As I got closer to the camp, I started seeing signs of snow. Which kind of surprised me, because I hadn't checked the weather, and I was not prepared for snow! I just kept hoping and praying that where I was going was not where that snow was coming from. But then as I was driving up this mountain, and snow-covered cars were coming down, I started losing hope.
Sure enough, I pull into the town of Idyllwild, and it's like a winter wonderland. I missed the turn for the camp, and keep climbing up this mountain, and it starts snowing harder and harder, and all I can think is that I did not have warm clothes! I did bring a sweatshirt and tennis shoes, and at the last minute, I packed gloves, but that was it! Once I got out of Idyllwild, I realized I missed my turn, so I turned around, and figured out where to go.
I arrived after the check in time, which meant that pretty much everyone who was coming was already there. So, I pull into this dark, quiet camp, not knowing where I was supposed to go. I figured that was a good time to change out of my flip flops and put on my tennis shoes. As I was doing that, a car pulled up, and I heard, "Hey, lady!" It was my friend Michelle! Michelle and the group she was with left a couple hours before me. While we were all driving, Michelle called to check on me, and I found out that they were quite a ways ahead of me. Until they pulled up right then, I had assumed they were already there. But they stopped somewhere to get dinner, it took longer than they anticipated, so they happened to get there the same time I did. I was so relieved, because I really didn't know where to go!
We all figured it out together, and walked into the main room where our sessions would be. I found Megan, who doesn't go to my church, but she does go to Harvest OPC in San Marcos. And then we found another group from our church. All in all, I think there were 11 churches represented (?), and about 86 women. It was a great turnout!
We mingled for a while, and then we had our first session. Our speaker was Donna McIlhenney, who is (along with her husband) a chaplain in some Los Angeles area hospitals. She was a great choice for a speaker, and I enjoyed her talks throughout the whole weekend. It was encouraging, emotional, uplifting - everything you would want to hear at a retreat!
After that, we went to our rooms (I was sharing a room with Megan, Michelle, Michelle's mom Brigitte, and Lissett), and after chatting for a while (this is a women's retreat, after all - there was LOTS of chatting!), we finally went to sleep.
The next morning when we woke up, we were finally able to check out the beautiful scenery, and the crazy snow (this is April, right? Did I mention I wasn't expecting snow?).
We made our way to breakfast, and we soon found out that the food was delicious! After breakfast we had our second session, a break, and then the third session. After that was lunch. Here's a picture to show the dining hall and all the women (and there's Lissett, Megan, and Michelle in deep theological conversation. Really!).
After lunch, we had the whole afternoon off. Being the young moms we are, we decided to go back to our room to "nap," although I think Megan was the only one who did. Me, Lissett, and Michelle did more chatting, and I was able to get some embroidery done. After our "naptime," we decided to go into town and stroll around. Megan's friend Melissa from her church came with us.
Oh, the stories I could tell about our time in town! But I won't. I'll just leave you all in suspense. Needless to say, we had a super fun time on our quest to find a place to get drinks. Here's the first place we stopped, and it wasn't quite what we were looking for...
So we went to Gastrognome, which was exactly what we were looking for! Look how cute and cozy it was! The fireplace, the decor, the drinks - it was perfect! We stayed here for a while, chatting it up, until it was time to go back to the camp for dinner.
Megan's church got a group picture, so I thought it would be good to get a picture of everyone that came from our church, Branch of Hope. So here we are!
After dinner, we had our 4th and final session, then a talent show, which was fantastic. There are some funny and creative women in the OPC!
We went back to our rooms - actually, we went to someone else's room to do more chatting, then made our way back to our room for some sleep.
The next morning, there was going to be breakfast and a church service followed by lunch, and after that it was time to leave. However, everyone in my room left before all of that. I needed to get back to our own church, because Grant teaches Sunday School. So I promised him when we decided that I would be going to this retreat that I'd be back for church, so he didn't have to juggle everything he needed to do with the two girls by himself. Michelle and Megan needed to get back for similar reasons, so we all left around 7:15. It had lightly hailed and snowed the previous day, along with freezing some of the melt the night before, so we were a little nervous heading down the mountain, but everyone survived!
I made it to church before Grant did (despite accidentally veering onto the 55 in Orange County, and going a little out of my way) and our little family had a reunion in the parking lot before church started. Oh, and I was worried all weekend that the stomach bug the girls and I had would hit Grant while I was gone, but it never did - thank God!
It was a fantastic weekend - one that will not be forgotten soon! That was my first retreat, and while it might be my last with the So Cal OPC, I hope it won't be my last one ever.