Today Gabe is wearing a teal jacket, purple shorts, and flip flops. In other words GABE IS ON VACATION Y’ALL.
Or, Gabe was on vacation when this photo was taken. Which, technically, was Thursday. Which means, technically, today we are back from vacation.
Don’t feel bad for me though — I’m working from bed today, which is basically like being on vacation.
I was talking about going to a wedding in Phoenix. Which I did! And I cried as expected during the ceremony, danced a little as expected at the reception, and then left early once I realized that basically every single person at this wedding was already or on-their-way-to-being completely loaded, which was a little bit more than one teetotaler on her own could keep up with.
Also previously on this blog, I wrote about visiting the lovely Descanso Gardens in Los Angeles and discovered after a few days away from Twitter that they tweeted about my blog post!
This got me thinking about my blog brand (if I can get one garden to tweet about me, how many more could I get if this was some kind of amazing garden blog?) and how kind of aimless this blog has been recently. I have been so busy blogging it up at Popforms that I hardly have anything smart or interesting left to say here by the time I get to my weekly update (though I try to say one funny thing per post, emphasis on try and let’s also put “funny” in quotes).
One of my favorite blogs is a site called Oh Dear Drea, which I return to again and again despite the fact that the author is a hip, gardening, vegan-cooking mom from South Florida — and I am none of those things. It’s been really interesting to read, though, and I think the thing that keeps me (and her many thousands of readers) coming back to it is that it is basically 100% “real talk”, especially in her older posts, which are about being single and pregnant, breakups, getting married, and more — and are so candid and stream-of-consciousness-y.
Same goes for my Popforms cofounder’s blog katemats.com — it is ridiculously popular (and I say ridiculously because she hasn’t updated it in months and it still gets tens of thousands of visits every month) and I think it’s because it is so full of “real talk” about career stuff. It is just super helpful and super honest.
So based on my sample size of two (though I am a very discerning blog reader in the sense that I read almost no blogs because almost no blogs seem worth reading most of the time), I think if this blog is going to grow, it needs to get infused with some real talk. But real talk about what? That’s what I don’t know yet.
Anyways, this post was supposed to be about vacation so let’s talk about vacation!
Here are some things we saw, as we made our way from Phoenix to LA to Santa Barbara to Los Padres National Forest to Big Sur to Point Reyes to the Sonoma Coast to Humboldt County (home sweet home):
After Phoenix, we drove up Highway 1, starting in Los Angeles and going all the way up the coast (twisting and turning) as far as we could go, which turned out to be Leggett — just an hour or so outside of our destination in Arcata. We camped the whole way, which was super fun and slightly out of my comfort zone, though I like to think that thanks to this trip my comfort zone has expanded slightly to allow for 3 consecutive days of camping in 3 different sites.
On the first day of our road trip post-wedding, we finished my audiobook on LA history (A Bright And Guilty Place – highly recommend it!) just as we rolled through Santa Monica to meet up with Highway 1. We pulled over to the side of the road in Malibu, changed into our swimming suits, and jumped into the ocean. The sun was hot and the water was cold, and Gabe showed me how to duck under the big waves and body surf back to shore.
We hopped back in the car and drove until we reached Los Padres National Forest, northeast of Santa Barbara. It was beautiful, warm, and had probably the most charming, kooky campground host on the face of the earth. He showed me where I could see Venus in the early morning sky.
The next day, we packed up camp and ate waffles in Solvang, before hitting the steep, sharp curves on Highway 1 outside Big Sur. Sweating and carsick, I contemplated the desperation of being stuck on a coastal highway with no way to get back to the main roads except to keep plowing forward, while feeling simultaneously thankful to have found a travel partner who gets me to do things like jump in the ocean and take the scenic route because “it’s fun”.
In Big Sur State Park, we camped for the night and I overheard a fellow camper righteously puking in the bathroom on my way to brush my teeth. I set up the tent all by myself for the first time ever, and took it down myself in the morning.
On Wednesday, we stopped by Point Reyes to visit a friend who is working at a nature preserve tracking birds and their nests. We hiked down to the beach and Gabe collected a few shells. We heard about our friend’s coworker, who named himself Hummingbird, which is about what you’d expect, I guess. Then we drove on up the Sonoma Coast, where we camped for the night at a park right on the beach. Everything got very sandy, the air was misty and chilly, and yet somehow it was still one of the most fun nights of the trip.
It probably had something to do with being back in the familiar climate of northern California. There is something comforting in feeling close to home, even if you prefer the hot sunny days of southern California and maybe looked up how much it would cost to buy some land outside of Solvang because maybe it seemed like a great place to live one day.
But being in the salty, misty air of the north coast feels familiar and comforting. And spending three days with someone you like a lot, stuck in the car, asking hypothetical questions like what you’d do if you owed the mob a million dollars but had only collected $100,000, just to keep the conversation going, is pretty fun too.
(In case you were curious, I said I’d take the money and buy a next-day plane ticket to southeast Asia, then take a bus to a train to a boat to Australia, where I would spend the rest of the money on wigs and transportation to some mid-sized city where I wouldn’t stand out to locals and cause a stir, but where the mob also wouldn’t be likely to be traveling in the next year on vacation or something and happen to see me at the grocery store.)
(What would you do?)
And finally, we made it home. I slept in my own bed, I took a shower, and I put on clothes that didn’t smell like a campfire. I reconnected to the internet after 4 days away. It was grand, both being away and coming back.
And now it’s back to real life. Which feels pretty good too.