- Ted & Debbie (Photographers)
As we manuver around curves in the roads visited only once a year we pull into our campsite that at this point seems like home. Everyone knows what to bring and where to set up their tents. Some faces are missing because of lifes responsibilities. I’m feeling those commitments and pressures even more this year but know this trip is important. I don’t know what else to say, but there’s a feeling when the wind blows through our campsite and everyone who is busying themselves with backgammon, bow and arrow making, tidying up, playing music, or relaxing, and we all look at the trees together and feel happy.
As we get ready our camping gear to make our annual journey to Sequoia I just realized there wasn’t a posting from last years trip. That’s not to say the event wasn’t documented nor exciting. There was Dave’s giant fires, rolling a giant log into our campsite, ukuleles galore, birthdays, haircuts,U.B.S- unconfirmed bear sightings, paella night, 6″ of snow, a speeding ticket (me) and culminated with stitches at an emergency room in Bakersfield, that would be Ollie.
Back to packing…Thank the gods we have a paramedic with us again this year.
You could tell it has been one of those years for nearly everyone. Dragging ourselves out of the cities we’ve embedded ourselves in is hard. Back at home we have 4 different alarm clocks. One might think that this isn’t unusual for a family of 7 to have 4 different alarms. The thing is we all sleep in the same room. We tend to (or try to) ignore the alarm which isn’t ours. First, my cell phone alarm goes off followed by Debbie’s Kloss clock radio. Henry uses a timer which makes a different tone practically Â every morning. His alarm is usually synchronized with some kind of sporting event occurring somewhere in the world. Sam uses his cell phone which makes a horrific screeching sound. It sounds a little like The Emergency Broadcast System schreech. Luckily it goes off after everyone is already up. He tends to ignore the sound and lets it screech on and on. So it’s nice when there are no alarms, no car sounds, no sounds of the city to wake up to. In our campsite, in my tent I’m sharing with Ollie I wake up to birds chirping and the Â sound of the wind blowing through the trees.
After a breakfast of pancakes and sausages our day begins. There’s talk of rock climbing, setting up zip lines across the meadow or hiking to the Pinnacles but none of these activities materialize. What happens is nothing. A nice sort of nothing. Hanging in the hammock, Wendy giving haircuts, Dave playing his guitar, and the kids all looking at Emma’s Midlands yearbook.
It’s hard to get away. This year was even harder. As a parent you sometimes lose it with your kids when there’s so much much to do and not enough hours in a day to do what needs to get done. You fall asleep reading Curious George to the little ones and wake up at midnight and go down stairs and find every single light on in the house, dirty dishes in the kitchen, the kitchen trash can overflowing, piles of laundry (clean and dirty) and your oldest child playing Pac Man on the computer. I’m not Sam bashing- he’s a great kid. Pulling strait A’s in 10th grade is something I’m real proud of. It was his 16th birthday on May 27th and Debbie and I barely had the time to make it a special day for him. There were even waves but I just couldn’t take the time to take him surfing.
Next morning the Yakima pod is put on the mini van and the loading begins. 7 sleeping bags, 7 sleeping pads, 3 sleeping tents, 1 showering tent, 3″x 3″ redwood shower floor, propane showering system, camp chairs, mess set and clothing to accommodate temperatures ranging between the high 20′s to the mid 70′s . The road trip begins… We jockey out of Los Angeles and pull into Long Meadow 4 1/2 hours later. The temperature is 43 degrees and there’s some wind.Â We’ve been coming to the same campsite for 10 years straight with some of our dearest friends. Some of our friends we see every day some just once a year on this camping trip. We say our, ” howdy, how are yas,” as we are set up our camp before the sun goes down.Â Enough words here’s our campfire story in pictures…
The Lichtwartdts arrive the next day after picking up Emma at her school, Midlands. She brings a new camper, Dave the goldfish who is also on summer vacation. They remembered Dave, but seem to have forgotten their sleeping bags. Emma has been away at boardingÂ school this year. There’s probably a little extra “3 dog night” warmth in the their tent with being together as a family again.
We all sleep in a little bit the 1st morning then the morning rituals of camping begin. Boiling water for coffee, tea and chai. The kids usually get the campfire rekindled and the day begins. It was a cold night, there’s frost on the meadow and there’s a thin layer of ice here and there.
Here’s a good place to stop. John cooking eggs. But wait there more to come in the next post. John cooking Chile Verde!
This was our 8th year returning to Sequoia National Monument to celebrate Sam’s birthday on Memorial Day weekend. We had wonderful weather and a great vibe permeated the campsite. Some new faces and some missed no shows reflected how life goes on it’s journey and we are but passengers.
One way of measuring growing up is having more able bodies to actually help around the camp site. The boys set up our 2 tents with ease and just a little bickering.
There was a quiet sadness winding its way throught our campsite. Emma is going to boarding school next year and probably can’t make the Sequoia trip for a few years. We wish her good luck and happy trails.
It might be noted that this is the first time in 15 years that Debbie and I have NOT had a child in diapers while camping.