Travel always has its ups and downs but I don’t think I’ve ever experienced both at the same time as intensely as right now.
I’m at Moonstone Beach in Cambria, just south of San Simeon, in a rented camper van. After a walk on the beach I hop in, reverse, clip a rock, blow a tire, and come to rest alongside the guard rail facing the ocean.
I call roadside assistance; they can deliver a tire but not until tomorrow morning.
I may be about to win the road trip breakdown lottery. I’m snuggled in my two-sleeping-bag nest on the air mattress in the back of the van, on a bluff about 25 feet above the beach, with the van’s big side door open, watching and hearing the tide roll in.
The worst and best parts of my trip are happening at the same time. I screwed up, am stuck, cannot go anywhere. But of all the places I could have been stuck on this trip, I’m stuck in the place I most want to be.
The sign says the gate closes at 6, but nobody has shown up by 7 when everyone else is gone. I can’t reach the authorities. This would be the campsite of my dreams if I’m allowed to stay.
The suspense is killing me.
Eventually a cop shows up, agrees that I can’t go anywhere, and gives me permission to stay for the night. I win the lottery! Nobody ever gets to stay here overnight. But here I am.
We’re all stuck in many ways for many reasons. A road trip during the final week before the election seemed like a way to silence the demons. Roaming around the state didn’t really help. But this night on the bluff over Moonstone Beach most certainly will.
In the light of the full moon, the crests of the waves are sometimes curls of silver, sometimes wraiths of foam that drift slowly south, continually morphing.
I don’t know how we’re all going to get through this winter. I don’t know what comes next. I don’t even have a plan for tomorrow. But I am so grateful to be here now.