family Photo Travel

Back From the Brink

I just turned on my computer for the first time in 7 days. 

It still feels a bit funky. My fingers are stretching to familiar places but typing feels totally odd. Yesterday, I woke up to cuddle a freezing Jackson back to sleep. Today, he woke up in his crib to a warm bowl of oatmeal and a morning full of Curious George & Elmo.

The McLane Family is 500 miles from our little June Lake camp site, 8,600 feet above sea level and a million miles from yesterday.

I spent a week intentionally disconnected from my day-to-day life. I turned off my email, signed out of Facebook, never opened Wunderlist or even had the thought, “I should write that down.” For the first time I can remember I even let the blog go fallow for a week.

It felt good to rest.

When I wrote my last post I was on the brink. I was past tired. I was exhausted. I don’t know what comes after exhaustion but I was pretty much there. It’s not so much that the exhaustion was hurting my work as it was that it was hurting to work. Day-by-day the grind was like a bruise that kept getting punched. Even embracing a more regular Sabbath wasn’t helping. I needed real rest.

After a week of hiking, exploring, playing, laughing, star-gazing, and fishing… I feel better and found rest for the first time in a long time.

It had been a few years since I really shut it down for 6 consecutive days. I don’t know if it’s my insecurity, the desperate feeling we had to turn it around at my old gig, or what… but I do know shutting it down was the right thing and something I need to do more often. (I have 3 weeks of vacation planned for the remainder of 2012.)

Rush-free Play

As we drove home yesterday, Kristen and I kept joking about the fact that we all still liked one another. Camping brought us closer together. As we left June Lake we were all a bit sad it had ended. I think all of us had embraced a little fantasy that it didn’t have to end… that we could just head to the grocery store and restock for another week. (And hit the showers to clean up!)

I think that’s a sign of a good vacation, that you leave wanting a little bit more and having fully entertained the option of never going home.

Each day was filled with a slowventure where we made breakfast together, cleaned up camp, and went somewhere to explore. We had a simple lunch of PB&J or fruit, cheese, and crackers. Somehow we managed to make it home in time to make dinner and have a camp fire before bed. (Did you know marshmallows are a food group while camping? I think each of the kids ate their weight in marshmallow!)

Together, we saw some of Earth’s greatest treasures. Yosemite denies description. Photos cannot capture awe. The giant sequoias, the Valley, the Tunnel View, the Merced River, Tuolumne Meadows, the Tioga Road, even The Mobile… all are happy places.

We spent 2 days not catching a single fish but smiling the whole time. We went up and down mountains. And we played in lots and lots of streams.

I loved watching Megan and Paul get lost in ancient forms of play. They made bow & arrows and pretended to hunt chipmunks. They wandered in the woods collecting stuff. They stared deeply into the starry abyss. They played with fire.

And they were rarely bored.

It’ll probably take me a few weeks to really unpack my vacation. But all I know is that I need more of that more often!




Fried eggI’m fried.

The past 4 months were exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. Here’s a summary of the stuff I’ve been up to.

  • We changed churches
  • I helped launched 2 businesses, mountains of paperwork and 27 trips to the bank, and hundreds of hours of “other crap.”
  • I wrapped up 3+ years of time with Youth Specialties, working like crazy to “finish strong.” (See the bullet point above, that’s a phrase I now don’t want to hear until 2025.)
  • McLane Creative launched 2-3 major sites for clients.
  • The Youth Cartel launched 3-4 major sites for clients.
  • I wrote several very important articles including the feature for the Nov/Dec edition of Immerse Journal.
  • I built new sites for McLane Creative, The Youth Cartel, my blog & Marko’s blog.
  • Started a whole slew of initiatives for The Youth Cartel
  • Put together tons and tons of proposals for The Youth Cartel & McLane Creative
  • Done initial work on the first major projects for these two businesses.
  • Found a new office.
  • Bought lots of really expensive software & hardware.
  • Gosh, I need a nap before I finish this list. There’s way more.

The last 4 months have felt like a years worth of work– most of which I was consumed by having a full-time job at YS and  trying to do the rest at night.

Normally we vacation for at least a week in the summer. But the summer of 2011 that didn’t happen.

So we’re kicking off fall 2011 with a little mini-vacation, camping in the forests above Palm Springs.

Our family has a rule that it’s not vacation if daddy brings a computer. So all of our electronics are staying home. Macbooks, iPads, Nintendo DSs… and I’m even turning off the email function on my phone. We’re disconnecting for a few days and heading for the hills to recupperate. And if this isn’t enough? We’ll do it again.

My brain is on empty. My soul is weary. And I’m the kind of tired a good nights sleep won’t fix. We need to get away… and read, rest, play… do nothing.

So that’s the deal.

Friday morning we’re packing up a big ole` pick-em-up truck (thanks Brian!). All of us. Mom, dad, Megan, Paul, Jackson, and Stoney. And we’re going to enjoy some pure California fun.


I need your camping advice!

Next weekend the McLane family is going camping. (A non-digital adventure!) Specifically, we’re going to Idyllwild, CA for 3 days and 2 nights.

We need this

Summer 2011 has been the lost summer. Especially for me. Leaving YS and starting up 2 businesses meant that we didn’t take a vacation over the summer and I’m pretty much fried as a result. In the last 90 days I’ve worked 12+ hours probably about 75 of those days.

Our family is in desperate need of R&R– away from projects, school, and anything digital. Why? Because after next weekend the fall gets going like crazy with conferences, cool projects, youth group retreats, yada yada yada. If we don’t do this we won’t get a break until Thanksgiving.

Here’s the deal

Kristen and I were into backpacking before we had kids so we know the nuts & bolts stuff about setting up camp. But since we’ve had kids (10+ years) we’ve never gone camping without taking 40 middle/high school kids.

What we need is help with fun things to do with our kids while camping beyond the obvious stuff like hiking and s’mores and exploring the woods. We know we need to try geocaching…. but what else?

Leave me a comment with your favorite camping tip and help our family make some memories next weekend.