To use the word “vacation” when traveling with small children is a bit of a stretch. As a good friend once shared, the word “trip” is a better adjective to describe a getaway with little ones in tow. Long gone are the days of a suitcase full of books, hours of solitude in the sun, leisurely dinners, endless cocktails with no concern for what may follow in the morning; another day of laziness awaits. As I type the words I even sigh and daydream of a time that once was. A certain mindset is needed when you enter into a trip with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old; deep breaths are involved. Parenting challenges can become all the more challenging when you alter their routines. While exciting adventures and beautiful spots may await, sometimes young kids could care less. Last week, to celebrate my daughter’s second birthday, my family and I spent seven days in a rustic cabin on the hillside above Fallen Leaf Lake, just west of Lake Tahoe’s southern shores. I coined the phrase “ten minute moment” a couple of days in, as I shared with my husband my approach to finding relaxation and joy in days that still required the patience I often struggle with at home. I was determined to grab as many of them as I could. It’s advice that I think can hold true to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
“High on the summit of Oakland’s eastern skyline a Woodland Open-Air Theater and Temple of Honor, reached by a gigantic stairway and surrounded by a grove of huge Sequoia trees, are being constructed to commemorate great California authors of the past and of the future, who among their writings heralded to the world the scenic beauties and the historic life of our superb State.”
Gertrude Mott, 1936
I have become sentimental about Woodminster. Odd, given that until five days ago I had never set foot inside its gates. Something about how this place came to be, and how it has become a second home to a family that has been producing musicals inside its open-air bowl for fifty years, has captivated me. It’s a place that was built amidst depression; a “cathedral in the woods” to honor California writers. Its early advocates had high hopes for its use; festivals in honor of California literature, educational programs for East Bay schools and civic organizations, and of course large theatrical and musical performances. World War II caused the lights to be turned off for the first few years of its existence and the rise of the television caused interest to wane in the middle of the century. However, for the past fifty years the summer musical program has endured thanks to a husband and wife team that brought innovation, passion, and family-filled exuberance to this special spot in Oakland’s woods.