Editor’s note: This is Part 3 of Elaine Horn’s story about her move from the East Coast to fulfill what she says has been “my heart’s desire” since her first visit to Cambria years ago. As always, we welcome your comments — especially those relating to how you discovered Cambria and came to live here. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s something strangely disconnecting when you’re flying 6 miles above the Earth’s surface. Or, perhaps it’s because I’m keenly aware this flight is a life-altering one. Many readers have read of the previous five days of trial and tribulation. This past week, I have wished for access to a private jet. Where is Warren Buffett when you need him?
With the plane’s final approach from Atlanta to San Francisco, it’s time for re-entry. The Orwellian “people moving” AirTrain takes me to offsite car rentals and a mini-van the size of a small blimp is promptly secured. It is a dark and (relatively) stormy night. I get lost trying to find my way back to the flight arrivals terminal.
Pulling up, I’m amazed airport security lets me park right outside baggage claim (although the Delta representative is clearly within eyesight and signaling that I’m OK). Mini-Aussie Chessie and cat Sydney look no worse for the wear and appear to be holding up far better than I am. We head off for the Delta Cargo terminal. I get lost.
When we finally arrive and I spot darling Ula in her giant crate, tension starts to pour out. They actually use a forklift to hoist the loaded crate into the minivan. Armed with clear directions to the hotel, I don’t get lost but do arrive only to be told by the front desk clerk that they only accept two pets per room. I lose it again. Suffice it to say, we were allowed to stay (repeat refrain: genuine tears and hysteria are vastly underrated).
We hit the road early in the morning. The drive proves to be a white-knuckle experience. Now, I know how precious water is in Cambria. I’m acutely aware of the severe drought. But why, of all days, after a grueling week-long slug fest, does it have to pour down? The wind is wicked, the fog is swirling, the rain is coming down at a 45-degree angle, visibility is near zero and there’s a tailgater pushing me on along Highway 46. The minivan sways like a ship in swells.
I unload as fast as possible after picking up the rental home keys. Ula and I jump right back in the van to exchange it at SLO for a more economically reasonable rental. We’re both wired for sound. The rain is coming down in droves and it’s a 30-minute wait for service. When the agent eyes Ula, I’m hit with a $150 “detailing fee” for dog hair (for a vehicle I’ve had less than 24 hours). Back in Cambria, we settle down for our first night on Happy Hill, but it’s dark and gloomy. Happiness must wait another day.
The next morning, we awake to typical Cambrian morning fog, which I expect to burn off. It does not. No matter, we set off — at long last — on the last 5 miles of our 2,700-plus mile trek.
Joy. Freedom. Release. RUN. I’m Mary Richards: We just might make it after all! I don’t throw my hat in the air (and I am prone to wearing hats), but I do raise my arms to the sky and, slowly, savoring the moment, twirl several revolutions. I thank God for a place called Cambria.
Next up: Now Voyager: Seek & Find.