The long drive stinks no matter what, so might as well make the day about a visit to darling downtown Murphy's, an afternoon outing at the lake, and another big dinner scramble, instead of about driving home/. It was super-busy packing up after dinner, but we pulled it off and had a traffic-free hiccup-free drive back to sea level.
Too bad photos can't capture scents. The woodsy, earthy, almost balmy scents of the redwoods and sequoias....absolutely glorious. If there is a Paradise in Heaven, it smells like this.
I absolutely loved Arnold -- at 4000 feet, it's just upward of the foothills, but it's still low enough for manzanitas and to be accessible and not risk being closed due to snow, though it does snow there. I've been through Arnold many times, but never spent any real time there. I have such a sense of belonging in that area. Gold Country -- figures!
But flatlands and reality had to interject, and two sisters and five children in a rented Toyota Sienna arrived in Sunnyvale around 11pm. We whisked kids off to bed fast, ready for a relaxed day at home the next day.
July 4th day, we went to, what else, the pool. I'm so happy I joined this pool! I thought it'd never pay off, but July is barely underway and it already has. If nothing else, just to see our five children bouncing around like crazy in the water today (well, 4 in the deep end) was worth it!
Steph and I marvelled at how our children worked out. Our lives have led utterly divergent paths, yet somehow we ended up having our first babies, both boys, within 5 days of each other. In the end, all 5 kids were born within 5 years, and it would have been under 3 years if not for Katrina. And how incredibly fortunate for all of us!
Each visit as they get older, the cousins have so much fun together. And me too. This year especially, I can't think of a better way to explore and enjoy my favorite things and places than with family. We shared a mountain cabin, a lake, a cavern, a state park with massive trees and lots of good food and tons of great fun with kids, together. (I'm so proud that my niece and nephew think I'm a great cook!)
Meantime, lifetime family relationships continued to be forged...Julian indulged in hours of imaginative play with his cousins....Gabriel sucked his like-aged cousin into gun wars....the girls did endless girl-things together when not playing with or fending off brothers (both girls have only older brothers and no sisters).
More as more as they get older, personality trumps age and we can see real relationships forming based on individuals, as well from the juxtaposition of genes and history. Nothing makes me feel more like I've done something right in life than when I see and hear these children playing, talking, arguing, laughing together.
But today, it came time for the Engels to fly home.....still, we were all happier about our fantastic time together than sad about saying goodbye.