Saturday, March 01, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear William. Happy Birthday to You!

How do you celebrate a road-trip birthday? The possibilities are wide open, especially here in Monterey, where there are sights and activities galore! I don't often use the word 'galore.' Hmmm. William has been a low-key birthday boy from the beginning, choosing quiet family gatherings and outings over big themes and hoopla. We have yet to hear one request or suggestion or demand or make my material dreams come true. Our 17 year old son is happy to enjoy a family hike, crossing icy cold creeks, sitting on moss covered logs and sharing a rustic, impromptu picnic of apples, cheese, bread and berry juice. Our first born would love some Lego bricks, I'd guess, and... well, we'll see.

Yesterday was recordable... like, it would have been great to have the day filmed, so we could revisit it again and again. We drove up the 1 from San Simeon, passing cows and ruggedly cut seashore, crossing old bridges and enviable homes with barns and long white fences. It was overcast and sometimes foggy. No traffic. No rush or discomfort.

The best road trips must include stops. Unplanned stops. It's about discovery. Discovery is wonderful, when it includes scenes like this. It turns out there were many opportunities to pull over and see elephant seals. I am so glad we took the first opportunity. These elephant seals were such an awesome sight we wished for chairs, so we could sit the whole long day, watching the show. We walked up and down the bluff observing the cows and bulls napping, and swimming up to the shore. They were yawning, snuffling, sneezing, stretching, scratching, snoring and sometimes gazing at us curiously. Alex and I were trying to recall all the elephant seal facts we had retained from some "Nature" episode we saw last Summer. They can run surprisingly fast... was it up to 15 miles per hour? Something like that, at any rate we were glad to be on top of the bluff, a safe distance from 5,000 pound bull elephants with fresh battle scars.

These drowsy beach nappers were huge and strange, and familiar too. Their flippers were so much like hands we could distinguish finger like appendages beneath the skin. We discussed their evolution. Were they land animals that adapted to the sea, or are they sea animals that are evolving to live on land?

With some reluctance, we got back in the Conestoga and moved forward to the state park we have been aching to share with Geoff. Nestled along the Big Sur coast is wonderful trail that begins at the ocean and climbs and climbs through fern and clover, shaded by redwoods and cooled by a roaring creek. It is our favorite. I could live there. The children come alive there, climbing and running, sharing dreams and visions, speculating on inventions, theories and lore. We saw blackberry canes and banana slugs, pretty stones, moss, lichen, delicate flowers and Hobbits, elves, singing rabbits and fairy huts. Yea, it's enchanted.

There wasn't a bridge at every crossing. Oh, that water is cold! It took my feet all day to recover. Geoff and William have actual Hobbit feet and seemed unaffected, which why they were lucky and ambitious enough to see the 110' waterfalls at the end of one trail.

Alex, Max, Maria and I sat together trying to dry and warm our legs. We sat on a huge boulder that hung over a section of the creek. It was wonderful. I know we will go back there, camp and hike and explore for days.

It was worthwhile packing in a refreshing picnic snack, and we enjoyed it together at the end of another trail. As we sat here, we thought about the enterprising people that were working in this remote spot in the 1880's. We could almost imagine the challenges and pleasures of being there, picnicking and exploring more than 100 years ago.

Ah, back to the present. It's time to pull up stakes and vacate our room. A new adventure awaits!


Mama Spark said...

*sigh* you are such a beautiful writer. What is the name of the park you are in? DH gets out that way and would love to go and explore, I'm sure. Sounds like just what your souls needed!

Anna Banana said...

Happy birthday to William from the royal family! Can't write any more, I have a date with my new love, Blue Ray.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful! I can't remember the name but know exactly the trail you're talking about. Hiking up from the ocean through ferns and redwoods, banana slugs, moss, flowers, everything so lush! Hans and I hiked there when we lived in Monterey. I'm so envious. Have a great trip. Gretchen

Tracy said...

Happy Birthday, William! Wishing you a wonderful 17th year! So many fantastic places and things you are all seeing on this trip--just love the photos, Natalie! Happy Days to you! ((BIG HUGS))

nikkipolani said...

Enchanting is the perfect word, Natalie. What a lovely picturesque place to celebrate William's 17th.

Heather said...

I just happened upon your blog trying to find a blog about chickens but I got reading anyway! Our family is close to having 4 kids so I am always excited to get a glimpse at what its like. My oldest is only 5 yrs old though so mine will be spaced very differently from yours. I can't picture what our family will be like when our oldest turns 17 but I bet it seems like yesterday he was 5 like mine. Thanks for the sweet blog.

Jennifer said...

Happy Birthday, William. You are a very fine young man indeed -- a pioneer, a rugged individual, an enterprising soul (in the very best sense). Here's to a year of dreams spoken and realized.