Spring Break 1999: Not a Dream in California

Spring Break is supposed to be one of those terrific times to take a vacation. As a Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Nebraska, I never took the time nor spent the money to travel for any of my spring breaks while an undergraduate. After all, with three majors, I had far too many papers and final exam projects to complete to dare take an extended weekend off. The nearest I came during those years from January 1991 through May 1995 was to travel to Toronto during the third week of May for a wonderful trip seeing the Toronto architecture; the University of Toronto campus is quite spectacular!

But in grad school, I did need a break while studying Chinese language at the University of Iowa. My final semester of college I found out that I had won a trip to Napa Valley, California in a sweepstakes I had entered without any thought of ever winning. The window for travel: between March 1 and May 1; the perfect excuse for a spring break! The trip was supposed to be all-inclusive with a $100 resort credit for anything-spa treatments, dining, or amenities-plus lodging, airfare from Iowa City to San Francisco, and even a car rental for the weekend.

I don’t drive; I lost most of my eyesight in 1985 when a car hit me crossing the street on the way home from junior high. A co-worker from my part-time job, however, was happy to come with me-and drive.

There was just one hitch: no one bothered to provide detailed maps to guide us from the San Francisco airport to and onto the Golden Gate Bridge and from there to the Napa Valley resort.

Our plane landed at 2 p.m. We knew that check-in at the resort was for no later than 7 p.m., but were not too worried because the resort was a mere 70 miles or so from San Francisco. That is, until we were driving SF. We followed the best directions we could discover from Iowa, yet after 3 hours of wandering through the city, we still could not find the entrance to the bridge. We could see the bridge was nearby, but there were absolutely no signs to direct us to it; quite unlike every other bridge in every other city either my co-worker or I had encountered.

Thirty more minutes passed. Finally we found a local who was able to give us directions. We were a mere four short blocks from the ramp. Kindly, gently, she helped us navigate. It was nearly 6pm and we were finally starting our long trek to the resort.

At 7: 30 p.m. we finally reached the parking lot of the resort. A reception for new guests was winding down. Frazzled and confused, we checked in-with difficulty-trying to explain the situation. By 8 p.m., we entered our room and fell asleep! What a way to begin a vacation!

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