I left Seattle about six weeks ago, for what was going to be an open-ended road trip, perhaps for a month or so, and as with all things in my life the last year, the delight is in what’s around the next bend in the road. I’ve spent most of my time in the southern half of California, with a couple trips to the San Francisco Bay Area, and otherwise between LA and San Diego. I spent about two weeks right in San Diego, with visits to many places in the city, and it was just fantastic.
A favorite moment was happening upon an art fair in La Jolla and meeting an artist from Uganda. It was a breath of fresh air to talk to him, sharing stories and learning about his work. While I didn’t visit Uganda during my time in Africa, his work could have been the artistic telling of stories from just about any place in Africa, each piece a different stage of life or part of the intricate tapestry of the various cultures on that continent. I fell in love with several pieces, but kept coming back to one in particular, which celebrates the power of women. Something extraordinary in a culture dominated in many ways by men. I felt a kindred spirit with this lovely human, and I loved that he knew that print was the one for me.
When he found out where I was from, he mentioned that his best shows are often in Seattle, specifically the Alki Beach art fair. We talked about the interesting cultural differences here in the states between places, and it was interesting to speak to someone who had noticed the same thing that I had: Seattle is notoriously casual and therefore you really can’t judge a book by its cover – someone could be dressed very casually and be loaded and you wouldn’t know. Not so much in Southern California — people here often wear and drive their money. If they have it, they show it. I’ve never really been comfortable in an environment with a strong focus on materialism, and so it’s been interesting on the occasions when I’ve been surrounded by it. A strong sense of self typically gets me through. That and loving that while we may all seem different at first glance, but the more I travel and meet people from all over, the more it’s obvious that we’re all the same. And it’s a beautiful thing.
After my time in San Diego, I spent a fun and relaxing weekend in Escondido with a friend, seeing her amazing home in full Halloween decor, and let me tell you that she just wins that holiday — it’s amazing! Then it was out to the coast for a few days in Carlsbad and Oceanside, the latter right on the beach, and it just did my spirit good to walk the sandy beach and breathe in all that salt air. After that it was up to the SF Bay Area again to see my dad for a belated birthday celebration and to fill out my absentee ballot, which a friend had mailed from Seattle (thank you, TM!). It was a quick trip, with just one full day that was spent in Sausalito, then I left the next day to head back down the coast.
I’ve been mostly couch surfing with friends and family, but Airbnb has been a great option in between those visits, and I’ve had such great experiences that I really can’t see going back to hotel stays in the future. For instance, right now I’m typing this on the outdoor deck of an adorable little cottage that sits behind a beautiful home in the Temecula valley, which is the quintessential wine country of Southern California. Their cute little dog is curled up a few feet away, the cat is somewhere off contemplating its next plan to take over the planet, and their pot belly pig is foraging around the yard. Oh, and the hens are likely back in their little house enjoying some rest after grazing the lovely gardens most of the day. It’s fantastic. If you haven’t ever tried Airbnb, and always stay in hotels when traveling then you’re missing out.
So why in the world am I out here? Funny you should ask. Other than being a beautiful area, I’m going to be house & pet sitting through the end of the year in this area. I signed up for a couple of web sites that give home and pet owners the opportunity to search for prospective house and pet sitters, and vice-versa, and I found one that is perfect. I’ve been looking for longer-term options, versus just a few days at a time since it’s harder to schedule those back-to-back in a way that doesn’t create a bunch of extra travel expenses for me in between commitments, and I found a two month gig that will be the perfect combination of spending time with a furry friend while doing some life planning at the same time. Plus, I’m pretty much still in summer weather down here, with temperatures in the 70-80s during the day, cool at night, and no rain. Now, they need the rain, and I hope they get some. Honestly. But 26 years in Seattle means that I need some time to dry the hell out and go from Pacific Northwest pasty white vampire to something resembling someone with a pulse.
I’ve got various things I’m working on, from taking a short-term writing class to planning some more animal sanctuary volunteering to more house & pet sitting opportunities. And enjoying the beauty of every place that I’ve visited along the way. There is something quite magical about just taking it all in, wherever you are, and whatever you are doing, to stop, notice the beauty of a place, even if it’s not immediately obvious, and just breathe. Life is good, people.