That great summer event, Family Reunion Days, has ended. Back in Redding, the heat is oppresive. We returned from Aspen Grove -- just up the road from Sundance in Provo Canyon (that's Utah) -- where temperatures were in the balmy mid-70s to sun-baked Redding, where, rolling down the windows as we drove in to town, we were blasted with 114-dergee wind. The next day, temps climbed to 117. Who chooses to settle in places like these?
"Well Henry, we've made it all the way from St. Louis through wastes of grasslands, scorching deserts and unforgiving mountains. The Donners ate themselves on their way here, but we made it. So after all that we could settle over there in the forest, where the air is cool and the land is fertile and there's plenty of vegetation and animal life on which to subsist. Or we could set up shop here at the top of the valley where it's so hot I can hardly breath and there's no trees, shade or real signs of life."
"Sounds great, John. If this journey has taught me anything, it's that life just isn't fun unless it's miserable."
I imagine something similar happened in Phoenix about 150 years ago. Anyway, facing the Redding heat upon returning from the Utah mountains was the perfect metaphor for returning from the freedoms of vacation to the oppression of regular life. That's not to say regular life is bad. It's just not as carefree and frivolous as vacation life.
We did four days with Becky's family in this huge vacation rental in Heber, which you can read all about at The Scogg. It was a lot of fun -- plenty of room for everyone -- kids mostly -- to run and be free. We spent the mornings watching the World Cup and the afternoons and evenings eating and talking and singing karaoke.
The vacation home had a theater room with eight leather recliners, a projector and wall-size screen. It was something to behold -- and something, on retrospect, we probably should have used more. Like the good little boy scout I am, I came prepared. I had U2's latest concert video on hand and put it in maybe 30 minutes after arriving at the house. It was like actually watching the show. Everything was life-size and the 5.1 surround sound made it sound astounding. I got chills watching it. For that alone I need to thank Becky's parents for making the reunion happen and Becky for finding the place.
We left Heber Saturday morning and headed down to Provo for my family's reunion at Aspen Grove. The Grove, as I like to call it, is run by BYU's alumni association, and is kind of like your classic summer camp, except it has classes and activities for adults as well as the kids. All in all it was pretty great. The kids split up into groups everyday leaving the adults to do as they wish. You eat in a cafeteria (more on that later) so there's no cooking and cleaning up afterwards. It's not a bad way to do a family reunion.
In fact there's so much provided that Becky and I left feeling a little guilty. We didn't do any of the little classes and only participated in a handful of the activities -- not the best way to get your (parent's) money's worth. Or maybe we did. I discovered a handful of Ian Flemming novels in one of rooms at the main lodge and decided I borrow them for a while. I certainly plan on returning them, and in the meantime, well, I am a BYU alum and I pay my tithing, so either way I'm covered.
Anyway, for me, vacation is about doing stuff you don't normally get to do day to day. Lounging around doing next to nothing is something frankly I don't get to do enough of. So for that, the Grove was worth it to me.
And having the meals provided seemed worth it for the first few days. But after about Tuesday, everything started to taste the same. On Wednesday you noticed you had a slight stomach ache after finishing you meal. By Thursday, the pine cones and aspen leaves seemed more appetizing than anything off those buffet tables. Thank goodness for cereal every morning and all the milk and juice you could drink.
The best of course was just being able to see family. Living in California we don't see much of anyone too often. I have sisters in Arizona, Washington and Utah and brothers in Indiana and D.C. So the reunions are definitely a way to reconnect and just enjoy your siblings.
It's also a reminder of how old you're getting. Becky's family did a tribute to Dad Darrington who's turning 60 next month. And we did a little to-do for Dad Rogers who just retired after 40 years with CES. If our parents are getting that old, we must be getting old. Dan, my olderst brother casually reminded us that in 10 years he'd turn 50. And everyone gasped.
So reunions are good. You realize your nieces and nephews are a lot of fun and your siblings and their spouses are cooler than you remember and you own kids aren't so annoying when their gone eight hours a day. You leave feeling maybe family is alright.
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