Erin and Adrian Go to Bothe-Napa State Park and I Quit and I Post No Pictures Because I Don’t Want To Encourage You

We drove two hours to get to Napa Valley.

We paid $8 to enter Bothe-Napa State Park (because as with most, if not all State parks in California the way to avoid closing parks in our budget-stupid state is to charge use-fees. Which is fine. I’d rather have the parks charge than close. But I keep forgetting cash and my checkbook and they aren’t equipped to take credit cards unless there’s a pay station instead of a ranger so I ended up having to drive to Calistoga to find an ATM).

We had a nice walk in the woods, with a picnic lunch at the old grist mill, which boasts toilets and water fountains and old buildings and a creek, and at about a mile away from the parking lot, is a nice, gentle hike for a dad and his two kids (gentle being a term for distance in this case and not exertion, because it was uphill both ways). Unfortunately, if you’ve chosen to head toward the mill from the parking lot that’s pretty much the only end point you can get to: once you’re there you turn around and go back. There’s no loop. The other main trail from the trail head takes you up into the hills and I hear there’s a great view of the valley, but it’s about 3.5 miles up. I elected the shorter route because I wanted to get home at a decent time…which is to laugh because…

We left the park at 4pm. We didn’t get home until after 8pm because there was a fire on I-880 that had traffic limping from Oakland to Fremont. And here I thought I’d picked the smarter route because it avoided the Bay Bridge and San Francisco traffic. I’m an idiot.

So, to sum up, we spent 6 hours in the car (or at Wal-Mart eating McDonald’s for dinner when it became obvious the traffic wasn’t going to let up and we needed to use a bathroom and everyone was starving, but then the kids ended up not wanting to eat their McFood and while I applaud their food choices I was still out the cash) for a 3 hour, 2 mile hike.

It’s a good thing I’m not a real hiker, like a Sierra Club hiker or something, because that was a total environmentalism fail. It was also a “keep the kids active and healthy fail” when you think about it, because although Erin got to stretch her legs a bit I basically made Adrian sit down for 6 hours, ride in the backpack for 3 hours, and then tried to feed him french fries.

I need to stop doing this.

I need to stop going to farther and farther destinations just because I haven’t seen them. There are plenty of places nearby that we haven’t thoroughly explored, and the hiking-to-driving ratio can be improved tremendously by going to them instead.

I get bored easily, but I can’t treat hiking like it’s sick consumption. You know how when you feel bored or a little depressed you can sometimes buy your way out of it with shoes or gadgets or tools or clothes or games or other stuff and the purchasing of the things makes you feel fulfilled a little? I think my “I just want to see a new view” attitude is a like that, because that attitude says “and damn the cost, I need to fill up”. Well the cost in this case is gasoline, money, and to some extent genuine activity and family time (making the kids nap in the car does not count as family time), all because I’m a little bored with seeing the same vista.

Next entry: Erin and Adrian Go to Somewhere Roughly 20 Minutes From Home.

6 thoughts on “Erin and Adrian Go to Bothe-Napa State Park and I Quit and I Post No Pictures Because I Don’t Want To Encourage You”

  1. You like natural eye candy.

    You might have been able to fly across the country quicker than take that hike! Well maybe to somewhere west of the Mississippi River in that time frame. Next time just fly to Vegas and go hiking around the Grand Canyon.

  2. My state (IL) might only be behind yours when it comes to budgeting stupidity. They've been talking about state park closures. Like you, I'd rather pay a nominal fee even if it is a pain in the butt than see the park or facility closed. Even if they charged $10 per carload of people it's still cheaper than the movies.

    Good luck with the next trip!

  3. I don't mean this as an advice–just my own experience. I think about activities, and I let myself worry about my boy, but really, in the end, a walk around the block is just as important. It's an exercise, and the boy gets to see interesting things and meet people, and the familiarity of the route–knowing what the expect when we turn a corner–helps him feel comfortable in the world.

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