Fantasies of moving to the coast interrupted by my love of Chico

Before I went on vacation recently, I vowed to myself (and my husband) to unplug from technology. What helped me was staying in Albion, a gorgeous coastal town with lousy Internet service. There, my smartphone worked fine for calling and texting, but I couldn’t get online.

As a result, I nearly made it through last week without seeing stories about the presidential race or logging onto Facebook. My downfall was having to work during the trip. I needed to write my column and a story, and to send them over to my colleagues at CN&R, I had to log in to the rental house’s wifi on my laptop. That’s when I caved, if only briefly.

Working while on vacation is a bummer. For me, simply knowing I had assignments due made me feel uneasy. Such is the life of a newspaper editor—and workaholic.

Still, I had a great time. I love the Mendocino coast and can thank my dad for that. He and my stepmother took me there when I was in college. But I’d been there a number of other times, as well, many years earlier. In fact, some of my earliest childhood memories are of the area—Fort Bragg, where Dad’s cousin, Pepper, lived with his wife and son. Our extended family would gather there occasionally—a few of the uncles would dive for abalone and then go surf-fishing.

It was idyllic. Still is. The area is where my husband and I took our first camping trip together over a decade ago, and where, three years later, he proposed. We considered getting hitched there, too, but opted for a local wedding to make things easier on our guests.

Last week was extra special because my dad and stepmom joined my little family on the trip. We mostly relaxed, ate decadently and enjoyed the view—on the days the fog let up—of Navarro State Beach, the very place my hubby popped the question. Uncle Pepper, a retired school teacher who still lives in Fort Bragg, is an engineer on the region’s beloved Skunk Train. One of the highlights of the trip was watching my train-obsessed 4-year-old get a VIP tour. The view from the locomotive isn’t worth shouting about, to be honest, but seeing my little boy holding a toy train while riding the railway was pretty great.

I dreaded our departure and fantasized about moving to one of the little seaside towns. Maybe a paper there needed an editor, I thought, or maybe I could open a little cafe.

The day we pulled out of Fort Bragg on Highway 20, we watched our car’s outside temperate gauge go from 58 to 88 degrees within a half-hour. By the time we reached Clear Lake, it was 103. Back to Chico’s oppressive heat, I thought.

Strangely, when we pulled into our driveway hours later, I felt relieved. After wearing sweaters all week, I embraced the heat, a cool 98 degrees. A little later, with the mercury still well above 90, my sweet neighbor and her daughter joined my family on a bike ride through Lower Park. As we pedaled along the path next to Big Chico Creek, it dawned on me: I’m home.