Friday, February 29, 2008

San Simeon

You know, I don't think we are going to get as for north as we thought when we initially discussed this adventure. No matter. We are filling our days with beautiful sights, leisurely explores and unexpected detours...

"Have you ever been to the Reagan Library?" Stan asked.

No. No, we have never been to a Reagan anything. It seemed enough just living through the Reagan years. Through Reagonmics and the trickle down theory. Through ketchup is a vegetable, in school lunches. "Just say No," I thought to myself.

It turns out Stan makes good donuts, he's friendly, a successful homeschooling parent and he is sincerely persuasive. He talked about history and Air Force One, and Hollywood and Air Force One. I think it was the opportunity to walk through the great, big, huge Presidential, flying limo that convinced me that the Reagan Presidential Library might be worth visiting.

Ivory Elephant with Jewels, from King of Thailand.

Visiting the Library was unexpected, uncharacteristic and surprisingly worthwhile. I really do not want to make political statements, or declarations. I think it is sufficient to say that I did not remember him, the Reagan Years, so fondly. But the Library was an amazing look at the history and context of the highest office in our country and gave me perspective for our nation's timeline and my own timeline. When Reagan was President I was old enough to appreciate soundbites and the other stuff required to get through school, but I lacked the interest and the perspective to see the big picture.

Our visit wasn't quite long enough to completely absorb all of the history and political intricacies, for complete comprehension, but hey, I got to see Nancy Reagan's wardrobe! OKay, seriously, it was amazing seeing the gifts from other countries to Ron and Nancy, to see the Oval office, and a part of the Berlin Wall. It was good to have tangible evidence of these topics to point out to the boys, to explain about the history of The Cold War, and the policy of Presidents not keeping gifts from heads of state.

And there was Air Force One. The whole thing, the one flown in by Presidents since 1973... Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and W. Bush. All those air miles, all that history. So cool. It was taken apart, transported and reassembled inside the Library. We walked all around and under it, then through it, and you know what? It was very... very... it was modest. It was not fancy. No fine finishes or designer pillows. No gold trimmed light fixtures or elaborate high-tech entertainment centers. It was functional, comfortable and rather egalitarian. Clearly it's an improvement over economy class, but I think we expect some upgrades for the President of the United States.

People are interesting. Our stories are interesting. When we take the time to listen, when we pay attention to the influences and experiences of an individual, it can be enlightening and it can give insight. Listening, learning and even gaining appreciation does not have to mean changing our values or beliefs. Visiting the Reagan Presidential Library was good, affordable, visually stunning (the setting in the Simi Valley is beautiful) and we learned about a man that did some interesting things in his lifetime.

Time to greet the brand new day! We stopped in San Simeon, not wanting to rush through Big Sur. So, today we have plenty of time for beach walks and other explores of this beautiful coast. We can't wait for our hike in the redwoods. We get to introduce Geoff to our favorite trail, and then we'll keep moving north and maybe we will see Bill, Alison and Dominic before nightfall.

Update: It takes a l o n g time for 6 people to rise, shine, shower, shave, roll sleeping bags, corral dirty socks and load the Conestoga.

I thought this post was missing something and I think the something may be a bow of reverence for God and nature and all of the splendid views we have been loving. Truly, the hills, the trees, the sky... everything has been amazing. Last week's rain and this week's sun have been the catalyst for miles and miles of bright green hills, rolling and sweeping, and dashed with riots of color. Big swashes of orange poppies and breezy yellow mustard blossoms. Along the roadside we've seen purple lupine, growing in deep and broad bunches. I love the barns and hollows, the creek beds and cow-cut paths that stripe the steep hillsides. I love the hawks, the heron, the sound of frog symphonies playing in the river valleys.

Last night we enjoyed a sunset beach walk, climbing over drift wood, skipping stones in the creek and following the flitting, darting bats. After the walk we sat together, under stars and satellites, in front of a cheerful fire provided by the hotel. Even now, through low clouds and fog, I can hear the surf, and I feel a content sense of anticipation and gratitude, a quiet bliss. It is a good morning.


Mama Spark said...

Seeing AF-1 would be great. My DH would have loved that! Keep the stories coming. Yes please!

nikkipolani said...

I loved seeing Air Force One. There's something about seeing an entire airplane indoors with that great big wall of glass in front of it. And I quite agree with you in the surprising modesty of the plane's interior.

Sabine said...

I remember my "Reagan-years" quite vividly, I used to be a punker at the time, can you believe it???
We were all afraid of the bomb at the time...we were just inbetween the US and the Sovjets, maybe that's why?

Jennifer said...

So many fascinating things going on with you, for you, just now. I'm intrigued by the sense that you are journeying and that you seem to have some decision-making laid out ahead of you -- am I imagining that? Thank you for taking us along for the ride, in any case.

I was in college during the Reagan years. I remember vividly when he and James Brady were shot, I remember mourning for the Carter years and working for Anderson years that were not to be. I most appreciated Reagan during my 3-month solo journey around Europe after graduation, because thee dollar was as strong as it has ever been during my lifetime (and so I could be in Europe for 3 months on barely $2000 including round-trip airfare!)....

Joan said...

What a great story! I love reading about travel-your next career could be as a travel writer.
I visited Big Sur for a day and I will never forget it. The redwoods will talk to you if you get close and listen. I hope to come back someday.
Thanks so much for taking the time to write about your adventures.