We’re back home in San Francisco. But only until Thursday, when we pack up a rented SUV with the girls and my folks and head down to Monterey for a little fish-and-golf-viewing.
A few things we learned on our two-week Lodi retreat: Two weeks is good. Two weeks close to home is even better. Two weeks close to home in an inexpensive cottage is pretty well ideal. There was no car-barfing, no traffic tantrum, no need to even stop to go to the bathroom. At just under 100 minutes by car, we didn’t have to stand in line, check our bags, get on a plane, disembark, and spend another ninety minutes on the other end getting to our ultimate destination. At Lodi prices, we were OK with seeing the sights for only three-ish hours a day, and getting back in time for the all-important nap and relaxing dinner. That goes double for spending two weeks in the same place, something we’ve never once done before: with that much time, there’s always tomorrow.
Sure, we went away for three weeks to New Zealand, a wonderful trip the likes of which we won’t experience again, at least until Gillian’s graduated from college. But that was a whirlwind of campground-hopping. Our annual trip back East is anything but restful, as well: it involves flying to Pittsburgh, driving over an hour to my folks’ place for a few days, then driving to Washington, DC (four hours) for a few days, and if it’s summer, another four-hour drive to Cape May, NJ, and then back to Pittsburgh for the flight home (nine hours’ drive). And during the actual stays, we’re visiting with family, friends; all wonderful things, to be sure, but the concept of vacation is tempered by the stress of so much activity and the constant packing and unpacking. (We’ll be making that trip at Christmastime.)
One other thing we learned, though, is that our apartment is definitely not getting any bigger. We always play the wouldn’t-it-be-nice game when we travel, but this time, with two kids and a car and a driveway, our little space station is feeling that much smaller. With one kid, it was doable. With two? We shall see.
By the by, I heartily recommend Lodi as a family getaway. The town center is lovely, the wine is quite good (zinfandel is their flagship grape, but other reds are delicious, too), the weather is hot, and the local park, Micke Grove, is so nice we went back three times to make sure we hit the zoo, the historical museum, and the tea garden. The lake is great–I wish we’d gone back for more–and there’s a children’s science museum, too. The farmer’s market is terrific, as well. And if that’s not enough to convince you, our vacation rental cost almost half as much as any rentals we found along the coast: $900 for a two-bedroom house with an enclosed backyard. We’re seriously thinking about going back again next year, just because we had such a nice, quiet time.
And with that, it’s off to Pebble Beach.