Nearly eight years ago, Jill and I took our first domestic vacation together: a West Coast road trip. (I think we might’ve mentioned it.) The plan was to meet in Los Angeles and make our way to Vancouver, stopping to visit friends in San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle and detouring for anything that sounded interesting along the way. I’d given notice at my very first publishing job two weeks before we were set to depart; my last day was a Friday, we were scheduled to leave on Saturday, and on Thursday, New York blacked out. Thanks to a city-wide shut-down—my Midtown office building emptied out in mass-exodus fashion (down quite a few flights of stairs, I might add), and we made our way back to Brooklyn on foot—it was questionable whether or not my flight would be leaving at all.
Of course, you already know that it did; otherwise, this post would have a completely different introduction. After an insanely expensive cab ride from Park Slope to Newark, I resisted the temptation to take the bump and surrender my seat to one of the many passengers who had been stranded at the airport since the power went out (I knew that Jill would’ve killed me if I’d shown up several days late, no matter how many travel vouchers I’d accumulated), and found myself in California, right on schedule.
In the spirit of the impending holiday weekend, please consider today’s Friday Five as the obligatory vacation slideshow, in advance: five favorite snapshots from Our Very First Road Trip.
1. The Wheels.
First, a tiny word about our rental car.
Jill’s flight arrived first (as usual). She’d made the car reservations, though, so this was a good thing: she could pick up the rental while waiting for me. On the other hand, this also meant that she got to pick out the rental. When presented with a choice between a red Mustang convertible and a Chevy Malibu, Jill went Malibu.
And, before we left on our trip, we’d solicited friends for entries in a mix tape contest (read: provide Jill and Maya with enough aural entertainment for two weeks in the car), thinking how fun and old school it would be to ride in a car and play tapes. Neither of us were acquainted with cars that only featured CD players, and, sure thing, we found ourselves behind the wheel of just such a vehicle. Needless to say, our first stop was a Target, to pick up a battery-powered boombox, which we held up on the dashboard of our Chevy Malibu for the duration of our time on the road.
2. Vacation State of Mind.
It wasn’t until we reached San Luis Obispo that our trip finally seemed like a holiday.
Sitting in sun-dappled, brick-terraced garden of our B&B, sipping a morning coffee, we actually felt miles away from our home cities.
3. The Redwoods.
We’d also stopped at Amoeba Music in L.A. to pick up something to keep our car’s fancy stereo system happy. Jill grabbed a classic, and I picked up that Jayhawks album I’d been hearing about. As we found ourselves nearing the Redwoods, on an drizzly Northern California morning, Rainy Day Music just seemed to fit.
When we asked the previously kind-seeming hostel proprietors for hiking advice, they took one look at our collective condition and, somehow keeping a straight face, suggested that we take the handicap trail instead of one of the more…challenging options. Even though we strolled through these massive trees without really earning it, the Redwoods were stunning. (And every time I listen to that album, I’m there, on a misty, overcast day.
3. Latent Foodyism.
The sun came out in time for dinner, and we detoured out of the way for tacos our Lonely Planet described in loving terms.
These were pre-blog days, obviously, and we weren’t taking notes, so the exact details of this magical taco joint elude me. I do remember, as we stood on line on this residential block in the middle of who-knows-what-town, I felt as if we’d been let in on a secret. And the food was great.
4. Crossing State Lines.
We fully intended to take pictures at every state border; sadly, we only managed one.
Here, Jill straddles California and Oregon. Well, sort of.
Portland was the home of the cool kids even back then. We browsed through the Strand, made our way to the top of Mt. Tabor park, and took in our fair share of cheap movies at one of the city’s several discount venues.
All of which were great, but cheap flicks and cheap beer made us instant fans.
5. British Columbia.
I loved practically everything about Vancouver: the sunny, crisp-clear weather, the Pacific Northwest geography, the huge, delicious oysters, the crazy-good Asian food….
I haven’t been back since, but I daydream about it. In one way or another, most of our trips have gotten under my skin, though none quite like this one.
Which destinations do you pine for? Feed our holiday-weekend wanderlust in the comments.