For too many years to count, we have spent the 24th of July at beautiful Bear Lake.
We are sorry to miss the parades and fireworks of the big city, but we love the solitude and reflection of this tranquil place.
Those who know Bear Lake seem to love and be loyal to it. It is like a fraternity of people who secretly know how rare and wonderful this place really is.
And in our case, we have quite a history with it.
I (Linda) come from Bear Lake. From Montpelier to be exact, just north of the lake on the Idaho side, and the two of us fell in love with the lake while we were dating. In fact, we fell so much in love with it that I (Richard) managed to use the cash value of a life insurance policy that Linda’s parents had bought for her — our only asset — to buy a little lot on the unpopulated east side of the lake. Cost (back in the day): $1,500.
I kept the purchase a secret, as I did our honeymoon destination, and Linda found out about both on our wedding night when I took off the blindfold I put on her as we left our reception. I had led her to a spot in the sagebrush on our lot and borrowed a cabin nearby from friends.
Eight years later, while we were doing our mission presidency for the LDS Church in London, we got Linda’s wonderful brother-in-law Bruce to build a simple little A-frame cabin on the lot. And we mean simple! It cost $8,000.
When we came home from England, we spent the first little bit of quiet, private family time we had experienced in three years in that little A-frame, bursting at the seams with our six children, including the two babies who had been born in England.
Since then, we have been back every summer — in the early years for our family vacation and for the last 20 years for our family reunion, gathering every single family member from wherever they live around the world; and the lake, with its Caribbean-blue water and fresh dry air and incomparable sunsets, has a deep place in all of our hearts.
We’ve built and added and scrambled each year to have enough space for everyone, not too sure how good a financial investment the growing compound is, but totally sure of how good an emotional investment it is. This summer for our family reunion, there were 47 of us, including all of our kids, their spouses and the amazingly bonded grandchildren cousins, many who see each other only at this one big crazy reunion.
We are just wrapping up this year’s reunion as we write this. The long days have been filled with boats and beach, sunset sails and waterskiing on the gold, couples taking turns fixing massive quantities of food, the traditional family mixed-doubles tennis tournament, and church in the Dingle Ward 15 minutes to the north.
Logistically, it is a nightmare, but an exciting one that we look forward to every summer. Aesthetically, it is unparalleled, with the sky, the mountains and the ever-changing lake as the background for our four professional photographers who seem to record every wild and joyful moment so we can enjoy it in retrospect and anticipation all year as we remember last summer and look forward to next summer.
We surveyed the grandkids recently, asking them their favorites on everything from food to color to subject in school. It was no surprise that the big winner in the “favorite place” category was, hands down, Bear Lake.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."