Monday, November 11, 2019
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Road trip to Southern California: drive the 101 from Oregon

It was 9 pm on a Friday night when we almost got hit by lightning. Normally at 9 pm on a Friday night I’m cleaning something or feeding someone, but on this particular Friday night I was in the middle of a torrential rain storm on a road trip to Southern California.

I say torrential with the authority of having lived in Vancouver for 20 years. The most intense rain I’ve ever seen, it was like someone was standing over the car and dousing us with a massive bucket of water.

We were in the minivan, just myself and my teenagers, and the lightning flashed straight from the top of the trees and slammed into the road in front of us. It was just getting dark, and the entire area lit up so brightly I could see the massive tree trunks and small houses lining the two-lane highway.

The thunder that followed was immediate. If you follow the ‘one-onethousand‘ logic where you count the distance of lightning strike from when the thunder claps after, well I didn’t even get past the word ‘one’ and the car practically shook with a big boom. I think I screamed. The kids, now ages 17 and 16, thought it was cool.

After the dust settled and I could breathe again, we realized that if I had been driving about 3 seconds faster it would have been on top of us. We also realized it probably wouldn’t have hit us given that the trees are so massive, and if it had, we would have been fine either way. My kids are no dummies when it comes to lightning.

As I white-knuckled down that road and prayed for a gas station and civilization, all I could think about was how the 2019 road trip to Southern California wasn’t even supposed to happen. Looking back now, I’m glad it did.

Road trip to Southern California: the yearly tradition

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows I’ve been doing a road trip to California with my kids since they were little. The first year we did it was 2005, and I’ve only missed one year in all of those years. The trip in 2011 was the most memorable, and I’ve been documenting every stop along the way since then.

Our destination is always Disneyland, and we usually do the trip in 2 weeks. It’s interesting to look back and see what we’ve done and how the trip went. I learn something new whenever we go, and the kids do too. It’s always fun too, but for few reasons, this year, I didn’t want to go.

It had a lot to do with the political climate in the USA, and it had even more to do with the string of mass shootings that happened the week before we were supposed to go. These road trips were always about spending time as a family and having fun, and I didn’t think I could when I was worried all the time.

Personally, it also had to do with me. I have a hobby farm now. Lately, my days are spent making jam and walking a fine line between loving my chickens, geese, and guinea fowl and wondering what I got myself into. One is currently pecking at the glass on my patio doors, while the others are honking/screeching for food.

This was a quick road trip to California

Given the commitments I had at home, I knew I had 7 days to do the trip from start to finish. I also knew this was the year I was finally going to drive the 101 down the coast. Compared to the I5, a road I feel like I could drive blindfolded, a road trip to Southern California on the 101 was a real eye-opener. It was also the most beautiful drive I’ve ever taken.

road trip to southern california down the 101
Hearst Castle August 2019

The Redwoods, the ocean, Big Sur, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, wineries, Hearst Castle, and all of the little beach towns along the way; if you have the time and are so inclined, this is a pretty amazing road trip.

Would I do this road trip again in only 7 days? Not a chance. I think I could spend 2 days at Hearst Castle and San Simeon.

Over the next week, I’ll cover the separate sections of our road trip to Southern California down the 101. If this is something you’re interested in, be sure to check it out.

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