July 31 - Aug 1, 2019.
We hadn't been back from our adventure on the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route (IDBDR) long when we decided that we should really get out with the child. After all, we had this nice 4Runner for her to sleep in and the last time we'd gone had been - to our surprise - the "best day of [her] life," according to her.
Hoping to best our previous success, we figured that this time, we'd pair the camping with a nice restaurant for dinner and some pick-your-own peaches the following day. Oh, no naive we were to think that we could possibly influence the whims of a child.
We headed out just before noon on a Wednesday, sure that upon our arrival, we'd get our favorite spot - now safer due to one less dead tree looming over the site. But as we flexed out the 4Runner a bit and pulled in to the site, we discovered another family with the same idea we had... and they'd arrived about 3 minutes before us. Tarnations!
The parents disappointed, but @mini.turbodb ecstatic - since she thinks the backup site is far cooler than the favorite spot - we headed over to the backup site. It was - as we've always found it to be - available, and we proceeded to setup camp.
Much playing ensued. Mostly it consisted of me skipping rocks, @mrs.turbodb enjoying her book next to the river, and @mini.turbodb doing everything she could to get as dirty and wet in the creek as possible. Eventually, I was even able to convince her to actually swim 10' across the creek in one of the deeper swimming holes - the water level much lower, and safer, than the last time we'd visited.
One of the things I really enjoy about @mini.turbodb is that she's much more comfortable with and doing traditionally non-girl things that other kids I've been around. So, when we were playing on the rocks and I noticed a snake, she piped right up with, "Oh, I saw one of those earlier. It was brown with diamonds on it's back." The fact that it didn't even phase her - she'd not mentioned it at all when she'd seen it, is pretty great in my opinion. And of course, now that I'd found noticed one, we were definitely going to catch it.
I proceeded to fish it out of the rocks and water, and immediately there was a request for a transfer. Or at least the opportunity to pet. Because... of course.
Eventually, it was time for dinner - so we headed into town and had one of the best dinners we've eaten at one of our favorite restaurants. It's a reasonably fancy buffet-style joint, and over the years we've gotten to know the chef and staff - to the point where we are on a first-name basis, and can request certain items be available on the nights we're there.
Their specialty is steak, and @mini.turbodb and I were elated to come up with a new - and we think best - way of evaluating a trip to the buffet: You've made a good decision of what to put on your plate if you've maximized your steak intake.
Everyone full, it was back to camp with us - still light, but way after bedtime - and into our respective floors of the 4Runner.
We awoke the next morning to no real plans, and a breakfast of champions - cookies we'd packed into a to-go box at the dinner buffet the night before. Generally, this is frowned upon by @mrs.turbodb, but with cookies is a little more OK, and this morning she was happy to partake.
It was once again a beautiful day down at the creek. Well, it was beautiful all over, but we only ever went down by the creek.
More water play ensued, @mini.turbodb finding a route across the river she'd never known was accessible to her, and we explored further upstream. Through various pools, some of us throwing big splashy rocks just at the other's feet , skipping stones across the glass-like surface of side pools, and having an all-around great time.
Then, as we were headed back, the ground seemed to move beneath my foot. Or rather, just before my foot hit the ground. Or rather, a small frog jumped.
As usual, no small wild animal is safe around me, and it was soon scooped up and a call went out to the child. We'd found lunch!
Once again, she was keen to get her hands all over this little guy, so the transfer was made - even if it would only be momentary - and she was thrilled.
Just as had been the case the day before, we eventually had to call it quits. @mini.turbodb had lost our only lunch to the creek, and if I'm being totally honest, it probably wouldn't have been enough to feed the three of us anyway. Plus, @mrs.turbodb had informed us that - under no uncertain terms - we were going to u-pick peaches, where she planned to spend hours selecting as many peaches as she wanted for $0.69 per pound.
Oh, twist our arms why don't you?! :p After 20 minutes, we went home with 43 lbs of peaches.
It had been a good trip - or should I say great trip - to this point. Everyone was happy, though we hadn't heard anything about "best life day" or anything like that. However, upon arriving home, I noticed a disturbing sight decorating the rear wheel wells of the 4Runner - wet streaks.
Visible on both sides, there's only one thing this can really be - and it's easily verified by a quick look at the brake drums: both rear axle seals on the 4Runner are leaking. Guess there's some work on the 4Runner in my future!