Happy New Year from Fry Lodge

The Fry Lodge Year-in-Review video is a good opportunity to reflect on an entire year of adventure, change and growth for the Fry Family. 2017 was quite a year. We made some nice friends in Bellingham, traveled all around North America… again, and [re]learned several skills, including snow skiing at the end of the year. We can’t wait to see what 2018 brings.

Happy New Year to the Fry Lodge Faithful!

2017 Fry Lodge Year-in-Review | soundtrack by B.E.R. (The Night Begins to Shine)

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Comin’ down the mountain

Henry returned from Mountain School a bit more independent than when he left. As expected, he learned about how to identify different types of trees and facts about Diablo Dam, which held the title of World’s highest dam for one week. Henry also learned he’s fully capable of taking care of himself. While at Mountain School, he was expected to get himself up, make his own breakfast and lunch and bathe as he saw fit – all things that we as parents are in the habit of either doing for him or constantly nagging him to do. One of my favorite stories from Henry was about how he was the only one in his dorm room who knew how to put sheets on his bed. He also got up early one morning to shower before the day started (the only one to do so). I had to ask: “Who are you and what have you done with Henry?”

Very happy to have H-man back at Fry Lodge. Hoping some of these new habits stick.

Comin’ down the mountain

One of many children 

Mountain School 

Henry left for three days of Mountain School this morning. Every year, his elementary school takes the fifth grade class to the North Cascades Institute for a few days to learn about the ecosystems and cultural history of the mountains. On this day in particular, I’m glad he will be screen free. Can’t wait to hear his stories when he returns.

The Fry Side 

We spent the last full week of summer in North Idaho, home to many Fry side relatives and venue for the 2017 Fry Family Reunion. Unlike the Eitings and Watsons, who gather their extended family annually, the Frys only manage to get together every several years. And that’s probably a good thing. 

Brother Mike hosted the extended Fry clan at Priest Lake this past weekend. Four generations of descendents of Margaret and Carl Fry Sr. gathered at Mike’s place, which is only a few hundred yards away from the spot where Carl, Marge and their young family built a rustic cabin on the beach in the 1940s. So many Frys have made so many memories there. And, I’m sure more than a few were conceived in that old cabin. Frys, we’re like salmon returning to Priest Lake to spawn. 

It was a great way to end the summer. I spent quality time with each parent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece and nephew. Henry and Ruby got acquainted with their North Idaho cousins. And my mom and I finally had our potato salad face off. 

Fry family reunions are… rare events. Fittingly, as we drove home across Washington state today, the sky dimmed as the moon totally obscured the sun for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Once upon a time there was light in my life. But now there’s only love in the dark. Nothing I can say.  A total eclipse of the heart.

Almost Home 

After 4000 miles, 12 campsites, 7 states, 3 provinces, 2 rodeos, 100s of bison and probably 3 gallons of ice cream, our 2017 summer RV trip is almost complete. Currently in Winthrop, our last stop, only one mountain pass and a 3-hour drive stands between us and our own beds. 

We sped through the Big Sky state so we could have a nice 2-day visit in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where Grandma and Grandpa Fry hosted us for a much needed pit stop. We had Grandpa’s famous ribs, Grandma’s delicious scones, and, of course, more ice cream. 

Having spent the past three weeks driving through forests, grasslands and corn fields, it was nice to spend some time on the water. This weekend we took two boat rides on beautiful Lake Coeur d’Alene. Grandpa gave the kids driving lessons, which made the excursions pretty interesting. 

We packed a lot into three weeks. Though we’re happy to get back to Fry Lodge, some of us are already planning the next road trip. And ice cream cone. 

Top Five 

We’ve been traveling for 16 days, and I keep wondering to myself: How did we survive TWO months on the road last summer? We’re enjoying every stop, but I think we’d benefit from a few nights in one spot. Our daily routine goes like this: wake up, eat breakfast, pack up the RV, drive for 5-6 hours, stop, quickly make dinner, enjoy the main attraction offerred by our host location, collapse from exhaustion, repeat. Last night we roasted marshmallows in Yellowstone. The night before that we attended the Nite Rodeo in Cody. Three nights ago we watched Close Encounters of the Third Kind while camping in the shadow of Devils Tower. The night before that we found ourselves on the shores of Merritt Reservoir in the sand hills of Nebraska. It’s hard to keep it all straight. 

Last night by the fire, I asked the kids to name their top five stops on the road trip so far. Everybody’s list was different. As soon as one person would announce their top five, somebody else would revise theirs and berate others for their rankings: How could you leave out Grasslands? Does the Miles City KOA even count? How could you not include Mahoney? We all agreed, though, that we’re looking forward to sleeping in our own beds soon. A dip in Yellowstone’s Boiling River today might revitalize us. 

About to board the bus to the Cody Nite Rodeo (our 2nd rodeo of this trip) 

At Devils Tower ready to watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind (released in 1977!)

Standing in the warm water at Merritt Reservoir (not pictured: the questionable algae at our feet) 


Nebraska 

On Sunday, we wrapped up another four-day Eiting/Watson reunion at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park outside of Omaha, Nebraska. The last day of the reunion is always the hardest. Not only do you have to say goodbye to loved ones you won’t see for a while, you have to pack up the compound – usually in sweltering heat, working on too little sleep. As the morning goes on and the mercury rises, hugs are given and families peel off to catch planes. 

The reunion, as always, was a big success. This year we celebrated Jim’s 70th birthday and retirement. Meat was prepared.  

The cousins, after a several year hiatus, picked up where they left off. It was great to see the kids together again. Upon arriving in Omaha, I put them to work scraping dead bugs off the RV. 

The 100+ degree heat made daily trips to the swimming pool mandatory. The kids are now big enough to go down the water slides themselves. I still needed somebody to hold my hand in the wave pool, but I managed to few dives off the diving board.

I got some quality time with my good friend and brother-in-law, B.E., as we took a few long bike rides through the corn fields. That, besides trying not to drown in the wave pool, was the extent of my physical activity at Mahoney, unless you count the constant 12-ounce curls of La Croix.  

Jim and Mary Kay with all eight grandkids 

The Eiting and Watson clan’s dedication to family is inspiring.  These days it’s rare to see such large families, spread all over the U.S., commit to an annual reunion, not to mention travel to every cousin’s wedding. In other words, this family loves to party. 

The Fry Family Quartet was sad to say goodbye, yet excited for the week-long journey home that is in front of us. Sunday, after leaving Mahoney, we camped on the shores of the Merritt Reservoir in the sand hills of Nebraska. Tonight: Devils Tower in Wyoming.