7. CHULA VISTA, CA

When I was a mere 18 years young, I got permission to travel to Chula Vista, CA with a girlfriend.

That summer, 3,000 miles away from parental control, we ran wild in the California streets and partied with strange, older men, like Lana Del Rey.

Maybe.

Or maybe we just totally hung out with her grandparents, working on our tans by day and shooting pool in the empty rec room of the apartment building they managed by night.

Whichever version you prefer, it was the first time I ever flew on a plane and the absolute farthest I had ever been from home.

Up to that point in my life, the trip possessed all the trappings of a most excellent adventure. Regrettably, I'm not entirely sure how much my navel-gazing, 18 year old brain was able to appreciate at the time. (I remember proclaiming to my father that the highlight of my trip was the the low humidity — simply a dream for my unwieldy curly hair.)

More than 20 years later, perhaps to prove my wisdom and maturity to the universe (in this instance, the universe is me), I returned to Chula Vista to appreciate the West Coast in all it's glory.

As we pulled up to our fourth "official" stop — a restored, vintage Oasis RV that would be our home for the next few days — a few poignant realizations washed over me:

1. I was, up until a few months ago, still preoccupied with my unwelcome curls in a borderline “unhealthy” way.

2. Just as Chula Vista had been the furthest point I had traveled in my first 18 years, it also marked the furthest Western point of our current adventure.

3. I still hadn’t ever really partied like Lana.

Maybe.

Double-Oasis3.jpg

So let's just agree now that some things in life simply take us too long to appreciate. A grand cliché, to be sure, but one that is nonetheless true.

This time around, however, I was determined to do better.

For starters, I had Zan at my side, recording the tiniest details of our trip with as much care and wonder as the big, epic ones. My insurance policy of sorts so that, this time around, I did not miss the forest for the trees.