Odometer Reading: 738
There was no rush to hit the highway again, so we took the morning as it came: repacking our bags and then the car. Every time it’s like a game of Tetris, making sure that each piece fits as tightly as possible into the previous bags with no gaps. Somehow we got it all back in and by 11 a.m. we were pulling out the driveway of Aunt Diana’s place and heading to I-5 yet again.
If you’ve driven I-5 in Oregon, you know how green and beautiful it can be, trees nestled up to the highway’s edges and mountains in any direction it seems. Let’s just say that California’s I-5 is nothing like that. Here it’s dry and brown and barren and flat. In other words, beautiful for about 10 seconds then as boring as all get out
for the next 200 miles.
We stopped somewhere along that golden highway to take photos, a viewpoint with this sign designating it as Orestimba, Dry and hot, the kids didn’t want to stay long and I can’t imagine why anyone would live out there, but apparently they do. The flatlands are sprinkled with farm houses and plots of irrigated fields. Still not for me.
The drive to Gilroy, as I may have mentioned, was pretty boring, but we listened to a couple episodes of our new favorite podcast, Radiolab to kill the time. And at the rest stop the girls came up with their own entertainment–using the car door as a funhouse mirror. I checked out the map to figure out how many more miles of dry grass fields we’d have to get to see and they took pictures of themselves in all sorts of poses. Stuart just waited, patient as always.
Somewhere near Gustine we left I-5 and headed due west, then up and over the coast range. And there in the middle of it was the San Juan Reservoir, the blue reflecting from the sky and creating a truly stunning visage. On a fluke, we decided to drive down to Dinosaur Point which put us right into the water. Only later would we find out that the road we’d take used to be the main highway through the mountains. Now its path is covered with the water of the reservoir. There wasn’t a soul or a sound down there besides us and the wind.
We stopped at a Sonic before getting somewhat turned around by Google’s not-quite up-to-date driving instructions, but we managed to find Uncle Dennis and Aunt Jackie just down the street. They’ve been hanging out in Gilroy, at the RV park, for a couple months now, taking care of Grandma Coates–a woman I love more than I can explain. She was the reason we were all here. Well, except Lilyana… she didn’t really have a choice.
Now since we had an extra person in our family, there wasn’t enough room in either Dennis’ truck or my car for everyone, so (lucky for me) the kids got into their truck and I followed, alone at last, in the car. Most peaceful five minutes of the trip thus far. Over the next two days, I loved those drives to Grandma’s home–my own choice of music and no one complaining.
When we arrived at Grandma’s place, a studio apartment in a residential facility, she was a bit cross. Why didn’t we come earlier? Why didn’t I call to say we were coming? She didn’t have time to talk, she asserted, it was dinner time. We’d caught her at her social hour and there was no time to show pictures, give updates, sit and chat. Nope. She had to get to the dinner hall to meet her friends. We’d have to come back tomorrow, she said. And so we escorted her over and left her with her good friends.
So Dennis took us out for pizza dinner, the kids went swimming at the RV park and we hit the sack early. We’d have to be up early to get to the aquarium when it opened and we had to be back to visit Grandma in the afternoon.