Reunion at Samuel P Taylor

We went camping at Samuel P Taylor this summer.  It’s the place I grew up camping, and it was a joy to take my girls for their first camping trip.  The smallest detail like feeling the car dip down in the road towards the campsite kiosk felt nostalgic.  The redwood trees felt like home.  The cool shade, the huge trunks, and the way they circle each campsite to make campers feel hidden in a life-size fort is real magic.  The air is cool when you’re shaded by the towering limbs.  The creek gurgles and I feel truly calm.  I knew somehow my girls would love it.  They would feel themselves in the trees, a gift I didn’t know I’d been given until I returned to the trees this summer (that one’s for you, Dad). 

At the start of the week,  we drove to Sebastopol to meet Finn, Flora, Ginny and Jules.  Their home is welcoming and beautifully crafted.  Their bookshelves are cozy and their back deck is just the place to catch up with cousins.  Being on zoom can’t replace cuddles with a newborn!

Leaving Sebastopol, and driving through the dry, golden hills had Corey puzzled: “This doesn’t look like camping in the redwoods.”  I smiled as I drove the curved roads, knowing we only have a few more miles before the very air would change.  Breathing in would feel full, different, and fresh. 

Mamo and Grandad truly packed everything for us to make this a stellar first trip.  A tent, sleeping bags, favorite pouched snacks, filtered water, and a lug-o-loo for midnight toilet runs were already unloaded for us at the site.  Sachi was whisked into auntie arms and Corey and I set up the tent.  The girls couldn’t get enough of it!  I think they would have played inside for hours if their cousins hadn’t insisted on touring them around campsite.  Jamie and I opened beers to cheers to the start of a week at Samuel P.

As tradition goes, the first thing you do after setting up your tent is head for the creek!  Time stops when you are in the creek, squatting over the water skeeters, finding logs for climbing and stones for skipping.  The only rule is that an adult has to be present at all times, and that was an easy one to fulfill.  Everyone got down into the cold water, or sat on the bank, to join the adventures. 

I have lots of gratitude for Mamo and Auntie Nicole taking charge of the yummy meal planning, Nate for whittling the roasting sticks, and Auntie Jamie for running games for all ages.  The time spent getting to know Nate, Abby and Andrew was a joy, and I loved knowing both Saya and Sachi were right in the mix as if they’d be camping many times before.

We had guest visitors a couple times in the week.  Uncle Dick and Ann Marie joined to see the girls again!  We’d just met in Portugal a couple weeks before so it was a fun reunion to find out what they’d been up to the past two weeks.  Auntie Caryl and Uncle Len treated everyone to donuts in that old fashioned pink box.  Kids were scooting around in the background or pulling new adults towards the creek for more escapades. 

Our Hearts Desire beach day proved to be a Northern California beach day—everyone tucked into hoodies and merely dipping toes into the water—everyone except Auntie Jamie and the O’berg kids.  When Auntie Jamie’s involved, you know it will be a good time.  As she was pulling the inner tubes through the water, other random kids joined to hitch a ride!  The O’berg flotilla multiplied in numbers before our eyes.  ‘Thank God for Auntie Jamie’ became our mantra.

Jamie also treated Nicole and me to a surprise at the Heidrun Meadery.  Never been to a meadery?  This place was idyllic, and an excellent afternoon getaway for vacationing sisters.  The mead flowed easily, as did the stories, and we had a great time not keeping track of the time.  The merry making continued as we returned to camp for roasting XL marshmallows, and playing Codenames into the evening. 

Every day, something new came out of Mamo’s big tub of activities.  The cousins enjoyed painting, scavenger hunts, craft projects, and putting together glow stick contraptions.  We played Heads Up, catch, football, belted out a whole camp sing-a-long, and cheered on a dance performance from Abby and backup dancers, Andrew and Saya.   While the older cousins raced around on scooters, at any moment in the day, Sachi was content following Harvest to and fro, just tickled every time she was able to pet her furry friend.

Figuring out a sleep routine was the only ‘bump’ in the road at our campsite.  The tent is just too fun.  And adding s’mores right before lights out meant Corey and I spent an hour each night wrangling the girls.  But it was worth it to see them cuddled in their sleeping bags after the stars came out.

Samuel P Taylor left me smiling inside and out and there’s nothing left to say except we’ll be back next July!