Ocean Family Road Trip

Thanksgiving in the Desert

We spent thanksgiving weekend camping in the Anza Borrego State Park, inland in Southern California. We camped there with 4 families who are all based in LA, one of which we met at Descend on Bend in Oregon.

The thanksgiving meal came together beautifully with no allocation of dishes. A turkey was fried over the campfire, cranberry sauce made from actual cranberries, green bean casserole with hand friend onion crunches. Mash Potatoes, salad, bread roles, cheese, even a little red wine from a can. Dessert was phenomenal: ginger cake, apple pie and pecan pie with caramel. Tacky ol’ whipped cream in a can. Too bad the kids missed out on that part. Sigh.

We camped nestled under a desert hill with big boulders and cacti. There were little caves, the kids, dog and cats were constantly scrambling up and down that hill. Then we decided to play Go Home Stay Home. It is a great game for all ages where there are hiders and seekers/chasers, where you can free all your friends from “prison” or “home base.” Many skills are practiced: tactics, risk taking, fitness, balance, co-ordination, working as a team. Its a pretty awesome feeling to gallantly streak out freeing all your friends from “prison” even if you end up there from your bold move. The first round I was hiding with a 5 year old boy Manu, from Johannes, a scientist who works for a branch of NASA. Manu was very good at hiding. His big brown eyes widened, and he whispered “You must not move. You must not speak.” I sat there with him, behind that boulder in the desert, thinking how all our ancestors were smiling down on us. My NZ and British ancestors. Manu’s American and Hungarian Jewish ancestors. Johanna’s German ancestors. Here we are hiding from each other, laughing and screaming with delight. Encouraging each other. It was healing on a multigenerational level as we sang and shared food together. Laughed together. Thats reconciliation at its best.

I can’t write about that weekend without mentioning the cat incident, thats the part the kids love to tell people. Johannes picked up Loki the cat – to the horror of the children – by the tail, and received the wrath of Maiana. When we returned to Omaha for Christmas after 5 months of constant traveling, 7 national parks, countless sunrises, moonrises, sunsets, stories, bear tracks, cougar tracks, climbing mountains, seeing the tallest trees in the world, hearing coyotes, climbing cliffs …. people asked “How was your trip kids?” and they answered “Well, Johannes picked up Mainanas cat by the tail!”

Another confrontation was had when Nick pulled out his pipe to smoke at the campfire and one of the older kids was still up. Marijiana had just been legalized and I think he was testing the waters. He received the wrath of Amy, and replied by singing to me in some weird death metal voice. But he put the pipe away. He has since given me a book called the History of Drugs to try and sway my prejudice.

When I think back on that time I think, hot days, cool nights, 4 week old Emmy. Then that great wind that blew us out of there, and then that epic rainbow promising us we’d do it all again.

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