I haven’t completely unpacked from our trip, yet — but I want to post a few shots, so I can show my grandma tomorrow when we go to celebrate her 92nd birthday. (Happy Birthday, Grandma Lowe!”)

We just had one of those vacations where you just shake your head all the way home about how nothing went wrong and everything was great. You hate to say it out loud lest you jinx your luck… but it was really an ideal family vacation.

We took off last Monday, leaving straight from the annual homeschoolers not-back-to-school picnic — five bikes tied atop the van, and the pop-up camper towed along behind. We were headed for Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania — in that magic week after school has started for the rest of the world, and before Labor Day Weekend, so we had an entire state park campground to ourselves.

The van groaned up the mountainsides and ground brakes back down, but we got to our site before dark, and the kids (all big enough to help, now) jumped out to assist us in setting up camp. (We love our pop-up… it’s like a big tent but has mattresses to cushion tired paddlers… it has a table for family games on rainy nights… and we can travel cheaply by eating in. Plus, the few times we’ve had to break camp in a downpour, it beats emptying out and rolling up a wet tent, by miles!)

In the days that followed we biked over long wooden bridges crossing wide river valleys… paddled nine miles of the middle Youghiogheny river, navigating rocks and rapids (Molly too, paddling along in the back) … rode our bikes 25 miles in an afternoon, from Ohiopyle to the charming town of Confluence and back… (Molly too, pedaling her little legs off on her small, one speed bike)… we swam and floated and shot the rapids with our bodies at “natural water slide”… hiked mountain trails… cooked campfire meals. The weather was perfect, hot clear days and cold misty nights with a full moon. We all got along famously, even in tight quarters. Molly had one wipe-out while biking around the campground, but her boy scout brothers bandaged her scrapes, dried her tears and pamered her for an evening, and we all thanked our stars it was only a couple of bumps and bruises. (Yay, bike helmet!)

We came home through Pittsburgh and spent the afternoon at a water park with a wave pool and fun, scary tube water slides.

And by the time we got home, the kids were thrilled to see their pets and happy to be back in their own beds.

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