Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Western Escape

The thought of "going on vacation" doesn't usually inspire images of returning home, but for Alison and I this summer that is precisely what it meant. Or at least it meant returning to each of our state's of origin to spend time with our families. For some time now we have been aware of two facts about our life together: we had never been west together in the summer and both of us had a significant piece of our before-married life that the other had never experienced. For Alison it was spending time in Lake Tahoe. For me it was Camp Meeting.

For the first 25 years of my life I never missed (the Arizona District of the Nazarene Church) Camp Meeting. Since I started working for the National Park Service in 2009, however, I had not been able to go. Thus Alison had never experienced something that played a key role in my childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.

Alison's family owns a cabin above Lake Tahoe in California. I had been to Tahoe in the winter to go skiing when I lived in Oroville and visited the cabin with Alison and her family over Christmas in 2010 and again very briefly to go skiing the following March. I had not ever seen the lake or area in the summer, however, something which she wished to rectify.

As we looked at our calendar and responsibilities for 2013 we concluded that this summer offered an opportunity to not only do something about changing the circumstances described above, but also to spend time with both of our families, something we would otherwise have been unable to do until the fall. So we committed to focusing all of our vacation time, money, and effort on going west and returning home during the summer.

As plans developed the visit became even more important as it offered the additional opportunities of celebrating my Dad's 60th birthday and seeing our new nephew, born to Alison's sister Melanie last December, while we were in California.

The shenanigans began with a 60th birthday celebration for my Dad which took place on Kristen's 27th birthday at my Dad's house in Glendale. The weather was actually quite nice (for mid-July) and we enjoyed a dip in the pool before the party officially began. In addition to partaking of tasty Mexican food and cake we also played games in which we had to guess how my Dad and Kristen answered questions about themselves and guess trivia about the decades in which they were born. We also, naturally, took a series of ridiculous pictures with the aid of all manor of silly costumes and props. This is one of the highlights.
The day after the party we headed north to Prescott for Camp Meeting. Before camp officially began Alison and I went up to Flagstaff to visit my good friend Brian, his wife Andrea, and their new daughter Charlotte, born only three weeks earlier. Camp itself was filled with lots of tasty food, church services, and games including cranium, guillotine, squabble, and of course the ever-present pit and rook. We also had a couple of epic night ultimate frisbee matches complete with a light-up frisbee and glowsticks to identify who was on which team. This photo captures what we looked like after such a match.
Camp would not have been complete without some ridiculous family photos, which we captured on the final day. This one, with the addition of a few props, is a particular favorite.
From Arizona we flew to Salt Lake City and then to Reno, Nevada, where Alison's Dad picked us up at the airport and took us out to Lake Tahoe. It was quite late when we arrived so I didn't fully appreciate the difference between winter and summer until the next morning when I could actually see outside. It is certainly a very different place! The picture below includes the immediate family and Bart (the Scottie) sitting in front of the cabin. As you can see the view is pretty spectacular!
We didn't get to out on the lake, but we definitely enjoyed walking along its shore, driving all the way around the lake, playing mini golf, and spending time in and around the cabin and Tahoe City. Among the highlights of the trip was the Living History Day at Sugar Pine Point State Park, which included a tour of the Ehrman Mansion and a picnic down by the water. We also had plenty of time to enjoy the company of baby Noah, who was seven months old during the visit.
Now it is back to the grindstone of work and real life, but at least I still have a couple more weeks before school begins again! This is going to be a tough semester, so the break and time spent away with family in cooler climes was welcome indeed. 

For more details and a lot more pictures of the entire trip, take a look at This Album.

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