A year after my ALS diagnosis, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. With some gentle prodding from my sister and others, we decided to celebrate beyond just a night out. Neither of us have spent much time on the west coast, so we thought that would be a great area to visit. My sister, a California resident and type A personality, did almost all the leg work on where we would go and Team Gleason kindly sponsored our little Adventure.
As Inigo Montoya from one of my favorite movies says, “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” Eight days, seven nights. We flew to San Diego, toured the area for three hours with an awesome driver showing us the sights, ate some great tacos (or drank at the restaurant, depending upon your perspective), and spent the night in the Gaslamp Quarter. Early am the next day, we hopped on a train to LA where we boarded another headed for Portland. What a view we had: coastlines, farmland, mountains (even rode by Mt. Shasta early the next morning). Thirty-six hours on a train and we found ourselves in Portland where we took our first Uber to the Pearl District. Rogue Brewing fried pickles rocked, Powell’s City of Books is a treasure, Voodoo Doughnuts the next morning energized and we jumped on a plane to San Francisco. From there, it was off to Sonoma and wine country. We did some wine tasting (or drinking if you do it long enough), dined with friends, slept late, lunched with family, tasted/drank more wine in St. Helena, and topped the valley experience off with dinner in Napa. Breathe…we spent the night with my sister’s family. Boom, the next morning we were off again (my sister really is type A). We drove to Monterey, lunched at Cannery Row, meandered along the 17 Mile Drive, found our way to Carmel Beach at sunset, ate local cuisine for dinner, and slumbered at a beautiful chateaux of a hotel. We awoke, breakfasted in the courtyard, weaved our way to Big Sur and back (equaling two trips across Bixby Bridge), lunched overlooking the 18th at Pebble Beach, paddled around on an unusually glassy Monterey Bay during the afternoon, and finished back at my sister’s for dinner and a bed.
Pictures and videos were taken, but the singular moment of the whirlwind week was easily Carmel Beach at sunset. It was on a Tuesday around 5pm. The Pacific threw us a cool, gentle breeze as we strolled down from the parking lot. The beach was lightly populated with folks walking the beach, some with dogs chasing objects into the surf. My wife and I found a piece of driftwood to enjoy the last twenty minutes of daylight. Here I was enjoying a beautiful moment with the love of my life and, as the kaleidoscope color show neared, I noticed more and more people find their way to the shoreline. I began to wonder what these other people were thinking. Were they happy or sad, angry or content? Were they having a good day or not? I studied the many faces and, though I could not decipher what they were feeling, what I saw on every face was the same. The moment. Everyone had come to the beach to allow this moment to impact their day. Something this simple and beautiful is what life is about. We do a good job of complicating life all on our own, whether it is due to our health, finances, relationships, or jobs. Find your simple, beautiful moments and let them impact your day.