Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To the ocean and back

After a brief few days in Oregon, Julia and I hopped back on the train to the uncharted territory of Santa Barbra, California. I was hopeful that the train ride would result in glorious ocean views, but unfortunately night came upon us before we reached the ocean. We did see some lovely views in northern California though, and it was fun to see things like palm trees and cacti popping up along the way.  We had the pleasure of a sleeping car on the way down again, so it was a very pleasant ride. I met a woman with a 10 month old baby and we got seated at the same table for dinner. We talked each other's ears off all the way until our destination, swapping baby and birth and life stories. I'm not a naturally gregarious person, so when I have a random interaction like that, I really find it amazing. Our purpose in heading this far south was to visit our Holden friends, the Meitzkes. They showed Julia and I a wonderful side of California. Apparently three months of bad weather decided to lift just in time for us to arrive. We walked on beaches, saw starfish the size of a cocker spaniel and saw dolphins swimming in the ocean. We walked through parks full of green and sunshine, and walked through art, the booths stretching for blocks upon blocks. We drove through picturesque mountains and incredibly wealthy neighborhoods, dreaming about what we would do with a house that big and lovely. (Invite everyone we know to live in yurts scattered along the property, open the world's biggest cat sanctuary, ect.) We ate in restaurants! (A big deal when you live in a village of 100 in Alaska.) Julia ate sand and crawled on grass. She lurched from side to side in her backpack, trying to see everything.  We took Jasper, the dog everywhere (he barks when left at home) and took the cats and baby on walks in strollers and slings. And we conversed, about so many things.

And all too soon it was time to go north again, coach class. It was with great reluctance that I left the sunshine and beaches of southern California. I did get my incredible ocean vistas on the train ride north though. Miles and miles of beaches with hardly a soul to be seen on them. My secret to traveling on the train with a baby is to request the lower level seating. It has way less traffic than the upper level seating area, so Julia can crawl around and explore in a safer, more enclosed setting. And we got the seat against the wall of the car, so we were able to make a little nest of blankets and curl up on the floor for the night. It wasn't luxury, but it was ok. Now we are back in Oregon again, enjoying the last days of my extended vacation. In a few days I begin the final leg of this journey, back to the far north. 

Uncle Joe

Uncle Olaf

Lunch with Grandpoppa Jack and Great Granny Helen

Discovering the basket of dominos

Discovering a bulldozer

And she finally let me get a picture of the new top teeth!

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