The lines on a map are always flat. It isn’t until you are actually driving a road that you can fully appreciate it. The way the road winds up a mountain. The sun shining through the trees or glinting off the ocean. The color of the soil and rocks. The glimpse of a farmhouse where someone makes his home. The sight of a hundred birds flying overhead to some unknown destination.
We are driving down the coast of California. The road winds up and down hills, over rivers, and through sweet little towns. We’ve just left our dear friends in Willits where we spent a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. We were spoiled by amazing food, a big house, and lots of laughter. We thought briefly about staying, but something is pulling us south. Perhaps we are following the birds and the whales.
These roads are not easy for the trailer so we take it slow and arrive at our campground after dark. It is raining, so after a quick dinner we all head to bed early. We leave in the morning, hoping to push south of San Francisco and find better weather. We are sad we cannot stop and enjoy San Francisco, see some friends, but it seems like too much of a hassle with the trailer and the kids’ nap schedule.
As we drive south, the scenery changes county by county, and the map comes alive. First we go from remote coast to suburbia to city, then back to suburbia, then rural. Things become drier and suddenly there is more agriculture. Each place has unique sights, sounds, and smells. We find our way to Sunset Beach State Park and nab an amazing spot on a huge sand dune overlooking the ocean.
We are near Watsonville, which we learn is an agricultural center for Brussels sprouts and strawberries. For miles and miles, these enormous fields hold arrow straight rows. There is not a weed in sight which makes me a little suspicious. Some of the fields on the way to the State Park have recently been harvested but there are so many Brussels sprouts left in the field, that Matt grabs a few half stalks. We make our new favorite salad; thinly sliced Brussels sprouts with lemon vinaigrette, shallots, dates, walnuts, fresh mandarin oranges, and shaved romano cheese.
Our next stop is Big Sur, a destination we are very excited about. The road narrows as we climb dramatic cliffs and dodge trucks coming the other direction. The kids don’t really seem to notice… they are tired of sitting in their seats and are ready for lunch. Suddenly there are no more pullouts. We pass through the town of Big Sur, stopping for gas. The State Park wants to charge us $10 for day use to picnic there. Finally we emerge from the woods back out onto the coastal bluffs and there is the perfect pullout. A lunch with a million dollar view that no map could have told us about.