Our California trip was all about reconnecting for me. The timing was due to our good friends’ Disneyland adventure, but the real impetus was to see my grandma, now 95-years-old and in failing health.
The last couple times I’ve seen her were quick. Because she lives in an assisted living apartment (small, not really appropriate for little visitors), and because I had two young boys, I spent more time chasing them than visiting with her. This time, the boys and I chatted, played Skipbo, shared donuts, and had a relaxed time. I don’t know if I will see grandma again, and I am so glad we could spend time with her now.
Connections. We played with my brother, my mom, and my dad and stepmom. We stayed near San Luis Obispo with my friend Missy from high school. While she and I caught up on the last 10 or 15 years, our boys made new friends around a bonfire at the beach.
We toured a science museum, tried made-on-the-spot ice cream, climbed rocks, and engineered gumdrop creations with Jen (my first college roommate!) and her family. Most importantly, we talked and joked. I “see” these friends on Facebook and Instagram, and occasionally, talk on the phone, but the real connection, of course comes from face-to-face interaction.
And then there were the landscapes. The Pacific Ocean is an old friend whose waters I touch only once a year, if I am lucky. The sand through my toes and warm sun on my back as I walked its shoreline, brought back memories and sparked new thoughts.
Re-connecting with Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada mountain range while introducing them to my kids was amazing. On a lark, I stopped at the Merced Grove just inside Yosemite. We walked the 1.5 miles to the grove, and no one else was there. The boys and I attempted to hug a Sequoia tree, just as I did as a kid. They were genuinely thrilled and in awe of the big trees. While I greeted old friends (really old!), Anders and Finn made new ones in a moment I think we will all remember.
When we came around a corner and spotted Half Dome for the first time, a flood of familiarity filled me. From camping in the Valley with my mom and brother, to trips with college friends, to jobs working in these mountains, it all came back. Well, almost. It took a few days of walking trails and looking at maps to recall the names of plants and landmarks. We’re not as close as we used to be, the Sierra Nevada and I, but we are starting to reconnect. We just need more time together.
This summer we ventured to Portland and the Oregon Coast. Again, it was about catching up with friends, as well as exploring new places. The connecting, and reconnecting, has meant so much to me. I want to hop in my car and come visit every one of you.
Our friend Kelly spent a year driving around the country connecting with people. And she came out of it a changed person (and I think, the people she met were all positively affected, too. We were!). Read about her trip and her new book here.
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