Going Back to Cali, part two
May 10, 2007
O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
You express me better than I can express myself.
-Walt Whitman, from "Song of the Open Road"
Before I left the parents in Palm Springs and set off on my solo
venture, I made a list of taquerias I wanted to visit on my way up
Pacific Coast Highway—one in Santa Barbara, another in Morro Bay—as
well as the locations of comic book stores, Good Vibrations and a few
of my favorite bars in each neighborhood in San Francisco, in case my
brain became too road-addled to recollect by the time I got there.
Once on the road and past Los Angeles, like so many times before, I
marveled at the multi-billion dollar homes set precariously atop the
constantly sliding, seaside cliffs of Malibu, the endless stream of
jogging blondes with dogs and the requisite film crew taking over the
parking lot of a beach park with their cruise-ship sized trailers.
The reason I was choosing to take this particular coastline highway
that's roughly twice as long as the alternate inland freeways is that
every once in a while on Maui, I crave a good road trip. I yearn to
drive for hours at a time, passing taco stands and quirky towns and
dubious storefronts on the way to someplace else—somewhere I will not
have to circle back to, as I so often do on our beloved Valley Isle, on
one of my frequent restless "holoholo" outings.
What I am searching for, I don't quite know. I think I just enjoy
the searching. And I have been feeling lately, on Maui, that I know all
the possibilities of what I will find before I get to wherever I am
going. For a lot of people there is comfort in that. There is
simplicity and beauty. But I guess what I have been missing is the
thrill of discovery.
What's great about road trips is that no matter what route you plan,
or where your ultimate destination is, you're bound to be struck by a
lot of stuff you didn't know about on the side of the road—if you keep
your eyes open. And you give yourself enough time to dawdle, which I
didn't. So no roadside taco stands for me. Point deducted.
Because I vastly underrated the time it would take to make my crawl
up the coast—about nine hours as opposed to what I thought would be
five—I sped through a great number of towns I would've liked to
"discover." Out of the corner of my eye I caught glimpses of ocean but
mostly I kept my focus on the crazy, serpentine two-lane highway that
was not unlike the road to Hana, only double the traffic and three
times as long.
I reached Big Sur by twilight—my favorite time of day in
California—and pulled my gas-guzzling, mid-size SUV (sorry, Mr.
Parsons!) into a small nook under a canopy of towering redwoods. The
frenzy of freeway travel left me as soon as I checked into Deetjen's
Inn and walked through those magnificent redwoods on the way to my cozy
cabin alongside a creek.
I was already late for my reservation at the property's restaurant
but I felt time stop when I walked through the door of my temporary
abode—I doubt little has changed in the decor of this room since the
1930's but I could see no reason why it should. Briefly, breathlessly,
I appraised its rustic, wooden interior and big, fluffy bed before I
dashed out the door to dinner.
There's a lot I like to do alone but dining solo makes me a little
queasy. Bringing along reading material usually distracts me from the
stares and whispers of nearby diners but this time I was content to
admire the fireplace-lit, antique-filled room, and gazed happily out
slightly fogged up windows covered in vines and overtaken by freesia
and a red rose bush. I was definitely someplace else…
"Oh, Maui was the best vacation ever—I can't wait to get back!"
"Did you do the road to Hanh-nah? My, that's a trek!"
I did my best not to listen in on the conversation at the table next
to me but you can imagine my horror/pride at being subjected to such
And speaking of rich, I decided to start dinner with a chocolat pot
de creme, which pleased Bob, my server, greatly. As everyone finished
up, Bob joined me at my table for a couple more glasses of wine, and we
compared notes between the characters and social climates of our
Once back in my cabin, I poured over a bunch of journals in the
nightstand by the bed, left behind by the inn for guests to write in,
telling of the various circumstances that led them to this very cabin
at Deetjen's. There were honeymoons and anniversaries, and the same
couples coming back with new babies, or widowers returning to a place
they had once enjoyed with their loved ones, and even some solo
travelers, on a quest for something they hadn't quite grasped yet but
were hopeful they were on the right path.
As I read through 20 years of people's most intimate thoughts and
feelings, I realized that we are all very connected in some basic way.
And with that stack of journals beside me I drifted asleep, with a
belly full of good wine and food, a head full of good conversation, and
a heart full of the feeling that it's good to be away from home
Samantha Campos thinks there should be an In-N-Out GPS option available at all major car rental agencies. MTW
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