Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Priest Lake, Idaho

Gavin and I just returned from a trip out west to visit family and go on my family's annual trip to Priest Lake, Idaho. I wasn't going to make the trip but changed my mind at the beginning of June when the urge was too great to resist. Priest Lake is filled with so much tradition and has left me with so many memories that I felt that it was important for Gavin to experience it. Unfortunately, Adam was not able to join us because his anesthesia program just began in early July. Although, I can tell you, Priest Lake has become one of his beloved vacations as well.

My grandfather has been going to the lake since he was a little boy. His family started going over 60 years ago, maybe even around 70 years ago. (He told me the exact number, but I was already a few glasses of wine in and can't recall.) He told me the stories of years they had to miss because of World War II and the rationing of supplies that resulted. Those years, gas was limited and even rubber for tires was hard to come by! He missed most of the 50s due to work obligations, marriage, and other things that many in my family have missed the trip for. My first trip was 20 years ago when my mom met my step-dad. I've missed a few years due to similar obligations but it's never without regret.

So what is so special about Priest Lake? Well, for one thing, it really is beautiful. The lake is surrounded by hillsides and mountains. But, aside from it's natural beauty, I really think it's the memories that bring families back year after year. We stay at Hills Resort, and by resort, I do not mean it's comparable to an all-inclusive Club-Med. The resort is made up of rustic cabins that rarely change- we're all excited if we get a new screen door! The cabin that my immediate family stays in leaves quite a lot to be desired. I think my sisters have slept on the same pull-out hide-a-bed for almost ten years now (sometimes it really does pay to be the oldest!) There are no televisions and cell service is sketchy. Instead, we play Yahtzee and cards and just enjoy each other's company.

There are about twenty or so of us that go to the lake each year - give or take a few. The trip begins on Saturday morning at the ridiculous hour of 6:30am. Earlier, if you live on the peninsula and have to catch the 5:20 ferry. We meet at the Krispy Kreme in Issaquah- it used to be the Arco station but we upgraded several years ago. We get our doughnuts and then head east on I-90 until we get to the Indian John rest stop. We call this our "Farkle Family Caravan." Just wait, it gets better. After that quick bathroom break, we meet up in Spokane for breakfast- the restaurant changes frequently as many go out of business or just plain suck. Don't even get me started on our trip to Golden Corral a few years back. Can you say BARF-O-RAMA!?! After breakfast, we head over to Costco. This is my least favorite stop- something about 20 of us following each other around with shopping carts is just too much for me. But, for some of us, the complaining about the caravan is also part of the tradition! After Costco, we hit the Safeway for the remaining items and then we finally head for the lake. We typically arrive at around 3:30 or 4:00pm. (Did you do the math?)

Kidding aside, the shopping trips are necessary as we eat many of our meals in. The menu rarely changes, we typically eat out two or three times during the week and the remainder of the meals are in. The first night is often spaghetti or lasagna (we changed this up once or twice with enchiladas). We have Taco Salad Night, Hot Dogs on the Beach Night, and Flank Steak with Ranch Rice Night. I used capital letters to emphasize how permanent and official this really is. For some reason this really works for us and we all laugh about, but also love, these traditions.

My family has bonded over these trips to the lake. As kids, my cousins and I would play and make up skits to perform for the adults. We'd jump off the dock and still do. We've since brought our boyfriends, fiances, and husbands, and now, my little boy Gavin. Nothing really changes- the guys golf in the morning; the babies eat sand; the kids have to be pulled out of the water; there's always a fun island to float on; cocktail hour is around 4; and our feet are always black from the sand. It's funny because when I look at the pictures - they are just slightly different than the year prior. Here are some from this year's trip- I feel really lucky to have such a wonderful family and a great place to make memories.

Bonding while watching a thunderstorm.
What it's all about!
My wonderful grandparents that keep this tradition going strong.

My beautiful Heitlauf cousins
Gavin looking hip in his auntie's shades!

Gavin made his Aunt Julie chase him around and got a huge kick out of it!


laura said...

What about "buckets o' margs, Sambuka club, Beach Movie Night, Huckleberry Icecream, trips to Upper Priest Lake and Hills Restaurant Night?" Ah, I miss the lake in the ten years that I haven't gone, but the costco and all that...not so much. If I get to go in the years coming, I will fly and meet ya there. I have to admit, however, that I do feel a loss for not being part of this for so many years...glad to see you all had a wonderful time and super glad to see my little gavers got to play and enjoy his first priest lake.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh I already miss it there. Great memories!

Love juliebug

Emily said...

Ahhh, I miss that white sand beach! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip and I'm glad you're keeping up the tradition with Gav!

MBbbfish said...

Ohhh Jenny... you just nailed this so accurately!! I think we all have our SAME memories and traditions and obviously we are creating new ones.
In the 10 years that I have gone (minus the 2 years I gave birth).. everything you mentioned still happens here and there... you just gotta go so you KNOW what really happens. :-) It's all about Today, Tomorrow, Priest Lake. Cheers!!