3 states, 5 towns, 10 days & 25 people

I’m just back from a whirlwind trip to the West Coast. Having moved to the eastern edge of the USA it is difficult to see all of the people and places that mean a lot to me in one trip, but this time I can say that I came close!

IMG_6485I flew into Seattle to connect with my daughters. I met a new grand-kitty, celebrated a birthday, saw a new apartment, walked to the beach, ate some amazing food, extolled the virtues, and adorableness, of Seattle’s plethora of little free libraries and watched one daughter in a dance performance at University of Washington. This was a last-minute addition to my trip west and I can’t even explain how important it was to my own well-being. Seeing my daughters and their friends in the midst of their living is a tangible delight and more than necessary, even if only for a few days.

Next I flew to Reno, hopped in a rental car to drive up to Squaw Valley, CA to attend the wedding of a niece from my ex-husband’s family. It was SO GREAT to see this side of the family that I was a part of for 30 years. They welcomed me with open arms and asked about my life and I left feeling tremendously loved after a short 24 hours. I started feeling ill the morning of my departure and assume it was altitude sickness, even though Squaw is only at 6200 ft in elevation. I don’t know if it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep from two very early morning flights within a few days, but I booked it back downhill to Reno and the warm embrace of one of my oldest friends, Kathy. She led me into her spare room and told me to sleep while she bustled around in the kitchen preparing food. What a gift. I woke up an hour later, feeling a bit better and not wanting to miss anymore time with this special human being.

18950974_10212767423918505_2079909680474970963_nKathy is one of my heroines. I really admire and gravitate toward women that are no-nonsense, badass, and confident. She is all of these in spades! She is a straight activist for the LGBT community and travels the world speaking and giving workshops, marshalls pride parades and gets called horrible things by fundamentalist Christians for her acceptance of the gay community. She works her butt off and is so full of life and laughter (see Meet Kathy). She hikes every day with her dog Cali and I joined them for a light hike. It was a glorious 19 hour inoculation of inspiration for me to make the most of my life and not give a hoot about what people think.

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Lake Tahoe through my passenger window

Keeping Kathy in my heart, I drove up over Mt. Rose highway to Lake Tahoe. I always forget just how beautiful this sparking alpine lake is but I was only getting a brief glimpse passing by on my way to Hwy 50 and my mom’s cabin on the American River.

IMG_6556On the steep grade out of South Tahoe I had a “check tire pressure” light come on in the rental car. I was in traffic going 5-10 miles per hour and I passed a sign that said “Wagon train traffic ahead.” Not a sign you see everyday. Well, come to find out, I was following the 68th Annual Wagon Train that reenacts the famous trek that wagons made along this stretch of road during the California gold rush.

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There was nowhere to check the tire pressure but I pulled over just to make sure the tires were not flat and they looked fine so I kept going to the cabin. I have written about this cabin (see The cabin that built me…  ) and it is always delightful to return and spend time there. There has been a lot of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains this year and the rivers were gushing and it was especially beautiful to see and hear and still too early for any bugs to annoy us. My mom and sister were there when I arrived and we cooked out on the lovely wood-fired griddle, soaked our toes in the freezing river and walked in the pine-scented air.

IMG_6628Back in the car the next day to drive to Napa, CA with my Mom, we passed the unhitched wagon train resting for the night by the side of the road. I was able to put air in my tire and get Mom home without incident.

She lives in a beautiful gated community on the Napa River, each house has a dock and boats, even if only a paddle boat or kayak. It is always a pleasure to spend time in her spotlessly, well-decorated home. I hopped in the guest room shower feeling especially grimy after being in the dusty, tree-pitched outdoors at the cabin. I turned on the water, stepped into the tub and **bang*rattle*klunk** off blew the shower-head and down tumbled the shower caddy and soap. With a strong blasting stream of water in my face I quickly shut off the tap and plunked the shower head back on the spigot. Turning the water on a second time, it all blew off again. I went through this routine about 4-5 times before deciding that it was not going to stay connected. I had water everywhere, even on the ceiling of Mom’s pristine bathroom.

After swabbing everything down, I spent the rest of the evening googling shower heads and watched the video “How to install a shower head for dummies.” I felt fully informed and the next day Mom and I went to Home Depot and bought a new shower head and I am proud to report that I replaced it without too much difficulty. Just to challenge my new-found prowess I also put an extension arm on the shower head in Mom’s master bath so she can reach the controls easier. I have NEVER done anything like this before and I felt so accomplished. All hail, King YOUTUBE!

IMG_6625 2While in Napa I got to see more family and my wonderful mentor/friends Lowell and Christie Young. They tap me into my spiritual roots and infuse me with hope, youthful memories, and ply me with piles of wonderful books, which are stacked on my desk in beautiful array, calling me to read-read-read, like a siren lulling me to crash on their spiny reefs.

I had contact with about 25 special people on this quick 10 day jaunt. Connections. It’s all about connections for me. I feel satisfied if I have looked into someone’s eyes, heard their heart and their latest escapades. I can come home, look back and picture them, where they are and how they smile and laugh, what moves them to tears, how their voice conveys their emotions. Yes, I can miss them more, but with the knowledge that there will be a next time to reconnect. Just tapping into their souls and lives for a moment keeps me attached to them until we meet again. Make sure you find the time to connect with those that you love.

“Connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives meaning and purpose to our lives.” (Brene Brown- watch her awesome TED talk here…The Power of Vulnerability)