Thank you, vacation

Monday, May 09, 2011

Over the past couple of weeks I have been on a road trip in an RV through all kinds of places in my home state of California. We've been to the desert and to the beach. In hot places (surprisingly the coast!) and cold (nighttime near Mono Lake). We've soaked in mineral springs, climbed sand dunes, toured a ghost town, visited family, built with Legos, boarded Air Force One, and high-fived Mickey Mouse. My kids are wiped out but we're all having a great adventure.

A few highlights:

Along Hwy 395 in the Eastern Sierra:




I went for a run here one morning- that is Mt. Whitney in the background (the highest mountain in the contiguous US):


My little gardeners:

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Sand dunes in Death Valley:


Badwater Basin salt flats (it looks like snow, but it is salt!):




Desert sunset:


Crazy hot spring resort just south of Death Valley. This place had private mineral baths- so neat!



Schoolhouse at the Calico ghost town:


Carlsbad State Beach:







At the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (this place made me cry- very moving!):


"Let's squish our faces together!":


Vacation is awesome. Not only do I temporarily escape the must-do routine of daily life, but I find myself repeatedly shocked out of the numbness of normal. A family of big horn sheep on the side of the road. Laying in bed and having a conversation with a toddler in a moonlit RV. A crazy hot spring resort in the middle of the desert. All things unusual. All things special. All things with lasting impact beyond their tangible contact.

Vacation provides opportunities for us to learn more about each other too. Such as when we heard a song on the radio that my husband dislikes so much that it almost makes him mad. Normally we don't listen to the radio together. Especially the one odd (and crummy) station that we found when we were in the middle of the desert. In the context of our routine, we might not have known things like this about each other. Vacation affords room to make exceptions. To bedtimes. To having dessert before dinner. We try new foods that aren't a part of our usual spread. Some may be added to the rotation at home, some are "I-have-to-try-____-while-I'm-in-_____" foods.

I was born in Southern California and lived there until I was 8 1/2. I have mentioned before my love affair with all of the magical things that grow in the Southern California climate. I so love the warm salty air, avocado and citrus groves, brightly colored flowers, and jacaranda trees. I even saw cherimoyas at a roadside produce stand, swoon!

Even though our road trip schedule has been crazy (think 5 consecutive theme park days!), I feel decompressed. I'm tired but content. I'm unwound. My left brain has relaxed enough to allow my stress-averse creative side to emerge from hibernation. I love that I've had moments that call for the notebook that I carry around in my bag or even my iPhone note app because I simply must capture a passing thought before it gets away. I am pleasantly surprised to learn this about myself: inspiration to be creative or to write doesn't come from quiet. It comes when my mind is un-numb. Thank you vacation for this!

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