Karen Schuppert

Karen Schuppert

When you read about whale watching, margaritas and sunsets over the ocean, you might think someone is on a vacation, yes? And for the most part you’d be right — expect in this case, the vacation will be indefinite, and the participant is me. Allow me to explain as I deviate from my healthy food focus to get a little personal.

Just over a year ago, my husband Jay retired from 45 years in management — a great portion of which was spent in the local wine industry. Napa has been our home for 21 years and we’ve loved every minute of it. We also love to travel and have a big case of wanderlust, seeking that next destination as we redefine “retirement” into ‘reWIREment.’ We found it in Baja California, K-55 to be exact, and that is where we will be moving later this spring.

The beauty of this Rosarito beach location (besides sunsets at sea) is that it’s only 45 minutes to the border and one hour to the San Diego airport. My mom is very much alive in Sacramento, which also played a role in our decision on where to live next, and that’s an easy flight from SoCal. Not to mention the cost of living — but I will. This move affords us a beautiful home on the ocean for a fraction of what we’d pay in California. And doesn’t it make good sense to sell high and buy low? We’re taking that money to the travel bank.

The reactions to this news have been mostly positive, with an occasional “Are you crazy?” or “Wow exciting, wish I could do that!” And then come the questions: “What about medical services? Safety? Do you speak Spanish?” And my favorite: “What will you do there?!”

As for major medical services, we’ll have a San Diego mailing address and will keep our current healthcare coverage. I’ve also heard dental and dermatology are highly regarded and affordable in Mexico, which will come out of pocket.

Safety is a concern all over the world. We take this issue very seriously and will continue to be ever vigilant no matter where we are. We’ll try to be smart about the times we cross the border, lock our doors at home and in the car, and limit night time travel. Plus, we will live in a gated community with security 24/7.

And now the fun part — what we will do! Did you know there is a booming wine region in Baja just 30 minutes east of the coast? No, it’s not Napa, but the Valle de Guadalupe is becoming a hub of hip boutique hotels, an impressive culinary scene and more than 100 wineries to satisfy the most discerning of aficionados.

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With Jay’s connections from the wine business, he’s already tapped into consulting opportunities in the Ruta del Vino, or “Valle” as locals call it. And with my ownership of a Napa tour company years ago, I will most likely create food and wine itineraries for friends visiting from back home.

Baja is also known as the “world’s largest aquarium” with more than 43 species unique to that region only. I’ll be able to pursue a dream of working with marine life, specifically dolphins and whales.

In addition to setting up our nueva casa and building community there, other activities will include: foraging at farmers’ markets in the Valle; cooking demos and videos with a California bent; Spanish immersion; teaching Essentrics; romping on the beach with our Aussies; local fare and Mezcal tastings (in the name of research); surfing; photography; pet and house sitting (U.S. and Canada); reading; hosting family and friends; and planning nature excursions to new places in our motorhome.

Pretty dreamy, right? Certainly feeds my ADD personality. This next adventure is just beginning, and we are ready to embrace it while our age and health accommodate. “Use it or lose it” has never been more real.

Many of you have kindly asked if I will still be writing for the Napa Valley Register, and the answer is a resounding YES! I am so grateful for the support of the editorial staff and most importantly, you faithful readers. This column may even expand to offer tips for healthy eating while traveling, since much of our time will be spent out and about.

I am considering the title ‘A Healthy Fork on the Road’ and would greatly appreciate your feedback! On that note, if you want to stay connected (I sure do) you can also find me on Instagram (lots of tasty food and travel photos) and Facebook under karenschuppert.

I may be in a different location, but my heart will always be in Napa. It has been a dream to call it “home” and develop friendships, which will last a lifetime. I will forever treasure this community and continue to support organic farming, animal welfare, KQED and the environment. And don’t think for a minute I’ll give up on our beloved San Francisco Giants.

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Karen is offering one final cooking class on April 16 featuring many of her healthy favorites. Only three spots remain. To reserve your space or just to share your own wanderlust, shoot an email to: karen@karenschuppert.com.