Last week we packed the truck to bursting, loaded up the kids, and headed off for our second annual family vacation, destination: Cambria.
We learned the hard way that heading out of town on a Friday morning is a big mistake, because that’s exactly what everyone else is doing. What should have been a four-hour drive in clear traffic took us about eight hours (yes, eight hours!) because traffic was stop and go the entire way.
Given the size of our family, renting a house is pretty much a must. We rented a lovely house up on a hill, just a couple blocks from the ocean. This was the view from the living room:
We saw zebras grazing right off Hwy. 101. They are apparently owned by Hearst Castle (which is just a hop, skip and jump away), but allowed to roam free on the castle’s vast acreage.
We saw a cemetery. This was pretty special. I’ve always been intrigued by old cemeteries, and this one has graves dating back to the 1870s. It’s I guess what you would call a community cemetery – very small town feel. It’s nothing like the massive, rather homogeneous commercial cemeteries like Forest Lawn or Rose Hills. This one covers probably an acre or two, and all the graves are very personal, many with chairs or benches set up next to them for loved ones to sit and reflect, and nearly all seem to be personally and uniquely tended to. It was very beautiful and moving.
Now, if I were Susie Sunshine, I would just leave it at that. We had a wonderful time, it was amazing and perfect, just look at all of our gorgeous photos to prove it! But Susie Sunshine I ain’t. Not to overshadow the positives – and there most certainly were a whole host of positives – but.
It was kind of a drag, too. The drive up was awful. The drive back home wasn’t a whole lot better. I was clueless about the climate in Cambria – all I saw was “beach town,” so I packed mostly shorts and t-shirts for me and the kids. It was actually mostly chilly. The beaches up there aren’t like the beaches down here – not a lot of sand, mostly rocks and bluffs and freezing cold water. We exhausted everything this little town had to offer pretty quickly – a couple of days would have sufficed, but (a) we didn’t know that, and (b) there was a five-night minimum stay on the rental (as well as just about every other rental in the area we looked at). The kids were going a little stir-crazy and missed the comforts of home. Finn was out of sorts for a humongous part of the time. Not sure exactly why, except (a) his foot injury was/is still bothering him (that has turned into quite the saga of its own, which I will hopefully get around to updating in the next day or two), (b) he’s just at a difficult age and very prone to being out of sorts and throwing epic tantrums, and (c) I think being out of his own comfortable surroundings is a little tough on him. Renting a house and having a lot of the conveniences of home also means not really being able to get away from the usual responsibilities of home, like cooking and cleaning up and doing laundry, so I personally didn’t feel like I got much of a vacation.
Anyway, I’m still trying to decide if I feel like it was worth it – worth all the expense and trouble. Unfortunately, because of the size of our family and what we can afford, road trips like this are pretty much the limit of what we can swing in the way of family vacations. Last year when we took all the kids and went away for the first time, we just marvelled that we were actually able to pull it off, so I think it was sort of easy to overlook the inconveniences. I’m glad we went away again, I guess, but I’m wondering about next year. I think a little more research and careful consideration will be in order.