As the final weeks of summer rush upon us, I decided that I wanted to take the kids on an adventure. They have had plenty of time at various camps and have maxed out their fort building and game playing skills on “at home” days. Plus, when we stay home, I’m always in “doing” mode. I’m cleaning a bathroom, painting a piece of furniture, writing, something. I have a very hard time just “being” at home. I want my kids to remember more than clean floors when they think of me. So an ice chest of water, peanut butter sandwiches, and a few snacks, and we set out for Donner Lake; a beautiful lake in the Sierra-Nevada, just 90 minutes from home- where none of us had ever been.
We made the obligatory tour through the visitor center when we arrived. It was really well done- worth the stop. Admission was free; parking was not ($8 to keep our lovely parks running, fine by me). We learned a little more about the Donner Party (cannibalism, eww!). We had lunch and then moved on to what I was most excited about. We planned to take a hike and then rent a kayak to cruise the lake.
We took a hike- Esparza style. Flat land, clear path, multiple stops, snacks at the halfway point (about 20 minutes into it). The kids were more interested in the lizard, chipmunks, wild flowers, and steering clear of Manzanita (ticks!) than getting in the vigorous exercise I had imagined. By the time we were done, clouds had rolled in and the wind had picked up. They would only let us rent a canoe since there were three of us and there was no way this mama was paddling, virtually alone, in those winds. You know what they say about the best laid plans….. well I wasn’t ready to leave just yet so we wandered back to where we had lunch; a fork off of the lake that was more sheltered. My son explored the shores and played in the water, my daughter read on the blanket in the shade, and me, well, I snuck in some writing time to jot down notes about the day. Part of me wanted to be annoyed because this wasn’t the trip I envisioned. But I couldn’t. Because I realized it was even better.
I knew that I had to go into this adventure with patience and an open mind because we really didn’t have a set schedule. I was so grateful for that mindset because the entire drive there, all along the hike, and even on the way home, my kids were asking QUESTIONS. Like, A LOT of questions. How is there water if we are on a mountain (there just is). What if we see a bear (run. I mean there are no bears). What’s that on the tree (moss). Why does it grow there (I don’t know). Is it poisonous (no). Do chipmunks bite (maybe). Why is the water a different color in the middle of the lake (because it’s deeper there). Why did God have Jesus suffer so much when he sent him here to die for us (dear Lord, are you serious right now? I let the kids discuss that one while I drove). But the others I answered and took advantage of their curious minds by looking up the flowers we saw and reading fun facts about the animals in the area (I left the bears out). They alternated holding my hand, they didn’t fight with each other, and I began to forget what my “plan” had been.
As we explored and answered questions I realized that in a few blinks, long before I am ready, these little kiddos of mine will not be so willing to adventure with mom. The hikes will be quiet because I will be alone. Those moody teenagers will still be asleep and I will be wishing back the days of their endless chatter. They won’t even consider sharing a kayak, they will want their own to go where they please. Soon they will realize that I don’t have all the answers and they will not only question the reasons I give them, but also argue my points of view.
Another summer passes way too quickly but I am well aware of the blessings I was given today. There was minimal bickering, easy-going attitudes, interest in learning, silliness, and lots of love. The day really couldn’t have gone any better.
“Are we going yet?” My peace has been interrupted with troops finally done for the day. Until the next adventure….