Catch-Up II

The drive up to Tahoe was a bit slow because of several construction delays, but we didn’t seem to care because our surroundings seemed to give us new breath and we sat in traffic inhaling deeply. Unlike a drive up my beloved Rockies, the Sierras are covered with dense green forests. It is not until you pull into Tahoe that the peaks become bare.

Our dear friends were waiting for us as we pulled into the driveway and while Elias was at first shy with his besties, ten minutes was all it took for Elias, Kai and Marley to be chasing after each other with glowing grins and infectious giggling.

We were quickly whisked off to the beach where I quickly and whole-heartedly fell in love with Lake Tahoe. My prior drive-through gave the lake zero justice. It was not until I was sitting in the soft sand on the edge of the crystal clear water with mountain tops surrounding me that I began to appreciate the hype. Lake Tahoe is truly a magical place and I can’t wait to go back.

How sweetly our children played in the sand while we caught up with good friends. A few excursions in the kayak and some play on the paddle board completed our first afternoon in Lake Tahoe.

I’d recap the next day but it was much of the same thing plus an extra beer or two.

Thank you Krasnows for your loving hospitality. We had such a wonderful visit and will miss you dearly!

With the camper in storage and a few weeks to spare before we fly to Chicago, Alex found us a small apartment to sublet in Davis. Why Davis? For one, it’s very close to the camper should we need to access it. Second, Davis is a small college town with the reputation as being one of the most bike friendly cities in the world. We had to check it out.

Here’s the hilarity of the situation. The apartment comes with a catch. We are actually sharing a two bedroom apartment with a college senior. That’s right. The four of us are sleeping in one bedroom of an apartment decorated with beer posters and grandma’s old needlepoint. Lucky for us, the roommate has opted to stay out much of the time, and the college-like condition of the place is highly conducive to split-up, spilled milk and dirty diapers. I’m happy to report that I am totally relaxed here. My kids can’t really mess it up. Needless to say the first thing I did was clean the kitchen and bathroom before any member of my family could use it. The second night here Alex walked into the living room and said, “For the first time, I really feel like we’re starting over.” I couldn’t agree more.

So here we are, enjoying the adorable little town of Davis. Exploring its many parks and taking downtown walks in the morning. When the afternoon heat sets in we head to the pool to cool off. It’s not very exciting, but certainly simple and relaxing. We are enjoying the calm right now as we gear up for our trip east.

Paddling Lake Tahoe
Eli and Kai running along the beach
Eli and Kai

Catch-Up I

It’s interesting how a shift in environment or routine can alter habits. For the first two months of this trip I was diligent about writing. We were on what I now call the “vacation portion of our travels”, when our week was filled with exploration in towns that were there to entertain us. We finished the evening in our small camper. And with both kids finally asleep I’d curl up around my computer and reflect on the day’s activities.

Once we arrived in the bay area the shift from “vacation” to “settle” took a toll on that serene routine which ended with words and pictures. While the “settle” is exciting, losing the time to write has not been. Perhaps now I can re-establish my writing routine.

In the meantime, here’s an attempt to catch up on all that has happened since my last post. I call this “Catch-Up I” because there is so much to say that there will no doubt be a “Catch-Up II”.

With the decision to relocate to the bay area behind us, and weeks to spare before we fly to Chicago and move into our Oakland apartment, the decision of what to do in the meantime hung heavy over us like a wet towel. Isn’t it funny how freedom can create stress?

We had always envisioned heading north along the coast. I was eager to spend time in Mendocino and drive beyond ‘the redwood curtain’ as they call the deeply forested regions of Northern California. At the same time, the Sierras and Lake Tahoe were calling to us. We left our own mountains months ago and thought some high altitude peaks could do lots for our mental health. But traveling north would be an expensive endeavor, with campsites costing more than our budget would allow and traveling east into the mountains with the camper would put more wear and tear on our truck than we were prepared to deal with.

What motivated a decision? With dear friends from Buena Vista staying in Tahoe for the week, we chose east. We would drop the camper off in storage and head into the mountains trailer-free. What would happen after Tahoe, we did now know. We only knew that we would not be towing the camper behind us, which opened up Pandora’s Box of opportunity.

Leaving the gravel yard of Sonoma County’s fairground was pretty liberating being that its raw exterior enhanced the emotional decisions of the week. With those decision made, we were ready to leave the rocks behind.

Tahoe would not be our first stop. Being far away and having to drop the camper off first, Alex had chosen a small county park just west of Sacramento to spend the weekend. Now, I feel like sweet little surprises have been a running theme in my posts, and this weekend falls into that category.

Lake Solano in Winters, California is a beautiful little park complete with a lazy river, large shade trees and an army of wild peacocks. That’s right – peacocks.  Chosen purely on location we had no idea what to expect of this little town and its humble county park.

With two cross streets serving as a downtown for weekend tourists, Winters is that place you take your lover for romantic dinners, wine tasting and sleeping in. Just minutes outside town is Lake Solano, not really a lake but a wide river whose channel is ideal for a canoe, rowboat or kayak. This weekend got us right back in the “vacation” mood. We took long walks along the river, strolled through town and collected peacock feather for Elias to proudly carry around.  It was the break we needed from frantically working on getting ourselves settled – at least somewhat settled. Even the 3:30 am rooster call could not disturb the peace we found at Lake Solano. Yes, there were chickens and roosters there too!

Being refreshed on Sunday morning we packed up the trailer with the assumption that we would not be in it any time soon and dropped it off in an open storage lot in Dixon, CA. Pulling away from the camper that day was totally liberating and sad all at the same time. We were leaving our little home behind but the excitement and uncertainty of what our next few weeks would bring gave us a buzz worth bottling.

Elias and a peacock feather

Change

It’s been some time since my last post and I must apologize to those of you who grew concerned about my “absence”. Thank you for checking in, but all is well.

I’ve stepped away from the blog for no better reason than I’ve been very, very busy. Taking care of two little ones on the road while Alex works diligently on building his business has finally caught up with me. With Elias staying up later than I would like and the little guy napping nowhere near the hours that Eli does, MY time is extremely limited, if it exists at all. Yes, exhaustion has taken over. I denied it for some time, but it has gotten the better of me.

That being said, there have been a lot of changes since my last post. So many that I can barely keep them straight in my head. I’m going to try my best to share them here, so please accept the following stream of consciousness.

When I last wrote we were camped in Felton, CA, just outside Santa Cruz. Our plan had always been to drive into the Bay area and spend a month hanging out with friends and family while we wait to fly back to Illinois in August for my beautiful sister-in-law’s wedding.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to stay where we had planned and were again looking for a place to park ourselves and our camper. The closest campground we could find was the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA, about one hour north of San Francisco. An open gravel lot with a few trees to provide shade, it has been our “home” for the past week. During that time, our minds have been swirling over our next move.

Here is where the transition comes…. The transition that I believe has greatly contributed to my mental exhaustion.

When Alex and I left on this trip we had a personal agenda. We thought that perhaps we were ready to relocate to someplace new. We have both been in Colorado for a long time and felt that California would be a good fit for us and a great place to raise our kids. The Bay Area was a natural choice because we have many friends and family in the area. Since our arrival in Santa Rosa we have been very focused on this, taking day trips to various towns and spending time with loved ones.

Sebastopol, Petaluma and even the Russian River Valley up here in Sonoma were contenders. But this past weekend we hung out in Berkeley, a town which I have often visited in the past. Our wonderful weekend not only reminded me how much I love the eclectic city in the East Bay, but also made me realize how many points it has on my “perfect home” checklist.

Close to a major city – check.  Career opportunities for both of us – check. Green hills and parks with an extensive trail system for hiking and biking – check. Family friendly neighborhoods with strong walkability to local amenities – check. Moderate weather – check. Beautiful, unique homes with character – check. Close to mountains and beach – check. Year round local produce and other delectable foods – check. Bike friendly – check.  Close to family and friends – check.

Not to discredit our dearly loved Colorado and all that it has to offer, but we have decided to make a move to the East Bay. To all of our much, much loved friends and family in Colorado, this is a decision that is exciting but tears at our hearts. I don’t know that I could miss you more than I already do. I wish only that I could pack you up and take you with us! And my mountains… oh how I shall cherish you. The smell of pine in the summer, the soft white snow of the winter, the desolation of mountain lakes, and the bright smiles you bring to your visitors. I can’t think about it because now I will cry.

PS – Just did.

After much decision making we have come up with a plan. For the next month we will continue to travel and explore California’s beauty. On August 8th we’ll drop the camper off in storage and hop a plane to Illinois for the wedding. Once we get back to California on the 16th we’ll move into an Oakland apartment we’ve sublet through the middle of November. What happens after that? Who knows? Such is life right now. Exhausting yes, but very exciting all the same.