This little vacation is exactly the kind of trip I think is perfect for chronic pain patients who haven’t done a lot of traveling with their pain yet, who are celebrating the diminishing of a flare, or who feel like they might be doing well enough to travel. At the moment I’m in category 2.
If you’ve got chronic pain and you can physically get up out of bed and walk around your house, and you can tolerate a car trip of 15-60 minutes, you can take this kind of trip. It may not be pain-free. But if you want to have fun, you can create a lot of fun.
Here’s my step-by-step guide to finding the joy in a one-night near-home getaway:
- Choose someplace near home.
I love Half Moon Bay because it’s less than an hour’s drive from my house, yet it’s got a totally different atmosphere than the one I live in. It’s got a small town feel, complete with kitschy downtown, and it lies along the stunning Northern California coastline. Read here: Beach!I also like taking getaways to the woods, to the mountains, and to small towns with interesting history. I always try to pick someplace with points of interest, places to take slow pleasant walks, unusual or chic restaurants, and a nice inn that’s got comfortable rooms near to the places I want to visit.
- Drive out in the mid-afternoon.
Midafternoon is the perfect time to make my short drive up the freeway and over the mountains. Between 1pm and 3pm, traffic in my major metro area smooths out. Most every hotel, motel, and inn known to man has a check-in time between 3pm-4pm. I timed my drive to get to the Cypress Inn just at check-in time, so I could lie down if I felt tired or achy when I arrived.
- Take a walk on the beach.
I didn’t feel tired or achy, so my husband unloaded our bags into our room, we changed our shoes, and we headed out. The Cypress Inn sits just across the road from the beach. We took a long, shambling stroll. I collected a few shells, including some undamaged sand dollars. I breathed in the ocean air, stared out over the water, petted various dogs who’d taken their owners out for a romp on the sand, and just let myself feel the joy of being someplace beautiful…someplace different.
After beachcombing for an hour, I felt tired. So I laid down on the wide bed and read a book for an hour. My husband and I watched the sun set over the Pacific from the wide windows overlooking the water.
- Go out for a nice dinner.
Before we left home, I’d made reservations at Cetrella–a fancy California cuisine restaurant in downtown Half Moon Bay. I love dining out, especially when I’m traveling. Cetrella has a special $25 prix-fixe menu they serve Tues-Thurs. We took advantage of that discount and enjoyed a charming meal with a glass of wine. The restaurant is only 10-15 minutes from the Inn, so if I’d had physical trouble we could have gotten me back to the room quickly.Though it wasn’t strictly necessary, my husband and I dressed up some for dinner. I wore dress pants and boots rather than a dress and heels–walking in heels tends to cause me pain, and the cold weather would have added pain if I’d chosen a dress. But it’s still great fun to dress up, add some jewelry and makeup to my outfit. It makes the meal a special event, and that much more fun.
- Take a bath.
Especially in chilly weather, baths ease my aches and pains while relaxing my muscles and soothing my skin. Knowing this, my fabulous husband reserved us a room with an oversized spa tub. We made use of it. ‘Nuff said.
- Enjoy the hotel room.
All through our short stay, I enjoyed the amenities of the room at the Cypress Inn we’d saved up to be able to afford and of the Inn itself. The bathtub, of course, the comfy bed, the wide flat-screen TV with cable, the in-house Esalen-trained massage therapist, the wine and cheese in the evening, the room-service breakfast in the morning.
I can’t do without lots of sleep each night. So I put in my earplugs, locked the door and put out the Do Not Disturb sign, pulled the drapes, and slept.
- Eat breakfast in bed.
The innkeeper delivers breakfast trays to guests who don’t want to appear in the dining room in the morning. So we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in bed.
- Check out at the latest possible check-0ut time.
No point in bolting out of the room at 7 am–this was a vacation! So we packed up, husband loaded the car, and we checked out at 11:30 am.
- Shop downtown.
I love shopping, and my husband gamely tolerates shopping. Shopping is another way to get in a stroll while seeing new things. Most downtown areas have benches if I need to sit down, there’s usually someplace that’s selling bottled water and coffee, and being a customer means the sales staff will let me use the restrooms.
- Have a light lunch at a cute bakery.
Eating’s important. So we did.
- Drive home.
In the early afternoon, we drove home. I have a tough time making it through a whole day without lying down to rest at least once in the afternoon. We went home so I could do that.
We got home and I laid down and rested.
Totally successful trip! Try it yourself when you get a chance.
Photo (c) radzfoto on flickr