Sunday, September 27, 2015

Three roadtrips, THREE

For this year's Utah State Bar convention, we decided to bring friends along for our older son.  We loaded up a trailer with bikes and gear and friends and headed to Idaho.  The trip was great, but the thing I can't stop thinking about is the ride up.  It was about 5 hours with 3 chatty 13 year olds in a car with Ben.

This turned out to be a kind of immersion therapy for him.  The older boys would hold up their smartphones and say, "Look at this funny video" and Ben would inevitably say, "I want to see!"  That may not seem like a big deal, but for Ben it was.

The days spent in Sun Valley were filled with scooters and bikes, and Ben made the leap from strider bikes to one that actually had pedals.

Progress moves in fits and starts, and that week was a leap ahead for Ben.

A few weeks later, Lovely Wife pointed out to me that we hadn't had a non-working vacation in a loooong time.  She has a high stress occupation and when she says she wants a break, it's to be taken seriously.  I am mostly a hobbit, content to stay in my cozy hobbit hole, but she's a bit Tookish.

We rented a pop-up camper.  We have been backpackers and car campers and river rafters, but for the past few years, the prospect of camping just seemed too hard.  Sleep is a huge issue for Ben and sleeping on a pad in a tent makes it that much harder.  Wandering is an issue too, so the idea of having an enclosed space was attractive. I won't go into detail, but having our own portapotty turned out to be extremely useful.

Look at this camping paradise:

(stock photo - otherwise you'd see sleeping bags and juice boxes and legos and rocks and all kinds o stuff)

We headed up to the Grand Tetons.  It's only about 5 hours from Salt Lake.  That may seem like a long way if you're not from around here, but in the West, it's not so much.  Heck...oil has dropped below $40/barrel, and Obama's letting folks drill offshore in the Arctic.

I don't know that these folks are the best, but they were good to us.  The trailer was easy to tow, gas mileage wasn't bad, and set-up didn't take long at all.

Wednesday, we drove in to Gros Ventre campground.  The lady from Alabama who checked us in had a lovely Southern accent and was very helpful.
Actual camper...surprisingly roomy!

Setting the camper up was pretty darned easy.  That's helpful because transition times are ripe for wandering and mischief.  William was very helpful at keeping Ben out of trouble for the 10 minutes it took us to get the site all fixed up.

Thursday, we headed over to the Gros Ventre river and did some wading.  It ranked right up there with our creek back in Tennessee (no crawdads, though).  There was some stone skipping (Ben is pretty excited about finding skipping stones, so yea!).  William shamed Lovely Wife into floating down the fast part of the river, marshmallow sticks were found, and a good time was had by all.

Having a campfire was a big bonus of camping.  Ben, after some work, was consistently able to say, "Excuse me, can I burn this?"  This was important - the question was asked about some things that one would definitely not want to burn.

Friday, we rented some "duckies".  These are inflatable kayaks, and I was pleased to see that new kayaks are way better than the ones I was used to.  Lovely Wife was awesome and took Ben in a two-person kayak while William soloed in his own boat.  They put in just below the dam at Jackson Lake and I went to wait at the take-out point an hour or so downriver for some alone time.
Ben stayed in the boat the whole time!

On Saturday, we checked out some dispersed campgrounds.  We liked the campground we were in, but to be in a place with fewer neighbors where Ben could be Ben without tramping into our neighbors would be really great.  We found a place that we want to try out next time.  I'm pretty psyched.

After checking out the more remote area, we went for a hike around a lake and had a little picnic.  A helpful German man with a large can of bear spray warned us about the Grizzly he had just seen.  We saw pronghorn antelope, bison, and moose on this trip, but no bears.  We did keep them in mind.

I got an idea from the OT sessions this summer - I took a rope, threaded it through the grommets on a spare tarp and strung it between two trees for a hammock/swing contraption.

It worked pretty well for a while - Ben got happy and relaxed.  Then we did some stress-testing to destruction.  Next time, I'll have one that can handle the load.

We headed home on Sunday.  It was an awesome time - everyone (pretty much) unplugged.

A few weeks after THAT, we headed to Big Sky, Montana so that William and Lovely Wife could run in a grueling trail race.  It was a whirlwind of a weekend, and I didn't take many pictures.  We got to spend quality time with some cousins and that was great.  Ben's fascinations for dogs and babies and very small rocks were both a blessing and a curse.

I don't have much of a message with this post, other than to say that it's good to get out and do stuff, (once in a while), no matter how hobbit-like you may be.  All of us, folks with autism included, grow leaps and bounds when we step outside our hobbit holes.  It's a big reason why I married that Took.

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