Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Redwoods Are Good For the Soul. Mice? Not so Much.

We spent Spring Break amongst the redwoods at my favorite place in the world, Plantation Tree Farm in Sonoma County, CA.  The kids are fortunate enough to know it as 'Grandpa Ed's house'.  500 acres of redwoods, set up on a ridge overlooking the ocean?  Yes, please!  I feel a twinge of guilt when I hear that some people begrudgingly visit their in-laws in Lubbock, Duluth, or French Lick (yes, I know Larry Bird grew up there, but no, that doesn't make it any more attractive).  I won the lottery with my in-laws and their location, and when I die I either want to come back as one of the cows we pass on the drive up, grazing with an ocean view and breathing in sea-salty air, or one of Ed's chickens roaming the pasture and living in his chicken coop fashioned after the Russian folktale Baba Yaga.

Now, staying in a one-room cabin with no electricity isn't everyone's idea of heaven.  And there are a few occasions where I have some problems; in fact, I spent a portion of two nights' sleep in the reclined passenger seat of our rental car.  More on that below.  Here's a glimpse into one evening, once we finished up dinner at Ed's and head up to the cabins.

As we drive up the hill to High Trees camp, Jackson excitedly points out a rabbit zigzagging out of our way and into the brush.  We head past the Eternal Campground, where earlier in the day we visited the gravemarkers of Sam's mother and my beloved Winston the weimaraner.  It's raining, so Sam gets to work building a fire in the woodstove while I light a lantern and get the boys jammied and into their beds.  When they were younger, we used to drag all the mattresses onto the floor and make a huge family bed (think Jesco White's version of Brad and Angie's custom 9-ft. bed).  Now the older boys are in the lower bunks (keeping them on the lower bunk turned out to be Smart Parenting Move #147, since Jackson fell onto the floor twice during this trip), Sam will be up top, and I've got the enviable position of the floor mattress with Kenyon the Snuggle King.

Sam and I kiss the boys goodnight.  Jackson's got his Whaley the killer whale.  Alex has his 'Bobby' (blanket) and Gumball the guinea pig.  Kenyon has his 'Me' (a blanket).  All is right with the world, and we head out to the other cabin for a lantern-lit, brutal game of Scrabble.  Admittedly, I'm no match for Sam this game--he uses all his letters twice, in two consecutive turns...and both hitting the triple-word score.  'Caribou' and 'cremates'.  Sam emerges the victor this time, but that's ok--considering the ten years I've known him, I've still got way more wins.

I crawl into bed, and fall asleep, blissfully unaware of the events that will unfold later that evening.  At 4:28am, I awake to hear a particular scritching, scratching, and scuttling about.  I realize in horror that we are sharing our cabin with some other guests, and I don't know about you, but I'm not real keen on sharing my sleeping quarters (or any quarters, frankly) with a mouse.  And there's never just one mouse, is there?

"Sam...psssssst, Sam!" I whisper urgently, because any matters beginning with an M and ending in 'ouse' definitely fall within the realm of husband duties; it may have even been part of our wedding vows.  There's not a whole lot we (read: Sam) can do in the middle of the night in terms of rodent removal, so that is how I ended up in the rental car.  Two nights in a row, because the 12 traps that were set didn't catch the little bugger(s).  Sam, armed with steel wool and duct tape, managed to seal up every possible entryway the next day, and I returned from my rental car vacation home.  

Mice aside, it was a fantastic week.  Some pictures below; more to come...

feeding the chickens down the road at Plantation Farm Camp
Kenyon relaxing from all the hard work

Typical Montessori kids engaged in slave labor a walnut-shelling work.
pensive Al-Pal
mowing the lawn with Grandpa Ed
Jackson could barely squeeze in on Grandpa's lap
anyone who can ride a John Deere mower in the nude is destined for greatness
hunting for frogs


you're not really on vacation until you're knee-deep in mud...
...or petting chickens in your underwear.


  1. So awesome!!!!! I love reading your posts, you have a great way of writing! Your boys are adorable - I just sat here and laughed all the way through the post :) Too funny!

  2. so cute...i love mte muddy boy pic and the lawntractor pics..lol