what a long, strange trip it is

We left Houston, Texas March 7, 2014. We arrived in Pacific Grove, California March 9, 2014. We traveled 1,850 miles, each of us accompanied by a dog.

this is what Stella did for most of the trip
this is what Stella did for most of the trip

My car reached a milestone on the journey. All 6s.

this was in far West Texas, so you can see that I slowed down to take this shot
this was in far West Texas, so you can see that I slowed down to take the shot

Most of the long drive across the desert southwest looked like this, including the bug residue. Which reminds me of that old joke: What’s the last thing to go through a bug’s mind when it hits your windshield? Its asshole.

desert people--at least, the ones you run into at gas stations--are a different species
desert people–at least, the ones you run into at gas stations–are a different species (unlike dessert people, who are delightful)

Though we referred to this as a “move to Monterey,” our goal was always to rent a house in Pacific Grove. It’s a town of 15,000 on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula, so it’s almost like living on an island. It took us five days to find the house, which isn’t bad, but then it was another five days before we were able to sign the lease. Things move slowly here. To ease the pain of waiting, we took a side trip to Big Sur spur of the moment on a Sunday morning.

Bottcher's Gap, 7 miles inland from Highway 1
Bottcher’s Gap, 7 miles inland from Highway 1 on Palo Colorado

There’s a road between Big Sur and Carmel called Palo Colorado. It’s a weird little one-lane, mostly paved road that winds through redwoods and then climbs up the side of a mountain. When another car approaches, which doesn’t happen often, one of you has to pull off the road to let the other pass. The road dead ends at Bottcher’s Gap, which looks down into the Ventana Wilderness. And it features local wildlife like this little fella who wanted to eat Stella.

my first bobcat sighting (photo by James)
my first bobcat sighting (photo by James)

Pacific Grove has its own wildlife. In addition to migrating Monarch butterflies, there are also deer roaming around town. Like, casually strolling down the street, not a care in the world (though I do hear there are mountain lions that snag a deer here and there, right out of people’s backyards).

what, were you wanting to drive down this street? (photo by James)
what, were you wanting to drive down this street? (photo by James)

The drive, the expense, the hassles were all worth it. Our house is less than half the size of our place in Houston, but there’s a view of the water from the living room. So, you know. Priorities.

this is the view from our street
looking down the street in front of our house



14 thoughts on “what a long, strange trip it is

  1. You don’t need a whole lotta space inside when you plan on being outside most of the time, eh?

  2. Exactamundo, Connerino.


    We plan on setting up shop outside whenever possible. And we’re walking distance to restaurants, grocery stores and the water, so no excuse for not putting some miles on our feet.

  3. I’m excited for you for having moved here. I’m excited for CA because now you have increased the amount of amazing in our State!

    Oh, and I lust after your view!

      1. Oh… you caught that, did ya? Maybe I was wrong.

        Sorry I missed you before ya’ll left, but we’ll let you know when we are out that way.

        1. I’m at least smart enough to know when I’ve been insulted. And I’m sorry we didn’t get together. Things got a little crazy there toward the end, as I’m sure you can imagine. It’ll be more fun to see you guys in SF anyway.

  4. Big Sur on the spur of the moment says it all. When you get up to Frisco stop by the Comstock Saloon for an absinthe. I am insanely jealous, which isn’t normal for me…I think. I think I am jealous…I miss California but there were reasons for leaving. There is a slight chance that I will find myself in the Dakota oilfields next month and there is a side of me that thinks maybe I’ll just keep heading west…

  5. After that long drive on I-10 (the one you’re very familiar with, TJ), and then the boring drive on I-5, we were finally closing in on this place. We were going up 101 on the back side of the Ventana Wilderness, a part of the highway I’d never been on, and I was struck by how amazing it is that Big Sur is right over that rise. You’d never guess it from the 101 side. It’s just flat farmland. It was like seeing behind a movie set. Beautiful Big Sur on the front, the rest of the world on the back.

    Big Sur was definitely a motivating factor for this move. Maybe phase two of this mid-life reset will be actually living there (or on crazy Palo Colorado road, which I’m pretty sure is its own weird vortex).

    And I’m a little jealous of us, too, because I still can’t believe we’re living here.

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