The difficulty answering the question was that the trips were so different from each other, but the ones that meant the most to Sherrill and me often were those with family and friends, even if they were only for a week—not necessarily the trips when we flew across the world for a month in China or a cruise on the Nile or some other exotic destination, exciting as those adventures were. Shorter trips often were more spontaneous and easier to fit into our lives, as well, so we did quite a few of them over the years, each full of good memories.
One year, when we were exploring the area with our young daughter, Sherrill turned onto a side road and we discovered the little spa town of Calistoga. It wasn't developed much then and still had a late nineteenth century feel. We found only two places to eat, a tiny pizza joint and a western style bar/restaurant. Maybe three or four spas were still functioning, all but one in ancient "picturesque" facilities. We stopped at the newest-looking one, booked a room, and made a reservation for me to have "the works" later.
"You're not getting me up to my chin in that black mud!" Sherrill insisted.
While I was indulging, she and Simone would relax in the big indoor hot pool. First, however, we needed to find a place to buy swim suits. This was truly a spontaneous adventure, but the first of many annual visits.
Shakespeare in the woods: that was the original draw of Shakespeare Santa Cruz at the University of California Campus above the beach town south of the Bay Area. The Santa Cruz mountains no doubt hid some choice spots for a commune, but real estate in that area already was getting pricy, although we all agreed that Santa Cruz was a nice little town. Over the years, we had some fine vacations there, sometimes with friends at the Shakespeare festival, sometimes with family at the Boardwalk and beach.
"We could live here," we agreed, "if it weren't so wet."
showing me clippings she'd saved and an itinerary she'd worked out. The plan turned into a perfect swing through several states, with a side trip to upstate New York to visit friends and another stop at Mark Twain's home in Connecticut. In her enthusiasm, as we were driving among the gloriously colored trees, Sherrill saved some of the leaves and mailed them back to Simone in Berkeley—somewhat perplexing our daughter, since the leaves had lost their color by the time they'd crossed the continent.
After Sherrill retired (almost a year before I did), she decided that she was going to surprise me with a series of weekend mini-trips that she'd put together while I was at work. One weekend, she drove us to the Gilroy Garlic Festival, where we sampled everything made from garlic, including garlic ice cream. Another time, we spent a weekend at a Japanese-style spa in San Francisco's Japan Town. I think surprising me was as much fun for her as any trip, itself.
A weekend jaunt to the Hearst castle at San Simeon turned out to be quite an adventure. As part of the surprise, we rode the train south to San Luis Obispo and then took a bus tour up the coast to the "enchanted mountain" and the castle, all very Citizen Kane.
"Just think," I whispered halfway through the tour, nodding toward the grotesquely huge dining room table. "Garbo sat there."
"Yes, dear. And Marie Dressler!"
On the way down the hill after the visit, we saw a knobby-kneed giraffe loping through the long dry grass and several other exotic animals left from Hearst's private menagerie.
I had to go to a conference in Chicago one year to give a speech about employee communications. Sherrill was retired, so she came with me—not to hear my speech, but to do some sightseeing on her own, including a boat tour among the skyscrapers on the Chicago River and in Lake Michigan. After the conference ended, we stayed another few days, turning the business trip into a mini-vacation. We even took in a play at The Auditorium, the 1889 theater designed by Chicago architect, Louis Sullivan. One of the best parts of the trip, since we both were fascinated by architecture, was seeing the historic, once radical, buildings of the city.
When she said a trip would be fun, it always was. How could I doubt her?
The little ship, a baby when compared with modern cruise liners, stuck pretty near the California coast on the way south. The weather was nice, but Sherrill hadn't booked a room for us since it was such a short trip, so we had to wander around the boat until we docked in San Diego. Most of the ship seemed to taken up with casinos, bars, and restaurants, loud music blasting from all of them—music that we couldn't escape. Everyone but us seemed to be drinking, dancing, or gambling without stop.
"A party boat," Sherrill pointed out.
The deck was somewhat quieter, but we couldn't stay outside for the whole trip.
"It was a bargain," she told me. "You wouldn't believe how cheap."
"No," I said. "I'd believe."
However, we did enjoy San Diego and had a comfortable flight home. Afterwards, I didn't tease her about her bargain cruise—not too much.
To be continued....
You also might enjoy reading the new bargain-priced e-book of my first novel, The Night Action. First published in 1966, it has been called the last great novel of a past era. "The novel careens around the night spots of San Francisco's North Beach and the words seem to fly off the page in the style of Tom Wolfe or the lyrics of Tom Waits." The book is available at Amazon and Kobo. Click on the title for the link. Or Here.
Or here: Goodreads.