Clark and Fritzie Packard began taking their four boys to Washington State’s Mt. Rainier National Park for family picnics. Each had been many times to the park before they were even married. Their favorite spot was called Sunshine Point, a beautiful area very close to the park entrance. It was here the boys loved to “plunk a line” to try to catch cutthroat trout in the Nisqually River.
As the years passed by, the boys married and the new families also came to Sunshine
Point. In fact, grandma and grandpa loved to picnic with their grandchildren, not only at Mt. Rainier but also at Point Defiance! Anybody say “picnic” ? They were ready to go!
Eventually, the Mt. Rainier trips included cousins, extended family, and pets. The fishing poles were brought along even when there had been no bites for years. Frisbees were tossed. Birthdays were celebrated. Hikes were taken. Photos were compared. Grills were fired and hamburgers cooked to order. We sat in the sunshine and sometimes we sat huddled under blankets!
I loved the time I sat with Fritzie, whom I called Mother, on the river bank. We listened to the glacier water rushing over the rocks and suddenly we realized we were not alone. A deer and her fawn slowly walked past us to drink at the water’s edge!
The time eventually came when Clark and Fritzie moved to Heaven. Part of our tradition was changed forever. We continued to picnic but now the brothers became the older generation.
Tradition continued to change in the winter of 2006 when the park received 18 inches of rain in 36 hours. The raging, flooding Nisqually River wiped away 5 acres of Sunshine Point campground and picnic area. The road was washed away; picnic tables gone. The river changed its channel and where we once picnicked was now a river bed. Other areas of the National Park also suffered road washouts and landslides.
Two years later we asked the park rangers for permission to walk along the new river bank. It was good to hear our son exclaim “Oh, remember that year…” “Remember where we climbed…” His exclamations continued and we laughed as we remembered fun times we had had. We were excited to see a few areas were unchanged. And then we walked in silence…each lost in our own memories. For David, there were over 50 years of scenes in his mind.
I’m sure there were many families whose traditions were changed that year. We have our scrapbooks filled with pictures of Sunshine Point. The picture above shows David and a very young Michael fishing in the Nisqually River. We hold memories in our hearts forever. That picnic area will always be a “point of sunshine” in our family!