By Guest Blogger Chris Dickens
After spending my first 24 Thanksgivings in a suburb of Chicago, we made a small adjustment of plans by convening in Healdsburg, Northern California, for this stop of the Ridgeline Tour. Braving smoke filled air, some heavy rain, and a 2,000 mile flight my sister Emily, my mom, my dad, and my Aunt Susie joined the native residents (my brother, Jack, and I). And while we certainly saw some of the best of what California had to offer, the foggy Golden Gate Bridge, towering redwoods, and sun soaked vineyards, there is something distinctly different that I took away.
There is great joy to be had in embracing unexpected experiences. The fact that all parties involved did this was, in my mind, the highlight of the vacation. To showcase this, I would like to provide a few examples. My motion sick prone mom and Aunt Susie encouraged us to drive steep winding roads in a downpour to visit the Muir Woods. On the spur of the moment, my mom’s larger than life cousin, Uncle Jeff, drove a great distance to spend time with us. Previous blog guest Pete Mathieson and his wonderful girlfriend Gayda, unexpectedly treated us with fantastic local experiences. Uncle Jeff did not plan on driving across California, Pete and Gayda did not expect to be hosting but collectively as a group we really made a great vacation out of a blank slate.
If you asked me what my favorite part of the vacation was, I would probably have to say it was the impromptu bocce ball contest. The teams were unclear, the rules were inconsistent, but you would be pressed to find a minute without laughter. As I saw with the rest of the trip, enjoying the company of friends and family is everything.
So for those of you in the path of the future Ridgeline Tour or on other journey’s and want advice from a naïve guy in his 20s, the most beautiful vacation you could ever plan is only as good as the friends and family you have with you and their willingness to embrace the experience.