While I was growing up, we would spend our summer vacations camping across America. We would road trip to different sites or visit family members and camp in between. Those hours in the family van and sitting around the camp fire are such strong memories today. We decided to continue the tradition by taking at least one summer camping trip a year with my parents. This year we went on a new adventure to the Eastern Sierras to the little mountain town of Bishop, California. I actually got a gig teaching a poetry workshop at the Inyo County Library in Bishop and this served as our incentive for traveling 6-plus hours to this spot in particular.
We found Four Jeffrey campground in the Inyo National Forest right outside of town. I was a little bit nervous about finding a place on the internet without ever checking it out. The place was gorgeous. Our site was right near the river stream and just across from the bathrooms (which, by the way, were flush toilets and very clean with a shorter seat for Meilani). The view of the snow-capped Sierras in the distance was absolutely breathtaking. We even had this giant bear box to store all our food and supplies in.
We took Meilani camping last year but as a 1-year-old she was more into the sights and smells. This year she was into the touch experiences: feeling the cold water on her toes, digging in the dirt (especially right after Nana had cleaned her hands) and poking at little bugs on the ground. She also helped Daddy setting up the tent and pounding the stakes into the ground. Such a big girl!
I actually got my wiggly worm to sit down on a rock right near our camp site for a little photo shoot. She LOVES the water and was fascinated to watch it rushing over the rocks. A family camping next to us was into fishing. Meilani watched the kids fish and celebrated with them when they caught a little something. Papa promised to take Meilani fishing when she turns five. (We'll see if she remembers that.)
On Friday, after we set up camp, we went on a short hike to explore the area. We found a trail and hiked up to a little waterfall with Nana and Papa. Meilani has definitely added "hiking" to her vocabulary. Hiking is especially fun with Nana who knows all kinds of camping songs from her college days. Meilani enjoyed the one about O'Leary's cow that started the Chicago fire. Meilani yelled the PLOP! at the end.
Nana also taught us how to find animal shapes in the rock and in the clouds. This one was a turtle head in our estimation.
Each evening we took some family time with just the three of us would walk through our campground and check out the wildlife. We saw varmints and even four deer. They came out at night and were tame enough to walk right up to people's camp sites. We indulged this quiet time together after such a busy school year.
On the way home we drove north on the 395 and snaked through Yosemite National Park. We saw the snow on Tuolumne Meadows and pointed out all the big trees to Meilani. Nana and Papa reminisced about the time we took this drive when Paul and I were in elementary school. After several hours of driving, the winding road spit us out on 120 and we took Highway 99 back home to Fresno. What a refreshing trip!