Friday miscellany: Many logistics

We returned from spring break a mere 2 weeks ago, yet we are already deep into the logistics for end-of-the-school-year activities and for summer. My eldest will soon be 12 (!) so we’re planning birthday stuff for him. This weekend is a total doozy on the logistics front (more on that Monday or Tuesday I suppose) and I am sorting out June travel with flying to a speech from an extended-family get-together. I also booked tickets for a trip I’m taking with the big kids.

Then there was this week’s real planning fun (and almost a fail). I wanted to get a reservation for my husband and me at French Laundry in the Napa Valley area this summer. We’d previously booked rooms at the Majestic Yosemite for some dates later in the summer for a family vacation, and we’re celebrating our 15th anniversary. I figured that while we were in northern California we could do both (they’re about 4 hours apart). The online reservation system opened for summer bookings at 10 a.m. Pacific (1 p.m. Eastern) on May 1.

So I was on right at that time…and was immediately shut out. The two dates I was looking at in August were instantly gone*, which makes me suspicious (I was truly on there, on the page, registered, etc. at 1 p.m.) I clicked on some other times, but as soon as I’d click, the system would claim someone else had just gotten the spot. This kept going on, with my frustration rising, but finally, I was able to snag a reservation — that I’d clicked on before, but the system said someone else had grabbed — for a time that was earlier in our planned trip. So I took it, and then spent the next few hours looking at maps of California and on the phone with the lovely folks who do Yosemite bookings sorting it out.** The good news is that I was able to add another day for our two Yosemite rooms, so we’ll still have time in the park despite the first bit being chopped up…quite lucky, as the entire rest of the month appears to be sold out for Yosemite too. Fun stuff.

Someone sent a question recently asking if I ever suffer from planning fatigue. The answer: Yes! Yes I do!

But I also want to do cool stuff, and I want to do cool stuff with my (large) family. I spent an hour yesterday looking over my printed time logs of the past year. The logs encompass 8760 hours, as a year is always 8760 hours (except for leap years). Yet it feels expansive in memory. So much happened, including things both big and small that required logistical maneuverings. When you wish to do very specific things, particularly things where demand eclipses supply, then you have to plan ahead.

The trick is making sure you’re actually enjoying time while you’re in it, and not constantly working out the details for the future. I think part of my frustration this week is that I’ve spent so much time sorting out this weekend (and some stuff for next weekend!) and for the summer that I feel like this week itself has been…meh. It might have been meh anyway, as it was filled with such fun stuff as getting my 8-year-old car repaired prior to the epic driving that needs to happen this weekend. But! I am hoping that once I am in this weekend I can actually enjoy myself. And as for the summer logistical planning, I know it cannot continue indefinitely. At some point the logistics are done. Though then we hit early fall with two more birthdays, new school schedules…

How are you coming on your summer planning?

*For reservations for 2 people. I have since learned that they strictly limit the number of 2-person tables, and if I’d booked for 4 or 6 I could have gotten those dates (well, on May 1 in the first few hours). You pre-pay but we know plenty of people in San Francisco, so we possibly should have done that. Oh well. It’s all worked out now.

**I truly do mean lovely, I’m not being sarcastic. Tiffany was the sweetest and most helpful customer service person I’ve spoken with in a while.

Photo: Lego monkeys at the Philly zoo. Something of a metaphor for life.

10 thoughts on “Friday miscellany: Many logistics

  1. I hear you on the end-of-the-school-year plus summer logistics planning fatigue! I had to laugh when I saw Jen Hatmaker describe May as “the month that wants to murder us & not bury our bodies.” 😉 Along the national park lines, I found this list of national parks ordered by annual visitors (https://www.pleacher.com/np/visits/visitors.html), and it’s been helpful in figuring out how far ahead you need to plan for visiting various national parks, based on popularity. (Also, it’s interesting to note that the distribution of visitors between various parks follows a mathematical power-law distribution, with the top 6 parks claiming a huge fraction of all the visitors.) So when we did a Spring Break circuit through the Seattle-area national parks last year, we knew, OK, Olympic National Park is #8 & Mt Rainier National Park is #13 in terms of visitors, but we can also visit North Cascades National Park, which @ #55 was far less-crowded.

    1. @Brooke – oh my goodness, this comment has power law distributions and national parks. This is why I blog 🙂 I am so happy right now.

      You’re right that looking for lesser-known parks that are in the same general region (and hence probably have a lot of the same stuff) is smart. When we stayed at Old Faithful Inn last summer, we needed to book 15 months ahead. Probably less so for the vast majority of places!

    2. @Brooke – an addendum – I would not have pegged Great Smoky Mountain National Park as being the top visited, but I guess it is close to population centers in a way that a place like Yellowstone just isn’t.

  2. A California park worth checking out is Big Trees. The apple cider donuts at a nearby cafe are worth the trip alone – we went when I was 8 weeks pregnant and I was sick as a dog but could manage donuts. We went a few years back and it was lovely!

  3. OHH, French Laundry reservations are notoriously hard to get even with perfect on the dot planning! I remember trying the OpenTable at the moment they opened, and then something about repeatedly calling evey single day at 12:00?! We ended up getting a lunch reservation through our hotel concierge (same meal/price as dinner) on our actual anniversary there in 2016 and it was a good thing we didn’t do dinner b/c there was enough wine consumed that we needed to take a nap in a nearby park before driving home. HA!

    It was freaking amazing and I would totally go back again someday.

  4. Sounds like a great vacation. Although I am generally a planner, I just don’t like to have to plan so far ahead on things and prefer to leave myself more wiggle room to be slightly more spontaneous on vacation/fun plans, so I’ve accepted that there will be some experiences (like French Laundry) that I just won’t experience. There is literally not a restaurant on earth for which I would be willing to jump through any kind of major hoops. Admittedly, though, I have been very influenced by my parents, who grew up in the Soviet Union and had to regularly wait in line for bread. After moving to Canada, my mother promised herself she’d never wait in line for food (or much of anything else again). I guess I absorbed this feeling by osmosis 🙂

  5. Thank you. I turned to your blog for inspiration and once again you’ve helped me feel better about the “busy” in my life. Right now I’m sitting in a rented guesthouse on the grounds of an event venue I booked for a graduation party I planned for my sister. I’m having a mini-meltdown. I drove a baby three hours to get here, I’m preparing for a conference in another state that I’m on the planning committee of, and I’m handing over the kid to the grandparents after this party and jumping on a plane for a long flight and conference week. Holy moly. I knew this weekend and upcoming week would be packed with work and conference travel, but I also knew this party would be a chance to make memories for my sister and my family, so I chose this. But I’m also planning in downtime. And I know June will be a bit slower and more restful. And then I’ll have all this to remember and savor. I have to keep thinking about that.

  6. Hi Laura, please can we have a podcast on planning fatigue! Ive been taking on board the suggestions from the before Breakfast and BoBW podcasts. But i am noticing i am struggling to relax because i constantly need to plan and I am feeling a little burntout by planning because the planning cant stop….there’s the constant logistics and mouths to feed

    1. @Suzanne – you are in luck! We address this in a Q&A segment in an upcoming (like a month from now) episode. Definitely planner fatigue exists and it’s hard to enjoy stuff when you’re constantly thinking about the next stuff. But I think it’s still possible. More to come on that!

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