Almost thirty years ago, my curious baby brother (that's him, above, not a baby anymore) wandered from our campsite in Pismo Beach, CA next door and into to our camp-neighbor's motorhome. He was fascinated with the RV because it had a steering wheel for driving right inside (we had a trailer at the time)!
It was a fateful meeting, because not only did that family return him and become our dear friends, but they invited our family to join them at their summer camping spot, Lake Almanor, up in Northern California. We did so that very summer and then continued to camp there with the same crew of friends every year of my childhood.
The summer after I graduated high school, leg in a cast from a bad car accident, I visited the lake for the last time. It's a bit off the beaten path, and David and I had never been as a couple through all my college years and our eleven years of marriage. Many of the lake crew have kept going (including my parents, off and on) but my brother and I, living the farthest away, hadn't been back in years-- fifteen years to be exact for me.
Until this year.
From four main families our numbers have grown. Of my generation, we all have families of our own now except for two of the younger brothers. And this year, fifteen years later, we finally (almost) all got back together at the lake for a reunion of sorts and a wonderful week of camping at one of my favorite places.
Back when we were kids, we thought we "owned the place" at that campground. There were just six of us-- five girls and one boy, plus a few younger brothers. We acquired more lake friends over the years, but that was our main crew. This year, David counted thirty-eight of us, and that was missing a young family of six who couldn't make it.
I saw the lake through new eyes this year, as we introduced our kids to our old traditions like milkshakes in town, putting pennies on the railroad tracks (with gum, of course), ice cream at the camp store, catching crawdads, and the most beautiful sunsets (the ones you see here are all unedited).
So today, as I reflect on what a beautiful time we had there (even despite LOTS of rain one day, and one sick kid), I thought I'd share a few photos with you. We were traveling on 10 on 10 day after all. Only today you get a few more than ten. ;)
This trip also marked the maiden voyage of our little tent-trailer! We are in love! And of course, ahem, now we know where she leaks (and have hopefully since fixed that).
Sharing bits of our childhood with our own kids is one of the sweetest things about building a family. Watching them embrace traditions that I grew up with made my heart feel full, and as I got to experience one of my most favorite places in the world after such a long hiatus, I was reminded anew of the wonder of creation and the gratitude for this life I've been blessed with.
And on a related note, as I've said before: camping with young kids-- it's definitely not easy, but oh, how we love it.