Last but most certainly not least was my stop in McCall, Idaho.
Jimmy had already gone back to Helsinki to continue working, which gave me lots of family time before joining him. I spent a few days in Boise with the fam, helping my parents move into their new house and running some random errands before we finally made the short 100 mile trek up north.
My family has been enjoying white mountainous winters and perfect lake side summers in this beautiful mountain town for four generations. My great-grandfather purchased one of the original Sylvan Beach cabins in 1948 (right Grandma?) and we have been up every summer and winter since! Nothing brings families close like sleeping 6 to a bunk room your whole life!
Our rapidly growing family recently expanded to another cabin down the beach so we can continue raising more generations in this spectacular place. There is a little dirt path connecting Grandma’s original cabin to the new addition so we can keep the cousins close, just how we were raised.
Possibly the most important holiday in McCall is my grandmother’s birthday, the 4th of July. You may know this day as Independence Day, but that is secondary. The fireworks are for Marcia Clark.
In 24 years of life, I have only missed ONE 4th of July in McCall. And it was the worst 4th I have ever had.
Generally, the day consists of typical beach activities: swimming, tanning, boating. We have a big BBQ in the evening with multiple racks of ribs, grandma’s special cole slaw, baked beans and watermelon. It is followed up by the infamous chocolate fudge cake: a dense chocolate cake with an inch of literal fudge frosting. It is awesome. And if you aren’t yet in a coma, you can have s’mores later.
Generally, when we were kids, we would then start a fire by the beach and wait for the fireworks to start, which are a straight shot from the cabin. Fire entertainment was provided by my sisters and me, where we would reenact camp skits or just be typical crazy kids. Usually, my grandmother would stand up and yell “I am posing a challenge!” and take off her shirt and run into the black lake.
These years are a bit more chill, with new babies. less spastic kids and people succumbing to food comas. Soon, we will be back to those fires, but for now, we enjoy just chatting on the deck and dock until it is time for the big show.
Very fortunately, my older cousin, his adorable wife, and their hilarious little 11 month old were able to make the trek across from Portland for the weekend, so I got to see them and meet their sweet little girl! It certainly added to the hilarity and entertainment. When kids are around, everyone stops and just watched them. Teddy and Lana were pretty adorable meeting each other. Lana is pretty stoked on everything these days and just wants to play and put her mouth on things. Teddy was pretty unsure, but eventually started sharing his toys and inviting her to come sit next to him. There were “Aaawwws” all around.
The rest of our vacations in McCall are full of both everything and nothing. I am trying to find the balance between taking part in everything that the Idaho mountains have to offer and also enjoying the bliss of doing nothing and enjoying the sun, beach and casual conversations. The best way to do this is to do one big thing every day and then leaving the rest up to chance -a random game of frisbee, babies doing silly things, a walk in the nearby gardens, or goofy water aerobics. The big events are usually a hike behind our house up to a reservoir and beyond into the mountains or up other mountains nearby; more recently, a few holes on one of the many stunning golf courses; a 4-wheeler ride with my dad back into the trees and up to nearby peaks, returning only when we are covered in dirt, with mud in our teeth, or after breaking something on the vehicle; or a long sail, also with my dad, around the lake, chasing wind to town and back. Unfortunately, there was almost no wind that wasn’t associated with a massive storm this year, so I did not get to reclaim my sea legs (On a few occasions, we thought catching this storm-wind was a good idea. A few broken shrouds later, we now think better of it).
My dad and I are adventure buddies in McCall, having similar energy levels and tastes for adventure. Together we have tried to rip the bottom off of the sailboat, the mast from the top, roll the UTV 4-wheeler and find the biggest mud puddles to swamp each other in. We always come out grinning ear to ear and giggling like small kids. My sisters call me the son he never had, which is sort-of fitting. But now he -thankfully- has some more boys in the house in the form on in-lawed sons that he gets to play with. Even so, our time in McCall has always been some of my favorite. It is so rare and amazing that we have a father who takes vacation time to play with us, and who we are keeping up with, rather than the other way around!
We are not much of a water-sports family, except for the occasional beating on a tube. It just never caught on. As much as I would love to be a 1-skiied stud on glassy waters, I am just as happy to sit on the deck with a book and my coffee in the morning. Or just sleep. I like to sleep.
This year, the weather went from boiling hot a few days, to gloomy and stormy for the rest. Not the best, but it allowed for plenty of family down time, which was just what I needed before coming back to Helsinki for an unknown amount of time.
The time in McCall seems to run in its own dimension. After the first weekend up there, I felt like I had already been there for a few weeks and I couldn’t believe that I had a whole week in front of me! All through the week it seemed like I had been there forever. And then the last weekend, all of the sudden it was gone, and I felt like I had just gotten there. As always, it is very hard to leave your vacation and family, but poor Jimmy had been eating nothing but chicken at home (one of his only cooking options) and I had to snap out of this 4 week dream vacation and back to life in Finland (which is also pretty dreamy).
Before we left, my mom, sisters and I bought matching Minnie Mouse Vans. Just for fun but so we have some fun thing to end the trip and think about each other! Now, when we wear them, we can send picture to each other. Like…Sisterhood of the matching tennies. Also, I demanded Mickey Mouse waffles- my all time favorite breakfast and the only respectable way to eat waffles- as my last meal before heading for the airport. In my Minnie Mouse shoes.
And of course, after I left, their traditions up at the cabin continued. I have been receiving picture messages of their shenanigans for the whole week, like the traditional Meatball roll with my uncle and big family dinners!