“Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around every once in awhile you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
“Alright, so when you said the trees were at the top of a mountain…I didn’t believe you,” that’s what my husband told me as we made the trip back down from seeing the Sequoia grove at 7000 feet above sea level. Bet he’ll believe me next time.
It was his first trip to California and I was sure of a few things:
- He saw as much of the state as our week allowed
- He put his feet in the Pacific Ocean
- I wasn’t going to tell him that the Pacific is always cold no matter what time of year
- I wanted a photo of my 6’3″ husband next to a Sequoia so he could experience what it felt like to be short
I accomplished it all and we had an incredible time. Well, except for him moving quickly away from the water in Santa Monica when he realized it was freezing cold, BUT the rest was great. Starting out in Sequoia was the best decision. I had been camping out that way when I was nineteen and could not get over the view as we drove up.
It’s one of those take your breath away moments when you hit the top. A true testament to how beautiful the U.S. actually is. So many people focus on getting out and traveling, but if you suggest a spot in the country it’s written off. I get the appeal to traveling overseas, trust me. I still have that itch, I always will, but we forget our homeland is pretty amazing too. We forget the sights we have available to us. We turn our noses up at different states because of stupid reasons.
The amount of times I heard “Why would you want to go to California? It’s so trashy and expensive” when I told people we were traveling there was insane. First of all, it’s not “trashy.” Anyone who tells you that is probably as closed minded as they come. Does it have its spots that should be avoided alone and after dark, yes. Every single state does. Is it expensive? Hell yeah. Those gas prices? Ouch.
But it also has life, beauty, culture. It has people who are just as welcoming as the Southerners. Mountainscapes that are more beautiful than ones back at home (sorry Blue Ridge, they’re taller and have got cool trees). Some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and they have the Pacific Coast Highway. It also has legit sunsets over the ocean. Take that East Coast.
When you travel, please, do everyone a favor and put your political alignment away. I’ve traveled with people who use it to look down at others and turn their nose up at places like California. I promise, it isn’t fun for anyone. When you travel, focus on where you’re going. Focus on what you’re going to be doing while there. Hell, focus on the journey to your destination.
One thing I always try to do on every trip is close my eyes and listen. That moment for me was presented at our overnight stop in Cambria, CA. We stayed at the El Colibri Hotel right down the road from Moonstone Beach and I can’t say enough good things about it. Friendly staff, beautiful room with a fireplace, and they serve breakfast in a picnic basket.
That evening, we went out to explore a bit while trying to figure out where to eat. We had a lot of restaurants recommended, but that’s a post for another time. Alex and I stopped over on Moonstone for some photos. I was blown away at how enchanting this little beach front was. You could see mountains in the distance, listen to the waves crash on the rocks, and we even watched dolphins in a feeding spot.
So after dinner, we decided to watch the sunset. In all my travels, I have never been as joyful and overcome with a sense of peace before. This sunset was indescribable, but it was right after the sun went down that meant the most. We sat down and I closed my eyes to listen. Above the sounds of the waves and gulls, I heard life. Laughter in the distance, music playing softly from the houses behind us, and so much more. At the end of the trip, I was amazed at how much I connected with California and its people. Y’all are wild.
So dear travelers, the moral of the story is to take a deep breath, laugh a lot (sometimes at the pranks you set up for others, just keep them harmless), and take a moment to listen. You’ll be so surprised at what you can learn just by parking yourself on a bench to listen.