LEAVING OUR HEARTS IN SAN FRANCISCO
but first we have to get there!
It was 4th of July weekend - Friday. Maybe this was our first mistake, but we really didn't have much choice since it's how vacation schedules panned out for us. So the big drive had to be now.
The plan was to send both boys (a 3-year-old and a 20-monther) to preschool for the morning while my wife and I had a nice breakfast out - just the two of us - and then packed up the car. We'd pick the boys up at noon and start our northward travels straight away. The boys would fall fast asleep from school-exhaustion as always.
Foolishness! Somehow they both suspected something was vastly different about today. Maybe it was that we were on the 805 north, which we're never on at this time of day. Or maybe it was the fact that it wasn't just dad driving them around as is customary, but mom was in the for the ride as well. Whatever it was, neither would sleep nor show any signs of breaking any time soon.
Not to worry, seems that all the holiday traffic was heading southbound into San Diego anyway. A quick listen to the traffic report on KNX 1070 AM told us to steer clear of I-5 and stick with I-405. Still, all was well, and we didn't have any traffic until the usual slowing after LAX (where we also lost our carpool lane). Traffic dragged for the typical miles past LAX, through Culver City, the Westside, Westwood, and the Sepulveda Pass, but nothing unusual, nothing to seriously fret about. The drive through the San Fernando Valley was a breeze. This was about to be the best SF road trip ever!
D'oh! I jinxed it!
As we approached the 405-5 merge just south of the Newhall Pass and the Santa Clarita Valley, our lovely 4-5 lanes of traffic turned into a virtual parking lot. Jackson, who hadn't slept since waking up at 6 this morning was a very unhappy traveler now that it was 7 1/2 hours later. Sometimes he's working on his second nap by now, but not today. Today he was screaming. So much so that we thought something was terribly wrong with him. Had he fallen and hit his head at school and we weren't told? Was there something else that we missed? I called his preschool on my cell phone to ask if something had happened to him today, and I could barely carry on a conversation with the poor kid crying in the car seat behind me. They said nothing happened except that he had a great day. No matter. We had to stop the car and console him. And if he would prove inconsolable, there was a possible total road trip abandonment in the works as a last resort.
So there I was in the freeway median with the 20 feet from northbound 405 on my right and another 20 feet from northbound 5 on my left; the heat, scorching.
Jackson did stop crying, but only as long I held him. Any gesture toward the car and car seat illicited yet another screaming response. It was time for prayer and setting up the DVD player!
Twenty minutes into "Toy Story," Jackson fell asleep. Nolan, who couldn't believe his eyes, must have been thinking, when did we get a DVD player in the car? Where has this been all my life? (The quick answer is simple: we got it just for this trip, just for time such as this.)
After eventually emerging from this traffic crawl, and having crossed the Newhall Pass into the Santa Clarita Valley, we started to zip past familiar sights once again - Magic Mountain, those sometimes-brown/sometimes-green round rolling hills in front of you just as I-5 sweeps left, and the Grapevine. Thankfully, the rest of the trip up the lonely I-5 was uneventful as always and we eventually rolled into Santa Clara County (where we were staying at my brother's house) about 9:30 p.m. - basically, nine and a half hours after our departure from El Cajon.
We ended up having a great trip - visited lots of family, road some full-scale and small-scale trains, watched the down-home Alamaeda Independence Day Parade, went to the beach, strolled around Berkeley (see below), and hung out at San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, Golden Gate Park, and Yerba Buena Gardens/South of Market area science centers. Out of total exhaustion, we decided to cut our 9-day trip short by a day so we could take a weekend to recover before the work week started back up.
Whew - after reliving the trip just now, I'm tired all over again...