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Day 2 arrived, and herein we experienced some of the quintessential issues that our family (and, I imagine, many others) struggle with. We also shared a glorious hike through the picturesque Palomar Mountain valley. Pictures will follow but first, a few words.

So the main issue that inevitably occurs in the morning of a full day where all members of the family are present and ready to do “family time” is: what to do? Everyone makes their proposal, and, following a quick, painless diplomatic process, a decision is made. The said “diplomatic process” involves passive-aggressive behavior, weeping, and gnashing of teeth. After everyone more or less makes up, and two to three hours of elapsed time pass in sandwich making, getting dressed, getting water, assigning and packing into cars, running back OUT of cars to grab forgotten cell phones, sunscreen, and hats, packing in again, jumping out one last time to go to the bathroom (and stop on the way out to check your email), we feel ready to go.

This day we decided to go to Palomar Mountain, then, UN-decided to go there, and then finally settled on going there after all. Dad drove one car, with me in the front and Vierra and Mama in the back. Sean drove the other with Liza and Alyosha scrunched up in the rear seat. The drive was pastoral: the ochre, dust and concrete tones of North county San Diego quickly morphed into rolling hills, ostrich farms, draping foliage and small, gurgling creeks. Sitting in the passenger seat (a rare luxury for me), I hungrily soaked in the views, marveled at the sun, and chatted with the parents. I was gurgling over with thoughts and impressions that I had from the latest set of interpretation assignments that I was sent on, so I chattered and Dad, sincerely interested, listened actively. Mama and Vierra were in a world of their own, full of kitty cats, pink sandals and funny noises.

We wound and serpentined our way up 5,000 from sea level, and when we finally arrived at our destination we were all ready for a picnic (and I was ready to NOT be in the car for the next long time). Here we are, eatin’.


Then we went on the hike through the sun-bathed valley, long grasses caressing our legs, insects buzzing overhead and a fresh breeze blowing peacefully. It was the perfect, idyllic setting. Oh, and of course there were mountains in the backdrop. On our way back we traversed a forested area, with the giant conifers creating a cathedral-like mystical, verdant environment and the ferns and mosses underneath adding a warm, earthly glow.

Ladybug love

The fam under a felled-mamoth-esque tree

Alyosha and I climbing part of the felled mamoth...

Strong one

...and Goofy One taking his picture.

We used to cradle him in our arms...

Serious matters: Lizard explains

Lions and...lions, oh my.

Mama and Seanster discuss

The true photographer

Though we didn’t notice it at the time, the sunlight was extremely intense during our walk, and afterwards both Liza and I felt quite queasy for the remainder of that day and the following day as well. I should say a few more words about the sun, because it is THE defining characteristic of San Diego. When you arrive in this city, in this region – you feel the sun immediately. Even behind the clouds – it is there. Piercing, relentless, unbridled. In other places it can be soft, scattered, or oppressive, or dull. But here it feels like nothing separates the bare, paramecium YOU and the all-engulfing IT. There is no pollution, no mist or rain, no humidity. Even the air feels rarefied. If you are not vigilant, the sun can destroy you. Not because it is malicious, but because you are so small.

On the way home we stopped by a hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint, ate beans, tortilla, grated cheese, sour cream, beef and guacamole – all packaged in different guises of “ enchilada” and “taco”, “burrito” and “chimachanga” (my favorite). At home we tried to watch UP, I passed out and peacefully fell asleep. What a full day.

PS. Liza captured her view of the same walk here, she’s a professional photographer. Enjoy!

Just a mirror for the sun...

Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies, fully loaded we got snacks and supplies… (Red Hot Chilli Peppers)

We are driving into the sun, still high over the horizon, the passenger window is open, mine is pegged with a wooden toy railroad piece to keep it from sliding down into oblivion. Speakers blasting 80’s rock ‘n roll, my two favorite allies – Munchkin V and Mr.Fatty Pants, bobbing their heads to the music in the back seat.

With the heat, the haze from the humidity, the music, the wind – I feel hysterically elated. The feeling where pain is so immense that you find yourself at the other extreme; you feel a survivor, knowing that despite it all there is the sun and the joy and life to be lived and children to be loved. You scream out the words to the song at the top of your lungs, you bellow out the hurt and the numbness lifts.

I pop in another disk – “Happy Music for Yar”. Lizard made it for me several years ago. It’s a compilation of soul-warmers and joyful heart wrenchers. Most familiar, the rest – seeming so.

Say Hallelujah, throw up your hands, the bucket is kicked, the body is gone…Dry your eyes, and stand up right, put a smile on your face, He wouldn’t want us to cry(Tracy Chapman)
That first one’s from the Lizard herself. She rides in the passenger seat, grinning at me, we’re throwing up our hands together, the kids giggle in the back, I steer with my knees into the horizon…

In the haze, the stormy haze…I’ll be ’round, I’ll be loving you always(Coldplay)
This one’s from God. I am reminded of the most important thing.

A howling wind is whistling, in the night
My dog’s growling in the dark
Something’s pulling me, outside
To ride around in circles.

– Iggy Pop
This one brings my cousin S and Lizard back, and our road trip from San Diego to San Jose. We’re coasting through the central California fertile crescent, the sun is high, the ocean blue. Munchkin V and Mr.Fatty Pants are there too, and I am joyful. What a collection of most treasured people I have in my car as we roll on!

People are strange, when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly, when you’re alone… (The Doors).
This brings the Anticlimactic of the Underworld, Mr. Morrison-Taylor himself. He’s the one from whom I stole the idea of having imagined folks ride with you in the car. He shared it with me near 15 years ago. With his dreaded hair and maddening banter, I could not convince him then that “Anticlimactic” is not the rightful melding of the “Anti” (as in, anti-norms, ie. rebellious) and the climactic (in his mind – very important, vital)….

By the time the kids and I arrive at the park for our three-person BBQ, I am almost at peace. As if just returning from a therapeutic meet-up with the greatest people on Earth. And the pain is only a memory.

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