I remember it so vividly and so intimately from when I was a kid. For over a decade, my dad and uncle brought me, my siblings, and my cousins here every summer to go camping, and sometimes more than just one weekend out of the year. When we all grew up, started high school and the like, it got harder to do big family camping trips like this, and after skipping one year, then the next, we just stopped doing it. I’ve been camping in other places with friends, along the north coast, up and down the Sierras, and yet, I never came back here. Reason being is for the longest time, I couldn’t remember how to get here. Then one night, I got bored and started playing around with Google Maps, trying to find this place, trying to find any familiar spots on the map that would help me find it again. I found Arnold, and remember my dad saying ”Just a few more miles”, and I looked for any windy road, looked for rivers, and the reservoirs to see if anything was familiar.
Eventually, I found it. Switching to Satellite view, I followed a winding road to a river, and on that river, I found a little campground tucked away, right where I remembered.
This was the place that still made me believe there’s still some magic left in the world, for how beautiful and nearly untouched this place seems. This view faces west, and while there is civilization beyond that horizon, it doesn’t feel like it when you’re standing there. There is blue skies for miles, mountains and hills and trees, you can see the river, follow it until it disappears into the forest. The edge of the rock along the bottom of the photo, walking any further and you’ll meet a long drop into the river, though not the safest to leap from for a swim.
This little campground was a sanctuary through some of the worst times of my life when I was growing up, a place we could be kids and have fun and briefly ignore the reality of the world outside of those long weekends. So when I was finally able to get away and live on my own, I didn’t come here anymore, the family trips had pretty much ended, and change rolled in faster than fog over the bay.
One weekend, I decided to come back, to see if this place was as unchanged now as it had been when I was younger. I dragged my friend Wynter out of bed at 6am one morning and we drove the 4 1/2 hours to Arnold and beyond the small town into the national forest here. We spent what remained of the day there, jumping around the rocks, and taking photos because this time, I refused to leave this place without taking at least some piece of it with me for the memory.
It’s been over a year since the last time I wrote here and a lot has changed since my last sketch. I finished school, started working in my field, cut out some terrible people from my life, and started working towards some new goals. By the end of this year, I plan on being in Seattle, WA; I’m returning to school to continue studying massage therapy and advancing my skills even further. I’ve had a thousand bodies under my hands so far this year and the number and the experience that grows with it increase every day.
Slowly but surely, I’m deleting and removing a lot of social media sites from my every day routine, minimizing the amount of time I waste online and finding a renewed love and obsession with books and writing, and even pulling out my art supplies to draw again. I’m reinvesting my time to do go back to creative things again, because my work requires being creative and being focused and being compassionate; things I feel like I’ve lost a sense of in recent years while trying to survive and not drown in debts, bills, and unhealthy habits. So, I’m trying my damnedest to find contentment with my life and to work just hard enough to get where I want to go and be happy there.