just like last year, my brother and his wife and four kids drove up from san diego and took me along camping at gualala. our cousin ben’s wife ashley’s family has spent memorial day weekend among the redwoods up the coast for many years, and has been so fun to get in on the tradition, 2 years running now! (i was pretty sad the boy couldn’t come with us … turns out becoming a doctor of economics is kinda hard!)
noah & kristi and the kids picked me up friday afternoon and we drove through the city, over the golden gate bridge…
…through lots of traffic past pretty petaluma, out to highway one and then along the sensational coast until we reached gualala river redwood park!
camping at gualala with the bodily family & friends is quite an experience. one campsite is the “kitchen,” and a fridge, stovetop, sink, microwave and (of course!) nacho cheese machine get set up every year. we had thanksgiving dinner one night and crepes and egg & ham sandwiches for breakfasts. the endless variety of available snacks is astounding. there are happy kids running around everywhere, a constant stream of bikes cruising along the trails, a never-ending fire crackling, and games and adventures to be had all day long.
it was great to hang out with not only noah & kristi and their kids, but also ben & ashley and their kids, as well as my uncle chris & aunt hedy. ben & ashley’s brand-new baby girl clara was blessed on sunday in the dappled sunshine under the redwoods. isn’t she adorable?!
it was pretty cold in the shade, but on saturday we went down to the river beach where the sun could beat down on us and warmed up. it even got hot enough to take a jump off the log in the river. 4-year-old lyla was super brave and jumped off twice!
i had some pretty epic tandem-bike rides with kristi and with mckay, and every single night s’mores were made around the fire, and we stayed up late talking and laughing. all seven of us – noah, kristi, (their four kids) mckay, lyla, cubby, bennett and i all slept in one tent together. it was quite a party.
on sunday the seven of us took a little trip to the ocean between church (they hold services in the redwood grove since most of the bodily’s congregation goes to gualala for the weekend) and dinner (dutch oven ribs and fresh-caught and prepared abalone). it was so so gorgeous!
and back at camp, there was a piñata party to celebrate a few birthdays. the stampede of all those kids after they busted open was spectacular!
being with family in nature with no cell-phone service was sure good for my soul. i’d go for a round 3!