Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter Weekend in California 2009

The flight home to California was a pretty smooth one as far as flights go. My wife and I left Charlotte the Thursday before Easter, landed in Dallas/Fortworth, took another flight to Fresno and met my parents. I haven't flown into the Fresno airport in about 14 years when I took a trip with my church youth group to a youth convention in Memphis. That was my first experience of the South. It was August and we stepped out the of cool confines of the Memphis airport and got smacked upside the head by the humidity. Granted, where I'm from, temperatures reach triple digits throughout the summer, but we never had the humidity that the Southerners have.

So we walked through the airport and spotted my parents just beyond the security gate. I was nervous to see them. I hadn't seen them since early December and wasn't sure what kind of emotions would be in the air when we arrived. There were a few tears, but they didn't last long.

Immediately after leaving the airport my Dad took us all to a little Mexican restaurant in a barrio in Fresno. Ahh, Mexican food, how I missed you...

In Exeter, my hometown, the rainy season was a short one, so the spring green hills surrounding the town were already beginning to turn brown. The slight smell of orange blossoms drifted in the air. In June the aroma is strong and hangs heavy in the warm evening air.

Friday morning I was able to take part in our family's Easter golf tournament. I used to play golf everyday as a kid, but stopped when I had to start paying for my own rounds. Golf is expensive, man. Now I play once a year only for our tournament. I missed last year's so my joints and muscles were even stiffer for this round.

Family Golf Tournament--Lemoore, CA (Jeremy, crouching. Stephanie, putting. Steve, background.)

Cousin Jeremy contemplates going pro.

l. to r. - Tia Mary Ann, Cousins Stephanie, Jeremy, Steve

Saturday morning came around and our family met at Burris Park. We've been getting together at Burris Park for the family picnic since before I was born, so at least 32 years. As a kid, the anticipation of the day at the park almost ranked up there with Christmas morning. My brother and I could not wait. Burris Park is a county park, nestled far back in the country, surrounded by farm land. It's a grove of ancient Valley Oak trees and green lawn. The family spends several hours out there playing volleyball, softball, frisbee, flying kites, hunting for Easter eggs--you name it.

Sunday, my wife and mom headed up Rocky Hill for the Easter sunrise service. There is nothing like watching the sun come up over the foothills spreading it's light into the valley below. We sang hymns and prayed and thanked God for so many gifts and blessings.

We headed home then over to the Exeter Veterans Memorial building for the Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast. My dad's in Kiwanis, has been for years, and is usually working at the breakfast on Sunday morning. This year he was on bacon detail.

In the early afternoon, my mom and Jessica and I drove into the hills, far into the hills, to find a trail to one of the most amazing lower elevation hiking trails that I've ever been on in the Sequoia National Park. The Ladybug Falls Trail:

Jess and mom

wild flowers

Ladybug Falls

The Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

Monday came quickly indeed. It was the day we were leaving. The morning flew by as we finished packing. We decided to make a quick stop off at a local restaurant for breakfast in the nearby town of Visalia where we met my dad. Then we all hoped into the car and off to Fresno for our 11:30 flight. In the airport, we all hugged good-bye, shed a few more tears, and Jess and I boarded the plane.


  1. I envy your relationship with your family. It's nice to read about it, though.

  2. These are great pictures! It was so nice to see you guys, glad you made it home safe.