It comforted me yet made me a bit sad when I woke up in my own bed this morning, surrounded by familiar details (such as dogs sniffing up at me when they sensed movement in bed rather than the usual sleep rhythm - how do they know it?!). After two fairly long days in the car, Michael and I both welcomed the familiar sites along I-5, such as the lovely town of Grapevine, almost rejoicing when we merged onto the 210 Freeway, and we would have been ecstatic if we hadn't been so tired when we finally opened the door to our humble abode. Milo and Gus did not make the trip with us, so their wagging tails were at attention as they greeted us with a mix of joy and suspicion. For the rest of our short evening, they seemed to alternate between excitement and distrust, glad to see us yet nervous that we'd leave them again. They were, however, quite happy to join us in our bedroom when we finally called it a day, so I think that they have forgiven us for this momentary abandonment.
Regarding the trip - more to come on that, photos and all. It is hard to summarize and to not gush ad nauseum, but it was a fantastic trip - one of our 'best', if I could rank them. Heading south on Wednesday felt like someone was yanking a part of me out, I hated to leave that part of the world that much, as we took our leave of good friends with whom we had reconnected and to whom we had to say our good-byes. That was the bittersweet aspect of the trip, because it made me so happy to see these people and so sad to leave them. Throughout the trip we saw different people, but on Wednesday, we had made our final "visit", so that was the hardest good-bye. Our route on this trip was a bit circuitous - we made different stops along the way as we drove north to Oregon, then snaked our way to the Oregon coast where we disconnected from the world before heading north to Seattle, then on to Bellingham, then crossing the border to Vancouver. Our final stop before the long drive south was east to Leavenworth, WA. The return was, without a doubt, the most difficult part of the trip, as the excitement that pushed us on had transformed into anxiety and impatience to return home. The long summer days suddenly shortened, and we knew that we were closer to home.
That is a summary of our route, but says little about the WHAT - the experiences and the activities. It is hard, for me, to quickly summarize all of that, but I will say that we walked along half a dozen beaches, if not more; ate more than our fair share of excellent, local (when we could get it) seafood, lost count of the totem poles that we came across, consumed pounds and pounds of cherries (I kid you not); perused many a farmers market; fell in love with Oregon and Washington beers - IPAs in particular; stopped to take in one view or another and pinched ourselves when we couldn't really believe it; honed our local pie expertise; drank numerous cups of coffee (and only went to Starbucks once!); enjoyed the bounty of our friends' gardens at dinnertime; and stayed up far later than I am used to on most evenings as we gabbed and gabbed with friends. I would also consider this to be one of our more active trips as we walked, hiked, biked or ran in every single locale that we visited.
Now that we are home, it is easy to return to a pat routine, to get lost in the day-to-day minutiae, to worry about next month or next year, or to focus too much on small details that, in the bigger scheme, don't really matter that much. While this was no Kerouacian experience that involved hitchhiking, the elements and a few survival skills, it did allow us to step outside of the usual rhythm of our lives and to reconnect with several people that we know from different moments of our lives. Being home has its own advantages, as we connect with friends here and spend time with the dogs (and I train for some race), and hunkering down a bit will energize us for our next trip - which will be coming up soon!