Down by the River…

Took a little walk.  Met a little Trevian.  Had a little talk…  These were the opening lines of one of our high school swimming and diving team’s motivational chants.  I went to Evanston Township High School and our rivals were the New Trier Trevians.  Whenever I hear “Down by the River…” the rest of the words come tumbling free from the deeply buried annals capturing my youth.  When I dug a little deeper into the history of that chant, I learned it’s actually borrowed from one of the Army’s cadence calls and, as with most such morsels of military culture, goes on to suggest best ways of killing the enemy. Whoa! Our family outing today had nothing to do with Trevians, or intentional drownings for that matter, but we did find ourselves down by the Kaweah River.  But I’m getting ahead of myself…  Let me back up…IMG_8472

Our morning started at our spectacular campsite snuggled in beside a stream leading to the Kaweah River.  A capstone of today’s roadschooling adventure was Firebolt finishing her first knitting project, a sweater for her American Girl doll, Samantha.  Samantha is wearing a Shalom Cardigan-style sweater perfect for brisk mornings in the National Parks of Sequoia and King’s Canyon.

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Brilliantly constructed by Firebolt, the colors were chosen to highlight Samantha’s coloring.  Okay, so maybe that last bit’s a stretch as that was the only yarn we had on hand.  However, the pattern was adapted from a cardigan I made for Firebolt when she was two and she knit Samantha’s new garment all by herself…

Firebolt at 2 sporting her Shalom Cardigan

The next academic highlight was returning to the Visitor Center so the girls could be sworn in as Junior Rangers for these two parks.  This was by far the most in depth review of any of their Junior Ranger work.  The girls were asked plenty of questions about what they learned about the Sequoia and the surrounding ecosystems and they both rose to the occasion.  Me, I just stamped my passport and observed the age appropriate inquisition.

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With the badges rightfully earned, we made our way to Slick Rock Recreation Area to recreate late in the afternoon.  We parked and sauntered down to the water, WoodSprite “Hey Momma”-ing me on the way…

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Similar to the geological wonder we summitted yesterday (Moro Rock), the smooth granite boulders strewn about in the Kaweah River were unlike anything I’d ever seen.

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Perhaps more aware of the fact that it was late November, our girls were less inclined to swim in the frigid water, but Keeper rallied.  He first waded out to his own island…

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And then, not only invited his sisters to join him, but transported them one at a time across the Kaweah where together they owned their new land.

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What an awesome big brother!

Firebolt grew brave enough to forge through the water on the return trip, but WoodSprite gave that idea a hearty NOPE and again relied on her brother’s ferry services, which he was gracious enough to offer.

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The kids explored a little more and spent time solving the world’s problems.

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Then Keeper volunteered to submerge himself in the water, but wanted evidence to document his bravado.  Flight videoed his crazy stunt, but I think this picture captures well the temperature of his surrounding environs.

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Um, no.  No, thank you.

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Was it cold?  I’ll let you be the judge…

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Keeper, however, was warmed by the thrill of his daring adventure, so he did it again.

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And again.

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Again, um, no, thank you.

While Keeper was braving the water, Firebolt struck up a conversation with a kid whose family we learned was actually staying at this beautiful location as the site’s hosts.  Flight already captured that boondoggle opportunity in his post and I’ll just add that I continue to be amazed by all the unexpected ways that I learn other families make this unconventional lifestyle work.

Sweet sibling time aside, my absolute favorite picture of the day was Flight’s silhouette in the waning daylight.

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The late afternoon lighting also provided some lovely portrait shots of our girls.

We trundled back to our car, which was parked near our new friends’ house, and headed back to our own residence.  We paused briefly outside the Kaweah Post Office, long enough really just to take a picture of the tiny building that dates back to another age.

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According to the Lonely Planet website’s summary, it was “Founded by the utopian Kaweah Co-operative Colony,” and “is one of the USA’s smallest and oldest still-operating post offices, now staffed by volunteers,” because the U.S. Postal Service rescinded its contract in 2010.  Yikes.  Now I can’t speak to the politics of our nation’s mail service, but I can certainly get behind choosing this location to create a utopian colony.  Although I didn’t meet a single Trevian down by the river, I’d like to think we’d have equitably shared this piece of paradise as graciously modeled by our kids.

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