What I got from vacation

The bronchitis has cleared, says my primary care doctor, but the sinusitis lingers. I left for vacation on April 1st, and the joke was on me as I became ill within a day and a half in central California.

My mother and I were visiting my brother and his family over Easter. We arrived at our Sacramento hotel around 3am Ohio time. I hadn’t taken such a substantial vacation in over 3 years, mainly because of the dog. We returned around 3am Ohio time Friday, April 10. We went primarily to see Mom’s 3 grandchildren. Threes. Whatever.

To simplify medication management during the trip, I took my weekly dose of Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis the day we left, planning to wait for the subsequent dose until after we returned. The drug reduces the taker’s immune defenses. On top of this, the stress of figuring out what to pack after not having traveled for years, and then going to a new place, combined with jet lag to increase my susceptibility to infection.

By Saturday, I sat waiting in the exam room of an urgent care center, called “prompt care” locally, in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills. My brother’s job with the Forest Service has led to several family moves around California’s countryside and tourist destinations. They have lived in this latest community for about a year.

Hoping to see Yosemite, we had to adjust our ambitions downward when I got sick. This was Mom’s third trip there (again, things happen in threes) without seeing Yosemite. There was always something–a forest fire, cold temps, my sickness–getting in the way. Maybe next time. Our men stayed home to work jobs that offer no paid vacation time, and to take care of our dog Elyse.

My younger niece in particular missed me on Saturday when I stayed at the hotel while my mother babysat her and my nephew, and while my brother and sister-in-law took their night out to see the elder daughter perform in a play. My brother’s 40th birthday came two days after Easter.

Overall, I was able to participate in the key moments of the trip, and to see some sights in the process. Mom and I took a drive to walk the North Grove main trail of the Calaveras Big Trees State Park, with sequoias and pines, and on the last day, we spent the afternoon in Monterey before returning to Sacramento for our connecting flights home.

Besides watching my 11-year-old niece in the play, seeing my 5-year-old nephew do hip-hop in the family room, and hearing my 8-year-old niece read a book to her brother, touring a snippet of Monterey was my favorite element of vacation. That and the pizza I ordered while self-quarantined on Saturday.

My favorite wildlife encounter was seeing a sea otter off the commercial wharf by Monterey Bay Park beach. My mother had bought 3 National Geographic readers for the kids, and one was about sea otters. I enjoyed that one with the 8-year-old, too.

The scenery of the bay was phenomenal. We took the 17-Mile Drive late in the afternoon, finishing there at sunset. Lots of great pictures and wave-crashing video. All the sights past the Denver connection out were ones I had not previously seen.

We helped throw the sort-of-surprise birthday party for my brother, too. I’m pretty sure I was able to avoid making anyone else sick in the family. That was especially important with my niece being in the middle of performing in the two-month run of a musical.

Nap time for Sicky. More later.Monterey_Sunset_w_aura_040815

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