April 1, 2017
Merced River Trail
Roundtrip distance: 3.04 miles
It was April Fools’ Day, the first day that it really felt like spring. I waited with baited breath for all my children to arrive at home. They were coming to celebrate my birthday and we were going on a family hike.
Before they arrived, I wondered if there would be any leg-pulling, tomfoolery or pranks played on each other. I played one on them in 1997. During their childhood, we spent a LOT of time at the dentist’s office. When they arrived home from school, I told them that we needed to go to the dentist. We had already been there a couple of times the past week, so they complained incessantly and dragged their feet as they climbed into the Suburban. They griped and whined all the way until we pulled into the parking lot of Dairy Queen. Then I turned to them and said, “April Fool!” There was no dentist appointment that day, just an outing for a sweet treat.
At last, the kids arrived home bearing bouquets of flowers and gifts to be opened later; though having them all together for the weekend was gift enough. We piled into three cars and drove to Briceburg along Highway 140 in the Merced River Canyon. Chris and Mason headed downriver with the Nugget Buckets to pan for gold.
The spring sky was a bright cobalt blue; the sun warm and scintillating. A gentle breeze shook the tender leaves of newly sprouting trees. Wildflowers like colorful Easter eggs decorated the grassy trail.
Strolling along single file, we celebrated the international day of silliness with laughter, conversation and playing with the dogs.
Down at the water’s edge, we skipped stones from the rocky bank. The dogs splashed in the quick moving river trying to catch the sticks we threw to them.
It was an uneventful and easy going hike; a good one to fit all levels of hikers.
My heart was happy having everyone together on the trail. We reunited with Chris and Mason then headed home.
When evening came we gathered round the room and I opened the gifts the kids brought. The last one was for both Chris and me—a framed photo of a sonogram. Was this an April Fools’ Day joke? No, it wasn’t. Joe and Jen surprised us with the good news that we are going to be grandparents for the first time. It was an awesome birthday gift and the perfect ending to an already great day.