The winter of 2013-2014 in New England has been a nasty cold one, specifically on the coast of Maine. We’ve shoveled more snow and endured more days with wind chills below zero than we would choose. You got to be thinking, For crying out loud, you live in Maine, Mr. and Mrs. Wimp! True, but…
One cold December morning while I am having coffee and a bran muffin at the Crumb, our local cafe, with our friends Scott and Tree, they mention that they are leaving town for three months. Wanting to be outside more than they can be in the frozen tundra of York, Maine, they are renting a VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) house on the northern coast of California; they ask Hannah and me to be their guests.
With the seed planted, I start exploring the solar system of cost. I find that Jet Blue has little penalty for flying from Boston to Los Angeles and then home from San Francisco to Boston. In fact, we two can go non-stop cross country for around $630. You must notice that the planets are beginning to align.
Then Venus steps into view when I learn that Fox Rent-A-Car charges one third what every other national chain charges. Can you believe we can rent a compact car for $136 with unlimited miles for nine days to drive the coast of California!
Finally Mars appears as we can park Hannah’s Honda Civic at the Park, Ride, and Fly lot in Revere, MA, just three miles from Logan Airport for just $100 for nine days. The round trip from Portsmouth to Boston and back on a C and J Trailways bus costs $46 for each of us!
Awake at 4A on Tuesday, off to the airport by 5A, we are ready for our six hour flight to Los Angeles that, with the time change, will make ours a 27 hour day.
Jet Blue is my airline of choice because of the mini-TVs that face each seat. As an insufferable channel surfer, I get six hours of The Dan Patrick Show, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, How I Met Your Mother, and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. TV Dan is flying high!
Do you know what the modern airline gives you to eat for a six hour flight in 2014? Not much. Some Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and about eight mini-chocolate chip cookies. C’est toute. Knowing this we bring half of last night’s Subway subs for our lunch. I eat mine at 830A!
It’s cramped; it’s long; but for $315 Hannah and I will be in Los Angeles before noon. Our friends Scott and Tree rocked a road trip for six days to cross the country.
We are Saturning it (stick with me with the planets are aligned metaphor) at LAX. The shuttle for the Fox Rent A Car arrives as we approach. At Fox, there are six attendants and we get a Toyota Corolla in ten minutes! Heading 30 miles north on I-405 to The 101 for Agoura Hills, we are two hours before the 3P rush hour begins. If the planets are not aligned and this isn’t the Age of Aquarius, I don’t know what is!
With, for California, manageable traffic, we arrive at Rose and Mike’s by 115P. You do the math. We leave York in the predawn on the East coast and in the early afternoon we are ready to hike in the hills near Los Angeles.
Not ten miles from their place, off The 101 Rose and Mike take us on an hour hike in the drought ravaged hills in the LA basin. This winter the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada is just 12% of normal. Trouble with a capital T lies ahead.
Pairing off in twos, we hike on the Cheeseboro Palo Canyon Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area that we share with mountain bikers.
Rose goes back 20 years with Hannah when they worked together for the Visiting Nurses Association in Portsmouth, NH. For two years, they laughed together, cried together, and had the best time any employees could have. They pick up like old friends, like sisters would.
Back at their place at the end of the day, we look over the canyon from their deck with a glass of wine. I swear I see Jupiter rising above the horizon!
I have known Rose as Hannah’s friend, but until hiking today I never had really spent any time just talking to Mike. Married later in life, Rose and Mike have to come to California and made a fine life for themselves. But today I get the underlying reason why Rose digs Mike.
Though Mike is energetic and passionate in everything that he does… Though he has a childlike joy of life and an adventurous spirit… Today I see that it is his kindness and his genuine caring of her that carries the day.
The planets truly are aligning.