Or at least on the last few days of it.
On Sunday, we dropped our son at the drop-off point for his two weeks of sleepaway-somewhere-in-the-Sierras-(we-think)-camp. And then we took off for our own trip. A few months ago, my husband had suggested a few days in the gold country–which is Californian for the cute little towns in the foothills of the Sierras, originally populated by gold-prospecting miners. I love this area–I had a great-aunt who lived here for years, and it’s the closest geographical location that gets some sort of season–leaves change color in the fall, it gets pretty warm most summers, and that same great-aunt put her back out at 90 when she decided to shovel the winter snow out of her driveway. I haven’t been there for years, though, and my husband’s suggestion sounded like the perfect trip.
And it was. Here are a few of the things we did.
1. We stayed here, at The Outside Inn, a restored motor inn at the top of the hill that is downtown Nevada City. This is our room.
Yes, those are glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. I can’t recommend this motel enough, if you’re ever visiting this area. It was seriously inexpensive, spotlessly clean and wonderfully quiet, had Adirondack chairs in a lovely little garden space, and a bowl of jelly bellies in the office. Plus, they leave chocolates in your room, but good things like mini Snickers and Milky Way bars, not those skinny little mints on your pillow!
2. We hiked. The first day there, we went DOWNhill almost to a river (husband went all the way down, but my knees said, “Wait here,” and I listen to my knees) and then back up. I sat for close to an hour at this beautiful spot just at the edge of the path, with no poison oak and no mosquitos, looking out at the river and up at the cliff and watching butterflies play in the breeze. I had my book, but I barely opened it; it felt so good just to rest. The third day, we drove partway down a dirt road toward a trailhead, but after getting stuck once in the snow (yes!), we parked the car and just walked the rest of the way in, had lunch, sat some more, and walked out again. Walked may be the wrong description, since mostly I schlurshed–which is my word for what my nice, thick hiking boots do on big patches of snow and ice. This was our lunch view.
3. Ate. And ate. And ate. Nevada City is a small town, maybe three blocks long, with sort of one and a half main streets. We didn’t make it into every restaurant, but we did make a nice big dent in the eating establishments. My husband and I don’t always agree, but our consensus was that the very best of the great meals we had was at Lefty’s Grill. What’d we eat? Crab & Shrimp Cake Louis; Pear, Balsamic, Gorgonzola Pizza on Flat Bread; and Bourban Pecan Pie. Triple-nom.
4. Wrote. Kind of. I have a sort-of-in-the-drawer novel that I know I can’t and shouldn’t work on right now, but that I’m not ready to let go of completely. And I had a critique from a very helpful set of fresh eyes that I hadn’t been able to spend any time with. So on the morning that husband went off for his first mountain bike ride, I took the manuscript and the critique and a notebook to the coffeehouse, and I read and I thought and I scribbled notes. And there is hope. I’ve read it out here so many times–the idea that there’s a time to put a book away for a while and a benefit from doing so, and whoever all has told me this, you’re right. No perfect solutions yet, but ideas and ideas and ideas. And some insight to the most important questions that either I thought I had answered, or that I had over-optimistically swept under the writing carpet. I’m not sure where I’m going with this, or when, but it will be somewhere. Meanwhile, I’ll put some more hours into reading and thinking & try to write myself a pretty strong, directed revision letter. For future use. 🙂
5. Relaxed. The older novel was the only writing I took. July is going to be a busy month with several have-to projects and continued progress on my current WIPs. I needed those few days with nothing that had to be done, nothing that carried even a whiff of schedule or deadline or pressure. I read two books–but slowly and in small pieces, and I sat with my eyes closed, and I lay down, and I napped.
Pretty much what vacation should be about, as far as I’m concerned.