The boys did a good job keeping themselves busy at the lookout, but Willem did start to get a little squirrely. We finally let him have the camera, and he spent much of the last evening and our final morning taking pictures.
Here's Willem's shot of Shaun working at the stove. (I did the grocery shopping and the advance cooking for the trip, Shaun did the on-site cooking and cleaning up. Like I said, GOOD MAN.)
Willem took several pictures of Nels with his pocketknife.
We had a lot of cleaning to do that final morning. Here's the place all spic and span and ready for the next visitors.
We thought it would be nice to have it on record that all four of us were there together. Here we are at the back of the lookout.
And here we are at the top of the trail.
We posed for one more picture, all loaded up and ready to hit the trail. Plunk! Giant raindrops began to fall. Plunk! Plunk!
For some reason, the load on the dolly was more difficult to secure on the way back. We were tired and cold and getting hungry and had to stop a few times to get things shifted around. We were only a little bit down the trail when--whoops!--the dolly tipped over, and most of what was on it went bouncing over the side. At least one of the cartons lost its lid, sending cookware flying down the slope. Shaun and I stood in the rain and laughed, while Nels and Willem looked back at us like we were crazy.
Fortunately for us, we were at a fairly narrow (though brushy) switchback. A few of our things landed on the trail below. Shaun had to climb down to wrest the remainder of it out of the bushes and then reload the whole business. There was no cover, so we and our things just got wetter and wetter while we stood there. We made it down the rest of the way without further incident.
This is truly the stuff that memories are made of.
After taking our last picture of the trip, the kids and I huddled in the car while Shaun sorted through our bags and pulled out dry clothes for everyone to change into. Then he packed all of our wet gear into the car. Then he found a good spot for all of the wet clothes, and at the very last he changed into dry things and we headed home.
During our stay at Gold Butte Lookout, I thought several times a day that it was one of the most amazing places I've ever been. It made me feel what CS Lewis describes as "a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious." That trip was a gift to our family, and it wouldn't have happened without Shaun to plan and drive and haul and pack, and to keep us from asphyxiating indoors when using the lamp and the stove.
So, if you have a Shaun in your family--or if you are a Shaun--go stay at a fire lookout! It's worth it.