In July of 2003, Grandpa George celebrated his 70th birthday at the historic Benbow Inn in Garberville, California. This was one of his favorite places. He first took me there in 1985, when we were traveling to Oregon for my sister Sarah’s wedding with my 9-month-old daughter, Susan. I was quite impressed and loved feeling pampered. There was a decanter full of sherry in my room. That was the absolute clincher!
It is easy to see why he liked it so well. It’s just his style: elegant and close to nature. He spent the days hiking the redwood trails and the beach…And in the evening, he’d dress for cocktails and dinner. On his special day, the dining room packed us a picnic to take into the forest. How perfect to celebrate his life in the company of tall redwood trees, “Humbolt Fog Goats”, and the magnificent coast!
My brother grew very fond of this place as well. It was one of the first places he vacationed with his wife. He has a pretty interesting story about that trip, too…..
Welcome to the 12th installment of The Grandparent Project! This is an endeavor to revisit family memories with my relatives in California and my children in the Midwest by posting digital copies of my old snapshots and piecing together our shared history. It’s been a great adventure in itself as well as a reminder of the incredible journey we’ve already had.
Today’s episode takes place in the year 2002 at Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Grandpa George was 69 years old and an avid hiker. My siblings and I can probably all agree that his model inspired us. I am glad to say that he may also have inspired my children. At the time of this visit, they were 17, 15, 13, and 11 and their cousin Cristina was 9. My mom and my husband were physically not up to hiking the trail we chose this time, so they stayed back at the condo (with Susan and Emily?) while the rest of us went to find Lake George. My father was always the leader, a very strong presence and authority and a keen map-reader. This was the first time I saw him falter in his sense of direction. What is now apparent is that he was beginning to come under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. I am very glad to have pictures of him on this day. It was a gorgeous trek and fitting that it centered on a destination that shares his name.
We went through Yosemite National Park as well on the way back to the Bay Area. My husband and I had gone there on a date way back when I was still in High School. He picked me up at four in the morning and returned me to my parents’ house by midnight. I was thrilled to go, but it was a lot of driving. Returning to the park with my children two decades later, I couldn’t help feeling sad and disappointed at how much smog and congestion were visible. It makes sense that my California family avoids that particular area and chooses less well-known sites in the Sierras to hike.
I would love to arrange future family hikes in the Sierras. Let’s see how many of us can get out on the trail when we’re 69!
This online family photo album is all about visits between my family on the West Coast and my family in the Midwest. So far, I’ve chronicled 1985 through 2000.
In the summer of 2001, we took a road trip to the East Coast. While we were away, my mother-in-law passed away in her apartment. Three months later, the World Trade Center towers were attacked. We did not visit with our California family that year.
The next summer, though, we had a marvelous visit! I found a trove of photos of the gang of seven cousins enjoying the Bay Area and each other. Here we are at the San Francisco zoo:
(I know I took one that has all the grandkids together on this beach plus Jim and John and Sarah, too, but I can’t seem to find it.) * My sister Sarah found it!
…and bumming around San Francisco.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we also spent time hiking and horseback riding in the Sierra Nevadas near Mammoth Lakes with the grandparents. I’ll share those pictures in the next post.
Such a sweet deal having relatives to visit in northern California!
This online family photo project allows me to pool and share snapshots with my children here in the Midwest and my family of origin in California. Yesterday, my sister in San Francisco sent more photos of our visits up to the year 2000.
I love her caption to this one: “desperate characters skulk at the airport –in 1995, way before TSA”