Lessons from the Road

Lily’s first real road trip went remarkably well. She’s driven in the car for long periods of time en route to my parent’s house in San Diego, but I dislike that portion of the I-5 so much that we don’t savor the experience of the open road; it’s just something to get through. However, this past week we took the coastal routeLily gets into her avocado at a Seattle restaurant. home after several long but inspiring days shooting interviews for our new project in Seattle and Portland. At the last minute we’d decided to bring Pali along as well, so the whole family enjoyed the open road together.

The Oregon and Northern California coastline is stunning this time of year. I’ve always loved the rugged beaches of Mendocino, and the Oregon coast is quite similar but with a lot more greenery nearby. Truth be told, I’ve started falling in love with Oregon in a way that I wouldn’t have thought possible just a short time ago. I kept telling Stephen that it seemed like my soul was drinking in the green everywhere. I realize that July is probably a dangerous time to visit the Pacific Northwest though—it’s the payoff period for a rather long and wet winter.

Lily spent the past two weeks charming the socks off of everyone we encountered. One episode involving a tour bus full of retired people illustrates nicely her ability to woo. We’d pulled over at an overlook in the Redwoods for a snack, diaper change, and a chance to stretch our legs. A tour bus pulled in behind us, and the driver tinkered with the compartments underneath, but all of the passengers stayed on board. I walked around the overlook with Lily, playing airplane and other such fun, she giggled and grinned. After a few minutes the tour bus guide stepped off and approached me.

“Our people think your baby is about the happiest baby they’ve ever seen.”

“She is pretty happy,” I replied. I am starting to believe that we’re incredibly lucky in the personality department—a lot of people with a lot more baby experience than me keep telling us how good-natured and friendly she is.

“Feel free to come introduce her,” he offered.

“Okay,” I said, and we stepped up into the touring bus, Lily kicking and squealing with delight.

Road trip babyLily and I were facing about two dozen faces of grandma-aged tourists, all of whom were smiling broadly at her. They were doing the same Seattle to San Francisco drive, only most of them were from the Midwest. All but one had grandkids, and several had great grandchildren. I stood there answering questions, “She just turned seven months,” and “Yes, she’s still nursing,” (it surprises me how often I get that question) while  Lily “talked” and smiled enthusiastically. She makes a fun screeching sound—half screech and half roar—when she sees new faces, and it’s pretty clear she’s calling out an eager, “Hi there!” She screeched-roared loudly and frequently.

They were smitten. She had about the best fan club a baby could get (grandparents). Mutual cooing ensued.

After about fifteen minutes, Stephen pointed out subtly that the driver wanted to leave, and I realized that we’d essentially taken over their bus. (At this point I was answering questions about San Francisco too.) We left—and it occurs to me now that I should have told them about this blog! I’d have several new readers (well, Lily would have more followers, realistically!).

It was a good trip, a time to reconnect as a family, and a chance to dream. We’re still in the midst of trying to figure out how to continue doing worthy work that we feel passionate about while making a livable wage, but getting away seems to give space to hopes and dreams that often get squashed in the daily routine.

Stephen picked up a magnet in Seattle that is now in a prominent position on our fridge. It has several life lessons from Marion Winik that I hope we can keep alive.

  1. The path is not straight.
  2. Mistakes need not be fatal.
  3. People are more important than achievements of possessions.
  4. Be gentle with your parents.
  5. Never stop doing what you care most about.
  6. Learn to use a semicolon.
  7. You will find love.

Somehow lessons like these seem easier to lean into out on the open road with a baby roaring in the back seat.