Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

I have been away from home for four days. Have to say after the pandemic, and then with Dale being ill keeping us tied closer to home, there was something truly delicious about hitting the open road again. I have not been far afield in four plus years, so it felt good to be packing up the car, firing up the GPS, and heading out of town for a bit.

This trip was by way of a reunion. A dear friend of mine and I were getting together for the first time in twenty-five years. I was driving up from the Sacramento area, and my friend Saleatha, Sam for short, was driving down from Oregon where she makes her home. Redding was chosen as a location more for the fact it was somewhat of a halfway point for both of us, rather than a place we had both been pining to see. Don’t misunderstand me, I enjoy Redding. The people there are friendly and very hospitable, but it might not be number one choice for me when planning a vacation. A plus for the trip, was we had tickets to see the Celtic Women perform while there, something I had always hoped to enjoy.

Sam arrived the day before I got there. Texting from the hotel room we were to share, she indicated the hotel, though not undoable, had seen better days. In my defense, as I am the one who made the reservations, I haven’t been to Redding in years. The last time I stayed at this particular hotel, albeit twenty plus years ago, it was sort of the hot spot to stay in town. Apparently, like so many things as they get older, it had lost some (perhaps all, according to Sam, lol) of it’s original appeal. Oh-oh.

My trip up was uneventful, with only one stop made at a rest stop along the way for the reasons one stops at a rest stop after consuming an enormous cup of iced tea. Pulling into the hotel parking lot, I found my dear old friend standing by the lobby door looking much like she had the last time I had seen her. I didn’t need to check in as she had already done that, so she hopped in the car and we drove to the back of one of the wings where our room was located. As usual, I hadn’t traveled light. For some reason I can’t seem to leave home without taking half my closet with me. Should we have been struck by a freak storm and forced to stay in our rooms til early fall, I would have had a new outfit and shoes for every occasion. Arriving at the room, I could see Sam had followed the same line of thinking when packing for the road. There were two suitcases already on stands, numerous bags filled with shoes, snacks, toiletries and the like. Had there been one more female present, we definitely would have had to rent another room. Men are such different creatures then we of the gentler sex. Was Rick with me, and had he packed for himself (which he never did to my memory), he would have included his toothbrush, clean underwear, one pair of jeans and shorts each, a pair of socks and a couple of shirts and been done with it. Go figure. I remember he used to buy really nice shirts. Often, these shirts sat on hangers for years with the tags still danging from their sleeves. Instead, he wore the same five shirts all the time. I asked him once why he did this. “I’m saving them”, was the answer I got. “For what”, wondered I? After he passed away I donated a bin of them to the local Goodwill, tags still attached.

The room, as was most of the hotel, was extremely dated. Two huge maple headboards hung above the beds attached to the wall. Both beds when you got in them were swayed in the middle like an old horse who had been rented out too often at the stable. You sort of rolled into a spot at night, and climbed back out in the morning. A massive wall unit to the left of the room had a flat screen TV on top of it. Inside the unit was housed a small refrigerator with a microwave on top. If you opened the microwave door without securing it, the microwave and whatever you were heating up in it, would end up in your lap. HOT. We found this out the hard way. Do not try this at home.

The bathroom was perhaps the most interesting of the amenities. There was one small sink with little counter space around it. For two ladies, not the ideal set up. Then there was a tub to the left, and a toilet next to the sink. The tub had a faucet on the far left side wall. A metal piece stuck out of the tile where one would normally expect the shower head to be attached. Instead, a snakelike metal cord protruded out of it, attached to a hand-held shower head. The next morning, when while attempting to take a “shower” and wash my hair in the tub using this attachment, while trying to get the soap out of my hair I didn’t realize the water was shooting out of the side of the shower curtain. By the time I turned off the water, towels and the bath mat were floating down river.

The shining moment for this establishment was their cook. OMG. I would go back and stay in that room again (only for one night) to eat the food this guy put out of his kitchen. The hamburger and fries he made for me were literally the best I have ever eaten. Seeing as I make a habit of trying this menu item out in every establishment I frequent, that is saying something special. This guy definitely gets a five YUM rating from this girl. Everything he made was absolutely delicious. I made sure he got word from us we thought his food was top notch. What he was doing working in their kitchen I have no clue, but we were so very glad he was there. Storing our leftovers in our little fridge with the rest of our perishables and drinks we sank into our beds our first night there together. The following morning, I went to take something out of the fridge to snack on, string cheese in particular, only to find it frozen solid. You could have successfully fended off a intruder with it. Everything, it appeared was frozen solid. Sam’s water, when she tried to open it, went off like Vesuvius spewing water all over the bed. We called maintenance. A lovely man named Jeremiah came out and adjusted the refrigerator. He explained the hotel had new owners, and they were renovating the hotel one room at a time. Obviously, our room was not located at the top of the list.

In the three days we occupied that room we had to call each day to ask for toilet paper, towels, our trash to emptied, and to get the refrigerator checked. It had two temperatures, FREEZE and DEFROST. Amazing. Every room service order required two to three visits from staff to bring missed silverware, menu items, or forgotten sides. Never saw anything run in such a seat of your pants manner. After a while, it just got funny. We weren’t there for the room anyhow, thank heavens. Let’s face it, had it been perfect, what would I be writing here? Nice room, end of story.

Another fun thing was Sam and I are both single. Now, neither of us was looking to meet anyone on this trip, but the fact that the entire lobby was filled with priests there for a papal meeting of some sort, pretty much solidified the fact that if we had been, we were not in any danger of doing so.

In spite of the accommodations, Sam and I fell in step as if it had only been a few days since we’d last been together. We enjoyed some retail therapy, ate outside at a beautiful restaurant on the river, and saw the Celtic Women, who were truly angelic, at the Redding Auditorium. All in all, we had a magical time.

One thing I will note. We took a drive up to Weaverville while in Redding. Weaverville is a small historic town nestled in the mountains about an hour north of where we were staying. The drive, usually lovely, was marred by the extensive fire damage evident all along the road. Charred hillsides and crisped remains of trees could be seen everywhere you looked. Unbelievable how much acreage was involved just in the area we were in. Made for sort of an eye opening and disturbing trip. Sam said coming into California from Oregon she was overwhelmed by the devastation on the once lovely and lush hillsides. Climate change really is making itself known these days.

As with all trips there is a beginning and an end. Yesterday, I returned home, and began the process of quietly slipping my everyday life back on once again. After hauling my load in from the car, everything worn while away was sorted and tossed in the hamper or hung in the closet, cosmetics were returned to their drawers, shoes stored, and books put back on the nightstand by my bed. Boo, the Queen of Cats had the company of a dear friend in my absence. No doubt the lazy sot spent her time happily soaking up all the lavish attention my friend always bestows on her. One can only hope she was pleased to see my face when I walked in the door. As I greeted her, she did look up from her perch where she was napping. With one open eye she seemed to acknowledge my presence, before returning to whatever old kitty cats dream about. She will be out later for my apology presentation for leaving her for a short time, complete with treats and heavy groveling on my part.

When we parted we made plans for the fall to get together once again. Adventures are on my bucket list and I look forward to each and every one coming up. As glad as I was to hit the road, I was equally glad to get home again. It was nice to actually be able to sleep on top of my bed rather than in the belly of it. Hope your week is going well. Have an adventure or two. Get out on the road and just drive somewhere. See something new, try a new dish, meet a new person. Life goes by in an instant.

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Holidays are flying off the calendar! Last week people were slicing limes and hoisting shimmering salt rimmed glasses to salute Cinco de Mayo and last weekend the mother of all Hallmark events (if you will) Mother’s Day. Our reasons for celebrating holidays often get blurred it seems to me. For example, Cinco de Mayo originally was a date set aside to celebrate the victory of Mexican forces over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Not, as might be concluded by present day behavior, the anniversary of the first time tequila was introduced to triple sec, lime juice, and crushed ice. I know.

In my youth it didn’t take much encouragement for me to find a reason to throw a party. I didn’t actually develop a taste for liquor until my late twenties. With two young children in the house by the time I celebrated my twenty-first birthday there wasn’t much time to hoist a glass. Though, looking back, there often was a good reason to do so. As I remember, however, I enjoyed a May 6th after party tequila hangover a time or two during my early thirties. Having a hangover makes you wonder why you poured a drink in the first place. Finding oneself in the grips of a full-blown hangover can at times be a deeply spiritual experience with you on your knees praying for redemption. While in the effects of the alcoholic intake from the night before it is likely you will take the pledge never to touch the vile liquid again. This newfound spirituality generally lasts as long as the pounding headache, parched mouth, and violently churning stomach, at least in my experience.

Always it makes me laugh to watch college students having “fun” at a frat party, knowing the following morning the best time they’ll have is in between trips to the toilet. It has been many years since I’ve consumed enough alcohol to produce after effects, but the memory lingers on. These days I rarely take a drink save an occasional margarita when at a Mexican restaurant or when friends or family are visiting. Hard enough as the years pass to keep your mind churning through the gears efficiently without adding a controlled substance to the mix.

Mother’s Day having been properly put to bed and tucked in, we move on to Father’s Day in June. Father’s Day appears as an also-ran on the greeting card shelves. Cards appear with duck decoys, ties, and “manly” images emblazoned on the front. Rick often comments historically he footed the bill for his “father’s day brunch” and finds the holiday definitely having men playing second fiddle to the ladies who are the concertmasters when it comes to the “hoopla factor”. June is also graduation month so many will be sitting in bleachers watching their youngsters take their first step into adulthood (ostensibly).

Just as we’ve properly thanked our dads and saluted our grads, Fourth of July will be hovering close by. Some holidays stay the course simply because it’s hard to veer them off it. Fourth of July is the celebration of U.S. independence, period. There are no bunnies or candy filled plastic eggs necessary. Flags fly, fireworks go off, barbecues are fired up, and how the U.S. progressed once out from under English influence remembered. Growing up in Canada until the age of nine, my first 4th of July celebration was in California after we relocated. I knew much about American history already as it was taught in Canadian schools along with our own. My first year in school on American soil was 4th grade. Mrs. Potts was my teacher that year. A short sturdy woman with six children of her own she seemed to recognize without being told I was going through a rough period of adjustment and tucked me under her well padded wing. Being transplanted from Nova Scotia to California was a big adjustment for a small girl. Without being aware of it, it was her influence that helped me to find my way that first year and allowed me to begin to get adjusted to my new world.

With summer and holidays popping up each month people are scheduling their vacation days. “Me Days” are a new addition in some companies. Days taken off just because you need one or have personal business to attend to. Longer maternity leaves for both the new mom and the new dad are starting to be introduced as well. A time for the new family to settle in with a new baby in the house. Back in the day when I was spending some time studying the ceiling in the delivery room dad’s didn’t join you during the final throes of labor and baby didn’t stay in the room with you, but was delivered at meal time like a pizza.

Times are changing, and this is a good thing. Americans tend to keep their noses to the grindstone, working their way up the ladder putting in long hours and providing “face time” so their employers can see how invaluable they are to the team. Somewhere along the line enjoying time off has become a corporate no-no. I like the French approach to working. They put in as little time at the office as they can get away with and consider lengthy vacations (around 10 weeks) part of their hire-on package. I say “oui, oui” to that.

When I started working (back before they invented the wheel) I got one week of vacation for the first three years, working up to two weeks when I hit my third anniversary. My vacation time progressed marginally as my years of employment history increased, but never did I see ten weeks, not ever. The last job I had in the high-tech industry they considered weekends an adjunct to the work week and two more opportunities to log eight to ten hours. Vacation was something you accrued but never actually put in for if you wished to be promoted. Sort of like insurance. You pay for it, but you better not ever have to use it.

Soooo, I too am planning our vacation, or we are. I am having a need for the ocean so some time in the next few months we will seek it out for a few days. Looking forward to it.

This salad is delicious. Sometimes I add chicken or tuna and make it the star of the meal. I adapt it to the veggies I have in the drawer but always it’s a crowd pleaser.

Penne Pasta & Green Bean Salad

6 oz. tri-color penne pasta cooked
8 oz. fresh green beans, cooked and halved
4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
3 large mushrooms, halved and sliced thin
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
14 yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup sliced red onion
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, halved


3/4 cup mayonnaise
4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together and toss with salad ingredients.

Serves 6-8

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