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From Strong Roots…..

Grow Mighty Girls

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Me and my girls

Sonoma Shopping

I love to check out the local shopping scene when we go on vacation. Not even a pandemic can stop me (COVID safe shopping, only, though). Healdsburg is a small town but has some definite shopping gems. Most of these are located in the vicinity of the downtown plaza and are within a few blocks of each other. My recommendation would be to spend an afternoon wandering the streets around the plaza. Start by grabbing a coffee. Then wander a bit. Perhaps later you will be ready for an ice cream cone or slice of pie. Then more wandering. You might even pop into a tasting room or two before checking out the streets one last time.

There are lots of fun shops and I didn’t get an opportunity to adequately explore (damn rain). Below, however, are a few of my favorites.

Zizi is a fun clothing store one block off the main plaza. My daughter snagged a lovely jumpsuit here. Spacious store, not crowded.

Anthem Home, located just across the street from Oakville Grocery, has a beautiful selection of home decor. Relatively spacious store. Friendly staff.

Oakville Grocery is a Healdsburg standby. Located just off the main square, this is a mash up of food and goods. There are breakfast items, sandwiches and salads to go as well as a coffee bar. You can also purchase specialty food items, bottles of wine and fun local goods (oils, preserves, spreads, kitchen gear, etc). There is an outdoor seating area if you choose to consume your food purchases on site. COVID friendly? Kind of. They follow all the recommended protocols but the store is small and can quickly get crowded. Spoiler alert: the service here is SLOW! It takes a really long time for food orders to be prepared. I’m talking 20-30 minutes for sandwiches to go. Plan accordingly.

Healdsburg Running Company is the local running store, located just a block or two off the main square. This place is fabulous! Wide selection of running apparel, shoes and accessories with some of the best service around. I stopped in here because, as a runner, I wanted to check it out, but also because I didn’t pack enough warm clothes for this trip and thought I might find some solutions in here. I left with a few pairs of socks, Vuori joggers, and a Vuori sweatshirt, as well as shorts and a running hat for my daughter. I talked local running trails with the staff, one of whom also happened to know about the running community in my hometown. They also host various runs during the week which I would love to take advantage of on my next trip there.

Next up….the Jam Jar. I love this cute little jewelry and accessory shop located just around the corner from the running store. This little piece of paradise features local, hand made, ethically sourced and up-cycled jewelry, art and accessories. It has become my tradition in recent years to buy jewelry as souvenirs when I travel and the Jam Jar allowed me to keep this tradition alive. I found some great earrings and a necklace for myself as well as earrings and hairpins to take back to friends as gifts. My daughters found a few lovely pieces as well. The owner was really friendly and helpful. The shop is small but we were the only customers there and felt quite safe.

All in all, a diverse line up of shopping treasures. Enjoy!

Surreal

With our bags packed and our intentions clear, we set off for our first post-COVID jaunt, headed to Sonoma. We found the most affordable flights out of an airport that is a three hour drive from our home. Luckily, the flight didn’t leave until early afternoon, giving us time to sleep in a bit before hitting the road. The sky was blue and the roads clear when we set off on our way (definitely not a guarantee here in early spring). All signs were indicating that luck would be on our side.

We arrived at the airport early, parked our car and proceeded inside. Having not flown during the pandemic, I was curious to see how air travel would feel. The processes inside the airport were basically all the same, except that, as expected, everyone was wearing masks. The lines all looked longer because of the distance between people but they moved along just about as (in) efficiently as usual.

In my mind, I was trying to normalize this adventure as much as possible, both for myself, and for my girls. I wanted proof that the outside world was still there, and still humming along as usual. I had to admit, though, that things didn’t seem quite normal. First, the airport read more like a ghost town than a bustling transportation hub. There were empty seats to sit on and an abundance of bathroom stalls to choose from. While this actually makes flying more enjoyable, it also makes it…..well…. weird. Second, many of the retail shops and restaurants are shuttered, leaving a lonely Hudson News and a solitary Starbucks to provide preflight refreshments. The final clue that something wasn’t quite right was the repeated announcement to “Please wear your mask IN and ON the airport”. Ummmmm……IN and ON the airport??? Are there people ON the airport??? Weird.

Regardless, we quickly adapted to our surroundings. We’ve had practice after all. The planes were maybe 50% full (weird). The flights were quick and drama free. The layover was painless and baggage claim and rental car pickup were efficient. Again, weird.

After some fumbling with the navigation system of our rental car, we entered in our destination and took off for Healdsburg. By this point, it was dark and pouring rain and I was really thankful I had driven these roads a few times before. Needless to say, it was still kind of stressful. I managed my stress successfully with a playlist curated by my 14-year-old, Gardetto’s snack mix and some Mike and Ike’s. Road trip food of champions. Finally, I was starting to feel a little more normal.

It’s a nearly 2 hour drive from San Francisco to Healdsburg. By the time we arrived, we were tired and hungry. We were also really, really lucky because my sister had driven up from San Francisco earlier in the day and had already settled into our AirBnB and was well on her way to cooking us dinner. Our little house for the week was situated on a quiet country road and the navigation system delivered us there flawlessly. We stepped inside to delicious aromas and a well-plated charcuterie board. My sister handed me a glass of wine. Bliss.

It felt surreal that night to sit there, vaccinated, in a vacation house, with my sister and daughters, talking, plotting, eating, drinking and laughing. It seemed surreal that just a year ago, we were hunkered down at home, alternating between worrying, crying and trying to hold it all together. It seemed surreal that I could, finally, gingerly, sit down, and take a breath.

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