To me, at least.
It matters less where we go than that we go.
A plane, a car, a train... it makes no difference.
It's the getting, the moving, the leaving, the arriving, the way a new destination looks. The light, the air, the wind, the colors, they wash away everyday stressors and samenesses. They thrust us out of our routine and push us back toward each other.
We went to Mendocino last weekend. The drive, on a Friday night, was long. Five hours, maybe. We stopped for dinner about an hour from our destination. "This place looks good," Colin said, parking the car in front of a restaurant. Turns out we were in Boonville, a small town I'd never heard of on Highway 128.
We entered Lauren's.
Look, I'm a planner. I always want recommendations before I go anywhere, try anything. And I'm starting to realize how silly this is, how limiting. Because everyone's tastes are different, and when you get a list of must-try restaurants and must-see sights and must-experience experiences, you end up with expectations than can be just as easily unmet as met. When you go blank slated, you just... flow.
So I'd never heard of Boonville, or Lauren's restaurant, and Colin just stopped the car at a random point when our stomachs rumbled and we needed gas.
Serendipity stepped right in and did a magical little twirl.
Lauren's was friendly and real, unassuming and delicious. A teenage couple held hands across a table. A four-top of friends broke bread. Tattooed twentysomethings played pool behind our table. And the food was terrific.
I had the best salad I've had in months -- a simple thing with pears and arugula and local blue cheese. It wasn't original, or epic, but it tasted just exactly right. The kitchen made me a double (I've always want to say that: Make me a double!) because I was hungry and the salad sounded small. So when it came out, all large and substantial, I was thrilled, and it fortified me for the rest of the drive. I relaxed into that salad with everything I had.
We spent the weekend on the beach. Jutting rocks, wet sand, sea glass, fat droplets of intermittent rain. We returned to the room and let our socks dry before the fireplace, let the sand from our shoes muck up the carpet. (Sorry, housekeeping.)
I kept staying back as we walked along the surf. I watched my family from a distance. I liked witnessing them from different vantage points, different perspectives.
I snapped the above shot of Alex approaching Colin and Andrew. The light there was surreal, an oldenlight, a light from another time.
And then the weekend ended, and we packed the car, and drove the twisty route back towards home, stopping once more in Boonville, my new favorite town.
But don't take my word for it.
Journey elsewhere, anywhere, wherever your car, your feet, your footsteps take you.