A lesser known part of California’s landscape (often overshadowed by tourism to Tahoe and Yosemite) has been the backdrop of some of my favorite childhood memories with my dad, uncle, my grandfather. The Lakes Basin of this area is home to scattered lakes, hiking trails, and the beautiful scenery characteristic of the Sierra Mountain Range.
My grandfather would take his sons up here regularly for fishing and camping trips in their youth, something that my dad wanted to share with me. Visiting this area has become a tradition for my family, and remains one of my favorite places on Earth.
We decided that this place which we all held so dear in our hearts would be a fitting place to lay my grandfather to rest.
Towing an Airstream camper, we arrived in Graeagle- a small city nestled off of Highway 89. Graeagle is home to a quiet population of small shops, golf courses, and scattered farmland. We sat down for breakfast at the Graeagle Restaurant (go figure) before exploring some of the shops.
Per tradition, we visited our favorite shop, Gold Rush Gallery. Every trip my dad and I take to Graeagle includes a stop (and usually a purchase) here.
My dad found some small wooden boxes with various things embossed or engraved into the lid. We each chose one with a word that reminded us of Pop to take home with us.
The campgrounds scattered through Lakes Basin feature beautiful views of lakes, mountains, and rivers. We were fortunate enough to find a spot nestled in the pines with a clear view of the water. One of my favorite parts of staying in the forest is the supreme air quality. The mountain air is crisp and cool, and allows for such clear conditions. This was the type of day Pop would have spent fishing and relaxing by the lake.
I realized that this was not Pop, only what was left of his physical self. Our bodies grow old and eventually we depart, but we are more than our physical presence in the world. We are the thoughts and memories we created with those around us, the hopes and dreams we worked to realize, the kindness and compassion we shared with others. Life is a series of fleeting moments that form our reality, and those moments transcend the physical body.
Pop lives on in our memories, in all we have learned from him, in all the times he made us laugh or made us smile.