The cabin that built me…

At Donner Lake

At Donner Lake

After spending a fabulous few days in Reno, NV, I met my sister and mom at Donner Lake, California. We spent the day kayaking and soaking in the sunshine lakeside. Our reservation was messed up so we ended up in this large two level room where we each had our own bed and probably could have housed a boy scout troop as well! Pretty wonderful.

That evening we went searching for dinner in the nearby quaint town of Truckee. We were just checking out this cute restaurant but once we heard the live music, decided to stay. We had a terrific dinner while being serenaded and flirted with by the two singing troubadours.They sang a mix of folk tunes, and came over to our table on their breaks to make us giggle. It re-invigorated my desire to sing in a band. That is on my bucket list and I had better get to it soon!

We drove around Lake Tahoe, so amazingly beautiful but full of tourists and traffic and ended up at my mom’s cabin on the American River. We have been going to the area since I was a tyke. Various summer weekends were spent hopping rocks, making fools-gold, mud-sand pies by the river, listening to my mom play accordion and painting my toenails.

The drive down to the cabin is more suited to off-road trucks as the dirt road is littered with boulders and washed out by streams and snow runoff. But I don’t have a monster truck, so it’s just a matter of going really slow and gingerly avoiding the ditches and rocks. Well, I ended up scraping off part of the undercarriage of my car as I got hung up on a boulder. It made a horrible sound and a large plastic square piece was pulled off, but at least she was still drivable!

Just a small mangled piece of my car...oops!

Just a small mangled piece of my car…oops!

Ghosts haunt familiar places. The cabin holds so many childhood memories for me. I could picture my godfather, Ame, raking, sweeping and preparing the dirt golf putting area, diligently digging out the holes and patiently teaching me how to properly hold a club and how to gently swing. It was my first mini-golf experience and to this day I adore going to those silly putting courses! He would also set up the dart board on a big tree saying “just like downtown!” while remonstrating about never touching the feathers on the special, fancy, adult darts. The kids had to use the plastic ones.

My all-time favorite boulders!

My all-time favorite boulders!

The smell of the pine trees is more pungent here than any place I’ve been and the ever-present sound of the river is always rushing so loudly that you have to shout to be heard while near it. We were forbidden to cross the river because it was so swift we would be swept down and never seen again. Even today that fear is still ingrained even though the river water was so low that I could cross fairly easily. I’ll never forget the summer we took my godmother June to our special swimming spot we found with this awesome long, flat, slippery rock. It was a natural water slide! We would sit at the top end and it would whoosh us ten feet downstream, we’d stand up and do it again and again. We encouraged June to try it and being a trooper she sat and whoosh, only she kept whooshing down the swift river unable to stop. Here was my worst childhood nightmare come true. The river can be horrendously rough and I screamed and panicked while I saw her clinging to rocks farther and farther down. All ended well and we fished her out a bit farther down, but she was shook up. All us kids wanted to know was why she didn’t stand up at the end of the slide? I guess we omitted to instruct her in this important detail. The rock slide is still there, I went to see it and paid homage to the river gods meandering “at the bottom of my dreams.” (Thoreau)

The infamous rock slide

The infamous rock slide

Cooking outside is one of the highlights of being at the cabin and mom had planned accordingly. In the mornings we built a fire under the griddle and she made the best-tasting pancakes and bacon ever. In the evening we grilled and sat by the open fire.

Bonni and I took a drive to nearby Wright’s Lake and went on a beautiful hike. It was wonderful to walk with my big sister. She will always hold that honored place of awe that little sisters have for wonderful big sisters. I have the confidence to know that she will always be there for me and that’s a lovely thing.

Yet another song comes unbidden to my mind in thinking about family and the cabin. It’s sung by Miranda Lambert and makes me cry almost every time I hear it…

The cabin that built me

The cabin that built me

You leave home, you move on and you do the best you can.

I got lost in this whole world and forgot who I am. 
I thought if I could touch this place or feel it 
this brokenness inside me might start healing. 
Out here its like I’m someone else, 
I thought that maybe I could find myself. 
If I could walk around I swear I’ll leave. 
Won’t take nothing but a memory
from the house that built me.
(The House That Built Me)


2 thoughts on “The cabin that built me…

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