We are back home after what has felt like a very full summer of travel. Over the past eight weeks we have slept in eight different cities (counting our home here in California, so that is kind of cheating :-). And after that whirlwind of our whole family being together, we are back home and have jumped right into the school year, which means that five of our six kids are in some sort of school (!) and I have a couple of hours to myself here and there. So as I sit here and type, Josephine is cruising around the sofa and making raspberries, and the whole house is quiet. Totally weird.
There's no good way to start in on all our adventures, so I will just start at the beginning. On a whim, Ben booked an airbnb at Lake Tahoe and he turned it into a sort of belated birthday/anniversary trip. Lake Tahoe is about four hours from our house, and is a popular winter destination, because it has great skiing. I think it's safe to say that we are not quiiiiite in the skiing stage of our family life, but we had heard that Tahoe is beautiful in the summertime, and let me tell you it did not disappoint! The lake is huge and deep, cold like the Pacific, and surrounded by pine trees. It has waves on the shore! Isn't that crazy? It is one of the deepest lakes in America (second, I think), and has beautiful dramatic scenery that reminds me of Colorado.
Isn't it funny how the most simple, natural places can actually be the most blissfully entertaining for kids? I feel like whenever I go to a place that was made "for kids" I spend most of my time trying to convince everyone they don't actually want the treats that everyone is trying to sell them, or calming over-stimulated kids. But give me a beach or a trail or a natural lake, and everyone is happily entertained for hours. So when we stumbled upon the most beautiful secluded beach on our second day, (aptly named "Hidden Beach," not to be confused with a nudist beach of the same name in Santa Cruz, unless you are Clara and Dorothy, in which case any beach is a nudist beach) I knew we had found our place.
Getting down to the beach entailed hiking down some sandy paths, then scaling across rocks, but that did not deter us! No way! Ben was riding his bike to meet us, so I must have been quite the spectacle encouraging five little kids to scamper over the large rocks, with little Josephine strapped to my front, but I feel like when we're on adventures like that we're in our element. These Collins kids are a touch bunch. Once we made it down to the beach, which truly is hidden beneath a big cliff that overlooks the lake, we practically had the beach to ourselves, save for a few groups of college kids. It was fantastic, the kids scaled rocks and found caves, we could not have been happier.
As we were driving home from a weekend of mountain sun, Ben pointed out the large creek along the road. We were in our church clothes and had many hours of driving ahead of us, but when Ben said that the creek looked great for playing, everyone lit up, and we knew how we would be spending our afternoon. I am going to go ahead and add living next to a river or creek to my list of life goals, because I think that scampering over those rocks was our happy place. Zosia and Lily found a little hidden inlet on the other side, and immediately turned it into their secret home away from home. Every single person was wet and happy when we made it back to the car, and I once again learned the lesson that pulling over for an adventure is (almost) always worth it.
Out here on the West Coast it feels like we are really close to nature. There are big open places everywhere. I don't think I will ever get tired of that!
And since this space serves as a sort of family scrapbook, please indulge me as I share a few more pictures and stores of our travels over the next few days! Next stop, Boston!