Thursday, April 15, 2010

Camping at the Lake

We've lived next to Lake Camanche for the last 7 years, but never camped there once. I've tossed the idea around briefly several times, but it always seemed too expensive to pay $32 to camp 5 minutes away from my house. Plus things get pretty ugly in the summer; it's only draw then is fishing, and I don't fish. But this year I picked up a brochure and discovered that the off season rates are only $16 a night, so I was set to complete our first Bucket List adventure.

We camped there for Friday and Saturday nights, and I quickly discovered that camping close to home is like being at home only more work. Usually you're off in the woods somewhere far away from your normal activities. Not so with our lake trip. I made about 6 trips home the first night to get things we forgot, so supper was somewhat delayed. I'd planned a gourmet supper; flame-broiled garlic bread, Spaghettios (OK, not all of it was gourmet), wild green salad picked off the land, and cubed potatoes with carrots and squash baked in the fire.It was a lovely idea, but the wood Caleb had been chopping all week was green, so it took forever to get a fitful fire going. Nothing got done at the same time, and not all of it got done at all! Not to worry, these are the things memories are made of!

The next morning we were up with the sun to hurry home, shower, and get ready for church. None of this lazing around the campsite taking in Nature's peacefulness for us. No, sir!

After church and potluck, we headed up to Daffodil Hill, Number Two to be checked off on the Bucket List. Our church group used to go there every year, but we haven't made it the last, oh, I don't know, 4 or 5 years! It was nice to see everything again. And this year we made it during the peak of blooming; usually we trickled in right at the last when a lot of the flowers were dead already.

After our trip to Daffodil Hill, we returned to camp for a more successful evening of culinary treats. We had roasted veggie hot dogs (how can anyone mess that up?), asparagus and mushrooms roasted in aluminum foil over the fire, and strawberry short cake with fresh camp shortcakes--black on the outside and slightly gooey on the inside. It was delicious!

The next morning we hung around camp for a while, took some Facebook blackmail photos,

then headed off to the lake to play a little before leaving camp for the twentieth and last time! The lake was a 'little' chilly, but John and Caleb splashed around for a bit. Finley and I waded out to our special island, created by rising lake water, where he flushed out a goose nest. We've been back once to look at it since then, and Mamma and Daddy Goose are still on the nest taking good care of the next crop of young'uns. I hope I get to see the babies when they hatch.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Bucket List

I don't know about you guys, but I've certainly found it a principle in life that you don't appreciate something until you're about to lose it. It's only been in the last couple of years as I contemplated moving that I really started to discover what an amazing place I live in now. I live in the heart of Gold Country surrounded by towns with rich and exciting histories, but to me, they were just places I shopped and ran errands. Oh, I might see something interesting, but I've always been busy, and always promised to 'do it another day.'

Of course, you all know what happened. Tomorrow never came. But now I only have 2(ish) more months until I'm gone forever (or at least until I can wangle a visit). It's do or....regret it a whole bunch . So I have been working on my bucket list; places that are special to me I'd like to visit one more time or ones I've never gone to, but have always intended to see 'someday.' Gas being what it is, I've tried to keep them local, and my finances being what they are, I've tried to keep them cheap!

For the next 2 months I will be profiling my attempts to check off as many places on my list as I can, and I hope you will join me for the ride!

The Bucket List:

Get an ice cream cone at the Big Dipper in Escalon
Get an ice cream cone at the Ice Cream Emporium in Sutter Creek (I'm sensing a theme!)
Tour Preston Castle
Stop at the Jackson scenic over-look
Visit the site of Black Bart's first and last hold-ups
Walk to the bridge over Camanche Lake
Float through Natural Bridges
Camp at Camanche Lake,
Eat at King Tsin in Lodi
Go to Daffodil Hill
Visit Pixie Woods in Stockton
Do lots of photo shoots for people
Ride my bike to my mom's house
Buy pumpkin ravioli from the Italian place in Jackson
Tour the history museum in San Andreas
Stroll through the tourist shops of downtown Jackson and Sutter Creek
Visit the Jackson museum
Make fresh strawberry jam
Raise a litter of caterpillars
Go swimming at Lion's Park in Sutter Creek
Take a trip to the top of Mount Diablo
See Yosemite again
Go camping in the mountains before there are none
One. Last. Trip. To. The. Beach.
Find a way to adequately thank every person who has helped me through the years and so richly blessed my life.

Ok, well that last one's impossible, but it's not going to stop me from trying! I know I won't get them all done, but I'll give it my best shot and see how well I do. It helps that I've cheated a little, because some of them I've already done as of this writing and will post about them later. Hope you enjoy your whirlwind California Appreciation Tour!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Brighter Side

There are people in my life who have accused me of being a relentless optimist. Maybe I’m guilty as charged, but why not? Why look on the dim side of things? You won’t change the reality of your circumstances, but you will make yourself miserable in the mean time. Blech! I like to be happy, and I’m always looking for a reason to be. I really do believe the promise that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” Romans 8:28 That means if something bad happens, I just have to look for the good; it’s always there somewhere.

Now I’m facing this move with a life-long and very determined habit of looking on the bright side. I know there will be a lot of things that will not be the same or, sometimes, even as good as I had them in California. When I face genuinely negative things, I have a two-pronged strategy.

First, I ask myself if I can change it. If I can’t change it, I try to put my mind on something positive. That looks like this: “The water in Montana tastes terrible! Ahhh, but all those lilac bushes are beautiful.” Then, if it’s something I can change or improve, I look for a way to do it.

In this post, I will list a few of the things I know I will miss in Montana, and how I plan to fix them as best I can.

The first thing that springs to mind is trees. Out here in California there are trees everywhere. Trees in town, trees in the country. Big, beautiful Valley Oaks, their branches spreading out in wild patterns. In Montana, not so much. There are trees in town, and people plant trees as wind breaks on their farms, but in between, trees are very rare. So, one of the first things I want to do at my new house is plant trees. Lots of trees. Trees to shelter the yard so I can plant more trees.

I know that during the long, white winters of the northern prairie, another thing I will miss is color. Out here, winter is the start of the green season, and wild flowers are coming in by late January, early February. On the prairie, it is predominately white for 4-5 months, with a month or two of brown on either end of that. So I know I will need color and lots of green growing things to keep me from getting the blues. Well, I like house plants, and Walmart has some very cheery paint colors, as my sister learned all too well! You may have to wear sunglasses indoors in my new home, but it will be CHEERFUL.

Another way that Montana comes short of California, at least in this humble writer’s opinion, is in diversity of food choices. It would be hard to equal the profuse bounty of the San Joaquin valley for produce, but it’s more than just a case of what grows there. California is very diverse culturally as well, and that is reflected in the supermarket aisle. Asian, Indian, Mexican, Italian, Jewish, and Caribbean dishes and tastes are all available to the pampered palate. I foresee a future of learning to make from scratch some of the ethnic treats that I have taken for granted my whole life. How exciting for my family!

Oh, and about the water. There’s not much I can do about that. I’ve heard rumors of complicated water softening systems and cisterns and such, but for now, I will be buying bottled water. However, as always, there’s a bright side. None of us will develop anemia---lots of iron in the water.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Requiem

I’ve lived in California all of my life, and in Amador County for the last 7 years. In just two short months I am leaving California to make a home for my three children and myself on the Mid-western prairie. While a part of me is looking forward to the adventure, I know I will miss my old home, the familiar surroundings, and of course, all my friends. On the other hand, I know there will be a new home, new places to explore, and new friends waiting to be made. But first, I need to say goodbye, and that’s going to be the hard part.

Requiem for Amador: