to it like 'fish to water' (excuse the pun). This trip didn't go w/out several obstacles, however, we all remained calm when they popped up and worked together and felt a sense of comradity. Well, so far in my story (ies) I haven't gotten us out of Idaho with all the descriptions of my fellow travelers. I guess there will be a part 3. Let me close w/this. My mom use to love sitting on Christmas morning watching her family open her presents. She found more joy in giving then receiving then opening the presents that surrounded her. As I grow more mature (not older...never give up.....never surrender), I am aware of 'mom' in my own actions. I too, will observe on Christmas morning, each of my children and the 'hub' unwrapping their gifts and feeling blessed and overwhelmed by how much their happiness means to me. I found this same happiness on my trip while observing those close to me engage in something for the very first time or when they were awed by the scenery that surrounded us 24/7. I will cherish each of these moments.....but most of all them!