It was the 2nd week after we purchased the 80 acres near Montgomery Creek, California. The land was in the wilderness, close to the Shasta Indian Tribe, The wild Shasta River, and to the east and south of us was Lassen National Park. Lenette and I drove 600 miles from LA to get a feel of our pristine forest, meadow, and magnificent spring.
Our intentions were to cover all 80 acres, touch the huge trees, visit and drink from the miracle spring on our property, and see and get wet in our Northern border, Richardson Creek. On all sides, there were beautiful forests where wild animals were the only close residents.
The trip from Los Angeles was an all-day drive, and at that time, in 1959, highway 99 was a narrow two-lane road used essentially by farmers. We loved the sights and meandering highway because it was OUR land we were driving to. For us, it was something wonderful and challenging.
After eating dinner in Redding, Ca., we arrived at camp as dusk settled in. We threw our ponchos and sleeping bags down by a large Oak Tree, beyond what was to become center field in our baseball diamond, and settled in for the night. Heidi, the best watchdog anywhere, slept at our feet.
Early the following morning, Heidi became suddenly alert but did not bark. We felt her body tense up and woke to find ourselves looking straight into the eyes of a huge buck with a giant head of antlers—one of the largest we had ever seen.
The buck stood at the foot of our sleeping bags, close to Heidi, checking us out. To all of us, it felt like he was the spirit of the land we were on—his land. Then, lifting his enormous head, he turned and disappeared into the forest. At that moment, we all felt accepted and welcomed. During the entire encounter, Heidi remained silent. I’m sure she felt it too.
That day we enjoyed wonderful hikes to every corner and felt welcomed. We knew we belonged and that it was meant to be. All of it. Us, the kids— we were home.