Everyone and their mothers are blogging about Sarah Palin, and it feels like I’ve been reading every post. So, to distract myself from political muckraking, I have uploaded all my pictures from our wonderful ten-day cross-country work-vacation to California. (Click the photo above for more photos.)

Every year, I attend the Romance Writers of America convention as part of my job, and in the past few years Jesse and Charlie have come with me and we’ve tacked on a few vacation days at the end to explore the destination. (So far: Atlanta–where we visited family and swam in the Pine Mountain pool; Dallas–where we took a road trip to Austin and Galveston and swam in the Hotel Galvez pool; and San Francisco–where we visited our dear friends, the Zanklins, and didn’t actually swim anywhere.)

This year, though, Jesse’s cousin Chad’s wedding was the day after the conference, so we put our vacation before my work trip and added a jaunt to PA to the end. The multi-leg journey was not as crazy as it sounds, travel-wise. Charlie was super-fab on the plane. He played, he napped, he ate, then we arrived. And he adjusted to the time difference without a hitch.

We spent most of our CA time hanging out with the Zanklins in Berkeley, where we got to stay in our own Berkeley house (thanks Zanklin neighbors!) and run across the street at every opportunity for food, conversation, and feeding the chickens that live in their backyard. (The chickens eat broccoli! Charlie has not forgotten this.)

The whole gang camped in cabins at Big Basin state park in the Redwoods and took a day trip to Santa Cruz. We got very dirty, hot and happy, in spite of the aggressive blue jays who really wanted our food. And we even managed a short hike to a small waterfall. (Molly walked the whole way! She’s a veteran of the hiking thing already.)

[Okay, short aside here. This was actually the second camping trip Jesse, Sofi, and I took together, and we eagerly dissected every memory from our previous excursion while staying in our rustic Big Basin cabins. Because, see, the first time we went camping, it was at New College, right after a flooding rain, in the swamps of Florida. We hiked five miles into palmetto scrub, through thigh-deep murky water that we tried to pretend didn’t hide alligators, into a backwoods campsite filled with mosquitoes from hell. These things were as thick as rain, and they dive-bombed into our tent all night. We slept five people to a four-person tent, and even in the suffocating heat no one would get out for fear of the gigantic bloodsuckers. Sofi slashed her finger on a can of beans and should have gotten stitches. I tried to wash dishes in the orange water from the pump, but only managed to get a severely itchy rash on my skin. We’d planned to stay two nights–if you can call our lack of foresight planning–and ended up hiking back the next morning. Thank God. With all of our ignorant mistakes we should never have made it out of that swamp alive. But we did. And then we did camping better this time, with tent cabins, flush toilets and running water.]

After Berkeley, I did my work thing while Jesse, Sofi and the kids took in the SF sites. (Charlie is still talking about the sea lions they saw on Fisherman’s Wharf.) After one and a half short nights in the hotel, we took the red-eye to PA, where Charlie made it almost all the way down the aisle at Chad and Jen’s wedding. (After too little sleep, jet lag, no real lunch, and never having seen a wedding before, I was impressed that he was willing to walk down the aisle at all.)

The wedding and reception were lovely. (We’re all still talking about the dozens and dozens of homemade cookies made by Aunt Becky, Aunt Debbie, et al. Ah, the glorious chocolate, peanut butter, cream-filled cookies!) From all my running around, I got sick for the rest of trip. In my weakened state, we missed swimming, but did manage to see some of Pittsburgh and visit with Pap, Elaine and the aunts and cousins on the DeWitt side of the family.

Except for my illness, we had a grand time. As soon as we got home and I could do more than lay around, I began planning our next trip.

(Just because I promised my mom I’d take video of Charlie in his monkey suit, here is all I managed to snag between getting him down the aisle–partway–and trying to keep him from crying on his way back up.)


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