Friday, September 23, 2016

Reunion Time

I badmouth the States in general and Iowa in particular quite a bit.  One has only to look at the huge debacle that is our presidential race to see why, and yet, it has its moments.  I was reminded of this over the summer, when I looked around and had to ask myself if I was in a motherlovin' Miyazaki film.  In the evenings, I'd go outside as the clock crept up on 9 to stroll through fields strewn with fireflies.  In the mornings, I'd go for walks.  These weren't always spectacular, but the morning that I left for AnimeIowa, there was a super-kawaii pink rainbow shining in the sky.  Another morning was layered in fog as I walked around the lake park in Glenwood, where every spiderweb was hung with dewdrops.  It seemed like any minute you might step through into another world.

There's a reason why the word for America in both Korean and Mandarin is literally translated as "beautiful country."  It damn well is.  Case in point: the M_____ family - or those descended from Leland and Elaine, at any rate - decided that this was the year and Grand Lake, Colorado was the place that we should all get together.  If you've never been to Colorado, I'd sum it up as proof that God is an artist and he likes to show off.  When they decided on the end of the first week of August, I didn't think I would be joining, because I had to get back to Mongolia and get my shit together...but then I kept seeing my cousins, aunts, and other assorted familial type people talk about the reunion on Facebook and in group emails, and I thought, "Well, damn.  I don't want to miss that."  So I emailed my aunts who were arranging everything and got myself in on the action.
This involved taking a very long car ride across two states and up over 12,000 feet of elevation with my parents.  I could've made a lot of jokes about taking long road trips with your parents at the tender age of 37, but it's been a month and a half so they've grown stale, besides the fact that it actually wasn't that bad (thanks to several books and my new cat-ear headphones to occupy myself - when my dad's behind the wheel it's nonstop audiobooks and old country music).
Family Portrait, by Uncle John
We stayed at Shadowcliff, a mountain lodge whose roots crossed those of my family tree at some point in the past.  From the room I shared with my aunt and uncle, I could watch a cataract of water tumble over boulders on its way down to the lake.  The internet worked fantastically, which was awesome, because as much as I love my family I would have hated to miss snarky late-night facebook messages from the other side of the world.  And it was perfectly situated...just a short walk down the hill to the main drag of the town, where a certain ice cream shop was selling basil lemongrass ice cream on the waterfront.  The walk back, on the other hand...

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of going to a family reunion, it involves a lot of sitting around and catching up.  Although we are all friends on Facebook, I hadn't seen most of my Dad's family in several years.  Being outdoorsy people who are into all that nature shit (unlike me), several people went out on the lake, and others seized the day with some hardcore hiking.  I spent most of my time battling for the title of "King or Queen of Bad Ideas," with one of my little cousins (he won) and entertaining Bunny, who - after all - only gets to spend a little time each year with her aunt Becky.

There was also the monumental task of feeding a legion.  My aunts assigned meals to different family groups, and for once being single meant that I got the awesome assignment to cook with my cousin Micah and his girlfriend, Nina.  Next-gen single dude, my Uncle David, was also assigned to our group, but he wandered into the kitchen as we were almost finished.  We informed him that since he was late, he could wash dishes.  "I could do that," he said, and apparently meant exactly that - he had that capability, but since we never actually told him to, he didn't.

While we were cooking we made plans to hike up to Adams Falls, which was signposted as being a mile and a half from Shadowcliff.  Since I sacrificed my morning walk in order to cook brekke, I thought this was an excellent opportunity to get my walk in and make the most of the lovely surroundings.  And it was - the waterfall was pretty and I enjoyed talking to Micah and Nina.  They then went on with the loop trail, while I listened to my feet and started back down the trail.  And then started walking back along the highway toward the lodge.  At some point, I realized I was going to have to walk back UP to the aptly named Shadowcliff, and was contemplating how much that was going to suck when my cousin Amanda and her family pulled up and asked if I wanted a ride back?

Family.  It means having someone come along and offer to haul your ass up a cliff.  I love these guys.

No comments:

Post a Comment