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posted by John : August 7, 2010

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Last year when I was in Juneau I stayed with my cousin, Mary, and her family. It was a great time even if it was short. Returning from her annual Alaskan exile Mary and Alain (her seven year old son) spent a few days in Seattle. We couldn't join them for the Blue Angels, but we did host a cousin get-together of epic proportions.

We had two sets of first cousins. Me, my sister, and Mary; our kids, my sister's kids, and a set of seven second cousins. EPIC! Especially since seven were seven or under. (Sounds like promotion for a sandwhich, huh?)

The plan was to spend the day outside doing the BBQ thing and maybe even lighting a fire. (In the fire pit, sheesh!) But, nooooo, Mother Nature decided to bless us with a little water for our browning grass. So we stayed inside.

We've had larger crowds in the house, but when Alain expressed an interest in going to a stream where he could build a dam it sounded like the perfect opportunity to head up the river to Tokul's Pool.

Clara and Alain are separated by about a month in age so they led the pack. Wait, no, it was Alain and Lilly. Lilly's moved to Clara's orange rain coat (did I mention it was still raining?) so now I have a good excuse to refer to her as "Clillian" (if I'm lucky) or just "Hey, you!" So those two led us down the end of the road, past the bear poop (oh, yeah, it's still around), and to the trailhead.

Clara helped with Henry and the triplets. I made vain attempts to keep everyone together or at least take picures as they met their individual demises.

We stopped for a brief moment at the beach at the trailhead, but that section of the river proved a wee bit too big to be dammed. With only a few skeptical looks we decided to continue to Tokul's Pool where the river is just as big, but at least it's a little prettier.

Nobody crashed and burned on the way, but we did pass some kids who had been indulging in some funny smelling cigarettes. Ryan held his tongue and didn't arrest them on the spot, much to my disappointment.

At Tokul's Pool Alain found a little tributary that he could dam and set about like an eager beaver, but perhaps a bit more eager. Other kids pitched in from time to time, but generally they threw rocks (usually in the water, sometimes at each other) and then surrounded me demanding sustenance. I held off, but they knew I had the M&Ms and it seemed unwise to withold them given I was outnumbered and, as I mentioned, they had rocks.

Kids being kids they grew tired, then fussy, then uncoordinated and that was our cue to head home. Minimal fussing screams SUCCESS (in all caps, no less) so hurray for us. (The real fussing came when it was time to break up the party.

I'll see Mary and Alain again in a month when I'm in Juneau, but hopefully they'll be back for more adventure. And maybe even some sunshine.

Stats: 1/4 pound M&Ms (plain), one knocked noggin, two helicopter passes, five tired parents, half a mile and 50 feet of gain.

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