Hello Cali…

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

We made it. A record for the Punkernoodles – Seattle to Cali in one day, by dinnertime. Yes, we did leave Sea-town at the crack of dawn. We usually just say we’ll leave early, but this time we did. Three-quarters of the drive behind us will make for an easy stretch down to Bodega Bay tomorrow, where we get to have a mini family reunion and hopefully prolong our summer sunshine just a little bit longer. It’s tiring, but always a little bit astounding to travel so much ground by your own power. This morning we said goodbye to the Space Needle, shrouded in a misty gray fog, and by this afternoon we said hello to palm fronds and funny towns with names like Yreka, Castella, and Weed (no need to wonder about what the souvenir shops sell there).

It was a long drive, especially with the twang of Dora the Explorer echoing in the background. But it reminded us how wide and raw the Northwest can be, and how beautiful. Oregon seemed to fly by, much of it still green even at the edge of summer. I love the quaintness of the rolling hills and get a little bit freaked out every time by the sharp edges and plummeting canyons as you head through the pass.

But then you get to take in California. I have a love affair with Cali, probably because I spent 9 years there and even more so because setting foot in that state was my introduction to life in this country after a childhood in another. I hope to pass on that passion to the little Punekrnoodles. I don’t know – there is something about those sweeping, stark expanses of valleys and mountains, the way the sun alights a random hillock among the cloud-cast shadows of many more. Something about California says BIG to me – not just in size, but in variety, landscape, possibility.

Other reminders from the day:

How hard it is to take a road trip with a kid who just barely potty trained. Three pairs of panties, one wet car seat, and countless gas-station rest stops (let’s not even go into how I feel about those) later, we still made it.

How the simplest things can thrill kids: a fast-food milkshake, a herd of baby cows crowding their mother, a semi-truck hauling 14 Lexuses.

That it is so easy to forget, in the slug of our daily lives, how important it is to pull loose and hit the proverbial open road. To just spend some time getting somewhere, and in that window of time it takes to get there, to dream and imagine where we might go next.

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