by Jim Teece
Two years ago Dena and I went on what I called “The Last Road Trip” with Grandma Shirl (Sweets) and MayMay and among the many things we did on that amazing trip, I saw Wyoming and the Tetons for the first time.
I told Dena then that I wanted to come back and actually get out of the car and hike Jenny Lake someday.
(It actually ended up being MayMay’s last road trip, but thankfully not Sweets)
It took us two years but we finally scheduled the trip back.
Dena and I would drive there and hike and pick up Karl the horse, which has been under Kailey’s expert care for 3 years or so.
Friday, August 6
My mom had a heart attack event recently and my sister coordinated a family gathering/camping reunion in Roseburg on the weekend we were scheduled to leave to celebrate her survival, so we changed our plans a little and drove to the campground as everyone was arriving and visited a little and took a couple of photos with family and my mom.
Then we drove to Quinn and Kriya’s house in Redmond to spend the night.
Saturday, August 7
We left the next morning and drove to Twin Falls, Idaho. We got an expensive hotel room (everything is so damn expensive now days), and ate a great dinner out at some loud college bar.
Sunday, August 8
The next day we hung out in Twin Falls (both our first time there) and toured the falls and visited the newly opened Japanese American Concentration camp (Minidoka War Relocation Center) before heading to Afton. Just like when we toured the holocaust museum in DC, Dena and I had a hard time processing it all after we left.
On the way we found out that it was Tevis’ last day of work at Melvin Brewing, in Alpine, so we diverted there and had a pleasant dinner in smoky Wyoming before heading to Kailey’s house in Afton.
Kailey was roping after work, so we stopped by and watched her rope and Dena got to ride Karl a little. Kailey was sad to hand over the reigns.
Monday, August 9
Dena and I drove to the Tetons and Jenny Lake to do our hike. We got a late start and didn’t arrive at the lake until 1pm. It was hot and hard but I’m proud of us. We did it. Not only did we hike the lake, we also did a side diversion to Hidden Falls and then up to Inspiration Point.
We saw two baby bear cubs sleeping in a tree and nervously kept hiking thinking the momma bear was on the trail looking for dinner.
Tuesday, August 10
We (along with the now unemployed Tevis) drove to the airport to pickup Teague and PJ at noon and then drove to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone.
The drive was long but we got to walk on a boardwalk around many hot pots and geysers. It was awesome.
Wednesday, August 11
We went to the fairgrounds and watched Kailey as a Dog Agility 4H club leader with many kids competing in a fun dog run on a obstacle course. Her kids and dogs did great and it was fun to see Kailey in action as a leader. (She is always in action, never resting)
Teague and PJ went back to the house to nap and rest (they started feeling sick) so Dena and I toured downtown Afton. We found a vending machine with live bait and tackle in an alley. Never seen that before.
Dena and I found a Cowboy bar. Everyone but us was smoking in the bar and the locals even did some kind of gambling dice game for a chance to win a free drink. 1 buck a dice roll.
It was hot and PJ, Teague and Dena cooled off in the irrigation ditch in the horse pasture.
Rik, Marcia, Tana, Russell and Cecca showed up that night and drank all my good whiskey, but I got one sip of it before I went to bed, so I’m not bitter. 😉
Thursday, August 12
I had a couple of 2 hour zoom meetings in the morning so the crew that never rests went for a hike to intermittent falls.
Kailey and Marcia groomed lots of doggies in Kailey’s “Groom Your Pooch” side hustle at the house.
I met the group at a cowboy bar after their hike for a sandwich and beer and then Dena, Tana and Kailey went on a couple of horse rides. (One arena and one trail) while I over cooked, over-smoked some Marcia potatoes in Kailey’s insane smoker machine.
Friday, August 13
Kailey took Dena and Teague to a horse class and I babysat PJ. After the class, Tevis dressed up in some kind of funky pink chicken hippy costume and we all went to the fairgrounds to watch her perform her practiced free-style reigning pattern, that she spent all summer perfecting.
And then in the heat of the day we all helped setup panels for Kailey’s Ranch Sorting Competition that was going to happen the next day. It was fun watching us all work together under insanely stressful conditions and do something none of us have ever done. The stress and chaos and heat was insane. It would be a precursor what was to come that night and next day.
Kailey wasn’t there as she was out picking up baby cows for the event.
After we set up the panels, Rik, Marcia, Dena and I visited with Larry and Carolyn and I got a jar of their amazing pickles and the recipe.
Tevis “floated” on the lawn and PJ drank out of the dog water bowls because his siblings are dogs and he thinks he is a dog.
That night Kailey sat down with her boyfriends daughter and started working on the ride order list for the event. That is when it got insane.
Tana invited a friend over to drink and talk on the porch. Then the party moved indoors while we desperately tried to figure out how to do the ride planning for the event at the same small dining room table. OMG, It was nearly impossible for me to think. I kept thinking it was a good thing that Boone wasn’t there.
Kailey, Marcia and I didn’t finish until after 2am. That was an insane night. I can’t explain in words how hard it was to do what we did.
There was even a point, when we were done with the spreadsheets and drove to the vet office that Kailey works at at 2am, to print the ride order sheets that I got pulled over for speeding by the local Po-Po and Kailey sweet talked him out of giving me a ticket, but that’s another story for another day.
Saturday, August 14th
We all woke up early and started heading to Kailey’s event. We all had jobs to do. Because my job was done the night before, I was only in charge of getting ice and donuts and babysitting PJ so that Teague and Dena could be in the event.
We were all operating on 4 hours or less of sleep. Stress was high. Tension and Emotion were at their limits. And then the event started and it all went great.
Marcia was in charge of recording all the times and calculating all the results.
Kailey was in charge of the overall event and rode in most of the races as well, because she has Marcia/Matthews blood in her.
Russell was helping everyone that needed help and was helping reset gates, duck taping, icing, running around and just being Captain Russell.
Cecca was in charge of the gate duty. (I really enjoyed her energy)
Rik was in charge of the cows. Making sure they were where they were supposed to be and watered. Tana was assisting.
Dena and Teague were riders. They even got to be a team in one event. Teague ended up in the championship round and getting 9th overall.
Tevis helped until a gate attacked her and she hurt her elbow so I drove her home.
PJ and I just hung out and did errands when asked and it was a chance for PJ to get his first rides in with his mom.
It was fun for me to see how the family worked together to pull off a great event.
Kailey and Marcia did an amazing job. They spent weeks prior learning at other similar events and coordinating with many moving parts and pieces.
That night, we celebrated. Rik invited all his friends over (Who knew Rik is just like his mother?) and we sat and drank and talked and relaxed. Exhausted but proud. (earlier in the week Kailey wanted to smoke a brisket that day but she got busy and ran out of time so I tried to do it for her in that crazy smoker. I ended up burning it but everyone ate it. )
We toasted ourselves and Kailey and we talked about how to improve it next year.
Because for most of us, it was a special event that brought us all a little closer, even though it was crazy, crazy stressful.
I started working on a program to make it easier for next year. This year was crazy. I spent hours fighting my way through manual processes in Excel until 2am. Not good.
After the party, we packed everything up for the long drive home and went to bed completely spent.
Sunday, August 15
We left at 4am and drove Teague and PJ to Idaho Falls airport for a flight home.
We then drove to Sam’s house in Eagle, Idaho with Tevis and her new cat (Ahsoka) and Karl and Jelly Bean in the horse trailer and all of Tevis’s stuff.
After dropping off the horses, we even helped Tevis pick up a couch she bought online in a neighboring town.
Then we went to a cool California mall dropped in the middle of Idaho and ate chichi food with rich people.
Monday, August 16
We left Sam’s house at 7am and drove with Karl to Redmond. It was Quinn and Kriya’s moving day. We helped them finish packing and in a caravan of 4 vehicles with a horse, 2 ducks, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 6 chickens we drove to Ashland through what felt like the apocalypse, as smoke filtered the sun and filled the freshly burned forest surrounding us.
We were home by 9pm.
It was a long day ending a long week.
My head hit the pillow sometime after midnight and I instantly fell asleep and I’m sure that I smile-dreamt all night long.
It was a great vacation.
Not very relaxing.
Just the way I like it.
I recently lost a dear friend to COVID, so I was looking forward to being alone and clearing my head. What happened instead was that I was surrounded by family the entire time and it helped me heal faster.
I love my family. They are crazy… Just like me.