It was just before 9 AM when someone began pounding outside our hotel room. Still half asleep, Alicia staggered her way to the door expecting to find an overzealous housekeeper or an incensed neighbor on the rampage for us being a little too loud the night before. She ripped the door open, a warm sliver of light slashing through the room and lo and behold there sat Scott, our host from the previous night, all bright eyed and bushy wheeled awaiting our coffee orders. I’m telling you, this guy is gangster. I’m so glad we made the detour his way, because he already feels like another brother.
With the van properly fueled and the team fully caffeinated, we set out across the winding switchbacks of Casitas Pass towards Highway 101 in hopes to cover some serious ground on the way to San Francisco. Alicia, or as I like to call her, Hippie Troll (because of her makeup of equal parts bohemian tree-hugger but also merry prankster and overall nuisance), dedicated most of the drive to testing my patience as well as my tachometer. When she wasn’t trying to re-create ‘Nsync videos with my windshield-mounted GoPro, she was pushing my van to a new level, topping out at 105 mph out on a lengthy stretch of the 101 that was surrounded by farmland.
I’m sure my cousin Aaron, a police officer in Carmel, might have had a thing or two to say about her antics, but we had slowed our pace considerably by the time we pulled in to the local Starbucks to catch up with him. He filled me in on his golf game, an upcoming bicycle race and the daily crazy he gets to deal with a as a graveyard shift officer. He also introduced me to his girlfriend Alanna, who agreed with me that he is nuts for actually seeking out a job like this. But hey, I’m glad somebody can do it, because there’s no way I could, injured or not. I’m damned proud of the guy.
Next, it was a short one hour drive up Highway 1 to Capitola Village near Santa Cruz to meet up with a couple of my mom’s “cousins”, Amy and Arleen. I use quotations only because the impressive family history lesson my Uncle Johnny gave us last week revealed that the girls are actually my mom’s second cousins. But really, it’s all family in the end, because we fell back into comfortable conversation despite having not seen each other in well over a decade. They even treated us to a fabulous dinner at the Village Grill and Creamery, a restaurant and ice cream shop Amy and her husband Mike own and operate. If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the Salty Bear ice cream. It’s ridiculous.
All in all, it was the perfect day; lots of traveling that was pleasantly broken up by a few short but sweet (especially the last one) visits with more incredible people. I feel blessed.