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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Home Sweet Home

~Wednesday, 🎄DECEMBER🎄 1, 2021~

Day 535 (Travel Day)

Oh my goodness...can’t believe it’s here. December has arrived with one of the triggers being the grandkids opening their first gifts of Christmas. Hannah sent us a video of Easton and Carson opening their ornaments for the tree and Easton, opening his Advent calendar. The look on their faces was precious. If that doesn’t get you in the spirit I don’t know what would. With the Christmas tunes on Sirius XM and our warm Starbucks coffees in our festive cups, we are all set for the final big push to our hometown of Napa…..300 miles to go.

With a 2:00 appointment at Napa Tire, we left our nice spot in Bakersfield around 7:30 a.m. Along the way, there were frequent reminders that we weren’t in “Kansas” anymore……..late foliage change with Southern California’s version of Fall, air quality quickly turned from miles of visibility to hazy, gray skies, and those rolling green hills that are such a welcome sight this time of year, after so many months of dryness. Much of California received a deluge of rain about a month ago, thank goodness, but hasn’t seen a drop since. Come on El Nino!!

We also saw an unusual sight along Highway 5. On the east side, there were hundreds of big rig trailers parked in long rows in a HUGE field. I mean hundreds of them and a lot of earth moving going on from hilly terrain to flat ground. Our theory…...staging area for containers that don’t have drivers with the labor shortage? Any ideas out there?

As we drove into Napa, I must say it felt a bit surreal. Everything looked the same (at least in the southern portion where we’re from) except for the new Cambria Hotel that FINALLY is complete. That one seemed to take forever. We arrived at Napa Tire right on time, with our guy Jeff, making room for Billie Jean and Hank. Soon after, Jay greeted us with our 4 new tires, and conveyed his dream to someday do what we’re doing; sell the 4,000 square foot home, buy a small trailer and just go! I can’t tell you how many people we’ve met that all share the same dream, all achievable with good forethought and planning, determination and a willingness for change.

My Jeff proceeded to tell the guys about our tires since each seemed to have their own story. Front Tire 1: To remove our good rim on the new Korean tire, and place it on one of the new tires. Instead, we bought a new galvanized steel rim with a 5-nut bolt pattern to put on the Korean tire, making it our second spare. Front Tire 2: The original full spare that we’ve been driving on (barely), went back to its original space under the trailer as a spare, and Back Tires 3 and 4: Still looking in decent shape, but went to the tire graveyard anyway. So now we have the utmost confidence for the

second phase of our road trip, with essentially 6 new tires. At least we didn’t have to settle for crap, and we were able to get what we really

wanted as it seems these Goodyear’s are the last one’s on the planet right now. While Jeff and his young assistant took care of the switch-a-roonie, I called some recommended places for trailer alignment, evidently a highly specialized service that Napa Tire doesn’t do. It takes specialized equipment to do the work. We were able to get into East Bay Frame & Axle in San Leandro on the 15th. While he has the trailer, we’ll also have him check the bearings and the brakes. We needed a place for the trailer anyway, since we’ll be staying at my mom’s through the end of the month, so it works out perfectly. We’ve also heard truck stops offer this service, but we thought we’d go with someone who really specializes in RV’s.

About an hour later, we were back on the road and headed to our old stomping ground of Skyline Wilderness Park.

This is where we’ve done numerous hikes in our 30 years of living in the Napa Valley, but it was also home to our 7 Chili Cookoff/Family Reunions, back when it was a sleepy kind of place. Now this park is hoppin’. What once was our annual family gathering place, is now designated for tent campers only. The 850-acre park looks so beautiful this time of year with its rolling green hills and handsome live oaks. Skyline also has 30 miles of hiking/biking trails, an equestrian area, gardens and open fields for events/picnicking. From the top, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Tamalpais, San Francisco Bay and Mt. Diablo in the East Bay. It’s sort of funny on our previous visits to the park, we would enjoy checking out the many RV’s parked in the RV section, dreaming of maybe one day owning our own. And here we are…...

Now that it’s December, we could finally set up Christmas; pillows, stockings, garland, candles. The big question… get a tree or not? Last year we got a small live tree for the kitchen table but since we’re only having the trailer through the 15th, is it worth getting? We shall see. We may be paying Steve’s Trees a visit.

We met Shane at our favorite grub/pub restaurants in downtown Napa, Napa Palisades Saloon. Great beer selection, yummy burgers (they even had a Beyond Burger for me), and the most delicious brussel sprouts. It was so great to get overdue hugs from our son once again, since we hadn’t seen each other in 4 months. We’re beyond thrilled that we get to be together for Christmas this year.

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