Vacation Notebooks

Planning Our 2024 Vacation

posted in: Personal Essay, Travel | 0

Making Plans

It’s that time of year again, and Holly and I have plans to return to California. This is the 3rd year in a row we’ve taken our big vacation in May. Since we work in an academic library, May is a great time to get away because the spring semester is over, and we can really disconnect from work. May is also a less crowded time to go to Carmel-by-the-Sea which has become such a place of comfort and relaxation for us since we first visited in 2018. This will be our 5th trip there.

As we had done the past 2 years, we’re first making a stop elsewhere. In 2022, we spent 2 days in Phoenix and last year we spent a couple of days in Downtown Los Angeles. This year, we will again fly into Los Angeles but will stay in Long Beach for 3 days.

In both 2022 and 2023, we flew from Phoenix and Los Angeles to Monterey where we rented a car and drove to Carmel. This year, we’re going to rent a car in Los Angeles and drive to Long Beach. After our stay there, we’re going to drive to Carmel, stopping for one night in Solvang to break up the nearly 6 hour drive. We’ve been to Solvang a few times before and always enjoy it.

Long Beach is Holly’s hometown, and we haven’t been there since 2017 and that was for only 1 day when we went there after a flight home from a wedding was cancelled due to snow on the east coast. Our last extended stay was in 2016. Although I had my Canon EOS Rebel T3 at that time, for some reason, I did not bring it with me. I relied on the Samsung Galaxy S5 I had at the time for all my photos from that trip.

When Holly and I first got together, I often visited Long Beach but didn’t have any good cameras, which means that this upcoming trip will be the first one when I’ll have proper cameras with me and will be more intentionally taking photos.

After our 1 night in Solvang, we’ll spend 8 nights in Carmel. We’ll then drive back down to Los Angeles for our flight home. We’re not staying anywhere to break up the drive back, but I’m sure we’ll stop for lunch and possibly at some scenic locations.

As we had done the past 2 years, we’re going to stay one night near the airport so that we can get a direct flight home at a reasonable hour.

Like last year, we get back to Philadelphia the middle of the week before Memorial Day, meaning that we’ll have 5 more days off before going back to work.

Deciding What to Bring

I’m keeping a close eye on the weather for Long Beach since the temperature there can be more variable than in Carmel. I’m hoping it will stay on the moderate side (i.e. highs in the low 70s) to not complicate my clothes packing. Carmel is reliably cool (i.e. highs in the upper 50s and lower 60s) so I don’t want to need to pack for a wide discrepancy in temperatures as had happened when the first part of our trip was in Phoenix.

I’m planning to pack lighter, at least with clothes, since we have made good use of a laundry in Carmel. I need to think about packing for only 5 days rather than the actual 15 we’ll be away.

Last year, I brought 2 film cameras with me, my Minolta X-700 (with 2 lenses) and my now defunct Rollei Giro 105. My plan this year is to bring my Nikon Z fc (with 2 lenses) and my Minolta Hi-Matic 11. This is a similar set-up as I had 2 years ago when I brought my Z fc and my Olympus XA. For that trip, I relied mostly on my Nikon and just used the XA when I wanted to travel light. I anticipate this year using my cameras more evenly.

The one variable is that I plan on checking out Relics, a new-ish camera store in Long Beach. I could just browse, but they may have a used film camera that strikes my fancy. Time will tell.

Last year, when I relied mostly on my film cameras, I shot 11 rolls of film. This year, since I’ll also have my Z fc with me, I’m bringing 9 rolls: 6 color and 3 black and white:

I bought a Traveler’s Notebook in 2021 and took its name literally and have used it for all my travels since. It has gotten pleasantly scuffed along the way.

I’m using 5 inserts for it: a grid notebook, a vertical daily calendar, a sticker-release book, a kraft folder, and a zipper pouch. I used the grid notebook and the calendar last year. Since I didn’t fill them, I re-using them this year.

I use the grid notebook to keep lists of things I need to bring and things I need to get done before leaving. I also keep lists of places we want to go and things we want to do. I made a chart for tracking which films I use when and in what camera.

In addition to my Traveler’s Notebook, I’m bringing the Monterey Bay notebook and a smaller pocket notebook that I bought last year at The Pleasure of Writing in Carmel. I’ll use the Monterey Bay notebook as my journal. I’m not sure what I’ll use the pocket notebook for, but since I bought it in Carmel, I thought it would be nice to bring it along.

I have really enjoyed the way I’ve used notebooks for my last few trips. Between those and my photographs, I’ve developed a pleasing approach to memory keeping. We’ll be away for 2 weeks so there will be plenty of memories worth keeping!

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