Wednesday, January 30, 2008

San Filepe to Palm Springs to Santa Barbara to San Francisco

I left San Filepe relatively late in the morning, knowing I had just about a five hour journey to Palm Springs. I went by a panadaria and sat on the beach, watching shrimpers fix their nexts for a morning of fishing. I packed up and headed out - looking forward to seeing family from near and far, but saddened for the reason we were all gathering together.

I got into Palm Springs and met up with grandpa and the aunts and uncle, stayed around for a bit at grandma and grandpa's place, and came across this classic family photo. My mom is the daydreamer in the front, center.
I then headed to the 7 Springs Hotel - a hotel sporting a contemporary architectural feel with a good vibe. Later that night Jen and Justin rolled in from L.A. and soon we fell fast asleep.

The next day, after getting woefully lost in Palm Springs, I got to the funeral to celebrate grandma's life and her place in all of ours. We then headed to grandpa's place and spent time together catching up. A number of these cousins I hadn't seen since grandma and grandpa's 50th anniversary - and they celebrated their 71st not too long ago! So after some 21 years, we reconnected and shared numerous stories of our times together as kids. One being - and most legendary - was when grandpa took us boys out on a camping trip and thinking he was buying tuna, brought cans of cat food instead. Classic.

It was great to be with my wider, extended family and I was surprised to hear that they had been following me via my blog. So if any of them are reading this: you rock!

I so greatly enjoy spending time with my mom and sisters (brother too, but he couldn't make it), and it is certainly true for me: the older I get, the more I enjoy and want to be connected to my family. I haven't always had this heart-draw, but I deeply feel it now. So it was a gift to be with them for a couple of days and to just hang out and catch up on life.

I headed out the next morning for Santa Barbara and encountered some rain on the way but really liked it. There is something deeply gratifying about facing mother nature openly and honestly, and doing it on a motorcycle feels that way. Driving through rain in a protected, climate-controlled environment is profoundly different than out in the open as you are on a bike. And this becomes a completely different psychological space. There is something basic about this, some degree of "man vs. the elements" that is incredibly gratifying. So I rode on, and felt incredibly alive.

I got into Santa Barbara and landed at the Askews - my "Santa Barbara parents" - and what I have called home for many years now. I got up the next morning and in checking discovered that another storm was due the next day, and my best bet was to head out soon. So I packed up and headed out to some of my favorite spots around SB.

Mount Calvary Monastery is a spiritual retreat house and my spiritual home. Staffed by monks of the Order of the Holy Cross, I have been going to Mt. Calvary for many years now and am grateful to have come to know some of the brothers there. Every Friday morning is a service followed by breakfast and I have had some wonderful conversations around the breakfast tables. The day I rode up there was the brother's sabbath day, so I snapped a picture or two before heading on. I would have loved to have had a picture of Brother Robert on the bike!

Of course before heading out I wanted to get a pic with Tony and Barbara (Askew) so I rode down to Westmont College to say my goodbyes and get the pics.

While blowing through San Luis Obispo, I stopped in to see my buddy Andy. And since he doesn't really work at his job, he obliged me for this picture. He jumped right on the bike and became, at the end of my trip, the first person to actually get on the bike for a picture the entire trip.
I arrived back in San Francisco without incident, cold and tired but grateful. It was a great journey through many landscapes and experiences, adventures unlooked for and adventures unplanned. My Baja adventure was a gift, and as I return to "normal life" (whatever that means) I carry with me people, places and things that all reflect the goodness of my life and the Giver of such good gifts.

The road goes ever on. And I will keep traveling it, in grace and gratitude, and hope that it takes me to Baja many times to come.

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