Summer bucket list

I might not be the most prolific blogger this week.  I’m working on my summer bucket list.


Natural history museum= check

take kids on new light rail = check

picnic across town with old friend in favorite park = check

spend time with Oliver before he leaves for college = check ( and he is gone)

take Viv shopping for back to school clothes = check

Take the kids to the beach = check


see my friends who live in greater LA area, but are kind of far out. = 1 0ut of 3 check.  Malibu, yes,  OC, Castaic no.

The last thing on my list is 1) Vivien finishing her summer homework.  It’s so she keeps her academic brain in shape, but truley 70 % I do in the last  2 weeks of the summer. 2) GETTING OUT OF TOWN.  I’m  taking my kids to San Francisco.  I lived there for over 9 years and have some serious good friends there.  My kids are just old enough that a road trip with them doesn’t terrify me and also I think I can do it because I bought  a two screen strapped to the headrest DVD player.  Just used it to Santa  Barbara and with the headphones my life has changed.  If they take out the headphones I go nuts as I don’t think I can listen to “The Cat in the Hat” movie anymore despite my admiration for Mike Meyers.

From SF I am taking them to Yosemite.  The holy grail of spirituality for me.  Growing up we went every year and I was conceived there.  This is the longest I’ve gone without going there in my life.  The last time was the summer of ’08.  Halycon days.  I was pregnant with Rex and the economy hadn’t tanked.  We still thought we had money and had never heard  of Bernie Madoff.  I rented the most expensive cabins for family members, our treat.   The last couple of years between money and Rex being so little I haven’t gone.

little did I know that in a few months my life would be turned upside down

Now, I’m going to the lesser accomodations, but, it’s fine.  I just want to smell the warm pine, I want to feel the cold Merced River around my feet. I want Rex to experience it.  I want my kids to get addicted to it they way I did.  I’m already covered in mosquito bites here, so why not get closer to nature.  I want to walk in the meadow that I walked with my father, looking up at half dome.  Where he told me we owed this park to President Lincoln.  Where my sisters and I floated down intertubes in our river shoes, our mom making hot coco for us at our cabin or tent.

By they way, look how hot my mom is here.  How she could look like that sitting on a rock while staying up in the mountains I have no idea.  I remember my swim suit.  I loved it.

I feel a bit brave doing this without Mark.  I’ve never taken such a an extensive trip with my kids without another adult.  But, I’m tired of being a mommy shut in.  I think we can do it.

The right time would be when we could all go.  But, Mark has to work and my father is never coming back.

The right time to go would be when I could afford several nights in a comfy cabin with a full bath.  But, who knows when that will be.

The right time is right now.  I have to seize the moment. I haven’t been back since my dad died.  I will hear his voice cautioning me not to go to close the falls.  Yelling at me not to order a full entree at the Ahwahnee dining room because it was so expensive  ($12).

I think it’s a shame that the parks are pricing out the middle class.  The nicest hotel there, the Ahwahnee is over $500 a night.  The Curry tents with no bath are $150. Growing up our family would stay one to two weeks.  Not going to happen now.

Next week, we will be back to school.  I will be an assistant AYSO coach.  So, feel the sun!  It’s starting to set. ( slamm door, motor on, burning rubber, see yah)

Montana time

This summer never really got off the ground for me.  It started off okay, taking Vivien to summer school and such.  It was an odd summer weather wise as it was pretty cool most of the time. Coolest one I can remember here. Then the summer took a sharp turn for me when my father suddenly fell ill and died within 5 days of his diagnosis. Put away the sunscreen, everyone out of the pool. My summer was mostly about grief and packing up his things and planning a memorial and starting to come to terms with a lifetime of longing.

There was one good day at the beach for my sister’s birthday which cheered us temporarily.  There was the freakish hot week in LA that terrified me for our children’s future.  But,the grace note of this summer will be what happened right after the Summer ended.  We went to Montana.ride em!

Mark had been invited to Paws Up to participate in their Montana Masters Chef weekend.  Paws up is a high end resort about 45 minutes from Missoula. It’s all inclusive and not cheap, but everyone was down to earth and all dressed casually.  Not the kind of place we would go due to money and logistics, but if you had the bucks, so worth it.  They have glamping and houses.  No rooms.  Once I saw their site I knew it would be worth it to haul the kids through a connecting flight in Salt Lake.  Though the 4 hour delay was kind of brutal, at least they had a play area.plane delayed playground

I’m keen on my kids reality not being just the urban sprawl they live in. I want them to have some connection to nature and this was a great place for it. we don't have you in LA Mark made “Eggs for Daphne” for a demo one day and then spent considerable time preparing his fabulous meal for the last nights meal.  But, there was still nice family down time and included in the Paws Up experience are massages at their Spa Town. “>spa town Never seen anything like it.  The massage is done in canvas tents looking out onto a meadow while soft music emits from a speaker outside.  Very relaxing.

There were a ton of activities available, horseback riding, ATV’s, but with little ones we didn’t do any of those.  For my kids it was exciting enough to get to smash some pine cones smashing pineconesor to say “I want to go outside” and I opened the door and they ran and ran and I didn’t need to monitor them or tell them to watch for cars. Heaven!

Vivien’s usual refrain when we are somewhere pretty far from home, “I want to live here.”  me too.  Especially if the food is as good in the country as it is at Paws Up.  Mind you, we are food snobs and even the breakfast buffet was good, and I never like breakfast buffets.  Ambrosia and hard, cold eggs that feel like rubber, not my thing.  But, they had crepes with thin slices of tenderloin. Another guest chef Brian from Braeburn Restaurant in NYC made a stuffed trout and sauteed cabbage for lunch I’m still dreaming about.

One morning we went mushroom foraging with their expert.  The guy was a font of knowledge about the natural world and the kids got so excited finding all the different mushrooms available.  Also along the trek was Violet Grgrich of Grgrich Hills winery.  mark and violet grgrichShe and her husband had brought their 5 year old boy which was fab for the kids and fab for us when we left them with a sitter so we could concentrate on Mark’s dinner which was paired with Violet’s tremendous wines.

Mark’s main course was Elk Bourguignon.  He wisely brought a bit of showmanship to the meal and cooked it in dutch ovens in the large hearth in the Paws Up dining room. cooking the elk I suggested we raffle off one of his cookbooks which we did before a desert of Last Chance Peach Upside Down Cobbler (sigh).  I had two helpings of that elk.  I couldn’t help it!
proud wife
The next morning we did one of the few activities that was good for the whole family.  They have a GPS which has the coordinates for a treasure box. asking for directions When we found it after a half mile hike Vivien pulled out a coupon good for a toy that we redeemed back at the wilderness outpost.

The floating sadness that hovers around me floats higher away like a cloud some days.  These were such days. My children save my bacon again and again. Vacations are worth the time and money as these memories need to be made. The clouds are off in the distance when I see the memories we are making for Vivien and her dad.  You never forget the strong arms of your daddy.exploring with dad