My dad loves road trips. I hate them. He always asks me what I don’t like about them, and I say that I can’t put my finger on it but it has something to do with playing 20 Questions fifty times in a row, getting seatbelt marks on my cheek from where I fall asleep, and staring at endless monotony whizzing by my window in the form of farming fields. Oh, and my personal favorite: the Are We There Yet? game my little sister loves to play. This one keeps us entertained for hours.
Needless to say, I was not looking forward to the road trip my dad had planned for my family during spring break last year. We set out from San Diego at the ungodly hour of 4 a.m. “to beat the traffic.” This extreme measure marked the beginning of what I was sure would be the worst spring break ever. Our route was highlighted on the map my mom held in her lap as my dad took the wheel, and we set off on our trip up the coast of California.
We stopped at Mission Santa Barbara after passing through L.A. and spending a whole day in the car. It was my mom’s idea—she was determined to see all 21 California missions. We had already seen four or five of them on the trip, and this was the beautiful seventh. To get to all the missions, we traveled on “El Camino Real,” the historic road that snakes its way through acres and acres of farmland sprawling out from Central Valley. But after hours of staring at the endless planting fields, I started to see beauty in their clean lines and orderly rows, their earthy colors and distinct contrast with the never-ending blue sky.
The next day, we stopped in a town, for lack of a better word, called Black Arrow, population 123. We were traveling along Main Street when we came across one of the town’s few houses. This was quite an interesting house, as a palm tree shot straight up through the living room roof right into the sky! After concluding this was no optical illusion, we could only suppose there was nothing else to do in this town but plant trees in living rooms.
After seeing several more missions and staying in a couple unpleasant hotels, we arrived in San Francisco, our destination. The Golden Gate Bridge was spectacular. Admittedly it was a little scary walking over it; my mom got so uncomfortable we had to turn back after walking about 15 feet. We visited the Muir Woods, home to the stunning California Redwoods. The monstrous giants that loomed over us were indescribable—even a picture cannot do these titans justice. Never have I been so awed as I craned my neck in a vain attempt to see the tops of these striking Redwoods, and I’ve never felt so insignificant. Gaping up at them made me feel the invaluableness of earth more strongly than ever before. This planet is truly miraculous—there’s no other word to describe it—and it’s worth fighting for.
We did a little more sightseeing that afternoon, and the next day we set off back down the coast. In between gazing at the beautiful Pacific Ocean, laughing with my sisters, taking quiet naps, and playing the license plate game, I realized it was my attitude that had made the car ride up so unpleasant. When we got home, I was the one that surprised everyone and asked my dad where we would be going on our next road trip.
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