On any given vacation you’re bound to encounter something that doesn’t go as planned. I’ve mentioned this before, and since it happened again on a recent trip, I’ll share another way to deal with these unexpected challenges.
We had booked a sunrise hot air balloon ride over Napa Valley. It was a bucket-list item and I was very much looking forward to it for weeks. We woke up at 4:30 in the morning to check on the flight as required and got a recorded message confirming the date and giving us a qualified green light. It was qualified because there was fog in the area and more moving in, but the pilots were hopeful that it would not stop us from our planned flight.
When we arrived at the designated location, we learned the flight was cancelled and we were faced with a free day. We pulled out a map and decided to check out some of Northern California’s back roads. We selected a road and headed for Clear Lake. We climbed above the fog that had ruined our original plans and found ourselves weaving through beams of sunshine cutting through the leaves and pine needles that freckled the roadway from trees that reached for the azure skies above.
It was still early when we arrived at the little town of Clear Lake. A few people were out. A gathering of friends formed a widely spaced circle in the park and chatted. A woman was setting out small mats in what we suspected would be some sort of outdoor exercise class. We walked to the water’s edge and gazed out … no boats were out yet, just mountain lake freshness in the early morning sun.
We hopped back into the car and pointed the car north and west as we headed for Ukiah. We hoped there would be something to see or do, but with COVID restrictions in place, we found many stores closed. We drove slowly through town, sad for the business owners who faced the real challenge of making a living without being able to open their doors.
A bit further south, we found ourselves in Healdsburg. The park on the town square boasted moms with toddlers sitting on shaded, grassy spots and stores ringing the square with open doors! It was just before lunchtime, so we found a parking spot and joined the masked visitors to this quaint burg. As I browsed in a shop, Greg asked the clerk to recommend some places for lunch (ALWAYS ask a local!).
We were thrilled with the recommendation. Campo Fina converted an outdoor bocce court to patio seating. Arriving near it’s lunchtime opening, we were led to a table in the picture perfect setting, shaded by grape vines. We sipped our cocktails and dove into arancini (fried risotto balls) before sharing a perfect plate of spaghetti!
We lazed away an hour or so, then strolled back to the car for the drive back to our hotel in Rutherford.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. When things don’t go as you planned, make the most of it and revel in the opportunity to find something you hadn’t expected to find.
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