Do you ever feel like you’ve stepped through a time warp?
Sitting here at my desk at home, peeling through all of my photos and recalling the jam-packed trip, it almost feels like it was all a dream. Did the last week even happen?
In the last 6 days, I tapped into just about every side of my personality there is. I was a nomad, trekking across the desert. I was a mountain mama, dipping my feet into an alpine lake. I temporarily played the parts of city girl and rock star- and played them well. I was reacquainted with my inner hippie (I just love her!) and tasted the life of a sun-kissed beach bum, if only for a day.
Our journey took us from the mountains of Park City to the Salt Flats of Western Utah, through the scorching desert, up into the pines of the High Sierras and back down into the fog of the City by the Bay. We felt the shock of going from a town with a population of 150 to one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, and breathed a sigh of relief to retreat over the bridge and return to a slower lifestyle. I went from enjoying breakfast on a deck with a chipmunk as my date to ordering late-night room service from the 12th floor. From flip flops to motorcycle boots, honking cabs to surfboards…it was a week filled with both sides of the coin. There were times in the car that I prayed I didn’t get lost… and plenty of times when I wished I could, just so I wouldn’t ever have to leave.
Remember the madness before we left? After a hectic week full of beloved houseguests, a fun get-together, large-scale landscaping, an insane non-puppy, an outdoor concert, and too many sunglasses, we ignored the disheveled house and packed up for a road trip. Sweet Cholula was staying home with a lovely woman who would not only give her lots of love but magically transform her into the World’s Most Well-Behaved Dog, so my lap would be puppy-free on this adventure. The first part of any road trip is always the most fun, filled with anticipation of what’s to come. We hit the road with smiles on our faces!
When I first moved here, I imagined the “Great Salt Lake” to be lined with adorable lakeside cottages and communities. I know better now. We drove past the salty bog and also a white pile of – you guessed it- SALT.
I’m going to go ahead and state the obvious: the drive between the west side of Utah through the Nevada desert is GROSS. It’s flat, it’s hot, and it goes on forever.
After passing a very random tree sculpture, we decided to stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats. It could have been the surface of the moon.
We had many, many miles to put between us and the Utah border, so we settled in for the long haul. Our satellite radio reminded me of the momentous occasion to come.
After a few hours, I took over the wheel. Instead of keeping me company, John snuggled in with his Superman pillow and promptly fell asleep.
Our destination on that first night was our friends’ A-frame cabin in teensy Bear Valley, California. At the base of the pass, we stopped for dinner at the Wolf Creek Grill and drove the rest of the winding road in the dark. A clink of a wine glass and a toast to a safe (12-hour) drive ended a long day. I couldn’t wait for daylight!
When I opened my eyes, I was greeted by strings of beautiful origami birds hanging in the window, tall pine trees behind them. The cabin is KILLER.
I filled a lazy morning with coffee and a book while the boys went for a bike ride. Our meeting place was a restaurant overlooking Lake Alpine. I did a little exploring on my way to the lake, soaking in the peaceful scenery. On the way up the windy pass the night before, as I marveled at the thickening pine trees in the headlights, John told me I would fall in love with the area. He was right. It’s a special spot.
I had some time to fill before the boys would be done, so I parked the car and hiked around one side of the lake along the shore. My route alternated between a piney dirt path and slabs of rock.
The boys met me on an umbrella-shaded deck for food and drink. Before they arrived, I sipped a refreshing glass of wine and enjoyed the people-watching. One thing was clear- in Bear Valley, the pace is slow. If you’re in a hurry, go elsewhere. After a tasty lunch, we took the paddleboards out on the lake and savored the high mountain sunshine.
Later, after daydreaming with John about monster ski lines, our host treated us to a simple and delicious candlelit dinner: grilled tri-tip and a fresh Caprese salad. It was one of those days that felt really long, in a good way.
We drove out the next morning, into the pines and onto a new phase of the trip. I sighed my goodbyes, wishing we could have stayed longer at this magical little cabin in the woods… but excited for what was still to come.
Stay tuned for Part Two of our California Roadtrip Adventure!