Friday, September 30, 2011

In loving memory of Anna Brulotte
April 17, 2008 - September 30, 2010
--- 1 ---
Zachary's 3+-years-in-the-planning-stages Eagle Project may yet be accomplished.  Zachary (17) received permission to cut down 2 trees to secure the structure and the building plans have been formally resubmitted and properly permitted.  Last night Zac presented an update on the rectory carport project to our parish's pastoral council; one of his friends from another troop was there to discuss his Eagle Project: bench building. Zachary hopes to begin actual site work and complete construction in October. {Note for future Eagle Projects: NOTHING requiring a building permit will be allowed in this house!}  Zachary's discernment regarding his higher education beginning next year continues; his second year in Running Start at the local community college underway.
--- 2 ---
13 years old, and longing to begin orthodontia, Joseph received his wish: a mouthful of metal.  The Herbst Appliance contraption is shocking to behold; it replaces the need for headgear with a semi-permanent {torture device} appliance.  On a positive note, Joseph achieved Life Scout Rank, after a shocking disappointment in June when he was (unfairly) denied rank.  Joseph is formally enrolled in his very first classroom: Algebra 1.  The highly recommended teacher lives a few blocks away, and although it's expensive, we're determined not to repeat the same mistakes we made homeschooling upper level maths with Zachary.  Joseph moved up to pre-seniors on the local swim team, and rides with Zac to the later practices each evening.  Our dining room now has two dinner seatings on weeknights: one for the younger kids who need to be in bed by 7PM, and one for the older kids and Tim.
--- 3 ---
Formerly the youngest child in our house, Peter (11) has probably changed over a hundred diapers these past few months.  Always ready and eager to lend a hand with the foster twins (now almost 14 months old), Peter feeds, changes, entertains, and dearly loves these precious little ones.  Peter created his own schedule for 6th grade home school, which details moment by moment his academic and other daily requirements.  Keeping up with it exactly has proven challenging, but he's responding well to a tighter structure (self-imposed due to my weakness in this area).  After much consideration, Peter agreed to continue with swim team (as home school PE); his ongoing difficulties with some teammates will hopefully help him to continue to grow in virtue and self control.  Soccer season is underway, and Peter chose to simply play club soccer rather than move up to select soccer to remain with his amazing coach and avoid overloading his schedule.
--- 4 ---
Certain he's being tortured by our plan for his high school education, Ezra (19) now attends half day vocational training in food services and half day at the local high school.  Unfortunately, the only bus able to meet his transportation needs leaves at 6:30AM, so Ezra's day begins very early.  In the top tier of the varsity cross country team, Ezra trains daily and works hard to improve his times.  This being his last year of athletic eligibility, it's like a senior year in some ways.  In other ways, it's like 4th grade; his academics so far behind due to his years in survival mode during Liberia's brutal civil war and in the orphanage before being adopted by our dear friends and becoming a US citizen.  More unsettling information about Ezra's family of origin and the realities of life in the orphanage have recently come to light.  We continue to pray that Ezra will be healed emotionally, and deepen his relationship with Christ~ with whom all things are possible.
--- 5 ---
Tony: 5 years old, struggles daily to make sense of the many changes and upsets in his young life.  Visits, appointments, sessions, drivers, day care: his time in foster care has a yo-yo feel to it.   Tony misses his former foster mom dearly, and often asks if he can go back to live with her.  He cries out daily for his mom and dad; he misses them so much.  It's heart breaking to witness, hard to understand or explain, yet we just keep keeping on.  He's learning his letters at pre-school, and his speech therapy is helping his pronunciation greatly.
--- 6 ---
Foster twins Luke & Leia (screen names) continue to grow and develop in leaps and bounds... and almost steps!  Considering Leia wouldn't even put weight on her feet in July, her pulling up, standing and creeping is exciting to behold.  Luke is very close to walking, and only lacks the final tid-bit of confidence. Their chances for reunification with mom are very strong; our time with them will be brief.  What a grace to be able to provide a safe and loving foster home for them in this time of transition.  Zachary has grown used to his new room downstairs, and says he may remain there when the twins depart (he admits being repulsed by the baby smells, so perhaps he's actually not willing to endure the new scent in his upstairs room?).
--- 7 ---
Today is the one year anniversary of Anna's tragic death.  Our prayers are with her family and all who mourn her sudden loss and all those who mourn the loss of their little children.  May the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension be theirs now and always.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit '11 {Day 9: Spectacle Lake to Bowron Lake via Swan Lake and Bowron River}

{and all the way home to Bellingham!}
Peter, Joseph, D, Judah, Caleb, Zachary, Tim, Isaac, Canon, AJ:
2011 Bowron Crew before departing from our final camp site
Splashing in the shallows before departure on Day 9
Like glass...
Wildlife viewing en route on Swan Lake

Peter's gondola style paddling on the Bowron River
The end in sight, Bridget and Joseph at lunch stop

This is the end!
Or is this the end?
Joseph and Judah team up to clean their canoe on the shores of Bowron Lake.

Want to see more of Day 9?

Visit the online album @ Picasa Aug 26, 2011

Glimpse of Day 9:
8:25AM: up and pretty well packed
8:35AM: nearly ready to depart on our final day of paddling
9:34AM: transition from Spectacle Lake to Swan Lake: sand bar, almost navigable (a little pushing required)
10:10AM: end of Swan Lake, entering the reedy Bowron River; loons calling constantly
10:48AM: Bowron Lake!!
11:29AM: "75 mile beach" for lunch; same spot we ate our final picnic on our 2008 Bowron trip
12:45PM: shore reached, push-up competition begins; canoes being rinsed out; Kimberly & Bridget to the ranger station to formally sign out; Ranger asks, "Are all 12 still alive?"
1:20PM: truck contents tied down; BSA uniforms back on; math project to determine whether Bowron or Philmont is "bigger"
2:19PM: paved road
3:30PM: Starbucks in Quesnel; fresh fruit at Safeway
8PM: back on the highway after burger stop
midnight-ish: HOME sweet HOME
Day 8 Quote:

Q: "What will you miss most about Bowron Lakes?"
A: "Getting up and doing something." ~ Joseph
A:  "Swimming everyday; being outside everyday" ~ Zachary
A:  "My gloves" ~ Judah (melted in the final campfire)
A:  "The outhouse.  My beard." ~ Tim

"For some reason, Philmont seemed way more 'out there'" ~ Canon

Friday, September 23, 2011

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit '11 {Day 8: Rum Lake to Spectacle Lake}

 {Via Swan Lake, Cariboo Falls, Cariboo River, Babcock Creek, Babcock Lake, and Skoi Lake}
Daybreak on Rum Lake

Shades around the campfire at breakfast... fresh blueberries added to the quite ordinary oatmeal

Zac, AJ, Caleb, Judah, Peter, Canon, Joseph, Isaac & D; a morning dip
Waking up to the sunshine on our private little lake, our crew felt no reason to rush away from Rum Lake.  Joseph ran out of his tent directly to the lake and splashed in for a polar bear dip (well past dawn, but still early!).  Imagine his surprise when he discovered that the campfire was not yet lit.  A little shivering later, the campfire blazed and everyone prepared to take the plunge. 
Cariboo Falls
A wee little paddle from Rum Lake across Swan Lake landed us at the trail head to Cariboo Falls, a beautiful sight at the end of an easy hike.  Hiking is a rarity in Bowron Lake Provincial Park, and after so little real walking this past week, the "hike" was a welcome change of pace.  Unfortunately, the pace of the crew didn't match up very well, and the opportunity for a crew group photo at the falls fell through.  At least none of us fell through!  The falls were thundering tremendously, and graced by rainbows, truly a spectacular viewpoint.

Cariboo Falls

Grazing moose on Babcock Lake
Another spectacular view presented itself along the shores of Babcock Lake; a grazing moose.  We paddled slowly and paused for a lengthy wildlife viewing (& photographing) session.  Probably more of a napping session for a few of the Scouts who didn't need quite so long to take in the sight.

Reflections on Spectacle Lake
Landing at Spectacle Lake; our final campsite
Thanks to careful map reading by AJ & Kimberly, we found our final campsite without too much extra paddling.  The warm sandy beach welcomed us, and our recessed campsite was across a wooden bridge over a marsh.  With amazing weather and plenty of provisions, we didn't feel much like weary travelers on our final night's camp out.  Our work ethic surely lacked, but our relaxation and enjoyment ethics soared!
Dozing in the sand on the Spectacle Lake shore

Want to see more of Day 8?
Glimpse of Day 8:
8AM: everyone's awake, excited to see the sunshine

8:40AM: lazy breakfast with fresh blueberries in our ordinary oatmeal
9:52AM: swimming time (with bio wash)
10:40AM: morning snacks distributed; camp sweep & departure for short paddle to hike
11:11AM: arrive at Cariboo Falls trail head
12:37PM: eat lunches in canoes after hike (no crew group shot at the falls this time around)
1:47PM: portage at end of Babcock Creek to Babcock Lake
2PM: Moose viewing on Babcock Lake
2:23PM: launch into Skoi Lake (to escape the mosquitoes); one more portage to go!
2:40PM: end of Skoi Lake; begin FINAL portage!
2:56PM: into Spectacle Lake
4:17PM: find campsite on the sandy shores of Spectacle Lake; site #47; relax on the beach, eat
6PM: still playing on the gorgeous beach; hatching plans for a beach camp out
7:07PM: easy freeze dried dinner served (stew)
8:04PM: still waiting for water for clean-up (ongoing guessing games around the fire, sapping all mental energy in camp!)
8:48PM: darkness falling and still guessing (games)

Day 8 Quote:
"I saw more than the Milky Way; I saw like ten other galaxies no one has ever seen before!"
~ Isaac

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit '11 {Day 7: Lanezi Lake to Rum Lake via Cariboo River & Sandy Lake}

Paddle along colorful cliffs on Lanezi Lake
A lazy start to a long day's paddle, we took our time getting loaded and paddling on day 7.   Having rained in the night, but dry for our morning routine, we enjoyed a bit of lingering.  Canon sweetly taught Peter how to solve a slow water filter situation, while Judah accidentally knocked my coffee off the bench.  Pulled out the (generic) pop tarts as a welcome change of pace with our usual oatmeal breakfast, and some used the flame on the stove to "toast" the sweet treats.
Joseph and Isaac coasting toward the river, taking it easy after lunch

Fearless explorers, Peter and Canon navigate through the reedy channel entering Rum Lake.

Allowing steering instruction time for new anchors, the start of our paddle gave us plenty of time to grow in patience.  Two new captains attempted to steer their canoes, with varying levels of success.  The rest of the fleet dawdled along, (bored?) some offering helpful suggestions on steering styles, and others just hoping it would end soon so we could get up and go.  The level of fatigue at this late stage of the journey probably contributed to lower levels of success than fresh arms and minds may have provided.  After a time of trial and error, we re-arranged the canoes; switching up the partners a bit to allow for increased productivity with paddling.
Surrounded by delicious wild blueberries, our campsite at Rum Lake also had a variety of fungus.
A jewel of a campsite, #42 on Rum Lake was more than a sight for sore eyes (and arms).  We had the entire lake to ourselves, with mountains of firewood, and natural beauty surpassing beauty; we could have easily spent an entire week right here.  Kingfishers and dragonflies in action, bald eagles above, meadows of ripe blueberries, and no precipation~ this place could honestly be called a dream come true.  The guys jumped in the lake for refreshment and sanitization, with the cozy campfire awaiting to warm them.
Tim takes an afternoon hammock break on Rum Lake.

Kimberly collects blueberries for the crew.
Bridget, Zachary, Peter, Joseph, and Tim on the shores of Rum Lake

Crew Leader Zac; Rum Lake

Dusk falls on Rum Lake

"What do you miss the most?" Q & A around the fire netted some interesting responses:
From a perhaps overstated, "I don't miss my family at all," to a sincere, "I miss my little brother..." to showers, beds, pets, the Internet, books, music, jeans... the list of things missed was as diverse as the group of guys in our crew. 
Want to see more from Day 7?
Glimpse of Day 7:
8:45AM: coffee consumption begins (Tim & Bridget); Kimberly up since 7:15, the early riser; wet fleece pants visible on the wet ground next to an open "dry" bag outside a tent (oops)
10:09AM: breakfast over; water filtration continues; whistling, singing, cheerful camp
10:39AM: last kybo stops; canoes loaded & floating
Noon-ish: return "found" item from site #29 (part of an extra cook stove) to our bachelor friends~spotted packing up at their campsite as we paddle along Lanezi Lake; also visit their site's pit toilet while we're stopped
1:45PM: back on the water after lunch on a sandbar
3PM: drifting down the Cariboo River; beautiful, still, serene...
5PM: campfire discussions at site #42 on Rum Lake
6:40PM: Peter and Caleb prepare chicken curry & couscous; Tim in hammock
8:45PM: Tim, Bridget & Kimberly trek through the woods (one of the only 'hiking' trails on this circuit) to view the Cariboo River at sunset; final camp clean-up underway
9:30PM: light's out (for me); campfire still the center attraction

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit '11 {Day 6: Isaac River; McCleary Lake; Cariboo River; Lanezi Lake}

Blue skies at the break of day, a welcome sight (to say the least)
Judah and I prepare lunches as the crew packs up for the day's launch.
Before departing site #29, Scouts ride the "chute" at the end of Isaac Lake, where Isaac River begins meandering toward Isaac Falls.

Taking full advantage of the morning sunshine, the Scouts shiver after braving the "chute" on Isaac River.

"I'm sad the boys didn't get to ride the chute," Tim shared as we settled down for the night in the pouring rain in our awesome waterproof tent on night 5.  On our 2007 Bowron trip, the chute topped the list of favorites, but day 5's dreary weather prevented any chute action.  But with day 6 came blue skies and sunshine, and the longed-for thrills of the chute!  All but one of our Scouts opted to ride the chute (in life jackets) and both Tim and Kimberly stood guard in the icy water down at the river's bend with throw/rescue ropes 'just in case.'  Perched on the (dry) river bank, mid-way down the rapid, I served as the crew photographer (big surprise!).   Each boy in turn, swiftly rode feet-first through the whitewater and swam to shore through the eddy which wanted to pull them back into Isaac River.
Lost & Found: Tim retrieves an assortment of paddles, left behind at the shelter after the crew departed on the portage to Isaac River.

Riding the chute set us back a bit on our departure time, but the excitement of swimming in the rapids made the delay worthwhile.  We decided to portage rather than paddle through the rapids in loaded canoes, so we started off on foot, nice and dry, but at a much later time than other days.

Whitewater beginnings: Launching onto our first river ride on a short section of Isaac River

Paddling Isaac River

The warning sign leaves little to the imagination...

Captain Caleb with Isaac in the bow, paddling on Lanezi Lake after safely navigating the Cariboo River.
No double canoe flips this time around on the Cariboo River, thanks to careful attention to detail, known dangers, and smooth navigation.  The momentum of moving water gave us a bit of a break, though some canoes picked up the pace with strong strokes and our fleet (still safely matched with buddy boats) became spread out with over a half an hour gap in between.  So far was our spread, that the early boats didn't even wait at their  mid-afternoon break, but continued paddling toward camp.  A competitive game of "collect the floating sticks" inspired weary paddlers and gave good humor and passing entertainment on the last hour of our day's journey.
Delightful afternoon paddle on Lanezi Lake
Home at last; site #33 on Lanezi Lake

Want to see more from Day 6?

Glimpse of Day 6:
10:27AM: slow pack-up, but blue skies above give hope for a dry day & the Scouts decide to ride the river "chute" (rapids) in life jackets rather than in the canoes
11AM: wet boys warming cold (clean!) bodies by the wood stove fire in the community shelter
11:53AM: still packing and loading canoes for portage
12:53PM: portage behind us; preparing to launch into Isaac River
1:30PM:  another portage to avoid Isaac Falls; steep up & steep down to McCleary Lake; lunch break
2:40PM: shoving off into McCleary Lake after lunch & a few quick hikes to view the waterfall
3PM: McCleary behind us; Cariboo River ride to Lanezi Lake begins
4:35PM: arrive at campsite #33 on Lanezi Lake, where rangers' power boat sits as a new pit toilet is being installed

5:53PM: campfire burning, thanks to Canon; AJ starts cheesy tortilla snacks
6:30PM: rain threatens, everyone is warned to make sure their gear is stored properly for the night (most heed the warning); spaghetti and meatballs for dinner, cooked by Zac & D
after dark: Scouts sing energetically (real singing; joyful, with harmony!) around the campfire

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bowron Lake Canoe Circuit '11 {Day 5: Isaac Lake}

Zachary packs up the kitchen table.

Isaac and Caleb load the kitchen gear into the pack amidst gear buckets and bear caches.

Peter maneuvers along the slippery rocks at our "picnic" site in the pouring rain on the shores of Isaac Lake.

One of the many awesome waterfalls along Isaac Lake

AJ discusses something important (or unimportant as the case may be) with Zachary.

Day 5 finish line: the very end of Isaac Lake

Group shelter at site #29 contains hundreds of hand-made wooden markers and graffiti messages left by passing paddlers.  A sign in the shelter reads, "Leave Your Mark" and another promises to remove any with inappropriate content. 

Our Bowron Crew warms up by the wood stove in the group shelter after a long, wet paddle.

Being prepared for the terrible weather helped, but divine providence providing a wood stove shelter on the worst night of our trip lifted our spirits considerably.  Our arrival at campsite #29, to a blazing fire tended by fellow travelers, sharing a roomy sheltered space to dry out and relax during the torrential downpour was truly the light at the end of a long day's tunnel.  The community shelter at various times during our brief stay contained:

  • a pair of young bachelors from Idaho
  • a pair of married "not so old" brothers-in-law from Oregon/Central Washington; (with wives/sisters left in motor homes with wine in Wells) passing around their great "Bowron" book
  • a menagerie group of kayakers from Germany, Blaine, and points in between
  • our crew of Boy Scouts and adult leaders (us!)
  • gear strewn everywhere to dry
  • community stories of the day's travels and the previous night's various stormy challenges
  • a shared shovel for digging trenches to free the standing water welling up around our tents
  • various make-shift kitchens making a variety of suppers
  • shared tea time
Remember the lost & found Keens from Day 2?  Tim grabbed them from the beach as we launched onto Indianpoint Lake, assuming they had been abandoned by one of our crew.  Actually, they belonged to a German Kayaker, who was overheard telling her tale of woe, lamenting her lost Keens while in the community shelter at site #29.  Peter was given the role of Keen-returner, and for his efforts was rewarded with a decadent giant chocolate caramel candy bar!

This is the end... of Isaac Lake.

Kakaks approach campsite #29 in the early evening hours of a dreary day on the Bowron Lake Circuit.

Want to see more from Day 5?
  • Visit the online album @ Picasa Aug 22, 2011
  • Catch the video of the pounding rainstorm or the video of our peaceful approach to campsite #29 at the end of Isaac Lake
Glimpse of Day 5:
7:02AM: awake to a wet-wet-wet day; dark skies, soggy gear
8:49AM: short break from the rain after delicious oatmeal breakfast; final pack-up and loading continues
9AM: kitchen taken down, tarp shaken out; Kimberly voluntarily takes water filtration duty, it's a chore getting water to flow freely with all the sand in the system
9:23AM: nearly ready to shove off and someone jokingly asks, "Did everyone get sunscreen?"
(Unable to take notes during the Day 5 paddle; it's an extremely wet journey to the end of Isaac Lake. Made a brief stop an an inhospitable rocky, mossy alcove for lunch: giant chunks of summer sausage {carved with a pocket knife on a make-shift cutting-board-bucket-lid} and Triscuits.)
2:15PM: huddled in a covered community shelter at site #29, warming by the wood stove
3PM: water boiling on our camp stove on a picnic table inside the shelter; instant soup for everyone (a full bowl of soup splashed on the floor when bumped by the broom being used to sweep up a packet of soup mix spilled on the floor: a comedy of errors!)
3:15PM: One brave swimmer, AJ, takes a quick dip in the lake and comes to warm by the fire; card games, guessing games, whittling, visiting, staying dry in the shelter while the storm rages on with thunder and lightening.
4:48PM: Fleet of kayaks approaching shore; one paddler with a distinctly German accent says, "There might be another group here."  Indeed!
6PM: Peter and Judah prepare Chicken Yakisoba for dinner; community shelter takes on the feel of a hostel.
9:50PM: A bit of noise still coming from the shelter, now only inhabited by Boy Scouts, who have hung a few hammocks and put Thermarests on table tops, table benches, and the cement floor for a night's sleep under a real roof.

Day 5 Quote: 
"This is the creepiest camp out I've ever been on!" 
~by Peter, during the intense raging rain with thunder & lightening storm.