Driving to California

Although I have made the trip many times, I still enjoy the drive from Alberta down to L.A. While there are a number of stretches that seem to go on and on, there is also breathtaking scenery that is like no other. Taking the time to appreciate these vistas is often what is missing from a journey. At those times when all we can think of is the destination at the other end and how quickly we can get there, we forget to enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

This week, as we drove through the freshly harvested fields of Southern Alberta, the mountains of Montana and the lava formations of Idaho, I tried to remind myself that the pleasure of travel begins once you’ve locked your front door. One of the things I love about driving versus flying is the feeling that I’m on vacation as soon as I leave our gate. Even though I am driving the same familiar gravel roads as every work day, this day is different because it is the beginning of an adventure.

Lava rock in Idaho

This week, we decided to drive straight through Las Vegas and on the California so we would only have a short drive to Disneyland for Mickey’s Halloween Party the next day. This meant we were driving into the sunset, not something I ever ‘plan’ to do. I remember my father was always careful to avoid this and, after squinting into the sun for a few hours, I understand why.

Despite the discomfort, there was a benefit to driving at this time of the day. We got to enjoy the sun setting beyond the hills. The beauty of this is difficult to describe. The hills looked more like artwork than reality. Sort of like the torn paper mountains of a child’s imagination. Blue grey images in the distance illuminated by a hazy golden pink sun as it dropped beyond the horizon. A picture doesn’t do justice to the beauty.

Sun setting behind the hills

Our morning view of Los Angeles was somewhat less pristine. The layer of smog that covers the city at daybreak reminds me of a greyish brown pillow that is attempting to smother whatever is underneath. I remember this smog from my childhood visits here but it never manages to keep me from coming back. The Hollywood Hills and the Southern California sunshine are too much of a draw, not to mention all of the fun family activities in the area.

In addition to Disneyland, California Adventure and Knott’s Berry Farm, places like the La Brea Tar Pits, the Santa Monica Pier and the Los Angeles Zoo are terrific places to visit with your family. Catching a movie at the historic El Capitan Theatre is another favourite of ours. Even though we don’t live in L.A., we’ve managed to attend a special screening of Inside Out and first runs of  both the last two Muppet Movies. We love how they have props and costumes from the movies there. Disney has done a great job in restoring this theatre. I can’t wait to see the new Star Wars movie here in December!

Yes, we love visiting the Los Angeles area.
Now time to put on some sunscreen and get ready for a day of fun at the Disneyland!

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