There Is Hope

Posted by Annie on Sep 20, 2007 in Seasonal |

Making memories on Highway 88 and Hope Valley

Hope Valley Campground: Humboldt - Toiyabe National Forest

Fall is my absolute favorite time of the year. While the colors in the northern California Sierras don’t hold a candle to the fall colors found in Yooperland, they are quite splendid this time of year. Last weekend brought the unique opportunity to take in this annual transformation and we relished every moment.

As a child, Shawn had spent many a summer day, camping, rock climbing and hunting in the Hope Valley area. So naturally, driving down Highway 88, he pointed out all his old haunts, as he told our son and I stories of his spent youth. It was a day of memories, recollections and nostalgia for him and naturally he wanted to share it with our son.

Playtime vs. Familytime

Which is where the problem began; our son was much more interested in playing with his new Transformers, Attacktix and his Nintendo GameBoy than he was in watching the trees and rocks fly by as we drove.

After asking him several times to put the toys away and enjoy the day with us, we finally tried to talk to him about "Why" we wanted him to share this experience with us. We went on to explain that you can’t really appreciate nature until you’ve experienced it first-hand.

Sharing the Love of Nature with our Children

Shawn and I were both raised in rural areas, which we couldn’t move away from fast enough. Of course you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone and that is certainly true with rural or even mountain life. Having had the occasion to speak with several teens in our mountain community, who were itching to leave, it boggled my mind, as to why anyone having the good fortune to actually grow up here, would want to leave. But then, who really appreciates the town they were born and raised in, until of course, they have the occasion to leave it?

We explained to our son that if he was willing to spend some time with us and enjoy our scenic surroundings that he would have some good memories to share someday with his own family. However, if he chose to spend the day with his head in some game, the day will have been lost forever, with nothing of consequence to remember. He eventually relented and agreed to give it a try.

When we finally arrived at Hope Valley, we enjoyed a few precious hours climbing then skipping rocks. The sun was warm on our skin; the fresh air was crisp with a delightful breeze blowing across the trees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. My son laughed, climbed, skipped, ran and teased his father and I, seeming to have all but forgotten his reluctance.

On top of the World

On top of the World

Hope Valley Father-Son

Father and Son

Hamming it up

Hamming it up

Capturing the Day

Shawn and I took turns taking pictures of our incredible surroundings. It was like we were trying to capture every square inch of the valley, so we could take it home with us. Our son hammed it up in front of the camera, the expressions on his face told it all. He was enjoying this trip as much as we were and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

All too soon it was time to leave and reluctantly we all piled back into the car for the ride home. We made several more picture stops along the way and our son was quite amicable for the rest of the trip home. I think as parents we often leave way too many decisions up to our children that they really aren’t equipped to make. Whether it’s swimming, skiing, dancing, camping, fishing, hiking or any number of activities you can think of, let’s face it, our children aren’t always on the same page with us. Many times if our children are resistant, we give up and let them have their way, perhaps we think it’s not worth the fight or maybe our children simply aren’t interested in the current activity.

While that may be true, it also could be that the child hasn’t yet experienced that particular activity and has no clue what he or she is missing out on. I remember when we stopped along side the road, overlooking a gorge, which left us staring at the top of an entire forest of trees that looked small from our vantage point. It was a truly spectacular view and I looked at my son and said, "Son, today I’m giving you a gift."

His response of course was, "Cool! What is it?"

I replied that I was giving him a gift of the respect for nature. To be perfectly honest, he wasn’t overly thrilled with my answer and simply said, "Oh."

But I couldn’t help but notice when he returned home, he immediately asked to call his best friend. I overheard him tell his friend about his adventures that day and he certainly sounded excited to me. Only time will tell if our impromptu day spent at Hope Valley will leave a lasting impression on him, if not, I know the pictures we took that day will be a testament to the wonderful day we spent as a family frolicking in the sun on that crisp fall day.

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