The Road Back

The Road Trip Sextet, Part 6“The Road Back”

For Part 1, go HERE.

For Part 2, go HERE.

For Part 3, go HERE.

For Part 4, go HERE.

For Part 5, go HERE.

The June California trip – for all intents and purposes – was a success. I notched off World Tea Expo, a beach house tea party, hung out with many family members, and (most importantly) spent some quality time with my grandparents. For only a week’s worth of time allotted to this, I accomplished…well…a lot.

There was only one thing left to do – make the road trip back. In more ways than one.

I had one more thing on the docket to do – something that was decided relatively at the last minute. During the road trip, my mother/travel partner informed me that she had a breakfast to attend to with some old high school friends in Oceanside. The location was mere blocks from the street I grew up on.

Mum and I came to a compromise. She could do her breakfast meet-up unimpeded by me, and I would have a quick look-around the old homestead.

I grew up on a long cul de sac off of a busy intersection. As far as neighborhoods go, it was pretty idyllic for a kid growing up in the 80s. One could even picture a brat with a bowl-cut on a bicycle, carrying an alien in the front basket. Turning off on my old street, one thought occurred to me: The place hadn’t changed in the 26 years since I lived there.

All the houses, for the most part, looked the same. Save for new paint jobs, newer cars in driveways, and cleaner sidewalks. Nothing was all that difference. Well, except for one thing.

The cul de sac where I grew up dead-ended at a concrete run-off ditch. A fence divided the neighborhood proper from the wild, undeveloped prairie beyond. We children weren’t allowed beyond that fence, but we did hang out at the base of the ditch, beneath several trees.

I was already expecting to see the old “club house” where the neighborhood kids used to convene gone. The last time I visited, all the trees by the ditch had been clear-cut. When I was a young, it was THE place to play “make-believe”. Deciduous trees canopied over this one dirt decline, giving it the appearance of a warrior-toddler mead hall.

Now, though…?

Not much left of the tree-cave that was. I parked my car for a moment, and just…relived everything. I was quite shocked to see that the wilderness beyond the ditch still hadn’t been developed. I thought, for sure, that a neighborhood would’ve gone up in the decades I’d been gone. In an odd way, it was kind of a relief.

Nostalgia kick delivered, I returned to where my mother was. The hostess kindly let me in on the breakfast festivities as I listened to them relive their old high school days. While I was having my own blast from the past, my mother was having one of her own. An odd parallel.

I kept mostly to myself during the breakfast, but I did take a particular fancy to a plate in the hostess’s kitchen. It read:

Truer words were never spoken Winston.

This trip wasn’t so much about me accomplishing things, but more about collecting the stories and experiences of other people. If I got something out of it, even better. All I could do was pay the appropriate amount of gratitude. Without my Mum, and other benefactors, this trip wouldn’t have been possible.

After the breakfast, my mother had an interesting idea. She said, “Hey, do you want to see your old elementary school?”

Holy heck, I thought. Totally forgot about that!

On the way out of Oceanside, we stopped by E.G. Garrison Elementary School. It was of particular importance to our family because it was named after my mother’s grandfather. Of the three years I went to school there, all the faculty knew me by name – both for my family legacy…and for quite a few trips to the principal’s office. (Way to honor the family name there, Geoff.)

That mission accomplished, it was time to leave SoCal altogether. We made arrangements ahead of time to stay in Sacramento. On the way up, we saw signs for a restaurant. Both Mum and I gave it only one passing thought before agreeing to a pit stop.

Pea Soup Andersen’s is noteworthy because it was the one place that got me to eat peas. Yes, they were mashed up into the form of a soup, but still…getting me to eat veggies at all was a feat. The restaurant chain was recognizable for the sizeable windmill at each location. There used to be one in Oceanside, but alas, it closed down.

All said, we went in, gorged on pea soup and milkshakes, and then continued on our way home.


I started this blog series all the way back in June – a week after the vacation itself had ended. At the time of this writing, it is now the end of July, and I’m just now concluding its final entry. What started as a series I intended to finish in a week or two…ended up taking me the entire summer. This was mostly by accident.


This summer hasn’t been the easiest for me, for many reasons. No, it’s not terrible, but a perpetual fog of melancholy hangs overhead. I’m not sure if it’s related to a sudden realization that – in 37 years – I haven’t changed all that much, or viewing my current path in life as “wasted potential”. I have no answers.

But a part of me didn’t complete this series in a timely manner because…I didn’t want it to end. I liked reliving the moments of that trip, being with those people, seeing those sights, creating new memories. For even though this trip is now its own “road back”, it’s still a part of a greater journey. And I hope there are several more meaningful roads left in my future.

Before I left, my grandfather told me, “I just want you to know that it’s not too late, lad.”

He didn’t specify what that meant.

And he didn’t need to.

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Monday, July 28th, 2014 Musings

8 Comments to The Road Back

  1. Road trips can be so introspective! Love the travel tales!

  2. Rachel Lloyd on July 28th, 2014
  3. What fun!

  4. Bill Volckening on July 28th, 2014
  5. thanks for sharing such a great travel story
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  6. kelsey on July 28th, 2014
  7. What a great post to wrap up your trip. Thank you for sharing. I think we can each relate to this kind of trip, and can see ourselves in the emotions and reflections that you shared.

  8. Marlynn on July 28th, 2014
  9. @Rachel – Yep, sometimes unintentionally so.

    @Bill – I’d have to say it was 95% fun, yes.

    @Kelsey – Thanks for reading.

    @Marlynn – Gettin’ worse with age on the reflection bit, I am. *heh*

  10. Geoffrey F. Norman on July 28th, 2014
  11. We had a fantastic time and it was such fun seeing my old high school friends. My friend, Susan, cooked such a nice brunch for us. Not only did Geoff attend his great grandfather’s school but I worked for the district for 8 years when he attended there, so he was watched. We lived in a great neighborhood for kids, nice neighbors, too. The folks we sold our house to still live there! We had a wonderful trip and were glad we went. I stayed with a friend in SD and saw other college and working friends while there, too.

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