Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Voice in the Wilderness

Hellooooo!! We have been so busy and up so late at night that it is has been hard for me to post. On Saturday we left LA and made the big trek up north. It was a VERY long drive through lots and lots and lots of farmland. We passed vineyard after vineyard and groves and groves of orange, pecan, olive, pistachio, peach, and cherry trees. The mountains seemed so far away. When we finally arrived in Redding it was dark. About an hour later we pulled into Mark and Rita's. It was really late and they had been waiting for us. After setting up the trailer (finding a reasonably level spot, etc) - we put the sleeping little ones into their beds and discovered our hosts had a lovely hot tub waiting for our tired bones. Ahhhhhh......a beautiful steamy soak under the stars with the sound of a rushing creek behind us (Rush Creek, actually). When we climbed into bed we were relieved to see that it became dark when we turned off the lights (after LA where it never got dark) and that we only heard the rustling of the wind through the trees and the sound of the creek (after LA where we heard traffic noise and sirens all night).

In the morning we were able to finally see the beautiful place in which we had landed. Mark and Rita literally live in the middle of a forest in a lovely cedar house. In addition to their private practices (Mark and Rita are both psychologists) - they own and operate an amazing aviary. So we have learned all about the beautiful birds who live with them. Jack is a true character and he fell head over heels in love with Ellie. He pruned her and kissed her and in a truly rare show of devotion and adoration, he attempted to regurgitate on her (luckily Rita saw the signs and removed him before he could prove his love). The big birds who live in the house are all talkers so they got along just fine with Camille. Mark and Rita also have a dog and 3 cats. I am happy to say that all animals were alive and kicking when we left - we do not have any $10,000 birds to replace.

The creek behind the house is a beatiful, swift-flowing creek and the boys panned for gold and actually found some! The fool's gold looks like someone sprinkled glitter along the sand - there is that much of it. But Joel quickly found a real speck of gold and showed us the difference (you could mold it and squish it and it stayed together, rather than breaking apart). Jules found his own version of gold in the form of lovely, round rocks which he gathered to bring home to AnneMarie so she can heat them up and use them as therapeutic rocks. These rocks will have good energy, AnneMarie! Jules tested them out by heating them up in the microwave. Camille also collected a pretty rock for JoDee and Ellie found a nice chunk of petrified wood and collected some other natural items.

We had a lovely picnic along the banks of the Trinity River which was really moving. So many nice spots to pop a tent! We drove up a dirt road to get to our picnic spot. It twisted and turned and luckily we didn't meet another vehicle. It was rather warm and we were in shorts but the mountains were covered with snow.

Yesterday we drove into Weaverville and had the most delicious lunch at a quaint little restaurant. I had strudel stuffed with swiss cheese and shrimp. I have eaten well on this trip so far and will have some major dieting to do when I get home. Jeff wanted to stop and buy some new hiking boots before we left for Yosemite so Mark and Rita directed us to a little shop that had an amazing variety of boots and the most knowledgable sales clerk. He got exactly what he wanted and then I ended up with a new pair, too. We also visited the little museum and Ellie gave a concert on an antique piano (with permission, of course). After that it was ice cream and air hockey and back home to make dinner.

This has been such a delightful stop in our trip. Ellie has been sleeping in their adorable guest room so has had the opportunity to get some bed/reading time away from her siblings which is important for her sanity. The boys and little ones have been able to run around and expend their energy on the animals. Mark and Rita employ people who help them keep up the grounds and care for the animals and one of them has a "gator" and all the kids got to drive it.

We have enjoyed this time visiting with Mark and Rita and I am so glad the kids have had this opportunity to bond with relatives they hardly knew. We stayed just long enough for them to start getting comfortable and secure here...in other words...we left just in time : )

So far, Mark and Rita's place has been the best RV Park. Nice location, good food, private hot tub and well, Mark did our laundry last night. The next place is going to seem like a dump!

Today we are driving to Yosemite and can't wait to hit some trails in our new boots!! We will have internet access in the RV park and I will be better about posting now that I am not going to be up all night catching up with relatives : )


Sardine Mama


  1. Hi Sardine Family,
    I am so envious of your last post. Sounds like everyone was in Heaven : )

    Jules, the rocks sound great...can hardly wait to heat them up and try them on you. Thanks bunches!

    Glad to hear ya'll left just in time before anyone was smelling fish.

    Looking forward to the Yosemite adventures.

    Hugs & blessings,

  2. So let me get this straight....two wonderful hosts in Mark & Rita, private quarters for the Princess, gold to be found everywhere, a hot tub, snow covered mountain views and surrounded by beautiful tropical birds....
    AND YOU LEFT ???!

  3. Hi, Sardine Mama, can you call me please? apparently you are not answering cell phone calls (cannot imagine why not.) I have a quick Odyssey question I need an answer to.

    Thanks, Susan

    PS--so, if I head out to California later this year, do you think Mark and Rita will take us in?

  4. mark and rita's place is so amazing! i'm sure it doesn't surprise you that i'd definitely like to have a place like that at some point in my life (how that would work out, i'm not sure). but it seems wonderful.

    ellie, you were right about Jack. he seems like the perfect "type" for you; tall, dark, hadsome, and quiet! what more could you ask for? :)

    we all miss you and look forward to reading the rest of your posts.

    lots of love,