I am convinced you can never really be alone in the world any more. Arriving at Costanoa last night after uneventful flights, one might think I would be more alone than I have been possibly ever (or at least in a really long time). As I parked my car and walked up to my tent bungalow, I was pleasantly surprised at its distance from the drive within camp and the walking paths through camp. My tent bungalow is set right against the tree line and a healthy distance from other tent bungalows. Not traveling with someone might make you think I was really alone, but despite the seclusion, amazing people with amazing stories surrounded me. Most of these people willingly opened up to share a piece of their story with me; all I had to do was ask. And so begins my California adventure and my quest to love (all) people better by learning their stories.
One of the highlights of yesterday, and the thing I was most looking forward to once I arrived in San Francisco was the drive from the airport to Costanoa in Pescadero. There was such an excitement about driving god knows what vehicle down the freeway out of town and along winding Highway 1 with the Pacific Ocean on my right and beautiful landscape on my left. To celebrate my arrival, I rolled down all the windows of the purple-ish/blue-ish Ford Focus that will be my mode of transportation for the next month, opened the sunroof, synced my phone to the radio and blared Tupac’s “California Love” singing and dancing without inhibition as passers-by looked on with amusement and the “you’re not from around here” look. There was something so liberating about this drive, and I was filled with such peace.
Winding along Highway 1 reminded me a little bit of driving a go-cart. We don’t have hilly roads with sharp turns every 200 feet in the Midwest. And if we do have curvy, winding roads, it’s nothing like the west coast. Besides feeling like my little Ford Focus was a go-cart on a racetrack, I also experienced moments of surrealism where the beauty reminded me of some of the landscapes in the Lord of the Ringsmovies. Neither my words nor my photographs will be able to do justice to the majesty and beauty of the California coast. It literally took my breath away on several occasions as I rounded a tight curve only to find a new landscape full of color beautifully spread out before me. Several times along the drive I stopped at roadside pull-offs to take pictures and breathe in the fresh coastal air.
After I got settled into my tent bungalow at Costanoa, I headed over to a BBQ-Tent where Costanoa was serving dinner. I figured one of the best ways to get some good information about the area would be to ask some of the locals who where working. I bellied up to the bar on a wooden stool and ordered a BBQ chicken sandwich. It sounds so simple, but it was hot off the grill and smothered in the most amazing homemade BBQ sauce. The two employees behind the bar were a friendly couple originally from Maine and West Virginia. Somewhere along their life paths, they met in Florida, sold all of their property, and bought an RV in which to travel the country. Their story was so amazing because when they left Florida in their RV, they didn’t even know they would end up spending so many moths in the rural community of Pescadero, California, nor did they know that they would both end up working for Costanoa in various capacities just because they liked the place. (Sidenote: in addition to the tent bungalows, Costanoa offers a full campground for tent camping and RV camping in addition to their lodge.) I greatly admired their sense of adventure and also how they grabbed the reins of life in such a spontaneous way. These people gave me some great insights on awesome places to eat and visit while I’m here for the next four weeks, in Pescadero and beyond.
Before long, another gentleman named Jeff arrived, so I got to ask about his story. A Michigan-native, he lives in San Francisco and works as an accountant. He had been strongly encouraged by his acupuncturist to get away for the weekend for the good of his mental and physical health. In many ways, our reasons for choosing Costanoa weren’t that different though the duration of his stay would me much shorter. As is often the case when you meet new people, typically you ask questions about their job and why they do what they do. Through my conversation with Jeff, I was reminded of #OAEproj because Jeff talked about why he loves his particular branch of the accounting profession. He said, “there isn’t just one way to solve the puzzle. And with money, there is always a puzzle. I love thinking about the many different solutions and finding the best way to solve the puzzle, whatever that day’s puzzle may be.” Truthfully, this answer stemmed from my joking generalization that Jeff must have a boring life as an accountant who crunches numbers all day. However, his answer reminded me that there is always room for creativity and innovation even in tasks as seemingly uncreative as making numbers work for a client. So the opportunity here for me was in refreshing my perspective about where there might be room for creativity. I have to seize that opportunity to broaden my perspective to seeing room for creativity everywhere, even though it may seem like there isn’t a place for innovation.
I ended the night in the Costanoa hot tub where I was able to meet about 15 other new people and ask about their stories. I met another couple from Michigan, an eighth grade English teacher and her second grade daughter who lived in San Francisco, and a group of attorneys and their husbands who all lived in California but were from as far away as British Columbia. The lesson to be learned from the hot tub is that people are amazing. Ask people their stories. Invest in them. Most people are very willing to share, and commonalities can be found even in unlikely people. I’m on a mission to love people more and better. I think day 1 was a success.
This morning, I drove through some fog back to Palo Alto so that I can go hear my best friend’s sermon at church this morning. My body totally has not adjusted to California time yet, so I was up about 2 hours earlier than I needed to be. What an amazing and unplanned opportunity that was! I was able to take my time winding back along Highway 1 into Palo Alto enjoying the scenery. I ate breakfast at a cute little French café in downtown Palo Alto, and am now sitting outside in the sun on a really cool, artsy table and chairs writing this post. I am filled with such peace and great anticipation about the amazing things that will come in the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more posts, and have a great day wherever you may find yourself today!