Cambrian: Opinion

My holiday vacation is finally over. How I made it 4,536 miles on one ‘full tank of love’

Dianne Brooke
Dianne Brooke

Cambria is a destination.

“Why would you ever want to go anywhere when you live in a place like this,” I often hear from travelers.

While it is entirely true, I love to travel and am grateful I have a place to always be thankful for coming home to. I do tend to get antsy when it’s “time to go home.” A restlessness, not the kind of gypsy longing to expand my horizons that send me searching for adventure in the first place, but an instinct to return to my nest, that reminds me of the good life I have in a wonderful village where I raised my two sons.

Two sons who now have their own lives in two big cities far from the Central Coast: Honolulu and Portland, Oregon. With my sporadic income, it takes much planning and saving to visit either one. But I did this last year. In fact, I ended 2018 and began 2019 in the company of my younger son and his Hawaiian girlfriend and my older son, his wife and my new grandson!

This treasure of time with them is not lost on me at all!

I picked up the Hawaiians at LAX and came home for several days to enjoy the Christmas Market and an early Christmas dinner with both boys’ dads, my sister and her family and a friend. And then, off on our road trip! We’d been planning this for a few months, but I was still pinching myself that they really wanted me along. Yes, I was driving and helping finance some of the trip but… The girlfriend grew up on the island of Oahu, so road-tripping was a new experience and I think felt safety in numbers. My heart expanded a lot.

Did we cover some real estate!

Straight to Portland for a week of getting-to-know the nephew and Gramma time, eating too much good food, Christmas proper and adult old-school arcade/bar; suffice to say we had a very full and fun time! Everybody grew further in love with each other and learned new things from each other.

Then road called. “Off like a wig in the wind, “as my mom used to say every trip. We headed directly to a friend’s (my ex’s cousin) place in Merced to spend the night.

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Christmas time in Portland: Anke, Arlo and Miles Woodsmall, Kacie Tolentino, Dianne Brooke and Zachary Brooke enjoying a family reunion for Christmas. Courtesy photo

She’s been battling extreme illness for years, so we wanted to catch up with her and her son and his family nearby. She was in good spirits and lived in a lovely little home that totally expressed who she was, whom we all love dearly. From visiting with the 7-month old grandson to a dear friend nearing the other end of the spectrum… all our thoughts began weighing life and its meaning.

Onward to Williams, Arizona, where it was 15 degrees at 10 p.m. Luckily, I’d called ahead for a room and they’d kindly put the heater on so the Hawaiians and I could warm up quickly! These two met near Portland, while going to school there so she’d seen SOME snow but this was another ball of wax. So glorious was the Grand Canyon with its dusting of white and multihued carvings. The girlfriend was in awe, and my son was happy to revisit as well since he was only tiny when he’d been there last. We hiked and drank up the beauty.

That night we made it to Albuquerque to stay with my son’s uncle and aunt. A beautiful home and delicious food and warm hugs awaited us on another snowy night of traveling.

My son was eager to show his beloved a few of the sights of Indian country. His uncle and aunt were glad to oblige, going to a favorite trading post, looking at the architecture of some of the neighborhoods and then to the Sandia Peak Tramway. Mind you, my son’s gal was petrified of heights but paid for us all to go up because “By golly, I’m going to do this!” And she did. A white-out of snow probably made it a little less scary not being able to see how high up we were.

We made some snow angels and a had a couple of snowballs up at the top in the freezing temps before we went back down, a slightly better view as the clouds lifted some.

We almost got snowed into Albuquerque on the day we’d planned to head to Silver City in the south of the state to see Gramma (now 91 years of age), which was one of the two primary reasons the Hawaiians made this trip (the other to meet his new nephew). I discovered a slight break in things by diligently watching my phone reports. We bid a fond adieu and made for the interstate. The slow going put us well behind our plans.

It was a perfectly lovely meeting and reunion. Gramma welcomed us all with open arms. Silver City had an unusually thick and lasting snow, so the cozy home was surrounded by crystalline glitter in the morning. Family stories, photos… 91 years of memories. We all took note of what it may take to live that long and well. Our hearts we were brimming and our heads were fully stocked up on memories, new and old.

Alas, we needed to head back toward LAX. I noticed we’d all started moving much slower. For the first time I ever remember, I was NOT eager to be heading home to Cambria.

We eventually made it to Southern California where the Hawaiians had originally wanted to take in Disneyland. All the rides and light shows… as adults. How fun! Really, running right up onto Splash Mountain and all!

We managed one last short visit in that area, the next and final day of our trip, to my ex’s aunt, 94 next month and then to one of my son’s childhood friends at his workplace, who’s relocated down there, which also does my heart good to see these kids doing so well. Sigh…

This trip: the lively conversations, the comfortable silences, the awe, inspiration, education, discovery, the love that we experienced for three weeks. I cried my eyes out as I dropped them at the curb of the terminal.

The best souvenir, of course, was the expansive feelings in our chest, overflowing with hope for the future, appreciation for the now and only the best memories of things past. And my little car, “Yota” carried us through wind and snow and torrential rain and ice without losing a single eyelash (she batted them a bit but they only bent!).

Yes, it was hard coming home. It’s over a week later, now… I’ve reconnected with my tribe, gotten back to work I absolutely love doing, started planning for the next trip and am basically resettled and again very happy to be here with this overflowing heart to share and spread the love. I miss my kids but, geez, how lucky am I!

Happy New Year.

Dianne Brooke’s column is special to The Cambrian.
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