Our children need to know who we are, where we came from, and what we did. How else are we going to be remembered? The stories of our life have to be passed on. That’s part of what this trip was for me, a chance for my 15 year old daughter to get to know me better (and me her, of course), and for me to share some of my happier memories with her. The other part was to make new memories.
I have a lot of memory problems, to the point that much of my childhood is fuzzy at best. But there are some memories that are indelible, not far from the surface, but put away for future reference. Yesterday, I got to unpack some of my favorites.
California has to be the most geographically diverse state in the country, from snow covered peaks to parched desert valleys, and everything in between. I think I was blessed to be able to grow up there, and to be able to see much of it by the time I became an adult. However, I think my favorite times were spent during the summers, and always with family. Mount Lassen seems to be a central theme in our summer trips. Whether it was camping for a week with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, or spending several weeks with my oldest sister at Word of Life camps.
Yesterday, I took my daughter up to Mount Lassen National Park (truth be told, I’d never actually been up there before, that I can remember). We didn’t have a lot of time, but we drove up to two of the vista points on the map…and honestly, we could have gone further, but I have this fear of sheer drops and was having panic attacks so decided to turn back. Still, we experienced some of the beauty of Lassen. The second vista was stunning. There is still a little snow up there, but not as much as there should be this time of year. Wildflowers were everywhere, with little butterflies of lavender and gold flitting about. The first vista, the one closest to the entrance, was the one most fascinating to me, especially after recently completing a college geology course. There a spot where you can actually see (and smell) the hydrothermal activity that is close to the surface. At the Sulfur Works Ridge Lakes, you can see the sulfur bubbling up through surface water, creating mud pots, and the familiar rotten egg stench. It also leaves behind minerals which cast a yellow/gold hue on the nearby rock formations. Lassen is most definitely an active volcano.
After coming down out of the Park, it was time to start towards Chico, where we’d meet my sister and her husband for dinner. On the way, though, I had to show my daughter my absolute favorite vacation spot from growing up. Elam Campground alongside Deer Creek; it’s really small and well used, but a sweet little spot. Our annual family campouts were a big deal. I remember us occupying several camp sites, and there would be lots of fishing involved. The cousins would make up games, build forts, feed the chipmunks, hang out with the other kids in the campground. I treasured those moments with my family. It’s the only time I really remember getting along with my cousins, I learned to love pan fried trout, I got to hear stories told by my grandpa, and learned how to make do from my grandma. The campground still only has outhouses, but now they have a water pump instead of spigots (actually an improvement!). The river is as clear as ever, and filled with people fishing, wading, swimming and just having a good time.
Ironic note: as we were driving around the campground loop, I mentioned to my daughter that it would be funny if there were actually someone I knew camping there. Turns out, there WAS! Found out later when we were at dinner with my sister that one of my nephews had just arrived there the day before. I may have seen him and not known it. Crazy, huh? Anyway….I got some pictures of my daughter enjoying the cold water, and posing by the sign. Maybe someday, we’ll come back and actually spend a night or two. Gotta dust off the old fishing rods, too. Perhaps next time I’ll catch something, make new memories, and then my daughter can have her own stories to share with her children.