Last month, I had the opportunity to visit with my family at a reunion on the Oregon coast. It was the very first of such a thing for my immediate family. The idea was sparked by my uncle Josh’s passing and memorial service last year. Nearly all our family, including many members of our extended family, got together near Burns, Oregon to celebrate his life. Realizing that our close family had never done a family reunion and that it was a shame that it took a death in the family to get us all together, we hatched the idea of attempting to get our little family together, hopefully once a year.
Although the initial idea for this year was for all of us to travel to northern Idaho where my dad lives, after much discussion, it became clear that our best chance was to shoot for the first weekend in July on the Oregon coast. My brother Ben already had plans to be out in Oregon at that time because of his girlfriend’s family get-together, and my sister Aura had plans to go to the Oregon Country Fair, a fairly new tradition for her and her kids. So it was agreed upon that we’d all commit to that place and time, and it was left to me to break the news to our dad. At first, he seemed really disappointed. See, my dad has 13 acres north of Sandpoint, Idaho that he’s always hoped his kids would someday embrace and possibly build something we could all have as a getaway or otherwise utilize in some way. For various reasons, this has never materialized. I can understand his disappointment, but honestly, the property is so remote that it has seemed impractical for any of us to really do such a thing. Well, that and the fact that none of us has the financial resources to single-handedly make that happen.
After much thought and a few difficult conversations, I was able to bring my dad around to the idea that the timing and location for this first reunion was going to be the most practical, we all wanted it to happen, and we really hoped he would be able to join us.
So near the beginning of the year, my sis found a house on Airbnb in Florence, Oregon, which is right on the coast, literally less than a block from the beach.
Although there was a bit of hemming and hawing along the way, by the time the week before the trip arrived, we’d basically all communicated that we were all planning to make it. This not only included my sister and brother but also our mom, who still lives here in southern Utah, and our two half sisters who both live in Idaho. In the end, it was all five of us kids, our dad (who is the father to all of us), our mom, and the next generation. That includes my child Sky, who I picked up on my way through Ogden, and my two sisters Aura and Janivah who each have two kids about the same ages.
It was quite a beautiful thing to see us all together at this fun and funky beach house with little more to do than rest, relax, and catch up … and in the case of our two younger sisters, get to know each other better as we didn’t grow up with them. They each have different mothers, and there’s quite the age difference between the two of them and the three of us kids who share the same mom. It was an interesting dynamic as we worked to figure out meals and activities we could do together. While we didn’t plan any big events, we all seemed to really enjoy the down time, regularly trekking over to the beach to play in the sand and take in the moist ocean air.
We all shared some fun times singing (and laughing) as our dad had always played music with all of us. It was also just nice to hear what everybody was up to these days and, more than anything else, just to relax. It seemed everyone in the family appreciated the opportunity just to get away from their regular routines and recharge their batteries.
This year, I’ve taken more trips out of southern Utah than ever before, including my first little musical tour in early June, something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve had the yearning to travel more for many years, but I’d felt my responsibilities with The Independent required my constant presence. To that end, I need to tip my hat again to my amazing staff, without whom I would not have had the confidence to commit to these trips, so thanks again to all of you!
There are more trips to come for me this year. As many of you have heard, there will be a complete solar eclipse Aug. 21, stretching nearly all the way across the United States. By all reports, it’s an event not to miss, and while I don’t have set plans for where I’ll be, I’m thinking I will attempt to go north into its path … probably in Idaho.
My brother Ben and I have also talked about a possible Mexico trip in the winter. I’ve never been out of the country except for Canada when our dad took us there the summer I turned 11, but that’s a story for another time.
I am very grateful to have such an eclectic and loving family despite our differences and complex history. I am also very thankful for my staff, advertisers, and friends who have helped make these trips a reality.
As much as I love southern Utah, it has been exciting to hit the road, see some new places, and meet new people. I hope you all get a chance to travel if that is something you’ve wanted to do. It stretches you out of your comfort zone and gives you plenty of time to contemplate this amazing life we are so fortunate to live. Be well, my friends.