palooza

Family reunions are pretty common, I know…but there are few reunions which compare to the reunion called Westbrooka-Palooza, held every summer in early July. This reunion started as a friendly get-together maybe 10 or 15 years ago…my Dad and a friend of his and both our families would get together, go rafting, go to the lake…hang out and have fun, really. Then my Dad and his friend had a falling out, and more family started coming out. This family is mostly from the Westbrook Family Clan, so it includes my Dad’s sister (my Aunt Vickie), and my Dad’s niece and nephews (who are technically his age and technically my cousins, but more like my Aunts and Uncles), and all their children. So this year, we have:

Family:
Bob, Barb (parents), Cari, and Evan. Amy was in Alaska this year, so she missed out on the fun.

Aunts / Uncles:
Aunt Vickie

Cousins:
Chris and Jeanine (related through dating), Beth and Bill (married in), Scott (and Rene is his wife, but she didn’t make it this year)

Second Cousins (all around my age):
Skyler, Libby, Austin…this leaves out a lot of people, like Claire and Shelbi, but not every person makes it every year.

Friends of the Family:
Don Crawley (old perverted uncle type figure), Brendan, Bujar (pronounced “Booyar”), and Mason (who is new this year). Heather also participated this year, which was fantastic, and Don Crawley’s sister and her family showed up, which was new and awesome.

So…what do we do that makes us so crazy? Well, first we buy two kegs and about $100 worth in cans and bottles. Then we buy about $200 in fireworks. Then, as common with normal, slightly less-than-intelligent people, we combine these two things. We play beer pong…as a family (note that not every person is 21). We play badminton, just because, well…someone brought and set up a badminton court. We pick blackberries. We play pranks. We go rafting (which was fantastic this year — Ocoee River with Bill, Smoke, and Potts as our raft guides…two old-timers who haven’t guided in 3 years plus one person who was my friend…). We go hiking. We go swimming at secluded places which require a bit of gumption to access. We make fun of people, like Libby’s minotaur-esque nose ring, Skyler’s “Yo Pussy” (aka Hello Kitty) tattoo, and the apparent Lesbian Love between Heather and I. Oh, and the 20-club folk kicked ass at some trivia at a local restaurant one night. We write “fuckisms” on our cups and hey…anything goes at Palooza. And we mean anything. (Ask me about this and I’ll tell you a couple stories that can’t be published on the internet.)

Every year, Palooza is different, because different people always show up. Mason and Heather were new this year, for example, but Brendan’s been coming every year for five years. Every year we change up the schedule slightly — do different rivers, different hikes, and drink different alcohol. But every year, it’s an awesome opportunity to really get to know some of my family.

Today’s the last day — I have to work in the store, but everyone else is going to go down to Tallulah Gorge and hang out. I’ll rejoin with them tonight, and we’ll probably all hang out around the fire and make obscene jokes.

Hopefully I’ll be able to post a couple pictures up here soon which I have on my phone. More than likely, I’ll just put a link to Heather’s photos when she uploads them.

Palooza 2010: Fantastic.

For full insight in the joke here, watch the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNPxIibhcKY

L - R: Gary and Beth Harper, Barb Westbrook, Smoke, Judy and Bill Norton, Bob Westbrook. Guides in the mid to late eighties, some longer than that.

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