It can be tough finding a Work-Life Balance. It’s a HOT topic these days as it should be. No matter if we work from home or out of the home, if you’re a homemaker with kids, have ministry duties that are consuming or are a business owner, never really feeling like you get away, most of us struggle with this balance and continually look for ways to level or balance our lives.
Some mornings I wake up with such a heavy heart, thinking about the world as it is today, this sad election season, the health challenges and suffering of so many of my friends and their friends, hurricanes, death, corruption and destruction. If I think about it too long, these thoughts can consume me.
Most mornings, I wake up extra early searching for a glimpse of the pink and orange sky of the new day thinking of all the things I want to accomplish. Drinking my first cup of smooth yummy coffee and doing my morning reading, I’m thankful for little things such as the chickadees nibbling on the seed we leave out as well the comical squirrel hanging upside down trying so hard to get to that feeder.
Life is complicated isn’t it? Finding a balance is what’s needed in order to have a life that’s more fulfilling, joyful and positive. Daily, we make choices.
When my husband Rudy and I finally decided to take the road trip we’d thought about long ago, it came and went very quickly. As a young child, my parents took summer vacations and we traveled and camped all over the United States. One visit that had always stuck in my head was the time spend on the coast of Oregon. I can still see it, foraging around the tide pools, chasing and running away from the waves. It was not too funny when my sister and I, within one of those pools found a starfish and sand dollar, picked them right up and promptly put them in the car with us as we drove off to the next scenic destination. By the end of that day, the aroma in the car was not too pleasant and when we stopped we had to leave those now dead sea water species behind. Memories….
Fast forward 45 years and it was my husband and I making that trip, flying into San Francisco, renting a car and setting about our 6 days through northern California and Oregon.
It took up much longer than we had anticipated to get to our first destination of Ft Bragg as that navigation process using my cell phone took us up and down the steep streets of Frisco, finally making it over the Golden Gate Bridge. We then proceeded to meander down Highway 1, slowly making our way to our older hotel room. That first night, because it took us much longer than expected to get out of Frisco and then getting a bit lost on Highway 1, it was almost dark when we stopped the car. Although when booked, this hotel was supposed to be an ocean view room, the trek down to the water was too treacherous in the dark ALTHOUGH we could see a little bit of the ocean peaking through the rock sides, the water rumbling ferociously knowing that the full moon was rising behind us bringing in the tide. It was a delight listening to the waves crash against the steep hill that night making sleep come quickly.
The next morning we got on the road early, found a good strong cup of coffee at a roadside stand and made our way to Glass Beach. The sun was just rising to our east and the moon was still high in the western sky over the Pacific. There was not much glass to be found on this beach but to our amazement the tide had just gone out and what we then saw was absolutely a gift. It seemed as though everything was alive! The rocks had so much movement, the water so low, it was the best part of this trip for me. So many memories, the beauty of new sand, looking at every tide pool I could to see what it might hold, the birds now with full bellies, the empty crab shells, the shiny rocks and oyster shells, it was one of those thank you God moments! I could have stayed there all day but Rudy was ready to move on.
We then caught Highway 101, inland to what eventually led to the … the Humbolt Forest. Then, further north to the Avenue of the Giants. This part was so amazing, driving past and even through these humongous Redwoods which was at times almost eerie – the road being so curvy and being enclosed by thick, dark branches overhead. You couldn’t even see through the woods, these trees were so close together, so green, so big! We were almost “high” on the “green” here!
Then, on into Oregon we go.
The second night we stayed at Port Orford. This was Rudy’s favorite part of our trip. After settling into what was an amazing older hotel yes, right on the beach with amazing views, we went to one of the 2 restaurants in this small, quaint town and enjoyed some of the best fish and chips and clam chowder ever!
Afterwords, and because there’s an actual port in Port Orford that looked to be quite busy with people viewing something up north, we made our way down there. To our surprise there were a couple of grey whales hanging out eating what must have been quite an assortment of kelp and other greens and browns that these beautiful creatures love. It was so fun to catch these 2 before sunset, going around this little bay, surfacing and blowing. A definite surprise. We were not expecting to see the migrating whales on this trip and the sunset gorgeous from our extra large room with a view.
Day 3 was a long but fun drive up the coast of Oregon, stopping at a few beaches to chase and run from the waves. After driving past the Oregon Sand Dunes, we stopped in Florence for a super breakfast and then drove inland a bit to see the countryside along the Sweetwater River. The deer seem to be much smaller here in these parts.
Then off to Heceta Beach Lighthouse for a walk up to this historic place – a great place to stop and shake out our legs. Along this stretch of coastal highway, we stopped at a few breezy beaches including Seal Rock. Although we thought perhaps we’d see some seal lions, we saw a resting and mating place for some big sea birds and amazing sprays of ocean hitting the boulders right off this beach.
Then, we’re off to Lincoln City which was a bigger touristy coastal village. Going into this town I was able to spy a light-colored harbour seal, poking his head out of the waves seemingly saying “hello”. We had to stop and buy a few trinkets, souvenirs for the grandkids here.
Our oceanside room being in Manzanita this night, we headed north driving through Tillamook, thinking we’d stop for some cheese, however, it was just 5:00 and all was closed. Manzanita was a lovely little town with a bit more wealth I could tell and our room, although, very small, was right on this beach. It was fun to walk through town, get a meal of yes, seafood, then walk down the beach with the many little campfires illuminating the happy faces of visitors and their dogs having a fun time chasing waves.
Up and at it again we were early, having a quick walk on the beach again and heading up to Astoria but not before stopping at Hug Point State Beach for a little hike and yes, a hug. This was a beautiful spot with huge boulders and long beaches. The birds and raccoons had obviously received their spoils after the recent tide had gone out. It was a bit chilly, but once again, the waves and beach – my all time favorite!
Driving past Cannon Beach with it’s famous Haystack Rock, Seaside and then Sunset Beach, we made our way into the barely inland, historic town of Astoria. We were sure to make a stop and visit the mouth of the Columbia River as we were told that there were a few pods of very friendly Grey Whales. We searched, but didn’t see them. Hungry, we made our way along the this lovely river, housing many very large vessels, to Vancouver. There, in Vancouver, a very up and coming town just north of Portland, we stopped at Beaches Restaurant for a very delectable seafood lunch along the river.
This day was going to be long, so we hit the road, traveling to Salem, then on to Bend – our destination this evening. Driving inland in Oregon was much like driving through Colorado years ago. The terrain was similar but the population less dense. We loved Bend! A smallish just out-of-the-mountain town with friendly folk. Driving to Bend and out of the Cascades was different. The mountains seemed more jagged and unique, not what we are accustomed to. This is what I will remember inland Oregon to be like. This and the beautiful rugged coast and of course, all of the trees and logging facilities we drove past with their huge yards of logs and shavings.
Aside from the forest and the abundant black lava rock (which was unique to say the least), it was quite an uneventful drive from Bend until we got to Crater Lake. This lake, being this nation’s deepest, along with it’s beautiful green Wizard Island, is the truest of blue and unmatched in clarity; a lake transformed by a volcano. Crater Lake definitely stands out in this fine state and is a place I remember traveling to as a child. It was clear and crisp this morning and we took a picture here of us worth framing, which we have since.
I had done zero research on Klamath Falls but I thought that I had heard long ago that is was a lake full of famous blue-green algae and you guessed it – falls. But is was not. The lake was nice, but not what we had thought. We did stop in the town for lunch in the park before heading back into northern California towards our next stop, Redding. We made a quick stop in Weed. Yes, you guessed it, the souvenirs and t-shirts were plentiful in this quaint little town and nearby, Mount Shasta, stuck out, the tip of it in the clouds.
Redding was a longer stop so that we could rest up. The room was nice and the little pool was open. Dinner was a small but popular pub and dinner was yummy. We decided to give our rental car a quick clean the next morning and off we go… heading to our last stop for 2 nights in San Francisco.
This last leg of our road trip was shorter than the other days and that was welcomed. You see, since the second day of our driving excursion, going through the Redwoods, the brakes had been acting up and we since had babied them. We got to our older hotel in Daly City early enough to head out for dinner and then hit the popular and close Thornton Beach. It was super windy and the tide was way out, making a long trek to the beach. It was too dark. But sunset was still breathtaking. One thing we were going to get pictures of before leaving the coast.
Early that morning, as the trash truck came to pick up what it picks up and as it was finishing (our room was right next door), what sounded like many rats crying as their dinner was leaving woke me and after that, I didn’t sleep much. The next morning when I asked the manager of this older hotel what that noise could have been, he, in his broken English, pulled out his phone and showed me a picture of what he informed me were the neighborhood homeless. The picture was that of many raccoons hanging around the trash. We laughed, but I’m not sure that those were raccoons I heard. Moral of that little story – it might be better to pay more or stay in a newer, better-known hotel like EconoLodge or Motel 6.
Early enough, we ventured out to Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and a walkabout the beach with a view of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz. We started at Pier 39 where there were many sealions barking, vendors selling their wares and boats coming and going taking tourists here and there. We chose to stay on land and get some walking in.
Here we had to get our last serving of fish & chips and clam chowder – always sharing. Walking past Bubba Gumps and all the stores, we had to purchase a few souvenirs, enjoy the sealions, entertainment on the piers and a long walk down the pier to get our best view of the bridge and Alcatraz. Time to venture back to our room and think about what our last meal here in unfamiliar territory we’d enjoy.
The traffic in San Francisco is crazy to say the least. The roads are winding, narrow and extremely steep. We did go past Acres of Orchids which was lovely and Lombard Street. When driving these roads, we would lean forward or backwards – that’s how up and down these streets are. We know that San Fran is famous for this, but with brakes that were starting to smell funky, we worked at getting off of these roads as soon as we could.
That last evening I googled restaurants where the locals go and we did just that. Went to Aprils Thai Kitchen. This food made our top 3 list! Can you tell we like to eat? I think it’s hard to find good food when you’re a stranger in town. And, this had been true for us for the most part. Some of our meals were snacks that we packed in the back seat, stopping along the way at picnic areas and beaches.
After dinner and just half an hour before sunset, we decided to venture back to the local beach spot to see about one or 2 more sunset pictures. This evening was such a great end to our road trip – vacation. For, as we were checking out a great spot for our last photo, we were blessed by many whales off in the distance spouting off. To us, they were saying goodbye as they migrated to their southern destination.
It felt as though we had been gone from home longer than the 6 days and getting to the airport was easy peasy as that was why we chose Daly City for our last 2 nights. Yes, we made mention of the brakes – told the technician that nobody should drive this car until the brakes had been replaced. Kinda crazy renting out a car with bad brakes in a city such as San Fran don’t you think?
This was a trip we talked about for years. It was too busy, a longer road trip than we really wanted, but it was well worth it. We now can say we did this, it’s out of our system and if we choose to go back we’ll know where to go and where not to go. For me, it was a needed help in finding my work-life balance.
Fast forward three weeks later, I sit here, remembering of our time off of work, less stress, a new view, a change.
Fall in Colorado is the best! I decided today to move my office, my computer to the dining room table where I can gaze out the window, watching the birds, squirrels and the golden leaves fall off of our big backyard tree. Soon, most trees in our yards (except for our BIG blue spruce beauty in the front) will show only branches. I do love the seasons, but fall truly is my absolute favorite. It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
We all have daily choices to make. As a financial wellness consultant working with both businesses and families, my life can be very serious at times. Yours may be too. So much to do in so little time. If you’re challenged with finding good alternatives to your retirement, your end of life planning, medicare questions or are a business owner searching for ways to shave costs, reduce taxes, exit planning or key-man insurance, allow me to help you obtain a bit more balance – making some of these choices easier for you. These topics are complicated. Let me do some of the heavy lifting for YOU!
Schedule a free consultation with me or just give me a call – 719.671.8099. I’m here to serve you!