Nellie just after you were born your mama and I loved to go hiking and surprisingly she didn’t let the dust settle on the hiking trails durning the first year of your life. We would hike at least once a week usually with JP, OBIE, JONAH, AND JACY. You were in some baby hauling contraption your mom would wear and you were always good company.

Obie would hike often talking about what meal we should cook afterward. Your mom and I would call after RED DOG when he ran away and laugh together about the frequent stories of RED and the local pound visits. As you know RED BOLTS for freedom any chance he gets. I wonder has he settled down much? Will he ever be a lazy dog? I don’t think so.

When we were hiking throughout your first year of your life we saw cougar evidence, fresh bones scattered on almost every trail we took. Although we couldn’t rule out it could have been wolves who had been reintroduced to the area. Your mom and I determined it was most likely a big cat, since we are dog loving people.

We hiked in the cold mornings and hot afternoons of fall, we hiked in the rain, in the snow, and in the hot warm days of summer. We hiked to mountain rivers for swimming, and to higher ground for views of the valley. We hiked on the fresh wild fire trails and between spooky dead trees. If one ever felt a fright out on those quiet mountain trials just two mamas, 3 dogs, and a bunch of hiking students…all you had to do was look at HAPPY BABY NELS with her rosy cheeks and blonde hair poking out of the pack to know we would be just fine. Bohan our golden/lab was a good protector and young DRAKE the 2nd was a chocolate lab with a fierce desire for stick throwing so he was good for fetch, and runaway Red was off scouting the area to scare off any predators.

I remember the time we were heading back down the trail and all of us caught a fright. We quickly called the dogs back when we saw a VERY FAT AND VERY LONG BULL SNAKE stretched out on the trail in front of us. Even though BULL SNAKES are not poisonous this one still seemed worthy of our respect. We weren’t experts at identifying snakes so no risks were going to be taken. IF WE had been playing chicken with the snake we were willing to lose. He won. The trail was his. We took to the grass field on the side and wondered if he had any friends or cousins in the tall grass we should be concerned about.

We also enjoyed taking you and your brothers boating on the hot summer days. Vantage, Lake Easton, Lake Cle Elum, all were favorites of ours. The boys would pile on the tube behind the boat and hang on for dear life as Jared would pull them through the boat churned waves to launch the tube loaded with boys flying through the air and into the the cold water. They were hard to shake. They clung to the tube like pro bull riders at the Ellensburg rodeo. Bull riders often say, “the goal is to die with memories not dreams” and I’m happy to report the boating crew have tons of summer memories!

One particular time we took a large watermelon and named it Wilson after the movie Castaway. When we would stop the boat in order to jump off the back JONAH along with your brothers Wyatt and JP liked to throw Wilson off the side, yelling out W-I -L-S-O-N, this made you laugh with delight when Wilson would pop back up to the surface of the water. I wonder if you still remember “Wilson” bobbing up and down, and being thrown off the boat? Too bad we got hungry. Poor Wilson.

Care should be taken when cutting watermelon. And doing it on a boat isn’t easy, especially when it’s a friend of yours.

One particular time, when I was thinking it would be simple to slice a watermelon for those hungry tube riders, I WAS WRONG. I went to gently stab the orange pairing knife in the round green belly of the unnamed watermelon when a wave hit the side of the boat just enough to change the destination of the knife. I looked down and it was stuck in my leg! I yelled. OUCH. HMMM, I wonder if he must have been a cousin of “Wilson” and it was payback time? Shall we call this watermelon Wyatt? Wyatt the watermelon’s revenge sounds like a good story to me!

I’ll leave some space here if you WANT TO DRAW A PICTURE OF ONE OF THESE FUN MEMORIES.

Obie drew some citrus masked crusaders when he was younger and I liked them so much! I can’t believe this year Obie is a senior, and will turn 18 next month. I wonder NELLIE if you could make up a story about LEMONANDLIME? As for now, it’s bedtime and I’m sure you will enjoy dreaming of happy summer days and Wilson the Watermelon.

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