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Gearing up

I can’t believe how fast Saturday is come upon us. I know, I still have another full day to get ready, but bigger picture- Where did September go? More importantly, looking through the itinerary for this trip and the weeks to come- Where did October go? I feel like I am already looking at November. Maybe that’s beside the point. Regardless, we have 10 full days planned in travel, and more importantly, vacation, before we have to get back and think about Fall Mini Sessions and Halloween. Like this trip, October is pretty well mapped out. Which is fine, because I am SO LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING OUT OF HERE FOR A BIT.

Did I really just shout that through my keyboard? Um, YES. Yesterday I was overwhelmed in piles of emails and Facebook messages. It seemed every time I glanced at the computer or checked up on my phone, I had nearly 10 new messages stacked up. Overwhelming, sure, but in such an amazingly good way. I’m floored at the abilities and connections these types of Social Media provide us. Sure they can be abused or deemed superfluous, yet at their core they are a form of communication which can span distance and time in ways incomprehensible just a few generations ago. We have a huge list of contacts in every place we are going. People we are eager to see and catch up with, who likewise, are eager to catch up with us. Most of these people have never met our kids. We have not met many of theirs. Despite my resistance to Facebook, I have to say that if it weren’t for those connections, this trip would look far, far different. In every place we are going, we have a couch to stay on. I am so humbly thankful for the generosity and offers for lodging. I am so thankful for caring people we have been able to keep in contact with and now reconnect with.

This trip is so very much about people and far less about place. Sure, I am really excited to take the girls to the ocean (er, should I emphasize warm ocean), eat at all the places I miss in our college town (plus ever In-n-Out burger we pass along the way), and get a chance to go explore Joshua Tree National Park. A few people asked me this week if we are taking the girls to Disneyland. At first the idea seemed so utterly ridiculous in light of the notion that this trip is to visit people we’ve kept connections with. But culturally it makes utter sense. Most people travel to reach a destination, or place, that will entertain us and transport us away from reality. American leisure and vacation has become all about the experience, it fuels off our consumeristic attitudes while moving away from the inherent (an more European) notion of Leisure. Disneyland does not, in the least, seem leisurely to me. It sounds completely overwhelming, sensory overload and nearly a complete waste of time. No doubt that will change as the girls get older (I love amusement parks and roller coasters!) but not worth spending a whole day (and chunk of change) on this trip. We are making a point to see people, and that seems far more rewarding!

In light of that, I have tried really hard to not over-schedule us. I don’t want to be exhausted by the third day because we’ve stretched ourselves too thin and packed in too much. Therefore, nothing starts before 9. In this family, where Matt’s alarm is permanently set to 4:45 AM, that in itself is a vacation. We’ve planned some fun activities where we will get to hang out with old friends- our Fraternity is throwing their annual Wine & Cheese party the night we get in, the following morning we’re off to play Bocce Ball, there’s a planned picnic and rock climbing in Joshua Tree. These already seem like big highlights to me. I can’t wait! Second to seeing and hanging out with friends, Food comes in a close second on how we’ve planned things out. Places we ate in college, like Firestones, Gus’ Deli, Big Sky’s bread pudding, Fondue in Santa Barbara, In-n-Out Burger (as previously mentioned), and we have to sneak Sushi in there a few times too. Third, we’ve planned plenty of down time and some retreat solitude for Matt and I. The day before we come back has been left completely open. It’s easy to fill up time, far harder to purposefully leave chunks open for time of true rest.

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The biggest aspect of this trip will be the Wedding. Oh yea, that’s the whole reason we’re going in the first place. It will be the first long-weekend wedding we have ever been to, with three days of activities culminating in the actual ceremony and reception. I am so very excited to have been asked to photograph the wedding. It will also be the first time I have traveled by air with ALL my photography gear (and trust me, I could have a ton more). Oh, and the first time we are traveling by air with THREE children. Between the camera stuff and the kid stuff, I have been pretty burdened down with packing this week. There’s monopods and light stands shoved in with clothing. And we have to bring the car seats. And stroller. So far it looks like we can limit it to two checked suitcases. All my camera’s will be in a carry-on backpack and I get to once again enjoy endure getting TSA to hand inspect all my film. That’s right I said FILM. Matt even picked me up a new little Holga this week, which I am SO very excited about. Now I have an excuse to use up all the expired medium format film that has been sitting in our fridge since we moved up here (including my one last coveted roll of Kodachrome). And he bought some color 35mm film, so I will be bringing along my F4s too. I’ve missed film far more than I had thought. So there is very little excuse to not capture all aspects of this trip. That in itself makes me even more excited.

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But in the mean time- there’s more to pack, more to clean, more to prepare. How can I keep myself to stop adding things to my list, because it seems the more I pack the more I have to go?!?

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