Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back Roads in The Golden State

It's been a while since I've posted here.
There have been more posts over at Lilly and the Brothers.
Sometimes there are posts I just have to write over there, and there isn't time for a post here too.
But I am looking at pictures from our camping trip this weekend, and I just have to share them, and write a bit.
Because I live in such a beautiful place and sometimes I can't help wanting to talk about it.
I love this Golden State.
Here goes.
Aaron and I love to drive country roads.
We search them out.
You know what I mean, the kind of roads that meander.
They are often narrow.
And tree lined.
They twist and turn, and don't lead to anywhere, but somehow always hold an amazing discovery for us.
These kind of drives make up a part of almost every vacation we take--big or small.
Thankfully our kids are good sports, (almost) always up for an adventure, and excellent car travelers.
And we don't even have a tv in our mini van!
After all, who'd want to waste time looking at a tv when there are glorious vistas to feast our eyes upon?

There are not a lot of these kind of drives where we live.
You have to hunt for them, and put forth a bit of effort.
Los Angeles and its suburbs really do sprawl.
That's why we love the coast north of Santa Barbra and on, so very much.
As soon as we're just north of Santa Barbra, the hills open up, and I feel as if my very soul is taking great gulps of the emptiness.
Those rolling, empty hills fill me.
I love wide open spaces.
We camped last weekend at Refugio State Beach.
It was a marvelous time.
We had the kind of weather that makes beach camping perfect and makes me want to stay there forever.
Even with the gross campground bathrooms, and a perpetually filthy 1 year old.
One night after dinner, we hiked the trail above the beach to look for whales and dolphins, and to soak in the views.
It was that magic hour just before the sun is setting when the light is absolutely golden.
I looked at the hills just inland from the ocean.
Covered in the burnt grass of summer heat, they glowed in the golden light.
"This is why they call it The Golden State," I thought.
It made me so happy I almost cried.
Then a kid wandered too near the cliff edge and the moment was over.
Still, the siren call of those hills was too powerful for us to resist.
On Monday, after we left the campground, we headed east on Refugio Road.
Just moments from the ocean, we found this.
And then we crested a small hill and the view opened up to this.
Golden light bathed the hills surrounding this beautiful valley, and we felt like we had found a little piece of paradise.

Both Aaron and I gasped.
Then sighed.
We're both from Fallbrook.
And these kind of views remind us of home.
Perhaps that's why we love country roads so much.
They are a piece of our childhood, our family, and some of our dearest memories.
Fallbrook has changed a lot since we were kids, but the rolling hills haven't gone anywhere.
And there are still citrus groves, and avocados, big skies, and meandering roads.
It's still a beautiful place.
And so was this place.
On one side of the road this.
On the other, this.
We immediately began discussing how we could move to this valley.
The citrus grove is part of this ranch, El Refugio Ranch.
We continued on down the road, with promises that our next stop would be at our favorite park in Santa Barbara.
The road narrowed and grew shady from the live oaks and sycamores growing alongside it.
James and William both said, "are we in Fallbrook now?"
There are roads just like this in my home town.
Fallbrook is a second home for them and they know it well.
I like that.
The road opened up again to more golden fields, more oak trees, and more quiet emptiness.
I loved it.
As we continued the drive, we found the Circle Bar B Guest Ranch where you can spend the night, ride horses, or attend a dinner theater.
It looked like a pretty great place.
The road goes on quite a ways from there, until the pavement ends at the top of the hill, and it turns into a dirt road.
From there you can park and hike or ride your mountain bike along the dirt road for more spectacular views of Santa Barbra countryside.
Our kids, however, were not up for that, so we turned around and headed back to the 101.
The views going back were just as beautiful and I soaked them up.
We were going to be driving back south, to our urban/suburban life, and we'd be saying goodbye to country roads for a while.
I'm glad for these little escapes down country roads to fill up that part of me that needs them.
I love my little house in the burbs.
I love our trips to the city.
But I might love these rolling hills best of all.
I'm curious, do you love exploring country roads?
What are some of your favorites--in The Golden State or somewhere else?
Maybe one day we'll get to try them.
More camping pictures and stories to come.
I've got lots!
Love from,

1 comment:

Kathy Gustafsson said...

We were in the central coast this weekend too for Krista's wedding! The weather was perfect and the views are always amazing. Thanks for sharing your adventure.