Yesterday we did make it up to the kilns with our extra hiker, Luna, and she and Keana continued where they left off on our hike to the falls, singing made-up songs together and making plans for staying in touch once we all went our separate ways. Maia really was pretty much done, so I carried her on my back in the Ergo. Good exercise for me and I was even fine in my Vibram five-fingers.
After the hike, Luna’s parents welcomed us with fresh cod sautéed in lemon and butter and then we all headed down to the beach, with Anya in tow as well. And it was a perfect beach day. We played, talked, got some sun, and even saw a seal just barely off the shore. It was pretty spectacular.
After the beach, both Aliya and Maia were very tired and upset (i.e. tired out), and Keana was rearing to go to Luna’s camp as soon as she could. Aliya eventually crashed on my shoulder while Sarah navigated Maia’s needs through dinner. Then Maia and Keana headed off into the forest for a “parting ways banana s’mores party” at Luna’s camp. We decided to wake Aliya from her late nap so we could all go, and we were really glad we did. We all had fun making bananas filled with marshmallows and chocolate chips, then roasted them in the fire. The kids played and roasted marshmallows while we visited some more with Ayan, Liza, their friend Liz, and Cindy (Anya’s mom). They were very gracious hosts and we left feeling very fortunate to have found such friendly, kind, open, and like-minded people while camping.
Maia would not be parted from me for bed time, so she and I stayed out and closed camp for the night, which was pretty cool because then she got to see more stars since it was way after 9 by the time we were winding down.
Today the kids woke up mostly with a sense if excitement for heading home, but Keana, especially, was sad to leave the friends she had made. Maia was the most ready to get back to civilization and all our creature comforts, which made her the most helpful packing up as well. Keana got one last visit with Luna, and Aliya just played in and out of the car while continually asking for Mentos. Overall, Aliya really had an excellent attitude the entire trip, and was the most easy-going of the three, even though she’s just barely three.
We got packed and on the road by 10:30ish, had breakfast at the Whale Watcher Cafe in Gorda, then continued our journey back to super-hot Fresno. The heat basically sucks, but the one good thing is all our equipment dried out in two seconds.
I’m not going to lie, it was not an easy trip. But sickness and meltdowns aside, we thoroughly enjoyed being at the beach and in the redwoods, recharging in many ways apart from normal life. Having time together as a family without the interruptions of the every day is so important, and connecting with new, like-minded people that were easy to hang out with really feeds us in another way too. As it is with the rest of our life, this vacation tested us as parents and individuals, and I wish I could say we hit home runs every time. But no one does and I feel pretty good knowing we did our best and many things were much better than last year’s camping experiences. I’m pretty sure we’re making mostly positive, unforgettable memories for the kids, and look forward to many more wilderness adventures.