|Pat in our van "Snowflake"|
Pat and I did that and enjoyed almost every one of the 3,000 plus miles traveled in 24 days through seven states of the beautiful Northwestern U.S.
The trip started with a week on the California north coast, then easing along the Oregon coast and on to Seattle. Then to see family we turned east for a few days and ended up in Montana, then back south toward home through Yellowstone and the Tetons, and smoky Utah.
We made the trip in our new-to-us 2002 Volkswagen Eurovan, and camped about half the time and stayed with friends and family or in motels along the way.
The good news: all went well. It was a real vacation.
There is no bad news.
Here is what we saw for a week:
|The ocean is never far away|
|One of many hiking trails|
Cynics might suggest that retirees do not need a vacation. Au contraire, my friends. We get just as married to our calendars and schedules and meetings and obligations as we did when working every day. Not to mention the every-present computers and iPhones that seem to suck our brains out. But then, there is a beach.
|A view of Agate Beach from our campground|
The journey began with a reasonable travel day from Murphys to Garberville, a small funky town just into the edge of the Costal Redwood territory of the north coast. If you have never been to Garberville, check it out. It is welcoming, consistent and a little strange.
The strange part is the mix of people on the streets, actually one street carrying Highway 101 through town. It is a town that sees a lot of travelers, and many of them have dirty backpacks, rumpled clothing and look as if they just stepped out of the woods. They hang out near the grocery store, sitting in the shade, waiting for something. They are mostly young, non-threatening, not too clean and sometimes a little on the strange side. The old joke "They are not like us'" probably should be turned around to "We are not like them" to be fair. Are they just happy travelers with a backpack and a friend and a yen to see the world, or maybe part-time employees at a local pot farm? We'll never know.
The good part of Garberville is plenty of moderately-priced places to stay (plan ahead in peak season) and a great little restaurant that we found, for the second time, that provides good Italian food and has a fiddler on the balcony overhead playing every tune he knows, Local color, plus red wine.
Our destination for the first week of travel was Patrick's Point State Park, one of the gems in the California park system.
Perched on a high bluff above the Pacific Ocean, it offers a variety of campsites (sunny or shady, warm or cold), a perfect climate (fog in the morning, sunshine the rest of the day, and temperatures in the 70s), and great hikes and interesting towns nearby.
|Tidal pools a few steps down the bluff|
|The trail south along the coast|
We were lucky enough to join our daughter, her family and in-laws (Grays and Todds) for a week of family, outdoor living, good food and great companions. At least 24 people made up our band of relatives.
The hikes along the park's bluff are spectacular, with views of the ocean every few steps, side trails to tidal pools, and no crowds.
The small closest coastal towns -- Trinidad and Arcata -- provide everything you need, obviously at tourist prices, but are well worth a visit. It is also a short drive to a park with a resident elk heard, and not far from an Indian casino so there is something for everyone. There is even a local brewery nearby.
|Reliving my past in an Aracata music store|
I did not take notes, or many pictures, because the whole point of our week was relaxing.
With extended family surrounding us we spent a lot of time visiting, catching up, playing cribbage, eating other people's food, playing games, hiking, sleeping, reading and just being.
|A "chain gang" is required when one of the Todd family shows up with a load of firewood|
On our final day Uncle Bob Todd came through the campground collecting everyone's leftovers, cooked them into a great camp stew for the final night's dinner. He flavored it with Bloody Mary mix which was the perfect touch.
|Uncle Bob insisted everyone play "Old Fart Baseball"|
It was an absolutely lovely week, touching base again with people we care for but do not see very often, visiting a place that is beautiful and cool and welcoming, and relaxing.
The best thing we did? Stayed in one place for a week so we could really unwind.
There was no worst part.
Next: Travel along the coast of Oregon to see old newspaper friends, and then to Seattle for a reunion of sorts with classmates from graduate school.