Since the weather in LA has been decidedly grey, I’ve been missing and reliving my time the UK in equal measure but both parts have me reminiscing.
A year ago today, I was traveling by train from London to Cardiff with my parents during my Masters graduation trip. We spent the day running around Doctor Who themed sites (including the soon to be closed Doctor Who Experience) and the night searching for a pub that served food late – this was surprisingly difficult since it wasn’t really late at all!
I had been in this city twice before but walking through parts I hadn’t visited before and letting myself get lost in the city (we got turned around quite a bit) was such an adventure and a pleasure.
While most of my travel this year has been localized – as in California with a few jaunts out of the state – just like that last trip to Cardiff, it’s really been about pushing what I’ve done before in every place I’ve visited.
I’ve visited new LA lookout points; I’ve gone to events like marches and camp outs; I’ve visited new beaches; and I have photographed them all. In some ways, This year has wavered but mostly remained the same; in others, I’ve grown so much.
So take a look at your past year: what do you think?
Two weekends ago, my sister and her family went on a three day getaway for a friend’s wedding up in San Francisco. Because of the time it takes to get up there and dealing with traveling with a baby, my sister asked me to take their Mini-Aussie to a dog hotel after work so he could get some socialization and attention while they were on the trip – usually the dog would be left with a family friend with dogs but Char had been having a few issues with accidents in the apartment which she didn’t want to deal with at someone else’s house.
My sister had everything in order: a file with all the dog’s vet details, a bag of food, his leash, and some clean up bags. She texted me the location of the hotel and any other details that might have been relevant. The planning was almost perfect – almost.
My little sister and I took the dog down to the drop off right after I finished my workday and the ladies there were lovely. They test your dog to make sure they can handle staying with other dogs and that they will listen to workers, among other things – Char can do all this with little issues.
We hit the snag when the woman checking out Char’s medical records discovered that his Bordetella vaccine had just expired. We called the vet to confirm it and it was true – and, unfortunately, no vaccine means no puppy hotel. This vaccine is major if you are going to be boarding your dog and there are three ways it can be administered: orally or nasally which take three days to take effect, or by injection which means a 10 day wait time.
Since they were only gone three days, this wasn’t something I was going to deal with.
In the end, I stayed at there house and watched the dog for the three days which, at least, gave the dog company. My sister did send us there code for food delivery as a thank you and I counted to as another bit of the family’s Christmas gift.
So here’s the key: just like you should check your car before setting out on a road trip, you should double check every bit of your pet’s records and decide if you should get everything checked out just in case. It will not only give you peace of mind but help out any friends working to help you out.
While I, admittedly, have not always been one for speed while traveling, the trip I talked about last week really showed me that I have become accustomed to setting my own pace and how suddenly not being in control of said speed can throw me off completely.
The main reason for this most recent trip was so that my grandmother could visit with family – mostly her brother who lives further away than she would normally travel. It was post-Christmas and landed on her birthday as well, so the whole trip was really about her, however, she made it clear throughout that when it can to picking activities, my sister and I were in charge. That was great for me. I took a few suggestions and did my research about what to do in the area that I hadn’t done when I lived there, while giving – what I thought was – plenty of free time for visiting and enjoying the vacation.
What I didn’t know when planning, however, was how slow moving my grandmother has become. This is the grandma who I have been on countless trips set at breakneck speeds at and who still goes on plenty of trips throughout the year so the idea that this would be an issue was far from my mind – at the very most, I figured she’d slow down as the day progressed but would start out fine.
As I mentioned last week, this was not the case. Working from home, she doesn’t get up normally until about 10 am but for me, when traveling I wake up earlier than normal to get the most out of my day (my body woke me up at about 6 or 6.30 every morning during this trip). Not the case for grandma. She meandered down at 10 or 10.30 every morning before getting breakfast and settled to figure out what the day should entail.
I’m not complaining – this trip was about her and we did manage to get many new experiences in. It has made me analyse, however, myself as a traveler and how I’ve learned to react to people who don’t have my stamina even when unexpected.
For me, stuck in situations like this – it’s hard to just bolt when family is involved! – are two real options: get frustrated and shut down, or manage your expectations.
You can guess which one I recommend.
This trip was all about managing expectations once I figured out the speed at which everything was going to be. As discussed before, late starts and slow walkers meant no hiking and a shorter time frame to see things, but thinking back and looking at all my pictures, we were able to all spend time together, see a lot of new sites, have new experiences, and no one was left out or left behind. Instead of being frustrated, I opted to make a list of things I want to go back and explore more when I go north again – bring on all the coastal hikes.
As with everything in travel, you get out what you put in and that ranges from time to the attitude you approach every day with.
Last week I wrote a bit about driving up to Petaluma and some of the driving/scheduling disasters that happened (and what could be and what really couldn’t be avoided). Now we’re moving onto a few of the things we got to see running around with my family and, as always, my camera.
We didn’t get out as early as I would have like nor as early as I would have had I been on my own, however, we were still able to spend a lot of time exploring the coast and bay not far from my cousins’ house. Because we ended up with quite a crowd, we ended up caravanning it (the rules of which I will cover in the next few weeks) which meant following my aunt through the twists and turns of coastal highways and side-streets. Still, so much fun.
The first area we passed through was Bodega Bay. We didn’t end up stopping – it was crowded and, again, we started late – but my family had spent the morning before fishing and crabbing which (while cold) they loved despite coming back empty handed. I can definitely see why people would want to hangout in this area for a day – there’s a lot to do and all of it is relatively close together. There are also plenty of popular yet delicious food shacks if you are stopping for long enough – the lines are long but everyone assured me that it’s for good reasons.
We drove up to an area my cousins called The Point, but as far as I can tell is the coastal beaches around Jenner. I loved looking at the water and waves from the cliff edge and there was so much of it to see. The area is full of hikes and beautiful shots for photographers of all skill sets. Where we stopped, there were hikes that branched off in both directions and promised hours of fun. These hikes include a few paths down to small beaches though make sure you have the right shoes – some of these are definitely crawl worthy.
We didn’t go far (for reasons I’ll discuss in a future post) on this spot and next time I visit going back with an early start is an absolute necessity. Just like all the beach areas we past, even in the chill of December, these areas can get crowded so be ready to search out parking.
Which brings up to Goat Rock. Why is Goat Rock named Goat rock? Well, we couldn’t figure that out, but running around in it’s shadow was so much fun. In terms of getting here, you’ll need to pay close attention – it’s hard to find or, at least, the turn in is easily missed. Then you have to pay attention to signage – some of the roads are one direction at a time based on who gets to the stop sign while others are small, passing roads on curves which mean you have o slow down and drive carefully.
The view is worth it. When you get down to the parking lot at the base of the rock you will have beaches on either side of you: check out both sides. First, we did not climb the rock and I’m not sure you are supposed to – but something to check out. It might be a hefty climb so really research and prepare for this.
Facing the rock, to your left there will be great views of fun rocks with a lot of beach spray – great for pictures but we were there during winter so fog was kind of heavy which made it both interesting and difficult to photograph. The rocks closest to you has mussels all over which make the stones really interesting when you play with water and light shots. Just watch your step as you will be climbing around rocks which can get loose and cause accidents.
On the right side, there’s a whole different view. The rocks along the beach were interesting but my favorite part was a rusted out old tank. It looks like it was flipped forever ago and has a lot ware. It’s completely brown and orange with so many exposed gears and is so rusted out it looks more like wood than metal – go ahead and walk through it though because it’s definitely solid.
There are tons of small towns and wineries up and down this region so you can pretty much pull in anywhere and find something to do or see. Just check on days for wineries; we pulled into Korbel only for it to be innovatory day so there were no tours or tastings!
Still an amazing day. Next time, I will be taking earlier days so I can do more – all the hikes! – and maybe sticking to summer (less rain and chill!).