Tag Archives: vacation

Home away from home

I sometimes wonder what the children will remember from their childhood.  Which events will connect and anchor the timeline of their lives.

Some how I think sand, sunsets, pajama lounging with cousins, and wave hopping, will figure heavily in those childhood memories.

Every year we (my husband’s family) make the same journey.  The one that is proceeded by weeks of exited anticipation, that begins with loading the minivan to the brim and turning the car west.  The excitement builds as we turn onto the long road the cuts through miles of strawberry fields and ends at the beach house.

Then it is 4 days and 3 nights of fun, play, and food.

The children never sleep in as long as we hope, but who wants to sleep when there things to do, and cousins to hang out with?

We start everyday off with a big breakfast, and a little relaxing.

After clean up it’s children running through the house shedding p.j.s, wrestling on bathing suits, having to be wrangled for sunscreen applications… it’s a little chaotic but in a good way.  We load our arms with cumbersome beach chairs, blankets, snack bags, and sand toys, and finally make it down to the sand.

(the beach house we rent)

The kids are at that great stage, where the beach provides endless hours of entertainment and they are old enough that we don’t have to constantly supervise them.

The weather could not have been nicer.  Upper 60′s, low 70′s, all sunshine and only a slight breeze.  The weather is always the big unknown factor in our trips to the beach.  We anxiously check the 10-day forecast in the days proceeding the trip, wondering if we are going to be stuck inside with 8 wild children :)

Fortunately, we had lots of room to roam.

I love sandcastles.  Every year we make one.  I don’t even try to pretend that it’s for the children.  It’s all about me ;)

G spent hours roaming the beach collecting all kinds of treasures.

The little girls chatted happily and filled pail after pail full of sand.

E picked up any and everything she found.  Decaying sand crabs?  You betcha!  Slimy, stinky seaweed? Oh yeah!

They never got tired of running through the water and jumping the waves.

Uncle E. doing what uncles do best… horsing around with the kiddos.

When we weren’t on the beach Grandma W. made sure there were lots of fun inside activities.

Cardboard houses for coloring and playing in.  Movies for the afternoon, and play dough on the patio.

The very last day J worked up the courage to try the boogie board.  He was nervous and jumpy at first but once he got on and rode a little wave, he was totally hooked!  I wish he hadn’t waited until the last day to try it,  but there’s always next year.

The whole boogie boarding crew (minus Aunt Andrea who was riding a wave while this picture was being taken).

As we packed up and headed back down the long road that leads away from the beach house, I hear J say quietly from the back seat, “I wish we could live here forever”.  We smile and remind him that if we lived here it wouldn’t really be special, and he would get bored.  But in our hearts we wish we could too.


I always think that North is a good direction to go.  I like going North.  So we did.

It sounds so carefree and spontaneous when I say it like that, but truthfully this getaway was the result of a lot of planning, packing, arranging, and much anticipating.  But finally I flipped the calendar page over to October and there on the very first days were the words, “getaway with Justin”.  The children stayed with both sets of grandparents while we were gone.  They loved it.  Justin and I have long known that they like their grandparents better than us and given the chance they will always opt to be with them ;)

 We stayed at a charming Bed & Breakfast in Mendocino called The MacCallum House. 

Our room was the “Water Tower Room”.  A three story converted water tower.  It was probably the most amazing room I’ve ever stayed in.  Room doesn’t really do it justice because it’s more like a cottage, with a kitchenette, a small sitting area, a full bath plus a half bath, and two bedrooms.

The bed was heavenly.  I like my own bed… a lot, but this was like sleeping in a giant, feather nest every night.  I slept like a baby.

My favorite room in the house!  The bathroom with the huge jacuzzi bath tub.  I don’t know why but I never got a picture of the bathroom, this picture is via the MacCallum House official website.

The first evening we arrived the weather was ideal, right out of a storybook.  Calm breeze the landscape bathed in a soft autumn glow.  The next morning this was what we woke up to~

Clouds, wind, and rain.

What better to do on a drizzly day than to go on a train ride through the redwoods?

This was the open car that most people had the good sense to stay away from (not Justin and I, other people)

The couple in front of us snapped a picture of us, all wet and blown away from standing in open car.

At one point Justin picked up the camera and said, “I’m going to take pictures for your blog”, and started snapping pictures of this, that, and the other thing.  When I gave him a funny look he said, “You always take pictures of funny little details.  I like it!”  This photo was taken by him.

Each and every morning we enjoyed the most delicious breakfast.  No tasteless, rubbery continental breakfasts here, no sir!

Eggs Benedict,  creamy corn cakes with fresh huckleberry sauce, gourmet breakfast burritos, fresh squeezed orange juice…

I could get used to that kind of living!

Most mornings were clear and beautiful, but by the afternoon the storm clouds would push in.

After breakfast I took a few pictures of the grounds.  The tall red building in the background is an old church that has been converted into a New Age all Organic Health Food store, makes me kind of sad.

This is one of the many little cottages that are situated around the main house.

After breakfast we changed into our hiking cloths and headed out.  We wanted to hike out to the Pt. Arena Lighthouse and then hike the Fern Canyon Trail at Van Damme State Park. 

The lighthouse was beautiful.

Evidently I wasn’t really in the mood to smile.

(both lighthouse photos taken by Justin)

The lens of the lighthouse was amazing, so beautiful!  I would have loved to get a closer picture but the lighthouse tower is off limits to the public.

We took a quick tour of the original and restored light-keepers house.

I walked in the back door and thought, “I want to live here!”

Several of the other houses and small cabins around the lighthouse are available to rent as a vacation house.  I told Justin we should come back and stay with the kids.

Next was Fern Canyon Trail

I think you can tell why it’s called fern canyon trail.  Huge drooping ferns on either side of the path.  The trail crisscrossed over the small creek that went through the canyon, with little foot bridges at each crossing.

I took dozens of pictures and I don’t think any of them did this amazing canyon tail any justice.

I don’t know if you can tell from this picture but that is a Coastal Sequoia that fell over the creek, and now there is a row of small Sequoias growing across the top of the dead one.

We had planned on hiking further into the redwoods, but by the time we got half way through the trail it was sprinkling pretty steadily.  We thought it might be best to turn back.  As we rounded the last bend in the trail, the sky let loose and dumped rain on us.  I wish I could have gotten a picture of us.  It’s pretty fun to hike in the rain when you know you have dry clothes and a huge bathtub waiting for you ;)   Now that’s what I call living the good life!

It continued to pour rain.   We went back to our room, got cleaned up and went into Ft. Bragg for a nice warm meal.

The next morning we enjoyed our last leisurely breakfast on the porch, packed up our things, and pointed the car towards home.  Three happy, beaming faces met us at the door, followed shortly by, “Did you get us anything?!”
Ah, it’s good to be home…