Coming into the San Francisco Bay area for Thanksgiving was a major departure from our usual travel mode. Not only were we situated in a fairly large urban area, but most importantly we were near family, so our days were filled with simple pleasures like watching our nephew’s swim practice at the beautiful Stanford aquatic facility and meeting the newest dog in the family. On our way into town we stopped briefly at Ken’s brother’s house, where we temporarily improved the curb appeal of his already-lovely home and gave everyone a tour of our tiny home that roams.
Like many other large cities, there is a notable absence of camping options in the area. We ended up being mostly happy with our decision to stay at Joseph D. Grant County Park east of San Jose. We were only about 30 miles from the home of Ken’s brother, although the first seven of those miles were down an incredibly narrow and winding mountain road. Our campsite was surrounded by lovely oak trees, which was scenic but inhibited our solar generation capabilities. Between the shady campsite and a few days of rain, we ended up using our generator quite a bit. I suppose that’s to be expected when camping in what is decidedly the offseason in this part of California.
The park itself featured miles of hiking trails through a historic ranch property that is in the process of being restored to a more natural state. Our one hike around the park featured rolling hills, lots of ancient and majestic oak trees, fall colors on leaves, and sightings of deer, coyotes, turkeys, and more. We also did some running (Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot!) and hiking with the family, which was really enjoyable despite the smoky air and subsequent rain.
But mostly, we made huge meals, and we ate huge meals. The day before Thanksgiving, I taught my sister in law and nieces how to make Croatian povitica bread – a rolled bread with walnut filling — so they are equipped to carry on the family tradition that Ken’s paternal grandmother brought over from Europe. It was a treat to be baking in a normal kitchen again, where there was much less guesswork about the oven temperature than we face in the Airstream. As we’ve learned, our small propane oven just doesn’t hold a constant temperature very well. The bread was as delicious as can be expected for a recipe from a region that traditionally had little access to sugar, and we all enjoyed partaking in this small bit of family heritage.
We were two of 12 guests at the marvelous Thanksgiving Day feast, and being part of a boisterous gathering of extended family was fun. If anyone thought we were crazy to quit our jobs, move into a trailer, and travel around the country with virtually no schedule, they were too nice to say it to us directly. This relatively low key week was an excellent illustration of why we like slow travel. Just having the time to join our family in their daily activities was a perfect way to spend a lot of quality time together, without the pressure of major time constraints or deadlines. It was all we could have hoped for in a holiday!