Following the bustle of the city, we took off for a relaxing drive to the National Park of the Dolomites, also known as the Italian Alps. Their GPS really hates doubling back, so it took them up streets as wide as the van plus one inch. With the side mirrors tucked in. Mari did a great job driving it, emerging with nothing but net.
We eventually decided the drive had taken long enough and parked by the river at one point to stretch and have our picnic. Everybody threw rocks into the brook and we chatted awhile before lunch, grasshopper catching, and letting Uncle Derrill introduce the kids to centrifugal force. (Since I was the one holding the kids arms and spinning them wildly around, I'll have to wait to get pictures from DeWayne before I can post em.)
The Dolomites remind me of all my favorite mountains: part Santa Barbaran Los Padres area, only with more picturesque tunnels; tall as Provo's Rockies; trailed and watered like Ithaca's gorges.
DeWayne and I took the kids adventuring along the stream to a sandy area where they had constructed a lovely bridge. Hyrum did a great job climbing the rocks all by himself. The kids were all buried in the sand, more rocks were thrown, and we enjoyed watching a newlywed couple wandering the pebble bestrewn path for their pictures.
DeWayne quite enjoyed the looks of consternation on the bride's face. The final pictures may look very romantic, but we know how bothered she was to be doing this to her shoes and her dress train.
After a short hike back (with Hy on my shoulders wading through the icy waters) we rejoined the ladies who wanted a restroom across the bridge. We drove and walked there only to discover that it was the start of the very trail we had hoped to find! So after paying $1.50 each for the use of a porcelain hole in the ground, we set off up the mountains to find the elusive waterfalls whose run off had been entertaining us.
Looks like we found them.
We hiked. We sang. We threw more rocks and branches. We mourned a dead mouse.
This is one of the places we were introducing to their family. Beautiful area, easy hike.
In the bottom center of this one you'll see the newlyweds. I had to watch until they climbed up the rocks out of the beach area to see the groom offer his lady a hand up.
The little villa up there gave me this great idea for a set of spin-off series: Little House in the Alps; Little House in the Rain Forest; Little House on the Veldt (or on the Serengeti, maybe)... Each one about a rugged family of individualists eeking out a living on a different continent. The Alpen family could be shockingly right wing, trying to avoid all government attachments; the Rain Foresters of course have to be environmentalists of the third order, protecting their land with their lives; and the last are probably with a donor organization, moving around with refugee camps. Little House on the Outback, maybe? Why not?