Do you ever travel, go to bed and then wake-up and for just a moment forget where you are? New bed, strange room... where am I?
It didn't happen to me. I woke-up with Maria firmly pressed against my side, clinging to the edge of a queen size hotel bed. It's too early to rouse children, so I slipped over to the desk where Geoff had the laptop set-up and I read some news and blogs. Then, suddenly, hearing the steady hum of traffic outside the window, a thought crept into my head: Delayed Disorientation. Where are we? A hotel, yes, but in what city or town? How far did we drive? Where did we stop? Not Santa Barbara or Simi Valley. Further than Solvang, Nipomo, Pismo Beach. Aha! SLO. San Luis Obispo. That was weird. I am usually keenly aware of my locale.
We definitely were not aiming for an arduous drive, or hard push northward. We made sufficient progress and we made interesting stops. Unexpected and interesting.
So, there's this exit that I know of that always works for a rest stop. It has a great book shop with clean bathrooms and it's open late and in a safe neighborhood. This same lucky exit also has affordable gas, a AAA office, a Whole Foods market and one more thing, Stan's. Stan's is legendary. We are talking donuts and service... friendly, neighborly, genuine, warm, helpful service. The donuts are genuine too, made with quality ingredients, which is the best way to get your sugar fix. OKay, seriously, we go for the friendly service. I travel this route at least once a year and usually without Geoff, so I really appreciate having nice, safe and welcoming places to pull off the interstate.
We've been 4 times now, and I am going to just assume that the guy behind the counter is Stan. Or he's Stan junior, because this place has been around a long time, so let's just call him Stan. The first time I was there Maria was a baby in my arms and the boys were in the car, so Stan insisted on carrying the warm baked goodies and cold milk to the car for me. He had a line of customers, but he did me this sweet favor, like I was a longtime, regular patron, like a friend of the family. And the other two times he was just as nice, chatting amiably, offering suggestions, relaxed and engaged. People seem as happy for the visit as the product. We were eager to introduce Geoff to Stan's, the small town and neighborly donut shop in the big city.
As we stood in glazed wonderment, drooling on the display case, Stan tried to figure out our party of 6. William, taller than his dad, and Maria still hitching rides on Geoff's shoulders... Stan was impressed with our large-ish family, and then he guessed we homeschool too. He was delighted to hear us confirm his guess, and he shared the fact that he had 3 grown daughters that were homeschooled too! "It's the greatest," he declared happily. He liked our no agendas, take it easy game plan, and he asked, "Have you ever been to the Reagan Library?"
To be continued...
What? It's breakfast time down in the lobby and with four kids to feed, we can't afford to be late for the free buffet.