I feel as if I am writing one of those letters home from summer camp, (hello muddha, hello faddah, here I am at camp grenada) it’s the kind of letter where the kid recounts all the adventures she’s been up to all the while feeling a little homesick, like something special is still missing. And in this case that something special is you! While I wish so much that you could be here to join in on our recent family trips, I’ll have to settle for the next best thing: bragging all about it to you on this here weblog. Wink. What else are sisters for?!
The last time I wrote we were still getting a feel for the routine of being out of school and able to do whatever the hell we liked. Then July hit and this family unit found our collective stride and the past four weeks have flown just by. Summer vacation in full effect Baby! We’ve covered a lot of ground in our hoopty trusty dusty minivan. First we headed up to the Sierras to celebrate that all-American holiday- you know the one- in good old Truckee. We watched the annual parade downtown on the 4th as well as the unofficial spectacle of the chair-races on the west end of Donner Lake (just like it sounds, chairs on wheels). And don’t forget drunken revelers in stars and stripes speedos, their bicycles tricked-out with stuffed animals and honking clown-horns. It feels like landing right in the middle of some Mtv reality show.
We are eternally grateful to our generous hosts (whoot whoot! Fergusons!) because of whom we get to come participate in joyful chaos in such a beautiful place. My boys became honorary “locals” this year by jumping off an infamous westend bridge at the lake. Also like the local boys my kids got to see the fireworks show up close from a private beach along with an eyeful of way too many skimpy patriotic bikinis. It’s all a preposterous amount of fun !
We had a just a few days at home base before the next excursion on the roster. Just enough time to toil in the 110 degree Sacramento summer, finishing our front walkway and putting down a solid path of decomposed granite. Thanks to the super-Powers of “granddad” and my team of (not always so) eager boys, we got it finished in just two days and it looks great. So satisfying to cross something off The T0-Do List that’s been there for over a year! Of course there’s also been baseball practices, swimming lessons, basketball practices each week and at least three sports games on Saturdays. This has been the most rigorous part of our summer “schedule” and I’ve come to resent it as much as a camper resents being roused off their bunk bed for a lively arts-and-crafts hour lanyard making. That is to say, it’s not much of a responsibility but even a little bit can seem like way too much on a lazy summer day…
Last week saw another family road trip, this time up the Sonoma coast to Salt Point State Park for a few days of camping. It was a gorgeous, nail-biting drive up Highway 1 where the sometimes one-lane highway winds along the sheer clifftops above the expanse of pacific ocean. Every part of this area of California is stunning to me; from the Russian river meeting the sea in idyllic Jenner, to the solemn fortress of Fort Ross overlooking the grey horizon, to the lush mossy stretches of forest that seem like a piece of the magical pacific northwest.It all makes me grateful to live here.
We had lots of luck on this trip, with a nearly empty camp ground and decent weather and only a drizzle of coastal fog. We hiked a lot, explored Gerstle Cove (a protected marine reserve) at low-tide, and watched the boys play “baseball” with pine cones and sticks around the dusty campsite.
Our most thrilling adventure happpened our last night of camping. I woke up to hear grunting and scratching and confusing wild animal sounds right outside my tent . After laying awake paralyzed with panicky thoughts like ‘are there bears on the coast?’ and ‘why don’t I have a flashlight or some mace lying around handy?’, I realized all that was happening was good ol’ fashioned Raccoon Raid. Unable to do anything to stop it (the random bursts of clapping from inside my tent were my one impotent attempt) I lay awake in the dark and listened to them scratch and tear and gulp. We had put all of the food away in the wooden campbox but it was frail and rickety and had gaps in the sides just big enough for the wily critter to reach his creepy raccoon hand, up and in, to take whatever he could grab. In the morning Dad and I assessed the damage. The beastly thing had gotten a small bag of carrots, all the muesli, a pack of dried ramen and our entire bag of marshmallows for s’mores. When I saw that empty pack of marshmallows and remembered the hideous midnight gulping sounds, and imagined all those little white balls of corn syrup and gelatin-goop sitting uncomfortably in that coon’s belly…well I actually moved from anger to compassion. Poor effer. I wouldn’t have traded places with him for the world.
So, with more than a month left to go of summer break there are still lots of fun things in the works for our little crew. Camp Cali isn’t over yet. We have more “field trips” planned: beach camping in Santa Cruz, river days at the Yuba, and hopefully some more time at Donner Lake. There’ll be games nights, and night swimming and don’t ya think a dance party sounds fun? I’ll add that to my activities roster. There are still giant corn dogs to be had at the state fair, a long list of summer reads to get through and a garden full of ripening figs and grapes to eat. It’s going to be a big job, having all this fun, but someone’s got to do it.
The only thing left to say, is the most important thing of all…