Saturday, 22 March 2014

California Dreaming

It started rather innocently. I hung up the phone after chatting with a friend, which led to the following conversation with the resident sweetie:
Me:  They’ve sure been doing a lot of traveling. Why are we just sitting here? We should be up and outing, too.
RS: Hmpf. I’m happy at home.
Brooding silence.
Me: Well, I’m ready for a winter break. I should just go with Jonathan (#3 son, who was planning on going to San Francisco to take a 5 day course in a few weeks.) He’s still looking for a driving partner. I could go with him and find lots to do for 5 days in San Francisco by myself.
RS: Well, yes, I guess you could do that...
Brooding silence.
RS: But then when you were gone, I’d be wondering why I hadn’t gone, too.
Me: Well, okay, if you want, you can come too.

Jonathan thought it was a great idea, and before we knew it, we were committed. (Maybe some people were thinking we should have been committed: “Four days of driving for 5 days of vacation? With your son? Are you crazy?”) But we did it anyway. The drive was long, but interesting.  After a day spent exploring the city of San Francisco together, we dropped off Jono at his course, and we set out on our own Excellent Adventure.

We’d been to California before, back in 1972. On that trip, we were as naive as a pair of freshly hatched ducklings who escaped the nest. We set out to see what we could see, no reservations anywhere, no guidebook, no plans. It was a wonderful trip, in spite of running out of money and having to go home early. The joy of the journey made up for the realities that limited our experiences.

You’d think after 42 years of marriage, we would know each other well enough to plan a seamless trip this time around. But we’re still learning things about each other...and that’s another journey. On this trip, I realized again that I am an adventurer who is always eager to see what is around the next corner. On my trips, both physical and mental, I need to leave room for the unexpected. The resident sweetie, on the other hand, has the instincts of a homing pigeon: he enjoys the journey, but he wants to plot things out and know the end point. This, as you can imagine, sometimes leads to “interesting” conversations which I will not share here. (A new phrase in our relationship, now that I sometimes write about him in the blog, is: “This is off the record.”)

Suffice it to say, we decided that each of us would get alternate days to choose itineraries. His included Point Reyes National Seashore and Point Lobos Marine Reserve. Mine included art galleries, historic sites, and impromptu stops at thrift stores. (I’ve decided that thrift stores feed my need for adventure: you never know what treasures you’ll find.) In the interests of marital harmony, I omitted quilt shops ... well, mostly, anyway!
We had a wonderful time! I saw some things I wouldn’t have seen if he’d not been along to show them to me.

Elephant seals and their pups on the beach at Point Reyes National Seashore
 And vice versa.

"Entangled", a piece of work by Elizabeth Dekker exhibited at the Repo Show put on by the Art Guild of Sonoma. All work in the show was constructed from recycled items. Of course, the crow caught my eye.
When others enrich our lives by sharing what's important to them, everyone wins.

We decided that in some ways we hadn’t changed much since that first California trip. We still like to find picnic sites just off the road and share deli food for lunch. We’re still a little naive and simple in our expectations, and hope we always will be. We still are excited when serendipity happens: monarch butterflies flutter under the trees around our cabin, or sea otters appear in the water, or a local art gallery features work that makes us smile. In other ways, we are very different from those naive ducklings 41 years ago. This time we planned ahead, came equipped with GPS and a guidebook, and booked our lodgings. And we both agreed we’re much more comfortable in our own skins, have grown up a little – but have a ways to go! – and realize how incredibly grateful we are to have these times together.

So, as I’m writing this, we are at our last stop before we head back home. It’s a small complex called Bide-A-Wee Inn and Cottages just a block away from the ocean in Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. It looks just like it sounds – a cute set-up with little cabins, trees, picnic tables, flowers and sitting areas. Not at all Hollywood hype. We pulled up to our cabin, and, true to form, I was in a rush to check out what kind of room was behind this new door. But Al wasn’t with me.  I looked out the window, and there sat my resident sweetie, already very comfortable in an Adirondack chair under the trees.

“Hey,” he said when I joined him. “I like it here. This is the best place we’ve been. It feels like home.”

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