I totally lucked out this Labor Day and I did not have to work for the whole long weekend. Add that to the fact that it was our last weekend free of soccer games for the next few months. Plus the undeniable reality of gorgeous weather. Which made it the perfect ‘trinity’ of reasons to go camping at the Trinity River. It was our last camping trip of the summer and our first camping trip we’ve done with another family. Joining us at the river for the weekend were: a friend of Brother’s from school, his mom, her boyfriend, and their American Bulldog, Dozer.

friends and Brother standing at the edge of the Trinity River

We went for just two days and one night, and really made the most of it. The river was cold and swift, for this time of year. It felt like pure snow melt. We found out it was because of a large release of water from the Trinity Dam. Good news for the fish and the river.

Family Man blowing up the inflatable raft while Young Son stands by waiting

The weather was warm enough for swimming, but not quite hot enough to fully appreciate how cold the water was. All the same, nothing compares to a good cleansing dip in a running river. It was worth the chill factor.

The campground where we stayed is on the Hoopa reservation. On our second day down by the river, the camp host came around and chatted with us. He got to talking about how healthy the river is with this fresh drought of water coming down from the dam and asked our kids if they knew why Chinook salmon has a big hooked nose. They didn’t, so he told them the story. A long, long time ago, Buzzard, who was covered in handsome feathers from his head to his legs, was fishing in this river and he caught a salmon. He was cooking that salmon over a fire, by the side of the river, turning it on a spit to cook it evenly. Another salmon came swimming along and saw one of his brothers being cooked on the fire by Buzzard. So Salmon swam over to the shore and shouted at Buzzard to stop cooking his brother. They got to arguing and Salmon lept out of the water and grabbed Buzzard and stuck his head into the hot coals, singeing all the feathers off of his head, and then threw him to the ground. (This is also how Buzzard got his red, bare, head.) Buzzard lay on the ground stunned with his wings out to his sides. Salmon jumped back into the river and started to swim away. But Buzzard awoke from his daze and flew up, grabbing a piece of driftwood and chased after Salmon. “Hey Salmon!” Buzzard shouted and when Salmon turned to look, Buzzard hit him right on the face with the driftwood and broke his nose. That is why Salmon has a bent nose.

That is my best effort at retelling the story he told us. I hope I did it justice.

friend and Young Son tell Brother they want a turn in the hammock too

Our friends brought a hammock, which was a nice spot to relax in camp. I assume. I didn’t even try it out, now that I think about it. The kids bogarted that hammock, the whole time, swinging each other wildly and hanging upside down in it. Pictured here, you can see Brother actually laying with his drawing board and pencil in hand, but along come his friend and Young Son to tell him what hammock time is really for.

Brother and friend having a drawing session in the tent

Any friend willing to have prolonged drawing sessions with Brother is a good friend, indeed. Brother can draw for hours and hours and he likes to have company to talk with at the same time.

friend's mom smiling with her dog Dozer

One of the great things about the kids making good friends is me getting a good mom friend. It’s hard to say whether its just good luck that I like Brother’s friend’s mom so much. More likely, it is our similarities as parents that caused us to raise children that have a lot in common with each other. Either way, it is a real gift and a blessing.

Young Son and friend crush quartz rock on a stone to make shiny powder

There is so much to do and be happy about in the great outdoors. It is amazing to share this love of nature with our children and have that joy reflected back to us through their calm, happy faces. I can’t say enough words to describe how incredibly thankful I am to have the health and freedom to enjoy these beautiful days with my family and friends. I am overflowing with gratefulness.

selfie in the car with the boys in the backseat behind me on our way home

Okay, Summer, we can say good-bye to you on this good note. Autumn, come on in…