The Mettler

As has become tradition; I spent the last weekend of July on Puget Sound’s Case Inlet.  Colloquially known as, “The Beach,” my family is drawn to my grandmother’s old home every year to commemorate her legacy and to squeeze out every single itty bitty ounce of our collective competitiveness.  

What started as a small golf tournament between four of my uncles more than 30 years ago has blossomed into a full-fledged family reunion complete with ping pong, croquet, scrabble, more golf, trophies for the victors, bonfires, naps, story telling, Aunt Nini’s potato salad, pouring a little out for grandma, trying to find a comfortable place to sleep, and an official name--The Mettler

Along that ‘Stream life’s theme, participating in this year’s festivities proved slightly more challenging than just packing up our tent and dog, and driving an hour and a half.  We had Boat docked just outside of Ketchum, ID and weren’t comfortable leaving our house unattended in such a “sketchy” neighborhood. So we drew straws on who had to stay home with the dog.  I technically won, but think Sam enjoyed a little bit of Sam time.  Another concern is that we heard from friends that afternoon flights out of the adjacent airport were a crapshoot--sometimes it’s too hot to takeoff; other times the passengers are too heavy and folks have to volunteer to take the next day’s flight.  Not willing to take any chances I asked Sam to drop me off extra early so I could check my sticks and finish up the workday from the airport. Everything was going according to plan until 10 minutes before we were scheduled to board:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good news and bad news.  The good news, your plane is on its way and will arrive shortly.  The bad news, due to the temperature, we won’t be able to load enough fuel to get you to Seattle.  So...you’ll be making a quick pit stop in Boise for a top-off and then be on your way to SeaTac--shouldn’t take more than 20 extra minutes.”

Apparently this is a thing.  As it turns out, achieving and maintaining lift requires all variables in the equation to line up just right.  When the temperature reaches a certain degree at altitude, an airplane can’t successfully stay an airplane with the usual fuel payload because the air isn’t dense enough to support the corresponding weight.  In other words, math. So onto the twin turboprop I went and off to Boise we headed.

The flight crew wasn’t lying.  We touched down, taxied to a fuel truck, got the octane, and were back in the air within 20 minutes.  It was the most efficient experience I’ve ever been a part of in or around an airport. The rest of the ride was smooth sailing.

Before I could fully embrace the family festivities, I had one chore to knock out on Friday morning--make a storage run.  When we shoved off in March, we fully embraced the less is more mantra. But after being on the road for nearly five months, we realized how much room we actually had and missed a few choice fashion pieces.  So, it was no brainer to make a surgical strike given my proximity to our storage unit in Seattle. Getting there was pretty straight forward. Just bum a ride to the Bremerton ferry dock for a 6:20am departure from the same uncle that picked you up at the airport nine hours ago, ride said ferry, hoof it over to storage, find the necessary items, repack half of the unit, lie by omission to your Seattle friends about being in town, and then retrace your steps.  

With the mission accomplished it was time to fully embrace The Mettler.

The attendee list has fluctuated over the years for various reasons.  Some work. Some school. Some sad. Some bad. And some, just life. Regardless of who can make the weekend, there is always an ease with which we all get together.  Across all of the competitions, associated trash talk, new family additions, and frustrations of sleeping next to a snoring uncle, merriment is the operative word and I can’t wait for next summer.

Not being able to fully describe how special The Mettler is to me--and honestly, I’m not sure I would if I could--here are the highs and lows.

Highs:

  • Friday’s two man practice round with cousin Bubba--There’s a course 10 minutes away from the cabin and while it wasn’t available for the actual tournament this year, we still got it some of the classic holes.  Like most of the fam’, I don’t get to see Bubs enough.

  • Friday evening when almost everyone rolls in and hugs/kisses are exchanged--It’s basically the family friendly equivalent of the pregame locker room from The Program.

  • Saturday morning’s early tee times--We rocked three groups this year and it was great to have new and old blood paired up accordingly.

  • Debating politics and home remodels over bourbon and bonfires--I wandered into two very different conversations on Saturday night.  The first one was around a bonfire and covered off on best ways to remodel a kitchen, who is better Chip or Joanna Gaines, is the Flip or Flop couple ever getting back together, etc.  The second one, over what was by then an empty bottle of bourbon, covered slightly heavier hitting topics including white privilege, tax reform, #metoo, and the POTUS. I mostly listened by both the bonfire and bottle, but I loved the discourse.

  • Winning doubles ping pong--It was my only W this year.  Beggars can’t be choosers.

  • The gentlemen's agreement with my brother on the croquet pitch--There are several house rules for all of the competitions and one of my favorites is how the final croquet match is decided.  As each player completes the course, he or she becomes poison and must then hunt down the remaining players. Henry became poison one turn before I did and that left me in a precarious/defenseless position.  Being the kind lad that he is, Henry took pity on his poor older brother and agreed to lay waste to the rest of the field before turning his ire my way. We both still lost.

  • Sunday’s championship round of golf--I’ve grown accustomed to hoisting the golf trophy, but I was bested by my Uncle Tony this year.  Despite the L, there was enough drama and camaraderie to make it “feel” like a W (that’s what I keep telling myself, see “Lows,” below). Congrats, Unc’.

  • Spending quality time with my aunties, uncles, cousins, soon-to-be-cousins, brother, sister (effectively), moms, and old acquaintances--Love you guys.

  • The few quiet moments alone, in the dark, by the water, reminiscing on 30 plus years of memories at The Beach--this one is all mine.

Lows:

  • Not winning the golf tournament--Damn it.

  • Not winning ping pong singles--Well, hell.

  • Not winning croquet--Still love you, bro.

  • Flying solo mission; leaving dog and boat and wife in Idaho--speaks for itself.

Until I was about 13, I spent every summer at The Beach (aka Grandma’s house) and it evokes some of my fondest memories.  Mum (as we called her) taught me many a life lesson. Because of her I still know what it means to shoot the moon, how a Knight moves on a chessboard, the difference between stud and draw, what to do when a fuse blows, how to pour a stiff double whisky, and how to love unequivocally.  She spent the better part of her life in a wheelchair thanks to Polio and passed away too early due to cancer, but not once do I remember her complaining. We all have significant influencers in our lives and I’m fortunate to have many positive ones, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the time I spent with grandma.

Pete

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