Home bittersweet home. I only say that because if home is where the heart is, mine is divided between Michigan and California as that is where my family lives. Perhaps someday I will call both places "home." For now, we travel. But I will admit I am glad to no longer be living out of a suitcase or sleeping on an air mattress! We started our trip with the Books & Such retreat in Monterey. Such a beautiful site! (See previous post.) After the retreat ended, Randy and I took a movie bus tour throughout the peninsula, stopping as a highlight at Pebble Beach. The driver told us that anyone can play that golf course, but it costs $495 to do so! (They also have a cheaper course on the property that is only $30 a day.)

We spent a night in Carmel, where Clint Eastwood was once mayor. It's a quaint town where they role up the sidewalks at 7 p.m. There are no street lights except for the Christmas tree style lights along the trees in the center of the boulevard in town, so finding a restaurant in the dark was a bit of a challenge. Since we'd had soup and salad in a little cafe in Monterey not long before, we opted for dessert for dinner. That Napoleon did not last long!

From there we traveled the coast highway south toward Los Angeles. The road is very windy through the mountains, with some tight curves. I remember traveling similar mountains as a kid with my parents when guardrails were not so common. There were places where I was very grateful for guardrails this trip!

The day was overcast, but the views of the ocean near Big Sur and other scenic places were still beautiful. We drove with the twists and turns until we realized that it was going to take forever to reach L.A. at 30 mph, so when we reached San Luis Obispo we headed to the 101 instead where the ocean is still visible in many places, but the speeds are faster.

As L.A. loomed closer and we got on the 405, traffic came to a near standstill. Friday night at rush hour was not a great time to travel that freeway, but we still managed to arrive at one son's apartment near dinnertime. We passed a street that I recognized from my childhood days, the street where my grandparents used to live. I wish we'd had time to go back and tour the area. I wonder if their house is still standing.

The rest of the week was spent with our two California sons, which went by much too quickly. Randy and I had a rental car, so during the day when they worked, we spent time at Manhattan Beach (love that area!), took in a classic car show at Redondo Beach (California cars have no rust!), and toured a studio where one son works. We ate lots of great food (I didn't have to cook!) at nearly every type of restaurant, from Mexican to sea food to French cuisine. One of my favorite lunches was at the Veggie Grill, a vegetarian, vegan cafe. We need more places like that in Michigan.

Randy and I ate sorbet and frozen yogurt on Manhattan Beach, caught a glimpse of the Tiger game through the open area of a sports bar - the one that sent them to the World Series, and managed to return to our parking meters just before the time expired. Tried out some new tea places - Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, Bird Pik, and of course, Starbucks (the tried and true), and custom designed a box of SEES dark chocolates. (What would a vacation be without chocolate?)

I took over 600 pictures and recorded the sound of the ocean while I sat along the sand. There is something amazing about the ocean, about water in general. It can be both calming and terrifying. It has the power to revive and the power to destroy. What other substance on earth is so versatile and yet so opposite? Who can stand along an ocean shore and not feel small?

I love the beauty of the west, especially along the Pacific. Perhaps that is in part because I have roots there - and especially because I have loved ones there. As I do here.

Now if only I would have brought the sunshine back with us!

It's good to be home.