When I was a kid I lived on the east coast, North Carolina to be specific. Those were difficult years for me. I really didn't fit in. Even though I was born in and love the Northwest (it’s my heartland), in the South the comment I heard most often was that I was a California girl and why didn't I just go and live there. So when my parents told this bruised ten year old that we were moving to California, I breathed a sigh of relief. I was sojourning home, where everyone said that I belonged, where somehow I might possibly fit in. It's funny how as I look at my pictures from this trip those feelings came up again, this traveling to the golden land of dreams, in my case dreams of not being outcast.
Beautiful ocean views I expected, what took me by surprise on this journey was the land.
This golden, rolling fertile land.
This land of dreams and disappointments. This incredibly varied landscape.
In 350 miles of coastal wanderings, I passed through a major metropolis and the heart of the entertainment industry, vineyards hugging gentle slopes soaking up the sun, awaiting a late harvest,
flat valleys, brimming oceans of fields growing food to feed a hungry world,
with silvery sunlight blazing off of protective plastic blankets tenderly protecting young shoots in this blessed soil which grows year round,
and steep or rolling pastures, ranch land fit for kings of grass-fed cattle.
There exists a Harmony, CA, population 18, can you believe it?
And the scents. I drove with the top down and the beautiful sweet smells were a story unto themselves. Santa Maria is dry and dusty with tractors billowing clouds next to a gas station.
San Simeon, with its glowing yet austerely proud Hearst Castle looming over the valley, smelled like fish.
It was the closest the highway had come to the Pacific, mere feet, and was the first time I smelt not just the fresh briny scent but the life in the ocean.
It's proudly sheltering these beautiful California residents. I'll write more on them later, but here's a peek at my new friends and the source of the fishiness.
Close your eyes (although not while driving) in Cambria and you'll swear that you're in Bend, Oregon. Open your eyes and the illusion remains.
And after 70 miles of fantastic cliff views, Big Sur assaults you.
Glorious soaring redwoods permeate the road with intoxicating fragrance.
It's at once earthy, pungent and achingly sweet.
If I could bottle it I would breathe deeply of its perfume every night and have lovely adventures as I dreamt.
Cruising through this golden land, not my heartland, but my adopted home.
My land of hope, of dreams and yes of disappointments, but a golden land none the less.