I’ve traveled to many wonderful places including: Italy, Alaska and Hawaii. But, the trip I remember most fondly was made in 1983 in an old brown Dodge van. It had two brown captain seats, one bench on the side with a vinyl bed in the back, and an ice chest full of beer and Pepsi light. There were no reservations or plans in place as my soon-to-be husband and I grabbed some clothes, chips, beef jerky and left our responsibilities behind.
We decided to head south, but that wasn’t a huge surprise–with my love of Disneyland. Arriving in Anaheim we located a motel we could afford. It was a place to sleep that had a vibrating bed, what more could you ask for? Besides, the owners were so accommodating allowing you to pay either by the night or hour. (Yes, I made sure the room had been cleaned first…) The next morning, I woke-up early ready to go. Day one was Disneyland. We followed up with Universal Studios where we had a close-up experience with “Jaws” and the final day of amusement parks the western-themed Knott’s Berry Farm, where the water log ride was the high point.
Then, we decided to explore the area more. We spent a day at the beach, and made sure to see Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, (where I quickly found out how large my foot was compared to the stars) and took a tour of the stars houses. We were most excited to see where Lucille Ball lived being enormous “I Love Lucy” fans.
Heading south again towards San Diego we surprised a friend who graciously offered her couch to us for the night. We got a delicious Mexican dinner and a day at the San Diego Zoo. We ended our trek south splurging on a motel room with an ocean view. We were pretty impressed with ourselves at that point.
Finally, it was time to head north back to the Bay Area. We still had a couple of days left so we decided to forgo that boring Interstate Highway 5 drive through endless nothing and take the amazing Pacific Coast Highway (including a detour or two around mud slides). With the windows down and the salt air blowing in, I took in the breathtaking ocean scenery. We quickly learned restaurants were very obliging, even if they weren’t open yet, when you couldn’t find a bathroom along the way.
The first night we ended up in Morro Bay. We found an uncrowded parking lot that allowed camping and slept in the van next to the beach. We fell asleep to the sound of ocean waves and woke up when the sun lit up the inside of the van. Stepping outside with the ocean spread out in front of us, we found the beach was scattered with hundreds of sand dollars. I’ve never seen anything like that again and still have a sand dollar from the trip. After brushing our teeth and locating food we continued north. We stopped to explore a couple of beaches, admire the view, or feed tame squirrels.
It was getting dark as we pulled into our final and last night in Big Sur. We got lucky at a campground and found a spot to park and sleep in the redwoods. We equipped ourselves with marshmallows to roast around the campfire after finding an incredible burger joint. In the morning, we hiked around the grounds before reluctantly leaving our newly found paradise. We drove along the ocean’s edge until we arrived in Santa Cruz. Then, it was time to part ways with the mighty ocean and head back to our everyday lives.
Why am I reminiscing about a trip made years ago? Well, I’ve been thinking about the innocence I saw the world through then. Now, going on a trip is made through jaded eyes. I’m more guarded and plan things out, but I don’t want to lose that wonder– even if the world tells me otherwise. With a road trip planned this spring I realize the direction traveled doesn’t matter, nor does the vehicle– be it an old van or towing a long, long trailer. What’s important is to look through eyes filled with joy and wonder like I did 35 years ago—or embracing that inner child.