Today is the 55th day of our trip. In the days leading up to our departure, there was a very general plan. Surprisingly, the trip has, for the most part, gone as planned.
One of the planned stops was in Hayfork, CA. A place I knew nothing about. Well, other than the fact that my friend, Jesse, lived there.
This small town, roughly 2,500 in population, sits in the center of the Trinity National Forest. When you look at it on a map, it’s surrounded by green. Ironic, I know.
In this small town, my friend, Jesse, owns a bit of land. On this land, Jesse farms and he constructs. He lives with his fiance, Jennika, their baby, Rhye, and Jesse’s father, Brian.
Truthfully, I’m going to have a hard time turning this blog post into anything other than an ode to Jesse Flinck. If I were to write an ode to Jesse, it would probably touch on the passion he has for everything he does, and how he meticulously cares for these passions.
(When you look at the images below, be sure to take note of anything with wood. Jesse built that.)
When I arrived in Hayfork, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The town is in the high hills. Temperatures reach 105º during the day, and 55º at night. It was uncertain how long Sid and I would stay in the area, but we were excited about the amenities that go along with living on the grid.
Our first day at the farm, we were greeted with a wonderful meal of steak and corn on the cob. Jennika is quite the chef. She previously owned the Health Food Store in town and makes eating well a priority.
The first couple of days were spent exploring. Jesse showed us some of his favorite swimmingly holes. The country was beautiful.
Back at the farm, Sid made friends with the creatures that patrol the property: three dogs, Cora, Poot and Poppyseed, and one cat named Flo. It doesn’t happen very often, but 26-lb Sid was the biggest of all these pets, a fact he held highly.
We stayed in the loft of the house, which had two giant windows that opened at the crown of the roof. The cool breeze felt great at night. I recall staring out at the full moon for some time before finally falling asleep.
The stay was great, but the hospitality was even better. It was July 14th when we left the farm. We’d been there for about a week. Before we left, Jesse talked about a gathering of friends he has at his home every year. He called it “Summer Camp”. This year, the gathering was to take place on the last weekend in July. Almost two weeks away. The time spent on the farm was so enjoyable, Sid and I vowed to come back to take part in the festivities!
We cruised up to Oregon, spent a couple weeks camping at Lomolo Lake (north of Crater Lake), and then made our way back to Hayfork. It was about a six hour drive.
We arrived on Thursday, a day before the rest of the group, so that we could help set up and decorate. The first Summer Campers to arrive were a couple of guys I knew from back home, Spence and Jeremy. They drove straight through, from Lincoln, resting for just three hours.
That night, we broke in the ping pong table and enjoyed the positive vibes that coincided with the liberating weekend feeling. Jennika’s friend, Angelina came later in the evening with her son, Fin, and by the end of the day Friday, everyone had arrived.
Toby, Jules, Ali, Teresa, Chloe, James, Alex, Alex, and baby Peter rounded out the group.
Everyone was in positive spirits. There was a strong aura that surrounded the group. It was as though everyone was on a journey, and this was their opportunity to unwind!
The guys of the group occupied the ping pong table for the majority of the day on Friday until Jules and Ali started playing. Watching the guys walk away from the table with their tails between their legs became a common theme. Eventually, we split up the teams so that everyone could have fun.
Day turned night, drinks were had and a need for sleep overcame our playful spirits.
We woke on Saturday with a full day planned. It started with a hearty breakfast and was followed by a trip to Sparkle Beach (I’m pretty sure Jesse made up that name, btw). The beach was on the Trinity River, offering a nice escape from the heat. We sat in the shade, did some light exploring, exchanged jokes and stories, but most importantly, we were all able to get to know each other better. It was here that I realized how impressive Jesse’s ability is to introduce such a good, like-minded group of people. Truly a delight to be a part of.
We made our way back to the farm and cooked up a feast! Gathering around the dinner table with this group felt very comfortable. Everyone was smiling, laughing, devouring the tasty smorgasbord that lay in the center of the table. The nature of the meal offered a cohesive feeling of love and community that I had to experience on this trip. This was the pinnacle of the weekend, and it was where this melting pot of creative individuals became one.
That night we all shared a truly intrinsic experience, one we will never forget. The most difficult part of the weekend was parting ways on Sunday. All of us headed in a different direction, but all of us headed in the right one.
The decision to come back to Hayfork wasn’t a difficult one, but I would have never guessed it could have been as memorable as it was. Sunday was two days ago, and already I’m looking forward to Summer Camp ‘15.
Here’s to all of you, campers! Thanks for making the weekend amazing!!