Chapter 30 | Napa, CA

In 2013, I wrote a blog titled Chapter 23.5: Texas. It involved my short time living in Del Rio, TX. It was the first time I ever lived with Tim, and shortly after I officially moved down there, he found out he was going to fly the KC-10 in New Jersey. So we moved, and I wrote a short blog post about my time in Del Rio.

While living in Napa, I drew parallels to that post. I was just 23 at the time, (23.5 I guess). Now I am 30, and we spent less than a year in Napa. My time in Napa was great. Excellent. I enjoyed most of it.

September was hard with wildfires, but for the most part, I really enjoyed the 9 months I got in Napa. I wish I had more time.

Tim and I napa valley

One of the most common questions I get is: if you had known you would move again, would you have wanted to move to Napa?

The answer is yes. I was so mentally burned out that I desperately needed a change.  Burnout could have been a number of things, from living in the same area for 7 years to the pandemic, but I was burned out.

In January 2021, my husband was accepted into the Test Pilot Program. It’s a dream he has gone after for years. He applied several years in a row but was not accepted.

It “doesn’t look good” if you are applying after shortly moving. This doesn’t mean you won’t get in, but it “doesn’t help.” After 7 years in New Jersey, we were both stale and needed a change. So he took the path to continue flying the KC-10 at Travis in California.

Despite knowing that it “didn’t help”, he still applied to TPS. We knew him applying set us up for possibly moving again in 2021, but we didn’t actually believe we would. In New Jersey, it always felt like we were “on the cusp of moving” but career paths that didn’t line up for whatever reason…not in a bad way, just didn’t line up). In the military, it’s extremely unusual to stay somewhere for 7 years.

I guess it’s a long way of saying after living in New Jersey for so long, we knew we could move within a year of moving to Napa but didn’t *really* believe we would.

When we found out we were actually moving, I told people, but I don’t think people realized how far we were actually moving. “It’s still California.” Yes, but 400 miles south. The fact that it’s still in the same state doesn’t make a lot of difference for me. It’s a big move and involves the same process as moving from New Jersey to California.

It’s the same distance as Cherry Hill, NJ to Raleigh, NC, or Boston to Baltimore. 

Just about everything is different. I’m going from some green to the desert—big town (Bay Area) to the Mojave. Granted, we will be 90 minutes from Los Angeles and 2.5 hours from both San Diego and Las Vegas. But, it’s a chance.

I am neither excited nor not excited. It’s a feeling I know all too well. It’s the same feeling I had when we moved to New Jersey 8 years ago. Yet, I fell in love with New Jersey.

Military life is weird that way. You rarely get much say of where you are moving. You might know a lot about the area or none. It causes you to be indifferent about moving. People expect you to be either very excited or very sad for moving, but I am neither.

Anyway, back to Napa.

If you ever a chance to live or visit, you should. It’s cheaper than the Bay Area. Although the cheapest home for sale that “needed a lot of work” was 530k. The cheapest rent was roughly 2,800, which is much cheaper than most of the Bay Area.

It’s great for running. There are plenty of hills, trails, and mountains. If you want a hill you can find parks with well over 2000 feet of elevation change. If you want flat, there is a 13-mile trail that has about 200 feet of elevation change.

Yes, there are plenty of vineyards, but those are in Napa Valley. The City of Napa is like a normal city, minus your neighbors give you wine for every celebration. Napa Valley is over 30 miles long and takes about an hour to drive one way.

It was a fun 9 months, but today, we *finally* head south. My time in Napa was great, although I do wish longer. I am thankful for the time I had. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back to live.

I know I’ll be back to visit as I only lived during the “pandemic era” and never got a chance to do any of the races.

Much like my brain lately, this post is all over the place. Trying to decide the mix of excitement for my spouse and for moving to a brand new spot, sadness to leave a spot I wasn’t ready to leave, and balancing those thoughts with living life.