Monday, November 12, 2012

There is only one way to tell this story...

...and that is from the beginning
Here is the high shelf in our bedroom, now Tony can finish the dry wall
We are in our 9th year here as owners of The Claiborne House Bed and Breakfast. One of the things that happened to us when we bought this inn was going from a much larger home to smaller innkeeper quarters, so for that reason we have bins and boxes stored in our basement, our workshop and anywhere else we can stow them.

Yesterday with the aide of my two able-bodied assistants, I decided it was time to take down the tons of linens and boxes we had stored on this large shelf Tony built in our bedroom. Stuff that never gets used, but sits there taking up valuable real estate.  On a ladder, passing items down, boxes of photos, memorabilia and who knows what else I came across my favorite sweatshirt of all time, my purple Harris Ranch sweat shirt.  Now for the rest of story...

I bought this sweatshirt in 1986 when I took my college roommate Erica up to the High Sierra's to show her Coffman Camp. This is an old deer camp that has been used by our family for generations. I was given my Great Grandmother's hunting rifle when I was younger that belonged to my Dad's grandmother Ada.  Recently Dad wrote a short memoir about Coffman Camp, called "The Drew Creek Trail" and in it he shared something I did not know, but was amazed to read, up in these Sierra Nevada which sits at about 9,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation, Dad's grandfather George (Coffman) carved his name, and his grandmother's name, Ada into an Aspen tree. It was there for years, and may still be!

Part of the trip from San Diego to get to this annual hunt camp every September involved Dad coming home tired from work on Friday afternoon and packing us all up and driving all night to get there. If I recall it was about 11-12 hours drive time. The grand finale of finally arriving at Coffman Camp was when we went up over the notorious Sonora Pass which is known to kill more brakes going up than going down!


On the way up, our family always stopped at one particular place to break up the drive. Mom and Dad dragged us out of a backseat/or back of the pick-up truck where we lay in a disheveled stupor, and made us go against our will, in to have a nice breakfast at Harris Ranch. This was the Harris Ranch prior to it becoming a famous resort destination; the restaurant always had cow hide seats, freshly squeezed orange juice and fantastic breakfasts! I remember the fried potatoes there, now people call them home fries, to make them not sound fattening. So this is where I took Erica, it was a tradition. While there I bought a purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt.

A couple years after this trip to the Sierra Nevada with Erica, where we met up with Grandpa at Coffman Camp, and had a wonderful time, which would be my last visit to Harris Ranch, I would soon meet Tony, fall in love and move to Australia; I took only my prized possessions with me on the plane, and one of them was my purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt.

In the interim, before meeting Tony, I worked on The Tradition, which was a fishing charter boat out of San Diego at H&M Landing, I was the relief cook and would head out to sea in the dark of night to get out where the Tuna were, and start hooking them up at day break. It was strenuous work, but enjoyable, I still love to be out on the ocean (as long as we are not in a squall!) On that boat was a weazly-deck-hand with the last name Harris, he saw my purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt and absconded it. But I was able to get it back...then later moved to Australia, bringing my purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt along...in Australia you call these "Sloppy Joes".

When we moved back to the states in 1993, and moved to the Pacific NorthWet where we built a home, we only had a few boxes and suitcases, it was more cost effective to buy new than ship international from half-way around the world, but I made sure to bring home my favorite purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt.

Since then Nana and Grandpa have passed on. We now have only memories, but those we hold near and dear to our heart. Some of the family continues to go to Coffman Camp in the Sierra Nevada, but many have moved away, out of state.

Fast forward a few years...since moving here to Virginia I have not been able to find this favorite purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt, but yesterday I did! Fresh from the dryer I slid it on moments ago, and the memories came flooding back, wait, "Did my arms grow longer? I don't remember it being so small?!"

27 years later, I have my purple Harris Ranch sweatshirt on, again. 
Here is the proof
I hope you have special memories, of special places and special people in your life. Love them while you have them, make every moment count. This is what it is all about!

Sincerely, Shellie COFFMAN Leete