Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections on the road to the sun

We left home on December 23 and arrived in Tucson on the 29th. The trip went according to plan, and I have the memories to prove it.

For the last four years our twin granddaughters Mary and Malayne have spent the week between Christmas and New Year's with us in Washington. This year they moved with their mom Rebekah and stepdad Dan from Roseburg, Oregon to Spokane, and the twins spent their winter break in Roseburg with my son Russell, their dad. So we spent the first two nights of our trip in Roseburg - one lovely, quiet evening with our old friend Jeanne, and Christmas Eve Day (doesn't everyone describe the 24th this way?) at Russell's house. He cooked his first turkey - on the barbecue - and it was pronounced delicious. Also in attendance were his girlfriend Amanda, my husband Art, my ex-husband John and his girlfriend Shirley, and John's sister Patty. As we sat at the table and then opened gifts, I thought how fortunate we were to be sharing this event in good spirits and with affection for everyone. It has been nearly 30 years since John and I divorced, and yet in some way we are still family. It has been great for our children. I am glad that John has found happiness with Shirley, and I am even gladder that I can say that!

We drove south on Christmas Day under gray skies and intermittent fog. But as soon as we'd made the long climb up the mountain from Ashland, the sun and blue sky came out and stayed out. Wonderful!

I have been to California numerous times since I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1980, but it's been almost that long since I've driven rather than flying. The trip down the length of the state was sometimes a reflection of then and now.

We spent the night at the La Quinta Inn in Stockton, arriving after dark. When we left in the morning, the air was distressingly polluted - fog combined with the output of industrial activity resulted in visibility so limited that we missed our first freeway turn because we couldn't see the sign! Many trucks, rough interstate road. I don't remember Stockton like this 30 years ago.

The long straight drive down I-5 in the Central Valley reminded me of the productivity of California soil and the continuing struggle with a limited water supply for an enormous, crowded state. So many people living in the "promised land".

We arrived in Los Angeles at 3 pm and, despite our effort to find an uncrowded freeway we could use to get past the city to San Diego, we were unsuccessful. We sat on "the 5" for half an hour in the Santa Clarita Valley and on "the 210" for another half hour near Pasadena. We finally stopped for dinner in San Dimas to wait out the traffic. The "promised land" has compromised air quality, millions of vehicles and even more millions of residents. Not so promising, to my mind. I lived in this area for six years in the 70s, and I am very grateful we moved north.

Then, three nights in San Diego with daughter Melissa and son-in-law Scott. A hike at Torrey Pines from the bluff to the ocean. I can do it! And a visit to Balboa Park and two of the museums there. The best part of these days was the time spent with Mel and Scott. It is wonderful to have an adult-to-adult relationship with grown offspring. We talked and laughed and ate and played Mexican train (dominoes). Melissa is the oldest of the eight offspring in our blended family. I know she watches out for us, and that is a good thing. By the time we left, we were all caught up and very glad for the time we'd spent together. We'll see them again in July at a family gathering in Idaho. They're planning the event - another nice thing, the next generation down picking up the torch of family continuity.

I could live in San Diego, I think. But I couldn't afford to buy a house there!

The final driving day, from San Diego to Tucson, was mostly desert. As we passed through the towns I was so, so grateful I don't live there. I spent nine years living in the desert when I was younger, and I remember the summer heat, the wind, and the sense of desolation. I love Tucson in the winter, but there's no place like home at the other times of the year.

So here we are, on New Year's Day, comfortable in our park model at the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson. I remember the family and friends, the sights and sounds of our road trip. I remember the past and I am grateful for that. But there's no place like the present.


Arkansas Patti said...

It is so impressive how you and your ex have kept things so comfortable for your kids. Too bad more blended families don't blend as well.
Glad you made the trip safely. Now enjoy that warmth.

Travels with Emma said...

Enjoy the warmth and cactus of the Tucson area!

Rosaria Williams said...

I have made the trip down I-5 in California and it never fails to wear me thin. LA is just too big and too crowded. Glad you are settled in for the winter months.
I'll keep you posted on what you are missing in the Pacific Northwest. So far this season has been quite mild.

Out on the prairie said...

Sounds fun to be in the desert.I don't get in traffic often, a traffic jam here is 8-10 cars.

Olga said...

That is an impressive journey in so many different ways on so many different levels. I love your reflective ease with life.

Tom said...

The promise land is not the promise land anymore ... it has moved to Tucson!

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Linda, it's great that you were able to incorporate so much of your past into your present! I know you'll have a wonderful time in the sun. Happy New Year.

Meryl Baer said...

You are blessed to have such a large, blended and happy family.
California is a nice place to visit, but some areas I would not want to live in and the other areas I cannot afford.
Happy New Year!

Linda Reeder said...

I really enjoyed reading about your meet ups along the way. I wondered when you set off if you were just skipping Christmas, but now I see that you made the most of the opportunity to spend time with family along the way.
It makes me happy to see you all settled in at your winter abode. Fun in the sun good times ahead!

Bob Lowry said...

Welcome back to your second home! Just remember to pace yourself. There is so much to do at that resort.

#1Nana said...

It's been 10 years since we made that drive. I used to love the adventure, especially in the winter when you never knew what weather you would run in to. I agree with you about San Diego. My dad lives there. I love the beauty and climate, but you have to carefully plan outings to avoid traffic. Here in eastern Oregon we get peeved if we don't make the light at the Mormon Church...that would add a minute to the 5 minute commute to town.

Happy New Year to you and Art.

DJan said...

I was in southern California in October, and I rented a car. I will never forget the traffic! On the radio I heard about how other nearby freeways were doing, and it made me happy not to live there. Seattle traffic is bad enough, but it's nothing compared to LA. Glad you are safe and sound, now, and I too enjoyed the description of your travels to the sun. It's raining here. Naturally. :-)

Madeline Kasian said...

I enjoy hearing of your journeys. I also enjoy hearing how your family makes an effort to stay connected..somehow, in our family, the thread got dropped, no reunions, or get togethers, except here and there.. cousins don't really get to know one another,brothers and grandchildren and others, all scattered.. so,I enjoy your stories even more. Enjoy Tucson..will love hearing about your next few months in the nice warm climate!

Sandi said...

What a fabulous, upbeat post - filled with memory making connections! I love your adventurous spirit and acceptance of "what is".

Glad you had a wonderful trip to the sun!

May 2014 be happy and healthy for all -

Deb Shucka said...

What a wonderful holiday season you had! I'm envying the warmth and sunshine.