Keeping Tradition Alive

 

Since I was born my family has had a tradition of spending at least one week during the summer at my grandparents’ cabin in Bucks Lake, California.  We would spend the week swimming, fishing, jumping off rocks, hiking, playing smashball on the beach, horse shoes, roasting marshmallows over campfires, knee-boarding, watching movies and playing games.  But ultimately, it’s the time spent with the people you love that means the most.  It’s the simple traditions that keep families close. And on a larger scale these same traditions can keep cultures alive.

My alarm was set for 6:30 a.m. and I slept through it.

Bags are packed—car not loaded. It’s 7:32 a.m.

As my girlfriend Danielle nudges me I mumble, “What time is it?” Before she can answer I glance at my iPhone, conveniently placed right next to my head on the nightstand. I’m supposed to be up. In a rush I brush my teeth and get dressed. I’m finishing up some last minute packing while she wakes the kids, gets them situated and starts to load the coolers and food bags (which I’m silently scorned for not doing because I’m gathering the gear I didn’t want to forget).

Blop! Bang! Splash! “SCOOOTTT!” I hear Danielle scream from the kitchen.  After sprinting down the stairs I find her squatting on the floor wiping up a massive mess of Gatorade. Looking up at me, her glare carries the strength of a voodoo curse.  Lucky for me, Danielle’s 16-year-old daughter Maddy is there to assist in the clean up.  I load all the bags, fishing equipment, games and sleeping bags in my car like a Tetris master, maximizing every square inch of space.  It doesn’t work. The coolers are in, along with the more important items.  A few will be left behind but will make it up in a couple of days when Danielle arrives. Maddy and her 12-year-old sister Malia are the last and definitely most important cargo to make it in the vehicle.  The key is in the ignition and our journey is about to begin.

Wait!

I still need gas, ice and to pick up Maddy’s boyfriend.

Fill the tank…pack the ice…and grab the last kid.

Now let the journey begin.

The plan was to be out of the house and on the road by 8:30.  Its 9:20 a.m. and we are finally on Highway 126 with Ventura slowly dissolving in the rear view mirror.  Our destination is Bucks Lake, California, a 500-mile journey into the Northern Sierra Nevadas, which should be close to an eight-hour drive.

A calm excitement sets in.  Lowering the windows as we wrap around Lake Oroville and begin to climb in to the Sierras, the air feels as pure and refreshing as a glass of cucumber mint water. The scent of pine consumes the atmosphere as if to say, “Welcome.”  After hours of pop songs the radio is off.  For the next 20 minutes we drive silently, allowing nature to cleanse our senses.

With a smile on my face I let the kids know that the “no service area” I had warned them about has been reached.  No Snap Chat.  No Instagram.  No Facebook or whatever networking site seems a normal priority.  The feeling of freedom from a device is so very satisfying.  As the generations of the future grow further detached from each other and nature, it’s important for families to take time to remove themselves from the haze of technology, even if it’s only a for a few weeks a year.

This is my favorite time of year, my favorite vacation, and my favorite place with my favorite people.  There’s no distractions.  It’s an opportunity to reconnect with each other and where we come from.