Traveling the world — or not?

Beach house near Santa Barbara
We’ll be returning to this beach cottage for the sixth time this summer.

When you go on vacation, do you like to return to the same place — or do you like to explore new areas?

I read a Wall Street Journal story called: “The Joy of Traveling to the Same Places Again and Again.” It’s written by novelist Tara Isabella Burton who wanted to travel everywhere when she was in her 20s. Now, that she’s older and married, she longs to go back to the cities and regions she loves deeply.

WHEN I WAS young I wanted to go everywhere. I had notebooks’ worth of lists: half-imagined, half-researched, of all the places I would fly off to without warning. It was easy for me to travel—I went to university in England during the golden age of budget European airlines. I could buy flights from London to Slovakia or Italy for under $10, or student-fare Eurostar tickets to Paris for $25. I would spend 4½ dreary and bleary-eyed hours on the bus from Oxford to London Stansted to catch a morning flight for a $50 weekend in Istanbul or Marrakech. I had a sense of myself as someone with wanderlust, an inchoate desire to be anywhere but where I was. Raised eclectically—I barely knew my Italian father; my American mother changed our home base with the school year—I gloried in the fact that I was never at home, anywhere. And so, there was nothing to keep me still.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-joy-of-traveling-to-the-same-places-again-and-again-11647345601?mod=life_work_featured_pos3

She goes on to say that she began to fall in love with certain areas and made friends. She’s pulled these days to traveling to those few locations.

I like to return to the same place for vacation. We spent two decades vacationing in Laguna Beach in the summer. Lately, it’s been the Santa Barbara area. We have friends there, restaurants and beaches we love. It’s like going to my happy place. We also like to visit Park City — another place with friends and natural beauty.

My memories as a child are vacationing at our cabin, Ocean Shores and Sun Valley, Idaho for skiing. We went to a few more places like the once in a lifetime big trip to Hawaii and the road trip to Disneyland. But for the most part, vacations were in the same few places and in the same hotels or condos.

I think there’s a certain comfort in returning to places we love. When traveling to somewhere new, I’m a little anxious, while returning to the places I love feels like going home.

What are your thoughts about traveling to new places, versus returning to places over and over again?

Day one of mom and grand-dog duties

Waffles at the ER vet
Waffles the pug not feeling so good.

I made it to the Bay Area to help my daughter who has COVID. I’ve been wondering how much help I can be, since I can’t be with her? If I can’t do much, I’m looking forward to quiet time alone writing.

So far, it turns out — more time than I thought.

I didn’t arrive until evening to my airbnb which is .2 miles from her apartment. The problem is she’s on quarantine and can’t leave her apartment. I’m not sure what the protocol is these days, but I can guarantee she hasn’t hit it yet.

She texted me a list of groceries. I asked if I could go to the Berkeley Bowl to get the items on her list. It’s one of my favorite places to go to when I visit the kids. This running errands will be a treat if it includes the Berkeley Bowl! I blogged about it HERE.

I picked up clam chowder and a salad for my own dinner and a few groceries for my airbnb mini-fridge along with her list. When I dropped off her groceries at her doorstep, we waved at each other through her window.

I walked back to the airbnb and sat to savor the Berkeley Bowl clam chowder. It’s so delicious. I called my son and we were talking about plans for tomorrow’s dinner. He may be recovering from foot surgery, but he doesn’t have COVID. We can be together in person.

That’s when I got a call from daughter asking me to take Waffles the pug to the ER. He’s been having issues with his tummy. I wrote about it HERE a few days ago. Waffles has been throwing up and hasn’t recovered from chicken bones. The animal ER won’t let my daughter with COVID inside.

I sat for more than two hours with Waffles in the waiting room. My daughter texted me the recent details since I was traveling from Arizona and not totally up to date. We — the vet, the vet’s assistant and my daughter on the phone — decided not to hospitalize Waffles last night, but to bring him back in the morning if he doesn’t improve.

I’m wondering what tomorrow’s role as mom and dog grandma will bring? What’s driving me crazy is to be so close to my daughter, but not being able to give her a hug.

Have you traveled to help your kids away from home? How have you helped? How have you helped family members with COVID?

The road to Christmas

view from Santa Barbara during rain storm
Waiting for the kids to arrive during a California storm.

We arrived at our Christmas destination amidst a rain and wind storm. I’m so thankful that our day of driving was the day before the storm. We spent the night with friends close to our airbnb. I had anxiously awaited our kids and my son’s girlfriend’s family who drove from the Bay Area as all of California was engulfed in rain, wind and flooding

In the meantime, my husband and I trekked to Costco about 15 miles away from the airbnb. I’m a nervous nelly on freeways and with the rain, visibility was zero to three feet. I white knuckled it as a passenger and thought, “I’m only doing this for my kids.”

Once at Costco, we got drenched walking from the parking lot into the store — trying to cram both of us under one small umbrella. On the way home on the 101, the rain got even heavier if that’s possible. We watched in horror as the car in front of us tapped his brakes, spun out, then headlights moved towards us in our lane. Then he stopped, thankfully, made a U-turn across the three lanes and made his exit.

I was literally shaking. My husband slowed down and we crawled at 40 mph towards our exit, only to get a google warning on maps that there was a wreck right before our exit. We got off the 101 and took surface streets and safely, thankfully, arrived at the airbnb.

Our kids’ drives should have been five and a half hours, but turned into eight. The entire 101 freeway was closed due to flooding and boulders in the highway somewhere around San Luis Obsipo.

We stayed up waiting for them all to arrive. I knew I couldn’t sleep until everyone was accounted for. I gave big hugs to each carload that arrived. My daughter’s car arrived first, and finally my son’s last. Everyone was safely tucked into their beds. I finally got a good night’s sleep. This morning the sun is shining and we’re ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Merry Christmas! Stay safe and enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Christmas Eve view from Santa Barbara. Blue skies.
This morning on Christmas Eve, the sun came out.

On the road again

beach view in Santa Barbara
On our way to the beach!

I need to get packed. But, I need to do laundry first. The kitty is on her way to boarding. The lady at the pet boarding place said our Olive the cat will be boarding with Olive the pug. That should be interesting. Olive our cat is not a pug fan. Waffles is the only pug she’s met and all he wants to do is chase her. I hope they don’t place them in suites (cages) that face eachother.

One thing that definitely helped my stress level was packing and loading the car one day before. What a concept! We only need to wake up, shower and go.

A nine-hour drive awaits. I’m trying to have a positive outlook for the long drive. I’ve downloaded several books to listen to including John Grisham. I tend to have anxiety on the road, so I’m trying to frame the trip as an adventure. As something fun to do for nine hours — rather than dreading it. Maybe a positive outlook will change my reaction?

Instead of breaking up the drive into a couple days, we’re going for it. We’ll stop by my dad’s to drop off his Christmas present at the halfway point. But we’re not spending the night. We want to get to our destination.

The Airbnb is letting us check in four hours early, which I’m thankful for. One of my worries was that the owner hadn’t reached out to me yet. Now she has and we have all the details to get into our Christmas vacation house.

What excitement do you have planned for Christmas week?

Highlights from our weekend in the Bay Area

Golden Gate Bridge from Marin Headlands

Marin Headlands view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pug at Bettes.
My daughter’s pug Waffles at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. Bette’s is another must.
ping pong table in airbnb
Our amazing airbnb complete with sauna and ping pong table. The ping pong was nonstop with our kids.
airbnb luxe bathroom
My son hanging out in the ridiculous luxe bathroom in the airbnb. I could write a full post about this place.
morning glories in Berkeley
Down the street from the airbnb. Gorgeous neighborhood and morning glories.

Our son found the airbnb for us. It was half the price of a tiny hotel room. I can’t wait to come back. It’s the bottom floor of a two-story house in a gorgeous neighborhood and only one mile from where our kids live.

I haven’t been a fan of the Bay Area. I don’t like the homeless, the damp, the filth that one thinks of when visiting San Francisco. Fortunately, I didn’t see any of that the entire weekend. Only when we’d drive, I’d see the homeless encampments along the freeway and under overpasses. The problems exist, but not where we stayed. I think that’s part of the problem, the people who are in charge aren’t adversely affected and can look the other way.

I do want to go back. The weather, food, the airbnb and of course hanging out with our family was amazing. My view of the Bay Area has changed for the better. I can kind of understand why my kids want to live there.

What places have you visited that you never want to go back? Where are your favorite places to visit?

Highlights of My Berkeley Week

I spent the week in Berkeley taking care of my son post surgery and hanging out with my daughter and my son’s girlfriend. I thought I’d have lots of time to write. I had two projects I thought I would make a dent in. Turns out I forgot about them all together. Between driving to the store for dry ice, ice, sweet cherries and walking to a local restaurant for chicken congee, I was out of time.

Hibiscus tree
This caught my eye walking to my son’s apartment.

I assisted my daughter as she replaced my son’s kitchen faucet. Boy, was I impressed she knew how to do that! I helped with laundry, trash and dishes duties. Plus, I helped my son with his sling, ice machine and meds and kept him hydrated and fed.

Pyeong Chang Oakland
A poster of a NY Times write up at the entrance of the best Korean restaurant I’ve ever been to.

The weather was gorgeous. I stayed in a cute airbnb that was one mile and a pretty walk to and from my son’s. I was two blocks from the Gourmet Ghetto, which is a fabulous place to eat. I had kimchee pancakes for the first time and the best Korean food I’ve ever had at Pyeyong Changand the best Thai food at Daughter Thai, both in Oakland.

blue door and chairs at airbnb Berkeley
The entrance to my airbnb.

Twice my son and I attempted to hike Indian Rock. The first time was too soon and he had been off pain meds for 36 hours. That was a painful walk back to his house for him — and me! We made it yesterday and the views were spectacular. But we thought wisely to skip the actual climb up the rock and instead opted for the viewpoint in the park on the ground.

Daughter Thai Oakland
Inside Daughter Thai — gorgeous restaurant and delicious food.

Now I’m sitting in the airport, ready to board my flight home.

Here are some more of my photos from the week:

My son and his girlfriend at Indian Rock Park.
Indian Rock Park Berkeley
View from Indian Rock Park of San Francisco.
Pug sitting for treat.
My daughter giving Waffles his morning treat at a coffee shop on our way to the airport.

To Swim or Not to Swim

I’m looking back on August’s past. Here’s a beach reflection from 2016.

13934949_10210575934898395_4223711866055404736_n

I’m a much better vacationer today than I was in my 20s. I’ve learned how to relax.

When I was in my 20s, my yearly vacation was spent going home to Washington where I grew up. I had to see and do all the PNW things. Ride a ferry to the islands, dig clams, fish, go hiking in the woods, go to the city, ride a bike around Greenlake, go to my cabin and spend the night, visit my best friend and my other best friends—and all my friends. Visit my favorite professors. I had my Daytimer with me and scheduled events by the half hour! It would drive my husband crazy and soon I made my annual jaunts home by myself.

IMG_0290

This year, we rented a house in a sleepy little beach town near Santa Barbara. Our good friends live close by and we had many fun meals together, planned at the last minute. We spent hours walking on the beach, riding beach cruisers through town and sitting on the beach reading. I am reading the third Neapolitan novel by Elena Ferrante and there’s nothing better in my mind than having long stretches of time to read a good book.

13880146_10210575966699190_5499508276428958217_n

My daughter came with us plus a swim friend from her age group days. Isn’t it amazing how swimming bonds friends through life? They’re both college swimmers and they ran, lifted weights, swam and got massages.

The only downfall of vacation was the spotting of great white sharks at the beach. Only two hours after the girls had an ocean swim, a 15-foot great white was spotted exactly where they had been swimming.

IMG_3338A lifeguard told me that last week, she watched a seal by the swimming dock. It was pulled underwater, tossed up and eaten by a large creature with a fin. She said it was like watching National Geographic as the water turned red.

I was looking forward to ocean swimming and kayaking. I was going to try SUP (stand up and paddle) for the first time. But, like I said, I’m better at vacations now and sitting on the beach with a book made more sense, given the great white sharks.

Video of the girls swimming before the sharks were spotted: 

What’s your favorite thing to do on vacation?