This year we went with some friends, which made our trip more social than those of our past. My daughter got to spend time with her best friend, and we had extra help with the twins. Most important of all, we got to share a very special place with people we care about.
I love how my daughter considers this mini-vacation spot so sacred and how she can rattle off where we stayed each year and what we did. Even as an only child visiting with her parents year after year, she loved the time she spent with us on the trails as well as her time in solitude drawing and reading. On our way home this time, she told me that she liked it both ways -- going with friends and going by ourselves as a family. They have different advantages.
This trip, I enjoyed seeing my daughter (who grows more adult day by day) enjoy the childish experiences of taking care of a pet cricket, tracking down wild turkeys, and playing hide and seek. The twins also recognized that we were away from home on a special adventure and seemed to really enjoy themselves, even if they weren't privy to all of the outdoor adventures. The sun and fresh air had a great effect on their sleep schedules -- they took epic naps and slept better than ever at night. They delighted in listening to bird calls, digging in the sand (and eating it), and spending time with their older friends too.
One night after the adults had cocktail hour, I went into the living room where the twins were playing with the other kids -- they were busy and happy to be part of the kid-scene, no longer babies who cling to their parents for comfort. They were exploring the living room and their newfound ability to stand up.
Another thing I love about these weekend trips is the relaxed perspective I have upon returning home. There's always a mountain of laundry to do, dinner to prepare, and the work week to face, but these challenges are made more bearable having gotten away for just a few days. I appreciate being home and seeing our garden with fresh eyes. I can smell jasmine blooming just outside the window. Our bed is especially comfortable.
Last year, we made our retreat while I was home on maternity leave, and it didn't have the same intangible quality of other visits. I attribute this to the strong contrast of the retreat to our normal lives -- the dichotomy between our Silicon Valley life and our holiday away makes both of them so unique and easy to appreciate. I can't wait to carpool to work tomorrow and to see my colleagues, just as I couldn't wait to hit the road and get away from it all last week! As long as I am working in the Valley, our family will continue the annual pilgrimage up north without fail.