Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Left My Heart In Coastal California

Moonstone Beach, Westhaven, California

If I could, I would do nothing but travel. Travel, but not necessarily do anything. To not be tied down to any one place, job, or duty and to start each morning with a calm lightness that only comes when you have no obligations to attend to that day is how I want to live. Freedom to move or simply sit still for a while. Though they may not be "fun," I think the most necessary vacations are the ones where, when you return and are asked "What did you do?", you can say with a smile: "Nothing. I did absolutely nothing."

My trip to Arcata, California this weekend was hardly uneventful, and I certainly didn't do nothing. But I did get the chance to relax without dogs and without work sucking up my energy. I woke on my own time, still at a reasonable hour and with a good amount of energy. My breakfasts were simple—just an egg, toast and tea—yet I was satisfied. I lived five days in lounge-y tunics and leggings. I took naps. Most importantly, I had good conversations with good friends.

D-man and K-meister at Moonstone Beach

Though I worried about feeling like a third-wheel to my friends Daniel and Killian's sweet love cuddlin', I didn't at all. They deserve some sort of medal for listening to me talk so much, and for taking in stride their few moments of real privacy.

Daniel's parents deserve equal recognition for putting up with me—basically a very loud, friendly stranger. But they were lovely and inclusive and so, so generous. I love visiting the childhood homes of my truest and dearest; though I am in constant fear of over-staying my welcome, I've always felt comfortable enough to stay forever. I hope when I'm a parent, my children's friends will view my home that way.

When you happen to be a guest in someone else's house (particularly a 'someone' that you don't know well), it definitely helps discourage lazy lounging in front of the television or computer, or over-eating out of the refrigerator. And when you're with friends, you can end up focusing more on conversation rather than mindless entertainment.

No movies, no television, no vegging, and minimal internet time. Instead, there were farmer's markets and used bookstores.

Those would be photos of goods from the Arcata Farmer's Market (surprisingly large for a town so small) and Tin Can Mailman Used Bookstore, my absolute favorite bookstore. Everything is used, they have books in every genre, and you can bring in your old books to get cash or store credit. I have a huge box of books at home in the Bay Area just waiting for the chance to travel up the coast and find a temporary home on Tin Can's shelves.  Someday soon, hopefully...

If Arcata was less than five and a half hours away from the nearest major airport (that would be San Fransisco International), I would move there. Right now. Of course, my fantasies of living in Arcata are only slightly less or equal to my dreams of living on the coast of Ireland in a castle and speaking Gaelic to locals! It's really fun and therapeutic to think about, but I wonder if a life so remote is really the life for me.

I don't think I've quite figured it out yet.

Until then, it's fun to dream of a quieter, slower-paced life. One where you raise a family on local food, camp at local parks, and visit local beaches. Also, caves at local beaches.

In addition to our drive down the Lost Coast, a scenic highlight of the trip (for me) was going 15 minutes north of Arcata to Moonstone Beach in Westhaven. California beaches are interesting creatures; unless you're in San Diego, you'll be hard-pressed to find water along the coastline that anyone would consider "warm." Unlike the rocky, driftwood beaches of Washington or the warm, wide beaches of Hawai'i, California is edged with dramatic cliff-faces and secluded slivers of soft, spongy sand. They are rustic with a tint of gray from foggy skies and boulders that creep slowly toward the ocean. They are dangerous and boisterous and grand.

We three are pretty in love with this beach.

Getting back into the swing of things is always difficult after returning from a relaxing vacation. Road trips are always preferable to trips that involve airplanes, because there aren't usually time limits to stress about. After lots of driving, and missing Jon and my furry kids an awful lot, I'm happy to return to my life among the cloudy bustle of Seattle. And even though it's been a long time since I've been in a driver's seat for a 21+ hour road trip, it was all worth it to be back home in California again.

*All images property of The Sleepy Peach


  1. Aricia has like... 5 of those same baskets that you took pictures of! They're great, and super strong.

    I'm so totally dying to go up there and visit. I was to take Gretchen and let her run her little heart out. Glad you had such a wonderful time. The pictures are beautiful, I could have read update after update about your trip. =)

  2. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

    Your pictures are *delicious*!

  3. A friend of mine from school is from Arcata, and after seeing your photos and reading your posts, I can understand why she's so in love with it.

    Can't wait to get up there myself sometime :)

  4. Love the post, Stace! I haven't been up to the north coast since I was a kid, but it's definitely on my list. So beautiful! I love how you totally captured the emotion and energy you were feeling. Sounds peaceful and fantastic.