Monday, August 16, 2010

California Dreamin'

On the East Coast, summer's always been the slap of a screen door, the scent of swimsuits drying in the sun, a wardrobe of shorts and T-shirts, and morning birdsong wafting in through an open window.

This year, in Southern California, summer's been sweat pants and socks.

The weatherman, during this coldest summer in 77 years, has run out of cute names. May Gray gave way to June Gloom and July was dubbed Bummer Summer. But no matter what the title, the result is the same day after day—overcast gray skies and temperatures in the 60s. August is no exception.

I've complained so much David refuses to listen any more and simply responds with one of his canned retorts. When I grumble as I grab a sweater to go outside, he reminds me that we could be in Tucson where the high was 105 today. Or he launches into his, by now, practiced speech about how it's easier to get warmer by adding layers than it is to cool off on a hundred-degree-day.

Still, I'm not buying it. I miss the hallmarks of summer and find little comfort in knowing that we're better off than other parts of the world. There's no solace, either, in the prediction that we'll have an unseasonably warm winter. Who wants 80 degrees on Christmas? We need 80 now.

So, in desperation, David and I are doing what we usually do. In order to fall back in love with this state, we're taking a road trip. It'll be three nights in San Francisco, a city whose charms will win me over, David says, and then a drive down the coast on one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the world, Highway 1.

He's promising trolleys, cable cars with “a gripper” who keeps the cars from rolling down impossibly steep hills, sourdough bread, foamy ocean waves, wind-twisted trees, and craggy coastlines. I'm promising to appreciate it all and stop complaining. And, of course, we're doing it all on a budget—a tightwad traveler's budget.

Stay tuned for the planning and check back to come along for the ride. But don't forget to throw a pair of socks in your suitcase. Just in case.

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