The Braun Family Reunion (My dad's side reunion on Lopez Island)
- "Family reunion", a word that strikes terror into the hearts of some. Dentists appointments are normally listed with a higher degree of enjoyment than family reunions. All families have their quirks, and my family is no exception, but sometimes, those oddities are what makes for the best experience, or at the very least story. If everyone were normal, where would the fun be in that!
- The group, which was relatively small and did not have much in diversity of age included, my dad, the eldest of the siblings and a "realist" as he claims, but I say borders on cheery pessimism. My aunt Pam, who is the baby of the siblings, brought along her new boyfriend. New additions always change the equation around, adding elements that were lacking. My aunt Eleanor who is a self-proclaimed introvert, but who has a hearty laugh. My half-sister Racheal, from dad's first marriage, is one of the quiet and sweet Brauns who not only displays the red hair gene, but also has given birth to two out of three redheads, attempting to remove red-heads off the endangered list. The wonderful host of the weekend was my dad's first cousin, Ann, who lives on Lopez Island which is why that was our destination in the first place. She has (or should I say had, since the house is being sold, and she is moving ) a beautiful house on a sound or a bay, not sure which. And then there was Kyle and me, the youngest of the group, but able to keep our own.
- Family members who couldn't be there, and who missed out on a fantastic reunion, included my Uncle Robert, his wife, and my only first cousin, Kimberly, Robert's daughter, with her new baby that I have yet to meet. They had a good excuse, and will be sure to make it to the next one right? I want to meet this baby while he can still be called that! Rachael's red-headed children and husband had other obligations and were not able to attend. Also my half brother Lawrence was supposed to come, but for complications, at the last minute was not able to. And of course, my dad's deceased twin, Donald, who was remembered in spirit throughout the weekend.
- So do we have this family tree down yet? Five total siblings, the twins being the eldest with Pam being the baby. My dad had three children, Lawrence and Rachel first and then me. Robert is the only other sibling with children, making Kimberly my only first cousin on that side. And Ann is the siblings only first cousin on their dad's side. Get it, got it, good!
- Lopez island is this cute, quiet little island that moves on island time. It is a natural home to bald eagles, retirees and artists alike. Saturday morning we went down to the farmers market. However, this farmers market probably had two stalls with fresh vegetables, and 30 stalls with art work, such as jams, scarves, beaded kitchen utensils and the like. It was lovely, lively and full of excitement even a mini dog fight.
- The temperature on Lopez island, however hardly rises above 70 degrees in the summer. I say, one can hardly call that summer, although the rest of my family seemed to think it perfect! I am very temperature sensitive because of my lack of natural body insulation and possibly a heart made of ice (as kyle likes to joke) I am to the cold like a fish is to a birds nest, very uncomfortable. When I am cold, all pink recedes from my face and limbs are replaced with a ghostly white, with any scar, or acne mark accentuated with the color purple. A white ghost with purple speckles, not my most flattering moment. Not only does cold weather debilitate me, but I transform into a scary Halloween costume. Now, I shouldn't give the wrong impression that I was miserable. For the most part the weather wasn't terrible, just cooler than I am accustomed to or prefer.
- While on Lopez Island, the Olympics began, and we became experts in the sports of synchronized diving, sand volleyball, bicycling, and water polo. However, as with most family reunions, EATING is the main activity. We ate freshly caught crab for our first evening, lamb with scrumptious veggies and for our final evening we ate at fine dining restaurant on the water. Other yummy things that I had included a creamy clam chowder, probably the best I have ever had, and a blackened salmon burger!
- Besides eating, we went hiking, witnessed a seal colony, and went on a boat trip to see the magnificent Orcas.
- Interesting facts about Orcas we learned on our outings: Orca's got their name "killer whales" when whalers saw Orcas attacking and killing whales. The name started out "whale killer" but in the beauty of language, it jumbled around to be "killer whales." Whale hunters would even train the Orcas to help kill whales for them by offering them a portion of the kill. Different groups of Orcas eat different food. The resident Orcas, or the ones who lived near the coast of Washington, only ate a specific type of salmon and nothing else. Even when that particular salmon started to become over fished, these Orcas refused to eat the several other types of salmon inhabiting the waters, and will go elsewhere to find their favorite food. The way the scientists know what the Orcas are eating is an incredibly interesting fact. They have trained a dog to sniff out Orca poop, so that the scientists can test it. We even saw this pooper scooper boat on our whale watching adventure. Orcas that live in the deeper parts of the ocean, however, will eat seals, penguins, whales, shark, and all sorts of other creatures. They must teach their young how to hunt and have even been recorded taking a baby seal, demonstrating the hunting techniques, letting the baby Orca try, and returning the baby seal, uneaten and alive. Also when Orca's sleep, they do so with one eye closed and the other eye open. This allows half of their brain to rest. While whale watching these magnificent creatures, we witnessed what the biologists on board claimed was unusual behavior. One of the Orca females was floating in the water, for longer than usual. One theory was that she was giving birth. Evidently, a birth in the wild has never been witnessed. The biologists admitted that there was still much to be learned about the Orcas, and much of their behavior is a mystery. Seeing these magnificent creatures in the wild was an amazing experience!
- Overall, this family reunion, contrary to popular belief, was not something to run screaming from. We ate, we talked, we laughed, and we had fun! One of my favorite things about the Brauns is their laughter, they laugh loud, and they laugh often, and even in troubled times, you can count on a good laugh from them. A great weekend family trip all and all.
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