POST VACATION NOTE FROM MY BROTHER, GUY ...
Joshua Tree was definitely worth seeing, and for the boys it was as if they grew up 6 months in 6 days. They had so much fun exploring and going on adventures and charting courses over rocks! It was really good for them to build confidence and excitement about doing things in the outdoors. It was also fantastic to see them quickly and positively relate to their cousins and aunt & uncle. As for me, I found the park reminiscent of West Texas, but very much cooler with its rocks, beauty, and explorability. Despite the challenges with things we were learning about the camper's limitations and the tough weather, I definitely think it was a positive and even cost-effective vacation overall.
Gabe, we were so glad you were quick to step up to help keep the boys safe, or to play with them in the campground. As parents of 3 little ones, it's pretty tough for Meaghann and me to take care of all our logistics and Pepper and still be able to keep the boys both safe and entertained. Your willingness to jump right in and help in this way made a huge difference in making our vacation actually relaxing relative to our usual daily life. You rescued Niko from the street and helped entertain Skylar so many times! I know the boys really came to appreciate your help in climbing the rocks, and I think you continually inspired them with the climbing and jumping you were doing. Big thanks!
Sierra, the kids really love their stuffed animals, and I'm not just saying that to be nice. They all seemed well chosen for the individuals and each is an impressive little piece of craftsmanship. All three played with theirs on the trip home, and I know they'll remember you by them for a long time.
Chip, your facilitation of the boys exploring away from the campsite on several occasions helped them enjoy the time more than they could have if they had to wait for their mom and dad to finish their chores. They both showed huge leaps forward in confidence and skills thanks to those kinds of forays into the wild. And I'm sure they enjoyed the break from the constant limitations that their parents would have otherwise had to impose for their safety.
Kel, you were a sort of Mecca for Skylar from weeks before the trip began, and you probably could tell that he thinks you are 'da bomb'. There's a real affinity there that makes me feel good that he as a good positive emotional connection with his caring and interested relative. Of course all the help you gave him and his brother, and your ever-kind energy around the campsite just underscored it all.
The hugs the boys gave out during the good bye were for real, and strong indications of how good they feel about the Hughes family. They can be reluctant or just apathetic about some hugs and good byes, but not in this case!
We had a good time, and for me it was a genuine R&R like I've not had probably since before Niko was born.
So thanks, Hughes Family, for a fun vacation!