‘Staycations’ look better all the time

Gale Hammond

Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with this picture. Here we are, living in one of the most beautiful parts of the planet (in my opinion) with more fun things to do than you could cram into a month of Sundays. So why am I putting myself through this?
I mean, think about it. South Valley has oodles of great vacation-like things to do. We have wineries (and a huge THANK YOU to everyone involved in getting the Wine Trail signs in place-they look fabulous). We have a super-sized state park: Henry W. Coe State Park is the largest state park in northern California and features camping and hiking trails along with thousands of acres of open space that appear virtually untouched by man.
And if you’ve been waiting for the perfect reason to visit Coe Park, how about the upcoming Tarantula Fest Oct. 4? Fall is tarantula mating season, you know, and where else but in our neck of the woods can you attend a Tarantula Festival and Barbecue? (And no, they aren’t grilling the tarantulas.)
Tickets can be purchased for yummy menu items like Santa Maria style steak, marinated chicken, vegetarian burgers and grilled hot dogs, all served with a side of beans, tossed salad and grilled French bread. And hey, with luck you may get to “rub elbows (so to speak) with some of our fuzzy, friendly eight-legged guests of honor” according to the website.
Calaveras may have frogs—but we’ve got the big hairy guys!
If tarantulas aren’t your thing but you still want some fun on the weekends, Gilroy Gardens, 3050 Hecker Pass Highway, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. through October; the park’s hours shorten slightly in November.
So why am I choosing to leave my own backyard and traveling 1,300 miles with my hubby and a cranky blind pooch who hates to travel? Well.
Awhile back I opened my big mouth and offered to “help” our class reunion committee back in my Colorado hometown and four years ago we put on a heck of a reunion. But, like birthdays, reunions tend to roll around on a regular basis, and next year we’re at it again; hence the trip back to my hometown.
Except now I’m not just “helping” on the committee; I seem to be in charge. I was elected to this high honor by virtue of my valuable qualification of being absent from a meeting.
So I’ve spent hours making hotel reservations, setting up meetings with reunion venue people as well as the rest of the committee who still live my hometown and who so graciously put me in charge—even though I live hundreds of miles west of where I was born.
But why am I complaining? All that’s left for me to do is stop the mail and newspapers and pack up pretty much every item of clothing I own because Colorado has the world’s most changeable weather: in the 80s one day, snowing the next.
The good news is I’ve bathed my cranky dog who goes ballistic whenever I so much as turn on the water in the laundry room sink, so that item is checked off the giant to-do list before departure. (Note to self: Take dog outside to poop BEFORE to avoid “floaters” in doggy bath water.)
So as we travel back over the many miles to Colorado, I hope you’ll discover some of what our South Valley has to offer during the warm Indian summer days of fall. Enjoy a glass of wine at one of our many beautiful vintners’ locations, take a weekend trip with the kiddos to fun Gilroy Gardens, experience our numerous parks and walking trails—or make a hairy friend at Coe Park.
Either way, it will be a “staycation” full of fond memories of fall in South Valley.

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