This past weekend we celebrated a nice long weekend of being American.  And it was grand.  And I discovered that I think 4th of July means more to me from a traditions and family perspective than does Christmas.  Maybe that is a sin to say, but it is true.  I was one emotional mess on Saturday morning when we still weren’t sure what our plans were for the long weekend.  But the weekend turned out to be a great time and even this many days later I’m still sore from it.

Friday night we had still-childless Billy over for dinner.  It was nice for Bryan and Billy to hang out especially.  Saturday morning we got a late start packing up our backpacks, stopping at REI for some gear, and finally making it out of the city headed north.  We had some ideas on where to go but we knew that we were going to be dealing with snow in the mountains and some rain on Sunday morning.  Once we got to Arlington though the sun was out and we stopped for lunch at a very funky spot called Nutty’s Junkyard Grill.  We were one of the first customers to order our burgers, fries, and fried mushrooms but by the time we left the place was slammed.  Bryan and I ate our lunch at the picnic tables outside in the sun.  We continued driving east for another hour and a half until we reached the North Fork Sauk River trailhead.

What a crazy place. Garage turned grill with some great food and funky treasures.
What a crazy place. Garage turned grill with some great food and funky treasures.

At the early hour of 2:45 pm we set out on the trail, knowing that we were going to have to cover over 9 miles and 4,000 feet of elevation to get to the campsites at White Pass.  We were moving pretty steady though, covering the first flat 6 miles in under 2 hours.  The next three miles were steep and steady up, taking us out of the shaded (and beautiful) woods to the ridge.  We then had a mile hike taking in the beautiful views, along the Pacific Crest Trail, until we found the campsites at White Pass and picked pretty much the only remaining campsite left.  We immediately set to putting up our tent, then filtering water, and then getting the campstove ready for dinner.  Within 45 minutes we had all of the above accomplished and were sharing a bowl of veggie rice and kielbasa, hot cocoa, and red vines before bed.  We each had some pretty amazing sleep and unlike most camping mornings where we are up early in the sunlight, this time the rain kept us sound asleep in our tent until 10 am!

9+ mile hike with a ton of incline on the way to camp.
9+ mile hike with a ton of incline on the way to camp.

Sunday morning started normally.  We made a big bowl of oatmeal and coffees and chai teas.  We let the tent dry out before packing it up and then packing the rest of our bags up to hit the trail for day 2.  Just at noon, with the sun now out, we set out to continue the loop.  We got only about 2 miles in when the steep descent was covered with snow making for a much too dangerous trek for us.  We had to turn around and I was bummed that we wouldn’t be able to complete the loop we had set out for.  We headed back the way we came, and it was a long walk out.  The last six miles of mostly flat terrain through the forest seemed to take forever and both of our feet were killing us.  Finally at almost 6:30 pm we finished 14 miles of hiking and returned to the Jeep.  We quickly changed shoes and set out for home.  We took the scenic Mountain Loop Highway back and decided to stop at the picturesque Big Four Ice Caves picnic spot for the packed dinner we had planned for the trip.  We made one huge and delicious bowl of sausage and broccoli mac and cheese which definitely helped make the drive home more pleasant.  We pulled into our house right at 10 pm to shower, soak our feet, and finally watch TV.

The long 14 mile day back to the Jeep. It was 14 miles, this underestimates what we did.
The long 14 mile day back to the Jeep. It was 14 miles, this underestimates what we did.

So Monday morning we found ourselves at home for the day instead of in the mountains like we had planned.  That was actually sort of a gift so that we could tackle some tasks around the house.  We had our long-missed brunch at home of bacon and blueberry and banana pancakes before setting out on the list.  Bryan tackled the front yard weeds and trimming of the bushes before really doing some good work on our back deck and patio table.  Meanwhile, I tackled the bathrooms, kitchen, and backyard and patio.  We are starting to get a good amount of produce popping up in our garden; green beans, snap peas, cucumbers and zucchinis have all started to produce.

Monday night we cleaned ourselves up to head over to the Dodd’s for their 4th of July barbecue party.  I made a side dish of blistered green beans with a roasted tomato almond pesto to take over.  The boys grilled ribs, chicken skewers, and vegetable kabobs and then there was also pulled pork, so many corn, fruit, and tomato salads, orzo pasta salad, 4th of July cupcakes, blueberry pie and a strawberry yogurt pie.  So much good food, and beer, and sangria.  We socialized for quite a while, ate more food, and finally at 10:20 pm the fireworks from Lake Union had started and we all watched from their roof top deck.

It really ended up being a nice holiday weekend, despite not being with my family at the cottage and despite not having perfect weather for it.  We still got into the outdoors, ate some good bbq and had a good time with friends.  I still love the 4th of July!


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