Sunriver Family Vacation

Someone has eaten all the M&Ms out of the Costco bag of trail mix.

Swimsuits are drying on the deck railing.

Every decision—bike ride? swimming? trip to village for smoothies?—is a negotiation between fourteen stakeholders between the ages of 3 and 65.

Mom learns something on a news website and goes from room to room and tells everyone. “Did you know today is the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing?”

My sister has something on her mind. She is making “Zesty Taco Rice” for dinner and whenever someone enters the kitchen for a glass of water or Fresca from the cooler or a handful of BBQ potato chips she loops them into the conversation.

Dad sings while we bike past the stables, out along the river — “Onward and upward ever, forward on and on, hail to thee land of heroes, my Oregon . . .”

We play volleyball at Fort Rock Park and two guys from California join us even though we’re a no-talent bunch playing by dimly remembered rules from middle school PE and they are lithe and skilled. Afterward we take a family photo and they’re in it.

At night we take turns going to the store for ice cream. We spend a lot of money on ice cream. We run out of Magic Shell topping.

I am reading on the deck. My 3-year-old niece covers me with a blanket and takes a damp swimsuit from the railing and puts it over my feet and sets a pine cone on my shoulder and tucks her stuffed giraffe under my arm. “There. Snug as a bug.”

Later, I overhear her conversation with my brother (her dad):

Him: “What would be more fun—going on a bike ride or going to the water park?”

Her: “What would be REALLY fun is going to Great Wolf Lodge.”

At night we gather in the living room to eat ice cream and watch Wonder Woman. My 16-year-old nephew is on the couch, texting his girlfriend. The girls are braiding each other’s hair. My 15-year-old son is reading NBA notifications on his phone. My 17-year-old son is looking at memes on his phone. My mom is looking at Pinterest on her phone. My dad is getting more ice cream. My sister is painting her toenails. My brother-in-law is asleep in his chair.

Dad brings a scene from The Odd Couple so he and my oldest son can perform for the family, but it turns out the only person interested in this is my dad.

Dad has tools for everything. He loads the bikes and kayaks and two-person raft, he pumps and bungees and patches and tightens and loosens and double-checks and has bike helmets and life jackets for an army.

My oldest son flops and stretches out on the living room floor and then all the other boys jump on top of him—a pig pile, a people-sandwich. The ones on top are laughing and the ones on the bottom would be except they can’t breathe.

Mom brings her paints to share with everyone. Watercolors of sunflowers and superheroes and suns and tulips are drying on the deck along with the towels and swimsuits.

All fourteen of us are riding bikes on the bike path. Mom is way ahead. I can see glimpses of her through the trees. We’re like a straggling line of geese trying to stay together.

We run out of toilet paper.

We have to wait in line for showers. I sit in the hall outside the bathroom with my towel just like when I lived in the dorms.

My dad sings songs from Fiddler on the Roof. Or The Music Man. Or Finnegan’s Rainbow. My oldest son sings songs from Les Miserables. My youngest son asks why he can’t ever get away from people singing.

My 9-year-old nephew eats most of the apples.

I am sitting on the paddle board, my brother-in-law is in the kayak, and the twelve-year-old girls are in the raft. We are paddling a quiet stretch of the Deschutes. The water is so cold it makes your feet throb.“Do you think I can stand up on this thing?” I call to my brother-in-law. “Sure!” he calls back. Later, I find out that he leaned over so only the girls could hear him. “This is gonna be good.” And of course I fell in, and swore, and had to haul my shivering dripping body back onto the board, and then apologize for saying a bad word. But the girls hadn’t heard me and now they wanted details. “How bad was it, Aunt Jenna? On a scale of 1-to-10 was it the worst word? Or just kind of a bad one?”

It’s the last day. The girls want to play volleyball again. The boys want to go to the water park again. The 3-year-old wants Great Wolf Lodge. The parents want a nap.

Jenna ThompsonComment