I don’t consider myself a rule-breaker by nature, but I am known to bend them every now and again. As our family inched closer to the end of week six in quarantine, we all agreed that a change of scenery was necessary, and thought of ways that we could safely do so, even if it might require bending our local quarantine rules. My children had not seen their friends outside of the Xbox or FaceTime, and I was beginning to consider the clerks at our local grocery store my besties. Humans are not meant to be cooped up 24/7 with the same people, in the same physical space for months on end, so we decided that new surroundings to shelter in place were just what the doctor ordered.
We are neither campers nor road trippers, so the most logical option would be to seek shelter in a nearby hotel on the coast less than an hour from our home. We found that The Ritz Carlton in Half Moon Bay was open and would be the perfect refuge for three nights of rest and relaxation from well, the rest and relaxation we were getting at home. The daily dirge of the dishwasher loading and unloading, wiping the kitchen counters multiple times a day, and running the washing machine on repeat needed a break and so did we. We booked several adjoining rooms that faced the ocean with fire pits and bathtubs and a big table to play games. We packed snacks and wine and fruit and books and monopoly and cards. Basically, all the activities we had been doing at home, but with a different backdrop.
We arrived just before dinner to a normally bustling hotel. We were welcomed by a single uniformed valet instructing us through his mask that he couldn’t help with luggage and that there were no bell boys on duty. No prob, we were in favor of getting our own anyway, so we loaded everything up and headed to the front desk. Standing behind stanchions six feet from the counter, the masked and gloved receptionist welcomed us warmly and handed over the keys. For a moment, it felt like we were in The Shining– the long, deserted corridors were wide open, empty and inviting to the teenagers. Thankfully they were on skateboards, not Big Wheels, like the movie. We moved right in and felt instantly relaxed in what would be our new home for the next few days.
I immediately walked the ocean path to catch the last bit of daylight, and even shrouded in fog, this stretch of the Pacific is breathtaking. Craggy rocks and steep shoreline gave way to crashing waves and an instant ionic charge that I knew would sustain me for the next 30 days of quarantine ahead. Only a handful of rooms were lit up, making me feel like I was not alone in my need for a new view. On a Wednesday night, it appeared to be mostly couples in need of a dose of privacy from full households; sitting on their patios with fires lit and wine in hand. This place was heaven and felt like a luxurious cocoon where we could momentarily forget what was actually happening in the world around us.
“Room service”, that evening consisted of packaged takeout from the hotel restaurant that we had to fetch from the bar. We enjoyed it on paper plates with plastic silverware and a big glass of wine. We put on our sweats and slippers, took a deep exhale, and dug into Netflix. After a fire and movie, we crawled into what the kids described as “THE BEST BED I’VE EVER SLEPT IN!” and experienced the deepest, most peaceful, uninterrupted sleep in weeks.
There is nothing better to me than waking up to the sound of crashing waves; so soothing, rhythmic, and energizing all at the same time. The weather report was fantastic, so we took full advantage of being outdoors, even if it meant simply sitting for hours on the patio. Book in hand, eyes closed when they needed to, and not having to think about the dishwasher, laundry, or the monotony of household chores was precisely the peace I needed. The kids did their schoolwork online; we played cards, as well as a rousing game of Monopoly. We took walks and snoozed on a deserted beach while the boys went boogie boarding. The bizarre world of gloves, masks, six feet apart, and hand sanitizer seemed to melt away with the waves. Yet, at the same time, it was so bizarre to be holed up in this luxurious, deserted, otherwise bustling beachside retreat where golfers, bikers, and surfers would typically pass by on the path out in front.
Our quasi-secret getaway was precious because we felt worlds away and got the rest and relaxation we were seeking. We were awarded valuable family time that likely never would have happened on a whim because of sports, social commitments, and school schedules that always seem to prohibit the opportunity to get together. There have certainly been dark moments in this pandemic, but luckily our family -immediate as well as distant- are healthy, happy, and thriving. We have, and will continue to respect and embrace the new normal, but in the name of safety and sanity, allowed ourselves (thanks to the Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay) to bend the rules a bit to recharge, reset, and refocus at the beach. I will never forget the closeness I felt not only to my family but to nature in those three days. I am truly grateful that we allowed ourselves the opportunity to bend the rules in order to clear our heads so we could carry on in the twilight age of Corona.