I was thrilled as I made to the Pacific Coast on the fifteenth day of April, completing the first phase of my road trip. Under heavy traffic on late Friday afternoon, battling the sand storm that blasted along highway I-10 that followed me since my departure from the Joshua Tree National Park all the way through Coachella, California, I was approaching the coast. For the past two days I had been driving through the sand storm and I felt relieved when I cleared it as left behind the Coachella Valley and the landscape turned into green rolling hills. Eager to see the ocean, I drove west toward San Clemente to head south on the coast looking for a state park along the shoreline where I would attempt to camp. One state park after another was full and it was already dark and after ten when I checked to a hotel for the night just a few miles north of Oceanside, California.
On Saturday morning before checking out from the hotel I searched for a place to have breakfast and came across great reviews for the Breakfast Club Diner and decided to try it. Far too many times on the I had been disappointed with places that I chose based on online reviewers comments and suggestions, but not this time! From the service to the food, this place is superb! It certainly exceeded my expectations. Many reviewers commented on the large size of the servings and how great the food was, and I must tell you that not only the reviews were on point but if you are a good fork this is the place to go. The retro decor has an uplifting vibe and the mixed, eclectic crowd brings in a laid back, happy atmosphere to the place. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!
It’s impossible not to notice the joie de vivre a la Californian in this coastal town where surfers and cyclists are everywhere. As I was not to meet my friends Wess and Melissa in Vista until after mid-day, I had a couple of hours to walk around the charming waterfront. After days in the desert it was refreshing to see the ocean and breath in the ocean salty breeze instead of desert sand.
The old cliche tells us that a stranger is a friend we haven’t met yet! On my twenty days into my road trip, from coast to coast, I had visited an old friend in Texas, made a couple of new friends, and had great conversations with many people. Nonetheless, I was excited for reuniting with my old neighbors and friends from New York who have had their own share of adventure on the road. After graduating from school they went on a two year trip that included half of that time spent in Australia and months in India and Vietnam. I was anxious to spend time with people who shared common interests. The three of us share the ‘breaking away’ from a more traditional lifestyle and have been exposed to questioning and have also been laughed at for the same reason.
When I left home I didn’t think the trip was a big deal, but at this point a few friends had noticed that I had been on the road for a while and were sending me messages asking about my final destination; my final destination was, eventually, to make safely back home. People expressed other concerns: Had I got a divorce? Did anyone close to me had passed away? Was I on a ‘soul search’ journey? Had I lost my mind? The answer was simply no to all the above. I simply had finally found the right time to tackle one of the items on my wish list. Some of them called me crazy and others told me they were jealous and wish they could join me. What really stood out to me was the fact that I have always hiked and for years posting pictures and comments about my hiking trips, but it seemed that no one paid attention because I was hiking close to home in the Hudson Valley. It was becoming clear to me that a lot of people don’t notice what we do until we overdo it, or we do it far away from our backyards. So, there I was on the other side of the country getting the attention of friends back home.
After getting to my friends’ house in Vista, sitting in their charming backyard and catching up and filling in the blanks since they had left New York, we kept saying that we were going to watch the sunset on the beach. From time to time reminding ourselves that we should get going soon until it was too late to make it there before sunset. Instead, we climbed and sat on the roof watching the sunset. I was more interested in being in their company and enjoy the conversation than getting in a car to go somewhere. Earlier in the day I had been trying to reserve a camping site for the next few days but being the weekend every state park on beaches along the coast were full. I finally found and reserved a site at the San Elijo State Beach, but the earliest day I could check-in was two days later on Monday for three days. For now I was going to hang out with Wess and Melissa.