First stop: Auburn to see my mom before I flew. We met her at Ikeda's, a fruit stand turned grocery store/hamburger stand. I had just sat down in the outside seating area when a car pulled into a parking space right in front of me. Just as the car rolled to a stop, instead a final push on the brake, the driver hit the gas. The car lunged over the cement parking block and through the metal fence just a couple feet in front of me. Table and chairs flew against me. I looked at mom, like, "Is she going to stop or drive over me though the building?"
The car stopped, but not before pushing me and the pile of chairs and tables all the way to the building. Thank goodness mom, on the far side of the table was well-protected and had Bea's leash. If I'd had Bea at my feet, she would have been crushed by upended tables and chairs. I stood up and started crying. I have a bruise that extends down one calf, a sore leg, and a worse hip--if this had happened to my 94-year old mother the injury would have been much worse. But I could walk, so I knew nothing broken and hey, everybody's still alive!
Shaken up, I continued to Watsonville in the Santa Cruz area where Bea got to chase eight chickens around my friend's yard. Gina and Augusto made a gorgeous Puruvian-style salmon dinner and I got to see the new kitchen and interior paint colors of Gina's pink house. She's a teacher and gets up early for work; I left when she did and took highway one to Monterey.
In Monterey I stopped at a Petco groomer and paid $50 for Bea to get a flea bath I didn't ask for and a haircut not as good as the mom-cut I'd given her. I'm traveling with two suitcases that weigh 50 pounds each and one of the reasons is because I now own an professional-level electric clipper. From now on, I'm cutting her fur myself and saving the money.
While Bea was being bathed, I got to wander Carmel, buy what I thought was a somewhat silly purchase: an irresistibly soft, sheep-skin-looking cardigan. It was a windless 80 degrees in Carmel that day, the sand at the beach was actually hot. Buying a sweater too hot to wear to take to the Middle East seemed crazy, but that's just a testimony to the hot-chocolate marshmallow irresistibility of this sweater.
Onward to Amuk's so I could see her life in her little house in Ventura. We walked along the beach and watched the sunset, then the next day had a gorgeous roasted squash green salad while admiring the the old mission across the street. I loaded up the car with my 50-pound suitcases, careful not to bash them against my owie leg, and Bea and I headed off for the last portion of the trip.
I found Camille's house because she was outside jumping up and down at the sight of her (our) car. While there I rearranged Camille's room, ate a chimichanga and salmon tacos and met all six of her roommates.
Early Saturday I said an early good bye to Camille, the San Diego coastline, friends and family and my life in California and the U.S. I was scheduled to fly out of Amsterdam to Oman the next day, but I've been derailed in Amsterdam, which is another saga for a different day. But everyone is alive, so who cares? The trees have gold leaves and it's cold in Amsterdam. I've been living in my furry sweater.