October 3-8, 2016
Three Rivers, California
Does everyone want to go explore giant trees again!? Definitely one downfall of exploring all of these amazing places right in a row is that they start to pale in shock value. We are already having a hard time remembering which moments happened in Yosemite and which were in Sequoia because we visited them back to back. Sequoia was another park with very windy and steep roads that we didn’t want to brave with our trailer, so we found a little town called Three Rivers to park our house for the week.
Unfortunately the town was tucked into a Verizon dead zone, so we had no cell service for 5 days (except for the moment we hit a high point in the Sequoias & my phone filled with pending messages). When we arrived at Three Rivers Hideaway & realized there was no cell service and only unreliable internet we went back and forth between feeling stressed by it and seeing it as an opportunity to be “unplugged”.
It’s so interesting to me how dependent I’ve become on cell service to feel like a safety net. Since Brad needed to leave us girls at the campground one or 2 days so that he could go to a nearby coffee shop to work on the free (reliable) wifi (our MiFi wouldn’t even work at this campground because it relies on cell service!) we talked through the potential issues that could arise without us being able to contact each other. How did we even survive the 90’s people?!
We’ve spent some time reminiscing about pre-smart phone days lately. Brad told the girls a story about a time his truck broke down in 2001. He had to call family collect from a payphone and then sit in his vehicle for hours waiting for his uncle to come get him. There wasn’t even Facebook for him to check on his phone to kill the time….he just WAITED. We also remembered a time later than that – around 2005 – when printed Map Quest directions got you where you were going. And if you left the route and got lost…you’re in trouble! Remember LOOKING for a person in a place, rather than just texting them “Where are you?”. It’s amazing how we’ve only had these luxuries for a few years but already can’t imagine life without them.
Our campground was next to a small creek with a lovely little pool of water behind a small waterfall. The girls and I spent one afternoon exploring and enjoying the sand and tadpoles and sounds of water spilling over rocks. We took off our shoes and walked down the creek to find big rocks mid-stream for sitting and watching. There were vines hanging from trees above us that were strong enough for the girls to use them as supports to walk across the water. Coral stayed by my side the whole time as usual, but Sunny got the opportunity to explore independently – a part of my childhood that I treasured. I’ve mourned the fact that my girls haven’t had much chance yet in their lives to interact with the natural world without an adult’s supervision within arms length. To just sit and look at a stream and think about everything and nothing and how insignificant and powerful you are, and to consider where it is that you might somehow fit into this universe. Well, I’m not sure if Sunny contemplated the meaning of life, but when she made her way back to us she had hands full of slime that she wanted us to feel and had transformed our surroundings into a fairyland with her imagination, so I would call that a win!
The afternoon in the stream felt like a giant exhale. Like…this was why we decided to hit the road as a family. To have more moments like this. To experience new parts of nature, to be together as a family, to see parts of this amazing & beautiful & terrifying ball of organic and nonorganic matter swirling around a burning star, and to learn to be kinder to each other. I mean, what else is there, really? At the beginning of the trip, the stresses of new routine – trailer stuff, campground stuff, the new pace of life, new roles – made me feel tired all the time. But I’m starting to feel like I’m getting the hang of it, so hopefully that means I’ll be able to appreciate these special experiences even more fully. Hopefully I’m finally to a point where I can appreciate that the entire adventure is a form of rest, even though at times it’s very tiring.
We spent one full day exploring Sequoia National Park, which per usual included some family exploring, a Jr Ranger program, an afternoon trail run for Brad, and arguing about buying stuffed animals at the gift shop. The best and worst moment of the day was as we were leaving the park in the evening and we saw 2 black bears in the distance – a mom and a cub. It was amazing, but also terrible because everyone saw them except Sunny.
It was later that night that we confirmed that Sunny’s sickness from the week before was not brought on my car sickness or by something she ate….because Brad & I both came down with it. While we were simultaneously sick in bed for about 16 hours, the girls watched Daddy Day Care about 4 times (thank goodness this campground had movies to borrow for free!). At one point I verbally walked Sunny through the steps to make oatmeal in the microwave for herself and Coral, so now she’s the microwave oatmeal queen and basically ready to raise herself. (For those who don’t know – we haven’t had a microwave in our house since before Sunny was born, so the magical, warming appliance continues to delight our girls.) At lunch she wanted to make macaroni & cheese, but we drew the line at boiling water.
This was the first campground that we’ve stayed where MOST of the residents live there permanently. It does have the propensity to make the whole establishment feel a bit more run down. Nothing against the residents – I’m sure it’s hard not to accumulate THINGS in a small space the same way it’s hard for people in big houses not to accumulate. I think it’s harder to keep things looking neat & tidy & cute when space is so limited, though. It was also the noisiest place we’ve stayed so far. For some reason, another overnighter in a neighboring spot cleaned his motorcycle at all hours of the day with his radio blaring, even at 11pm. We were grateful that we had made reservations at this place for 5 days so we were there long enough to ride out the stomach virus and have a day to recover before we moved again. But we were also pretty grateful to move on down the road and put this place behind us when the time came.
One bright spot though was a sweet Australian family camping near us. They are traveling the US by RV for 6 months so we chatted about places they’ve been and where they’ve yet to go. Their kids are doing online school though the Australian system, so they were plugged in to their “classrooms” at odd hours to match up with their classmates in a different time zone. It was great to connect with another full time family and hear about some of their tips & tricks for the road.