Friday, 23-June-2023, through Sunday, 25-June-2023
The Summer Solstice behind me, I drove South.
Green Lakes, and its barrier mountains, receded behind me. Shasta loomed ahead, then passed beside me. Huge spillways loomed around me, and I ate a burrito as I entered Sacramento itself.
The drive was long, but I enjoyed it and appreciated the stillness and solitude. I continued my mental wanderings from my earlier backpacking trip, and took notes (speech to text, of course) as insights popped up.
It was lovely – I’ve learned to appreciate, and even seek out, long drives in the past few years. They’re a form of meditation for me, and they keep my hands busy while allowing my brain to wander… forcing it to wander, in essence, since I don’t have the limitless distractions that I have available at home.
I arrived in the evening, after being gifted a stunning sunset and equally stunning views of Shasta. We caught up, relaxed, and frankly headed to bed earlier than I normally would… but later than Mike and Michelle probably would have liked – impact of having a young one around.
The next morning we hit up an excellent brunch spot that Mike had recommended the last time I was down, and then kicked around town on the bikes – all four of us, excitingly, as this was James’ first chance to ride in his baby carrier, attached to Michelle’s bike!
We rode, checked on the setup frequently, and played around. We relaxed, flew the drone a bit, and enjoyed the sun and surprisingly moderate weather. In short – it was chill, and I adored it.
Sunday was my driving day… but not before another bike ride to breakfast where I was introduced to Acai bowls – for the first time, if you can believe it! I don’t know how I’ve lived in Portland so long and not tried them before… but damn if they weren’t amazing! Crunchy, fruity… all the good things!
Then the sadness of departure, and another gloriously long and meditative drive home – with my traditional stop at In n’ Out for dinner, of course. A drone flight or two, a leg stretch, and I was home before I knew it.
Thursday, 24-Nov-2022 through Tuesday, 29-Nov-2022
Ohh man! Thanksgiving! I love cooking! I love visiting people! I love Thanksgiving!
2022 had been a pretty strange year to date. Lots of trips, lots of changes, lots of uncertainty… but thankfully I had a pretty good plan for Thanksgiving – Drive down to California, and get to meet my friends newest family member, Baby James! A few unexpected hurdles arose, of course, as they always go… but we adapted and updated plans, and forged ahead with adventures.
I’m getting caught up with blog posts pretty late in the game this year, but frankly Thanksgiving didn’t have much to write about. We hung out, caught up, cooked an amazing meal, and mostly revolved around James’ schedule. Nothing unexpected, and honestly quite enjoyable – it was a nice diversion from the chaos of work and the solo nature of my normal day to day life.
We made a full meal, went on some great walks, and spent quality time both chatting and playing baby games.
It was glorious! And I’ll admit, the beautiful views of Shasta on the way down and back didn’t hurt… nor did the impromptu stop at In’n’out!
As a quick summary, since I didn’t think to add it in above… “Hey Ben, what did you guys actually cook for Thanksgiving?”
Well, other Ben, we cooked: – A turkey! Obviously! Brined in a citrus bath for 24 hours ahead of time – Out of the bird stuffing! Sausage, cranberries, celery, bread cubes… pure happiness. – Mashed sweet potatoes! – Seared Brussel sprouts! – Cranberry sauce! – Toasted French bread!
And for dessert? – Apple Pie! – Blueberry strudel, picked up over Octoberfest!
I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…
With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!
It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.
The whole week
I’ve posted a lot of photos for this spring break trip, but here are a few that (in my mind at least) stand out as some of the best… Sit back and enjoy!