Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Greener Getaways

From the bean of Green Bean.

It was Sunday. The birds chirped. A cow lowed in the distance. Dishes clattered in the kitchen downstairs and, if I strained my ears, I could hear the quiet cluck of chickens.

I glanced at my watch. 7:40. Still another fifty minutes until breakfast. I rolled over and closed my eyes, thinking to go back to sleep.

I could not remember the last time I had slept this late. We were going home today. Back to the constant chatter of children. The busy schedules. The din of the television or the drone of passing cars. Far away from a cow perched on a green green hill. Or a kayak drifting over scores of jelly fish. Or a mountain trail leading past wildflowers to the open ocean.

My in-laws were watching the boys. Our first weekend without them since my oldest wiggled into the world and transformed our lives. Our first weekend and it was almost over.

When the idea of a weekend away first came up, we had shifted through various scenarios. In years past, vacations involved airplanes and islands. Chain hotels and room service. Relaxing, yes. Expensive, indeed. Memorable, on rare occasions. Eco-friendly, hardly.

This getaway would be different. We were different. We were looking for different things.


We live in the densely populated San Francisco Bay Area. A place surrounded by short drives to the coast in almost any direction. Redwoods soar just thirty minutes away, over a few hills and around a windy road. Sea otters and seals float an hour to the south. To the east and north, lies farm land. State and national parks border us on all sides and offer succor from the noise and increased blood pressure that comes with living in an urban center. (If you live in California or have visited California state parks, ask the Governator to keep our parks open here!)

We settled on Point Reyes, a small seaside town to the north. Not too far north. Just far enough. Somewhere wonderful. Somewhere in our own backyard. Somewhere we'd visited only once, at a wedding, years and years ago.


If we had had with kids with us, we'd likely have opted for camping. A second hand tent. Kids carousing in the creek. Counting the stars at night. What's more eco and frugal?

Of course, we didn't have the kids and, while a bed of soft dirt and redwood fronds can be quite comfortable, we opted for something a little softer. A local bed and breakfast.

A B&B is the perfect way to support a independent small business. It's also a great way to enjoy a quiet night, a claw foot tub, gardens loved by someone else.

With some investigating, we found a bed & breakfast that was right up my eco-alley. A certified green business that served breakfast from eggs laid on the premises by a dozen happy hens. That stocked its bathrooms with organic cotton towels and Seventh Generation toilet paper and filled its fridge with organic soda and local produce. I daresay that its not the only B&B of its ilk. Indeed, a member of the Green Moms Carnival operates something similar in her neck of the woods.


Beyond the obvious, which, if you are a mom vacationing without your kids, is "nap", living lighter means adopting more habitable hobbies. I'm not Ms. Outdoors by a long shot. My bicycle is a beach cruiser, not road bike, and hikes usually mean a stroll to the store.

But in the interest of treading lighter, reconnecting with nature, and getting into some semblance of shape, we opted for more active activities. Ones with virtually no impact on the surrounding habitat.

A borrowed road bike took us down a pretty country lane. The only sound for miles around was the whirring of my tires and the rustle of birds in the brush.

A guided tour of Tomales Bay by kayak revealed a harbor seal, a handful of a moon jellyfish (the non-stinging kind - looks like a silicone breast implant), a sea-ful of Lion's Mane jellyfish (the stinging kind) and an inner peace I've never before experienced.

A hike past wildflowers and beaches revealed how our ancestors, the coastal Miwoks, lived. How every plant had a purpose. Wooden teepees rested on the shore, waiting for children to venture inside.

And a good library book held my attention far more than any television show would.

Easy. Relaxing. Simple hobbies. Ones that rely on brain or body power and not fossil fuel power. One that leave no footprint behind.


We were lucky enough to stumble into the heart of the eat local movement but I daresay that almost every getaway can involve some local food.

Independent restaurants. Roadside fruit stands. Small bakeries. Little delis. Eat what is in season where you are and experience a bit of what makes that place unique and unlike any other.

With an organic smoothie made from local produce in the cup holder and a lap full of locally grown cherries, we drove over the Golden Gate bridge, leaving behind dreams of dairy farms and lapping water, but taking with us memories of a greater, greener getaway.


Kel said...

oh boy, what a great get away! marin and its surrounds for me is my fave part of the USA. When we visit we have the priviledge of many primary producer contacts on the eco-front and i really appreciate the scale and diversity that this part of the world offers the person who is eco-interested. I love holidays in this part of the universe.

Mindful Momma said...

I'm totally with you on that type of vacation! So nice to go w/out the kids!

Beany said...

That sounds like such a wonderful getaway! Kind, happy all around.

greeen sheeep said...

Now I think I need an eco-getaway!

PureMothers said...

So glad you posted this. We've live din Marin for only 1 year and have never been to Point Reyes. This sounds like a perfect mix of a vacation and staycation for us.

Glad you had a great eco-getaway!

Deb G said...

Sounds absolutely perfect. I'm planning my own vacation week right now and am planning on doing a few special things around my corner of the world. It's the most relaxing kind of vacation I think.

Daisy said...

Traveling quietly, eating local - sounds wonderful.

Green Bean said...

Thank you all. It was the perfect weekend away - fun and guilt free.

Levinson Axelrod said...

Great green adventure.


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