In mid-January Henry, Emma and I joined the rest of Cub Scout Pack 28 for a weekend trip to Camp Marin Sierra, just inside the Tahoe National Forrest a few hours to the east of us. We were very excited because all the talk in the fall was about how lucky we were to draw a January date, when the snow pack was destined to be fantastic. Imagine our disappointment, then, as our camp date approached while we continued to enjoy (in San Rafael, anyway) the 2nd driest winter on record. Ever!
Tahoe, which normally receives feet of snow in December, had only seen a scant 2 cm of snow. The snow machines were working over time on the slopes, of course, but the prospects for Camp Marin Sierra being snowy were grim.
Enter a freak storm system that ultimately brought over 8 inches of rain to Marin and plenty of white stuff to our camp site. The weekend was saved!
“I don’t understand what he’s saying. I mean, I understand what he’s saying but I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
The drive up was terrifying, with rain and wind pounding down on the car as we drove along windy mountain roads to Emigrant Gap, where the camp is situated. Emma and Henry didn’t notice, though. They were too enthralled by Ira Glass spinning tales of turkeys in this year’s installment of the This American Life Poultry Slam. I was so proud when they asked if we could listen to “news” instead of music on the 3 hour car trip. We tried a little Science Friday to start but all the talk of dark matter was gibberish to Emma who said, “I don’t understand what he’s saying. I mean, I understand what he’s saying but I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
Once we switched over to TAL, though, they were entranced and begged for more when the episode ended. At this point I threw up my hands in victory and exclaimed, “My work is done here.” I’ve clearly reached a high point in my parenting career, with two kids under 10 hooked on one of the best shows around – radio, tv or otherwise. I can only go down from here… unless I can get them begging for Planet Money.
We eventually arrived at Camp, with the rain still driving, and joined the rest of the pack in the lodge. A roaring fire was blazing, kids were in their pajamas and the cheerful chaos of dozens of boys (and one girl) was all around. Eventually the kids calmed and the fire cooled and we all settled into bunks.
The next morning we awoke to magic!
The rain had turned to snow during the night and was still coming down heavily. There was more than enough to make our sleds, which had seemed useless the night before, the focal point of the weekend. After scarfing down breakfast (accompanied by some damn fine coffee for the adults) the kids quickly donned clothes and we went out to sled before 9 AM.
Their appetite for play was insatiable – and infectious. Even a few of the adults, myself included, got in on the sledding and snowball fights.
A few hours outside, an hour or two inside, and then back out for more sledding. Rinse. Repeat. This turned out to be the pattern for all of Saturday and the first half of Sunday. The kids would stay outside until they were frozen to the bone and, even then, only go back inside by the fire grudgingly. Their appetite for play was insatiable – and infectious. Even a few of the adults, myself included, got in on the sledding and snowball fights.
The one organized event for the weekend was a snowy hike around Chubb Lake, which was just below the lodge. (Hooray for crossing of Tiger Cub requirements!) With a full day of sub-freezing temperatures and the heavy snow the lake had turned a little slushy. This made it really easy to spot a river otter (or two) that were lazing about in the lake.
By Sunday morning the skies were clearing and we even spotted a few patches of blue sky. The kids made the most of the morning sledding while the adults back in the lodge were packing up and preparing to leave. Another big storm front was on the way and we wanted to be out before the snow started again. Though being stranded at the lodge with nothing to do but sled certainly wouldn’t have been the end of the world…