Monday, April 26, 2010

Road Trip

I’m on a three day road trip with my venerable father, a renowned Geologist, who has spent much of his life in the field in Southern California, mapping the San Andreas Fault and the surrounding area. At 92, my father, John C. Crowell, professor emeritus, pretends to be retired, but with Spring in the air, and a wish for us to spend time together, we arrange a road trip to Yucca Valley, Indio and the Anza Borrego Desert.

My road trip begins a day earlier when I make the drive from my home in Santa Cruz to my fathers retirement apartment in Montecito. I have made this trip many times over the past several years, and my old Toyota Van, with 160,000 miles on the odometer, knows the way. If only I could accrue frequent driving miles in the same fashion as I collect my frequent flyer miles.

I sail down Hwy. 101, the rolling hills along side the highway, a velvety green, lush from the ample rains earlier this year. New growth tips the trees and splashes of psychedelic yellow mustard paint the hillsides. The color pallet along this stretch of landscape changes with each season surprising me each time that I make the drive. I can cut 15 minutes off the drive by taking Hwy. 154 up via Cachuma lake. This part of the drive is breathtaking in the late afternoon light, a montage of purple shadowed mountains against the horizon. The fires in recent years have left much of the hillsides barren and vulnerable, but a patchwork of new growth; dusty green and muted lavender is filling in the scarred hillside. For 15 miles I have been speeding uphill. The highway levels and begins to drop down and around the next curve, is the bay; shimmering and blinding the bright afternoon light, and the city of Santa Barbara a mirage below. I merge onto Hwy.101 at the height of Saturday afternoon freeway traffic and inch through Santa Barbara, bumper to bumper, arriving in Montecito, much later than usual. I change clothes in the parking lot at Vons market and am only two minutes late when I stroll into the formal dining room at Casa Dorinda to

greet my father and his friends.

No comments: