Landing in Berkeley California

This always happens when I get "behind" in writing, which is to say, when I'm not able to write every weekday morning as is my normal routine.

When I start again, the question is always, "where do I pick up the story? where I left off, or where I am now?"

It is the middle of July and the last morning writing time I was able to claim was the end of June. And then we traveled some more, hiked, traveled some more, went backpacking, returned from backpacking (which is a kind of re-entry to life), traveled some more and now we're here, in beautiful Berkeley California.

This road trip has been a trip of firsts. Our first time driving through Iowa and Nebraska. Our first visits to Colorado and Nevada and now our first time in California, landing in Berkeley of all places. Berkeley is a city of legendary and historical significance spanning the free speech movement to FreeBSD. I love visiting places with a certain cultural gravitas, even if it's just 20th century cultural gravitas (says the girl who's never left the continent).

And now that I am in Berkeley it is time to collect my thoughts from the past few weeks, publish the photos of hiking in Colorado, driving through Utah (oh Utah!) and backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas. It's time to unwind and relax a little. It's time for a bit of a vacation.

Traveling has not been a vacation. We travel to see things, meet people, explore the world but I do not find traveling - the process of going one place, then the next, then the next - to be a vacation. I've mentioned this a few times on the blog, and especially addressed it in this post last year.

Transitions are very stressful for me and the hardest part of traveling. The disruption to routine, the coming and going, make me feel disorientated, sometimes for days. And if these days of transitions are stacked back-to-back it makes for a lot of days of disorientation and feeling "off".

I know this about myself but this self-knowledge doesn't necessarily make things easier, because in order to move from one place to the next - temporally, spatially, spiritually, relationally - you must go through transition. It can't be avoided. And for me, it's like my worst self comes out in those spaces. Stressed, anxious, uptight - you know, exactly the kind of mother you want your kids to remember from their summer roadtrip.

I want to be different in those situations. I want to adjust better to transitions but sometimes I just can't. get. there. from. here.

The transitions of the last two weeks have been a necessary part of our trip but when we made the schedule for this trip it was important to me to secure, to the best of our ability, a long stretch in one place. One of my fundamental drives is to nest, make home, create routines and spaces for living. I feel most comfortable "in my own skin" in those routines and spaces that I create.

I now have a stretch of time without deadlines, without time crunches, without "be on the road by this time", without moving from state to state, campground to friends' houses, to the woods, back to friends' houses, back to campgrounds. I have a stretch of time to be in a place and fall into a routine and manage my "own" space.

We're on a boat right now in the Berkeley Marina. The boat is owned by one of Damien's clients and work friends who has graciously provided both the boat and the berth at the marina. It's like staying in an RV on the water.

Berkeley is our homebase for the next three weeks from which to explore the Bay area and perhaps head back into the mountains for some weekend hikes. We'll visit San Francisco for sure (several times), I'll be walking the beautiful bay beaches and exploring touristy and cultural stuff here with the kids (the list of things to do here is long). Maybe I'll stalk Anne Lamott (just kidding).

But mostly during this time I'm placing a high priority on rest and taking whatever vacation opportunities are available to me.

I work hard all year to support my family. (So does Damien, this is a mutually invested endeavour.) There are seasons where it seems like I lose myself to the kid's activities and priorities. I support my husband in part by taking these trips and having experiences together. These three weeks I need to support myself.

I'm going to read and nap, prepare easy meals (so that's nothing new, "easier" easy meals, made possible with a nearby Trader Joe's). I'll be taking long walks for the pure joy of photographing new-to-me flowers and beautiful houses. I'm going to delight in exploring one of America's most desirable and quirky urban places to live.

I'll be going to the beach, exploring the farmer's markets, hanging out at the library (I love visiting libraries wherever I go, I feel grounded there). I'm not committing myself to anything that doesn't truly require a commitment.

Life feels like a gauntlet sometimes of decisions and relationship stresses, social commitments, text notifications, and traffic. I just need a break. I can't escape all the necessary work of life, but as much as possible I'm going to carve out a time here in Berkeley that is restorative and restful. I'm going to take a vacation.

You can follow our road trip, as it happens, on both Instagram and Outsideways.

« I'm glad I was here ~ Colorado and this big ol' world we call home
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  • Sarah M

    Sarah M on July 14, 2017, 5:53 a.m.

    This sounds so delightful. Do you get to take the boat out of the marina, or is it just there as your hotel?

    I also go into the local public library whenever I travel, I love doing that. Take it easy and enjoy the beautiful location!


    • Renee

      Renee on July 15, 2017, 1:35 a.m.

      Sarah, we won't personally be taking the boat out of the marina. I think our host/friend Jeffrey will take us sailing on it though. He's eager to do so, I'm not so sure how I feel about it. As long as we stay within sight of land. But now that I'm nested and cozy here it would feel strange to move "my space".


  • Joy

    Joy on July 14, 2017, 11:15 a.m.

    As a family living on a boat, welcome to a taste of our funny little world. My favorite is sitting in the cockpit with a mug of tea as the world slowly wakes up around me. Boat noises, sea air, and so much sky.

    Wishing you a slow and smooth transition.


    • Renee

      Renee on July 15, 2017, 1:39 a.m.

      You live on a boat. That is so interesting. That is a life that was previously unfamiliar to me. There are people that live on boats in this marina, in part because Berkeley is such an expensive place to live. I guess it's similar to families living in RVs. Thanks for saying hi, I had fun visiting your blog and getting a peak into your "stay at boat" mom life :)


  • grace s

    grace s on July 14, 2017, 9:52 p.m.

    I agree with you 100% that libraries feel grounding. Whenever we travel - whether it's a new big city or the tiniest Texas town, I stop at the library (provided it's open). Even just a quick pit stop to use the bathroom or spending an hour look around is respite enough. Also my husband and have this quirky thing where we stand outside and guess what year it was built. We're kinda nerds. And like I've posted on your Instagram - I lived in Berkeley for a year and worked in San Francisco. It's where I met my husband (who grew up in Alameda and his family is still there) and it's a part of the US that holds a special place in my heart. Sounds like y'all have found one of the best ways to enjoy it!


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