On day three of our week spent in California, we took a day trip into the heart of Los Angeles. Visited the LA Natural History museum, drove in LA traffic (some of the craziest I’ve ever experienced), had a picnic in the back of a 4runner, and soaked in the sounds of the city. Later, we ventured down to Hollywood, where we spotted the sign in the far distance and strolled down The Walk of Fame. It was a pretty big cultural shock walking around downtown Hollywood. People shouting on every corner trying to get you to go take a tour, or pay to see the sights. Street performers in costumes, a few people trying to sell their recently recorded albums saying “I’m just trying to make it big.” It was all so strange from anything I’ve ever experienced. But I also just found myself watching everything and everyone and taking it all in because it was SO new. LA/Hollywood is a very different environment compared to small country town Iowa (or even Oklahoma for that matter.) It was a fantastically exhausting day.
“For this strip of coast, this tiny region, seems to be looking westward across the Pacific, waiting for the future that one can somehow sense, and feel, and see. Here America will build a great city of the pacific, the most fantastic city in the world.”
// Carey McWilliams, Southern California: An Island on the Land, 1946
I’ve had experience with large bodies of water before. Living on Lake Michigan for several years provided lots of opportunities to swim and splash around in the waves that met the shore. But the Great Lakes are just the baby brothers to the ocean.
This was my first encounter with the ocean. While that might seem crazy to some of you, I don’t really think it is. I appreciated it more seeing it as a 20 year old than I probably would have as a kid. I was ecstatic, and what an experience it was.
Walking up to the ocean, the smell of salty air and sea water fills the lungs and nose. (Yes, that is a thing, you can actually smell the salt.) The sound of the waves crashing against the shore fills the ears. For miles, all that can be seen is a small sliver of sand, compared to the vast waters that continue on in the distance. The ocean is nothing less then majestic.
One evening during golden hour we took a trip to a small cove. It was probably the best couple of hours I’ve ever spent. Sitting and watching the waves wash over the rocks. Dolphins popping up in the distance. Seagulls and other sea birds flying over head and swooping into the water. Skipping rocks (or attempting to do so), and just watching the sun go down behind the cliffs. It was incredibly peaceful and I loved it.
I’ve always had extreme wanderlust. It stems from the many family road trips I was apart of growing up. It comes from moving over 14 times in the span of 20 years. It also comes from wanting to experience something new. The midwest (my home, the place that has my heart) is a wonderful place to be, but knowing that there is so much more out there to experience, makes the wanderlust stronger. My first traveling experience was last spring break when I took a trip to Colorado. It was amazing, and unforgettable. Seeing the mountains for the first time is indescribable. A year pasted by, and I was getting antsy. I needed something new. I needed another road trip. One of my closest friends, Laura, lives in Redondo Beach, California, and when she suggested that we make the 21 hour drive for spring break, I was so excited that I’m not sure the words “yes” ever came out of my month, it was just screams and squeals. CALIFORNIA, the place I’ve been dreaming to go ever since I saw “Free Willy” (yes, I realize this movie’s location is in the northwest, but it’s the whole ocean thing) as a child. It’s #34 on my bucket list. It’s a place I’ve been wanting to go forever. The west coast. Who could pass up a road trip this magnificent? Absolutely no one.
At 4AM we hopped into The Challenger and headed down interstate 40 west. Four states and twenty-one hours later the four of us travelers arrived in Redondo. Seeing this part of the country for the first time was almost too much for me to handle. I had to keep myself from over-posting on instagram along the way. It was all too wonderful to even imagine. I even enjoyed Arizona for a little while, before it became mundane.
California is everything I imagined it to be, but I’ll tell those stories later.
Pictures from the road: