california road trip 2010
yesterday was one of those effortless days. even with the onset of grad school, it was a day where the sunrise, high noon, sunset and nightfall just sort of happen. in a smooth, flowing sequence. without any major events, emotions or commotions. i love days like that. days that don't require any heavy thinking, decision making or choices. i rode yesterday like a wave and when i finally crashed in bed, it felt natural and organic. simple as it should be.
but days like yesterday, anchored in routine, make me long for another day that was anything but ordinary. as i stirred the mashed potatoes in the stove top, i let my mind drift. to coasts decorated with boulders. late-night mexican food in a little town that shut down around five. cerulean blue skies and redwoods. california.
for all my meticulous, months-long planning, i messed up. we drove through big sur, with all its acclaimed beauty and ruggedness, at night. we saw nothing of the mountains and jagged coastline i had read tomes about. i was disappointed. then i saw a sign.
for julia pfeiffer burns state park. my former co-worker had listed it, and its glorious waterfall, as a top must-see in big sur. but we were too late. the sun was down, the chill was setting in, and storefronts, restaurants, and offices were slowly, one by one, shutting down.
but the park entrance was still open. i begged robert to turn in, much to his chagrin. "courtney, this is crazy," he argued. "we won't even be able to see the waterfall-it's almost dark outside." but we pulled in anyway. i hurriedly changed from flats to tennis shoes, grabbed robert's oversized wind breaker, and we set off on the trail.
it should be noted that i am not, by any means, a risk taker or one who seizes opportunities like this. but there was something about california that changed me, if only for that week.
but my adventurous spirit was brought down to size when we came upon a covered walkway, decorated with bats, their wings thudding against the walls. there was no other way on the trail besides straight through their little makeshift den. and i couldn't do it. we turned around in defeat. just when we reached the top of the parking lot, close enough to our car that robert had already unlocked it from a few yards away, we came upon another couple, just setting out. i felt the need to warn them. "it's not worth it," i spoke into the darkness, "there's bats down there."
i heard the girl shudder and the boy drew a deep breath, but they set out anyway. we got back to our car and i turned to robert. "let's go back. if they can do it, we can do it." there was obviously no arguing with me, robert could sense it.
we ran down the dirt path. the wind was ripping at my jeans and my hair was a mess. i was so, so many miles from home and comfort. we reached the couple just as they were approaching the bats.
after quick introductions and a little conversation, we decided to go in together. i slipped my hands around the girl's tiny fingers. robert pulled out a flashlight with one hand and shielded by head with the other. and we ran. with strangers. in the dark. with bats flying mere inches above our heads.
it was exhilarating. scary. a bit dangerous.
and there, right outside the cave, was the waterfall. illuminated by the stars and ever so gorgeous. a precious reward for trusting. in human decency and goodness. in thrills and california. in facing fears together.
but mainly, most of all, in seeking adventure, even in the most unlikely of places.