Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

California Bound - Evergreen Lodge

When I was a lad my family took at least two vacations to far off lodges: one was Quimby's Lodge in northern New Hampshire, the other was Elkhorn Ranch on the Gallatin River in Montana. Both places are happily impressed on my memory, though I remember more about Elkhorn simply as a result of being almost twelve that summer. Our trip to Quimby's involved riding steam locomotive driven trains - say 1958. We took the train to Elkhorn as well, Pullman cars from Milwaukee (do you remember those red velvet curtains which pulled across your bunk?). At Quimby's one spent the entire day at the lake. I know we had enjoyable meals there; my parents loved the dining room chairs so much that they bought eight of them for our beach house on Lake Michigan. At Elkhorn one spent the entire day on a horse. (I was one month too young to ride with "Murph's Gang", the teenagers, and had to settle as the eldest member of the "Peanut Butters". Guess how I felt about all that!) The meals were family style, and we knew most of the other families there.

A few years ago Mary and I attended a family wedding up in Nova Scotia, and stayed at Pictou Lodge. Same idea, same deal. Private cabin quarters. Lovely scenery. Great food in the dining room.

I mention these lodge experiences because we are currently staying at a California version of such a lodge. Whether you are staying in cabins or tents it is one big family scene. I just came back from the Recreation Center where you can play ping pong, cook s'mores in the evening, play board games, watch videos, climb on cool climbing things or just hang out. There is a salt water pool, a nearby pond, all sorts of trails, and a ton of guided adventures.

The dining room is a proper lodge dining room, though one does not eat family style. It is like the nicest family restaurant you can imagine where families arrive as they dress rules; families, I might add, from all around the world. The food is incredible. Everything we have had so far rivals what we've eaten at fine restaurants at home and abroad. Crab Cakes Benedict for breakfast! Baby Kale Salad topped with medium rare grilled salmon for dinner! You get the point.

The staff are universally warm, friendly, and helpful. Part of the drill here is to bring promising young adults from urban settings and mentor them in a service industry context. You can see developing leadership in them all.

I mentioned the August 2014 "Rim" fire. During that blaze there were 250 fire fighters around this lodge protecting it. The devastation comes literally right up to the lodge gate. Sobering.

Tonight at sunset Mary and I will join the small group which gathers on a lookout deck (nice chairs, etc.) and watch the sun go down over Stanilaus Forest, up in the direction of Hetch Hetchy. We decided to forgo the yoga by the pool this morning and massage appointments in the Massage Cabana. We'll miss the Saturday night open air concerts, and the poolside barbeque.

Kyle, the very nice fellow who was our server at breakfast this morning, was raised in Sarasota. He hopes to take a few months off from his work at Evergreen next winter (this is an eleven month of the year operation) to work in Antarctica. We asked him what he likes most about Evergreen Lodge.

"Nice Backyard!"

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California Bound - "Nice Backyard!"

California Bound - Over the Mountains and To the Woods