July 29, 2008

Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer 2008

Haven't been blogging, but I've managed to justify my lack of written entries, by thinking like a blogger. This is how it works: things happen and I assess their value as future blog entries. I may even lie awake in the middle of the night and plan how I'll write it. Do I have a good hook for the beginning? Do I have any pictures? The only problem with this system is of course the final step, writing the posts! Well, I'm finally in a writing mood so here's a brief recap of summer so far.

Vacation Failure. Rx for a perfect vacation: great location, good weather, peace and quiet. Paul and I were looking forward to a great week in Northern California. After the spring we'd been through we felt entitled.

We planned to stay at an inn near Gualala on the Mendocino coast. Everything seemed perfect until I got an ear infection, discovered I was highly allergic to amoxicillion and became violently ill. We soldiered on anyway, driving 40 winding miles up Highway 1 from Bolinas to the inn. We realized right away this was a mistake, but no refund was possible so we tried to make it work. However, Murphy's law proved stronger than our desire. Several emergency room visits were necessary and just when we thought everything was under control (new meds working, heading to a final two days in civilized Carmel)...a friend called to tell us that Goleta (our hometown) was on fire.

Fire! The fire burned through the foothills above Goleta and into the Los Padres National Forest. We never had to evacuate but friends did. It was odd to even contemplate evacuating. I walked through the house trying to decide what to pack. Obvious considerations were important documents, pictures, computers, art. We couldn't possibly box up our books but they are among our most important possessions. Nora suggested taking some of my favorite Christmas ornaments but getting up in the storage space above the garage and sifting through lots of boxes seemed impractical. In the end, Paul and I both decided the minimal approach was best. We were prepared to let it all go and start over if necessary.

The staging area for the firefighters was right down the street at Dos Pueblos, Nora's old high school. Firetrucks from all over the state and the country filled the parking lot and the tennis court and mulch beds were dotted with little pop-up tents of sleeping firefighters. A group of parents and employees of the school district brought over desserts one night. The tables were piled high with treats--mega sugar rush for the firefighters. Nothing we could we do would be enough to thank them for their incredible work. Amazingly, no one was hurt and not a single home was lost.

Vacation Success. I had one more chance for a "real" vacation in mid-July, but I have to confess I was a little anxious after my last adventure. I left Paul behind in Santa Barbara and drove up to Walnut Creek to meet Nora. We made our traditional pilgrimage to the Nordstrom Anniversary sale, arriving at 7:30 a.m. to ensure the best selection. We've been doing this since Nora was a little girl and we always seem to find some absolute necessities. On sale, of course.

On the weekend Nora and I drove up to Auburn and met up with my brother John and his wife, Anne, and then went to stay with my sister Barbara and her family. It was wonderful to see everyone and especially Madden, Barb's adorable grandson. Madden just celebrated his first birthday and was quite an enchanting playmate and swimming partner. We brought him a board book and discovered his incredible enthusiasm for reading--he literally ate the book. I think the board book companies might want to hire him as a product tester.

Barb and I managed two field trips. The first was to a unique store and cafe in Sacramento called Le Petit Paris . We had a petit dejeuner followed by a sampling of French macaroons flavored with lavendar, rose petal and more traditional flavors as well. Ce bon! We browsed through the store and struck up a conversation with the owner who told us she leads small (10 people) group tours to Paris. Barb and I left with information sheets in hand and the determination to start new travel accounts. I would love to go back to Paris again. Our trip in 2005 was intoxicating. Nora was a wonderful guide, and Barb and I stayed in little apartment near the Place des Voges. That experience would be impossible to replicate, but we know there is still a lot more to see. I'm definitely up for a return visit to the City of Lights.

Our second field trip was more nature-oriented. We went on a pilgrimage to rediscover our old Girl Scout camp, Sierra Woodlands, located near Sierra City off of Highway 49. We were pretty sure that the camp had been sold but we knew our old swimming hole, Sand Pond, and Upper and Lower Sardine Lakes would be easy to find. We drove about 21/2 hours from Auburn through Downieville up to the lakes. A walk and a picnic lunch made for a perfect adventure. The Sierra Buttes towered over the landscape, although the view was a bit hazy due to all the forest fires burning in California.

On the way back we checked out some of the Yuba River resorts near Downieville. Little cabins with decks--perfect spots for reading, writing, and water play. I think I could even realize my secret desire to learn how to fish. Check out the links for Sierra Shangri-la and the Lure Resort. Barb and I may be tempted to plan a longer stay next summer. Clearly, another travel fund is in order.

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