While I do travel a lot, it’s always for work or an event. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had an actual vacation. A time when there was nothing to do, no one to see, and it lasted more than an hour. But for someone who loves her work and is self-employed, time off is a rarity (that’s not something one thinks about when they’re in cubicle hell. I had more time off in a full-time job than I ever have on my own).
Two other self-employed women, Emira of Be the Boss of You and Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, have each just written about the need for time off. And I’ve echoed their words for years but haven’t been able to live it. Each time a trip was planned, I’d ring someone up or I’d turn it into a business trip.
With all the stress of this year, I was in need of some serious R&R and realised instead of preaching the value of time off, I should take my own advice and take one.
Most Danes have a getaway home though they’re almost never fancy. Even in the city of Copenhagen, you will find a colony of little hyttes, basic cabins often with no running water or electricity but a bit of garden space, just so city dwellers have a place to escape to. Most cabins are in the country, near water. I have cousins who have them and they’re very nice modest places that they go to every year. The Danes do know how to relax.
Since I had been in so many hotels this year alone, I didn’t want to take a city escape to yet another fabulous place with room service and people. I wanted something simple, something private, something in nature, something affordable and someplace where I could just be – something like a hytte but with electricity since I needed to cook. I also wanted to be able to take my dog, Jack, and not have to worry. And so began my search for a cabin.
While I didn’t exactly find a cabin, I did find an amazing house in Ukiah in Northern California – the Haiku House. It’s run by Sheep Dung Properties which is a lot nicer than it sounds! The owners created several homes for people who want to get away from it all with their pets. Exactly what I needed.
Set on 800 private acres, the only noise heard at Haiku House was the wind rustling through the trees or wild turkeys. There were no people around, no traffic zooming by, no TV’s blaring. It was serene and peaceful in every way. There was a long, private drive that winded up the mountainside, which, during the day, was perfect for leash-free hikes with Jack.
The house itself was amazing. There are four rooms which would be great for a family or couples sharing but I just had the larger queen room downstairs. Normally I’m not a huge Ikea fan but all the pieces worked really well in this house and kept the feeling of simplicity and airyness. It was very spacious which confused both Jack and I at first – where do we go? So we ran around as music (provided by their iPod and speaker system) played.
What else was provided? A fully equiped state of the art kitchen with everything you could think of (and things I wouldn’t have). I brought in all my food since the point was to get away from it all and not have to go anywhere (and this place being remote, the nearest town was about 1/2hr away). The pots, the pans, the tools were brilliant and made cooking easy and enjoyable (with a view that was to die for). I made tea several times a day, ate outside overlooking the garden and had snacks whilst watching moives on their DVD player at night (in bed!).
There were also lots of baths involved, and so much time spent on the hammock. I definitely need to invest in one as I so did enjoy the view.
I ended up taking the lounging chairs onto the wrap around balcony where I spent a lot of time, as did Jack.
For pets (or kids) this was a nice feature, plus a (small) fenced-in yard in which birds visited and roses bloomed. Having this I didn’t have to worry where Jack was at all, although he just followed me everywhere, including onto the hammock. He was a very, very happy dog and I became a very, very happy relaxed girl.
I actually spent one day in my nightgown, going back and forth between outside and bed. I had brought books to read and did manage a few but truthfully, I just spent a lot of time sleeping and hiking in the evening with Jack (and Jack Rabbits, and deer and those wild turkeys). It was incredibly freeing to not have to see anyone, be anywhere, do anything. No internet, no cell phone, no TV (there was a TV but I only watched some DVD’s). My only chores were to feed us, sleep and pick flowers.
I watched the sun come up each morning and go down each night. I can’t recall the last time I did this.
Leaving was honestly hard to do. I was born on a farm, raised in the country and spent my early twenties living in the Canadian Rockies so I do remote well. But I also do love wearing pretty Anthropologie clothing, going to events and dishing with girlfriends at cafe’s. I haven’t found a place in America yet where I can combine quiet, country life with still being active and modern (this is easily found in Europe, I think). But in any event, it was a nice break, a far too short break, that I’ll have to take more of.
I’ve decided to keep the city-escapes to a minimum for awhile and instead, just live in the city (Santa Monica) and retreat to the country as often as possible. Maybe next time I’ll bring some girlfriends who also need that quiet getaway. Because this was one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long, long time. I came back energised, creative, and passionate about really connecting again and living my manifesto. It seems much easier to do when all the crap is removed from one’s head and all you have coming into it is a lovely view and the chirps of happy birds.