My trip last week to southern California showed me a few things and reminded me of many others.
Staying with my mom and seeing my brother in the San Diego area was a nice experience in many ways. Almost three years had passed since I last saw them, and I was reminded that perhaps that’s a bit too long.
But the distance between the Ozarks and the southwestern-most part of the U.S. is pretty hefty, and I guess it’s not as easy getting there as I wish it was.
As I walked on a jetty at the entrance to Batiquitos Lagoon in the La Costa area of Carlsbad (the city where my mom lives), took photos of passing pelicans and watched the waters of the Pacific Ocean pound against the rocks, I was reminded that there’s something special about coastal areas that can’t be duplicated. As I played golf in bone-dry conditions and 85-degree temperatures, I was reminded that the days of being an avid snow skier during my nearly 30 years living in the Northwest are a distant memory, and I now enjoy warm weather far more than cold.
But as I pulled up to stop lights and was surrounded by dozens of cars at intersections of four-lane roads in Encinitas, Vista, and other towns with close to 100,000 residents, I was reminded of how much I enjoy driving 10 miles to town and maybe seeing three vehicles the whole way there.
By the way, there’s a bunch of towns that size in San Diego County. And the county itself is huge. No, really, I mean HUGE. Texas County is the largest county in Missouri, occupying about 1,179 square miles. San Diego County is almost four times larger, at 4,526 square miles.
It’s almost the size of Connecticut. And it’s not even close to being the largest county in California. San Bernardino County covers 20,100 square miles (albeit mostly desert). Try to imagine that.
Anyway, being away from home was fun, and I loved seeing my family members and doing the SoCal thing for a while. But being away also reminded me of how blessed I am to live where I live.
I was only gone a week, but it didn’t take long for me to miss a lot about good ‘ol Texas County and the remote outpost where I eat, sleep, and store my shoes at night. I missed the big views of pastures and forested hills, the silly Corgis, and my bed. I missed drinking the wonderful water that comes from our well, hearing the neighborhood coyotes sing in the evening, and even the donkey. But most of all, I really missed my wife Wendy, and just being home.
And you know what else? I must be getting old, because that whole airport deal and sitting on airplanes for hours and hours just flat wore me out. As I have since I was a kid, I still enjoy staring out the window from 38,000 feet as the world spreads out below, but my knees and ankles don’t handle the cramped space of an airliner seat anywhere near as well as they used to.
Being 6-3 used to be so easy, but maybe not so much any more. Same with being away.
There’s no place like home.