Sometimes we need to get back to a place to “recharge.” And, for me, Tahoe always feels like that place.
I’ve been traveling there since I was a pre-teen, with my parents and brothers. Chris came with my family once, when we were about 18. And once Chris and I got married, we went back about five times with the kids in various stages of their growing up (from “wearing” Nathan on a backpack and hiking through Eagle Falls, to taking our nephews on river-rafting trips). It’s always been a great place to take kids and family.
For me, though, Tahoe has an additional allure – that “recharging” sense.
I will always remember being a teenager and sitting on the balcony of the place we always stayed at, early in the morning, all by myself. I’d bring a book and a hot cup of tea, and it would be so quiet there on that balcony: with just a few birds chirping and the sun coming through the pine needles. No one would be awake yet, and the only rustling sounds would be chipmunks or birds, and you could sit for minutes at a time and hear absolutely nothing. There would be a cool crispness at that early hour, even in the middle of summer, punctuated only by rays of warming sun coming through the branches, and you’d breathe that crispness in through your nose with the sharp, clean air. That scent of pine trees, combined with kind of a musky scent of sage or some low-growing shrub, along with the smell of the warming pine needles on the ground, would just fill your whole soul with peace.
Now Tahoe is a place we bring our kids for classic family time (and I haven’t sat out on a balcony by myself like that since I was probably 17). But it still feels like a recharging place to me.
Although we’re usually running around with the kids now (and river rafting and hiking and horseback riding or kayaking), the scent of the pine trees, the scent of the needles warming on the ground, the clean air, the vastness of the lake – they all serve to remind me of just how much land and nature is outside of my cubicle every day, about two hundred miles away. Somehow knowing that – seeing the vast, empty hills as we drive up there, and the miles and miles of mountain ranges and untouched land, and the hundreds of thousands of untouched pine trees that dot each mountaintop – makes me feel less crowded when I come back to Orange County, even with just that four-day glance. It helps put life into perspective for me. It helps give me a sense of vastness, and natural life, and the way things just go on.
I think I just need that reminder from time to time.
I’m not clear on whether the allure of Tahoe for me is linked to my childhood memories, or some deep-rooted love for an alpine setting (or maybe a combination of the two?) — but I have noticed that people are generally divided into “mountain people” and “ocean people,” and I’m definitely of the former.
I do try to bring a little of the beauty and perspective home with me, so I can remind myself of the gorgeous vastness even when I’m surrounded by people and cars and harried expressions. Sometimes I can bring it home with home décor – I have lots of pillows and decorations and river rocks and lights and framed photos from Nevada City, Truckee, Lake Tahoe, or some other spot in the Sierra Nevadas. I have a moose light-switch, copper stars on the walls, cowboy hats, river rocks in vases … all there to remind me of the beauty of the place I love.
But usually that only lasts a week or so, and then I quickly get sucked back in to the hustle of daily life (and sitting on freeways, and scheduling kids’ doctors’ appointments, and school registrations, and grocery shopping, and fixing the faucet, and so on).
And I just have to remind myself of the beautiful vastness through my memories.
(And then I plan our next trip.)
I sometimes wonder if I moved there, if I’d take it for granted and not be reminded of perspective anymore. I suppose you have to be immersed in one perspective to see another with open eyes, right? And maybe if I moved there, it wouldn’t seem like vastness. It would seem like traffic and problems and stress. And pretty soon, I’d miss my hometown ocean and desert.
But for now, I’m glad I have a place I know I can go to fill my soul with a peacefulness that will last for quite some time.
Where do you like to go to recharge?