Often we do simple, little things that take us out and about. Many times, if we have the money, it’s simply a movie. That’s what the kids wanted to do. The twins wanted to see the new Disney movie Planes, while my oldest wanted to go see Elysium. My middle simply wanted to do anything…she’s pretty easygoing.
I had other plans.
They weren’t massive, but I got up early enough that I made breakfast for the kids and began my task. I made sandwiches for all of us, put some root beers and ice in a cooler with them. I bought chips to have and a box of grocery store bakery cookies. (I know, I preach making homemade snacks and buy some, but I had a plan) I put it all in the back of the car and headed out the door with the four kids in tow.
We hadn’t really gone on any kind of adventurous outings before this, but I figured it was time. Abbi, my oldest, leaves in 10 days. 10. That’s how long I have until the family of five becomes a family of four. I hadn’t really anticipated this change two years ago when my wife passed away. It’s one of those massive milestones. I had spent a long time looking at the funds (or lack thereof) in my bank account and what we’ll need to head out the door and go to another state with her for college. She’s excited, a little nervous, probably a lot scared…but really anticipating a good time at school.
Knowing we didn’t have a lot of time left to us we went to the Big Trees. Do you know it? It’s in the middle of Calaveras County, CA – yes…the same one with the frog-jumping contest made famous by Twain. You enter a national forest and then a state forest and then you’re there, in the mountains, something like 4,500 feet in elevation. You’re up in among pine trees that reminded me of the smell of South Dakota when we used to visit there as a kid. Friends reminded me that this is where George Lucas shot a good portion of Return of the Jedi. We didn’t even think of that.
We just saw these massive, gargantuan trees.
I could see, before arrival, that it raised some doubt in my oldest’s brain. She wasn’t sure this was the kind of adventure she wanted to achieve. She isn’t the hiking type, doesn’t camp. The boys and Hannah, who grew up in Texas and California are about as big a city dwellers as you’re going to get. When I told them to get shoes they could hike in they tried to wear them with no socks…in the mountains…in the trees. I immediately sent them up to change. Again.
Still, when we arrived and they saw the giant stump big enough you could fit 8 families on it for Thanksgiving dinner they were amazed. Floored. Happy.
We hiked up the overlook of the entire forest. We sat inside a hollowed-out center of a tree. We walked through a downed tree, hollowed out by fire. We spent a long time, hours there.
It was two hours there and two back, but they didn’t care. We listened to a couple podcasts, some music, sang along to the radio . . . and just enjoyed the day.
As it got dark we sat outside, lying on blankets, watching the beginning of the Perseid meteor shower. We saw a bunch of stars streak, flame in the brightest, shortest of intensities. The pink and green and blue flame streaked by like tails in the sky. The boys missed wishing on one at first and then started to as another streaked by. The small start that was moving in a straight orbit I informed them was either a satellite or possibly the International Space Station and they followed it as it left the sky and crept over the horizon.
As I tucked them into bed, all three, I sat and rested for the evening and realized that sometimes . . . once in awhile . . . we have a good day. It wasn’t with their mother, but we brought up together . . . she’d only been up here once with me, before they were born, and she wasn’t a big fan. We’d spent about an hour then and that was it. No hiking. No walking around. History was glorified by her father’s words not the plaques we read today on the trail.
It wasn’t a huge adventure…but it was still adventurous enough for us. That’s all that matters.