Bay Area Getaway: Samuel P Taylor Camping

I just found this post in my drafts! Not sure why I didn’t publish at the time, but all the info should be still good.

My kids have a week off of school in February. Some people in California call it “Ski Week,” and in the past, we have used it to do just that. But this year everything is different.

For one thing, my daughters, who have been skiing every winter since before kindergarten, decided they don’t like the sport. And even if they’d be willing to join us on the slopes for old times’ sake, they won’t go to a ski resort during the continuing Covid pandemic, which I obviously can’t argue with. (Yes, I went during Covid with their dad and brother and it was fine, but it’s OK that our risk tolerence varies.)

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When Rain Is the Show You Came For

Note: I already wrote a blog post about our visit to Wrigley Field this summer. But then I put together this essay about how that trip to the Midwest was in part rain tourism for us dusty Californians. I was thinking of trying to sell it, but heck, I’ll just share it here with you. After all, the rainy season actually showed up on time in California this year, so this piece may have passed its sell-by date. Still perfectly good though! Enjoy.

How dry was our pandemic? 

So dry that my son’s Zoom class went nuts when one of their classmates announced, “It’s raining!” and focused her camera on the falling drops. I rushed over, squinting to catch a rare glimpse of precipitation.

The classmate was attending school from Puerto Vallarta, and there we were in the umpteenth year of California’s megadrought. To make things worse, Covid cancelled our annual visit to the grandparents in Wisconsin, where we usually received a welcome deluge in one form or another.

Finally, vaccines in arms, we prepared to fly East in July 2021.

“Please let there be a huge thunderstorm with pouring rain and lightning!” my daughter wished.

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I Got My Companion Pass. What Card to Spend on Next?

I made it! I earned my Southwest Companion Pass for next year! And I swear, like Scarlett O’Hara with a handful of dirt, that I will fly more with that Companion Pass in 2022.

But what do I do now? We still have stuff to buy every month — groceries, a new roof, this and that. Which credit card to put the spending on now that I really don’t need any more Southwest points unti January?

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Day 6 Isolation: I Took 3 More Covid Tests

When I first got that positive Covid test a week ago, I was so sure it must be correct that I canceled our much-planned-for flights without a second thought.

Then I learned a little more and became less sure.

Now, I’m at the point where I think it’s more likely than not that I never had Covid at all. And I’ll never know for sure at this point. But it’s looking more and more likely that I had a false positive last week.

Here’s what changed:

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Quarantine Journal: Doubt Creeps In

Last night I returned home from walking the dog — yes, the Health Dept. and Kaiser not only condone but encourage going out for walks while masked and social distancing! — I returned to my backyard entrance to see that my family was eating dinner.

Our dining table is flanked by a large window. It was just starting to get dark out, so the scene was illuminated from within. They were laughing and talking, eating the raviolis and pasta sauce I had purchased in what now feels like another lifetime. You can bet it felt poignant to stand outside, looking in.

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Covid Is Still Wrecking Our Trips

A year ago, no one in my family would dream of getting on a plane, because, hello! Global pandemic.

Starting this summer, once we were fully vaccinated, we started venturing onto flights again. In fact, we were going to fly to Oregon this weekend to tour Oregon State University, visit “Leverage” sights in Portland, and meet up with friends.

CANCELED.

This time, not because of Covid in general.

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California to Hawaii for $100 Bucks

Have you seen these prices for flights between the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii? Someone tipped me off last night, so I started poking around Southwest and Google Flights, and wow! There are nonstop flights between a number of Bay Area and Hawaii airports for right around $100 each way. The airlines I saw advertising these cheap flights: Southwest and Hawaiian.

Usually, we pay around $500 for a roundtrip to Hawaii from here. If we’re lucky, $400.

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How Much Value Did We Get From Our Southwest Companion Passes During a Second Plague Year?

TL;DR: In this terrible travel year, our family still saved over $3,000 with our Southwest Companion Passes, so I think it was worth putting much of our spending on Southwest Visa cards.

Our first year ever having Companion Passes was 2020, and because of Covid we only saved about $500 each with them. That’s OK, I said. We’ll make it up in 2021.

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How Not to Take the Train to Chicago

I went to Chicago with friends this summer and in just 24 hours managed to squeeze in 16th birthday fun, a casual college visit, some amateur mycology, fabulous meals from three different cuisines, destination retail and a little light sightseeing. Also, we got Garrett’s Popcorn. Of course we got Garrett’s!

But I’m not going to tell you about all of that today. I’m just going to tell you how, even though I have successfully taken trains and public transit all over China, Europe and even Australia, I still manage to mess it up regularly. This day was an epic example of screwing up train travel and still having fun. In fact, all the fun we were having was responsible for a lot of the screwups, but it was all good.

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