July 12, 2009

The Departure Begins

I didn't sleep well last night. Maybe it was the anxiety of packing, cleaning my room, and leaving the abode I'd called home for nearly a month. Maybe it was Vern's margaritas. Or maybe it was a gift from the universe, helping transition me out of the desert without feeling too attached.

I still got kind of choked up this morning.

If the universe was trying to make it easy for me to leave with a bad night's sleep, something else was trying to force me to stay. As I drove down 62W - through the "High Gusting Winds" warning signs - I had a particularly hard time driving through the wind. By the time I blinkered onto the 10W exit, I was gunning it, foot on pedal, pedal on floor, and still could only get to 60 mph. Rather than the natural shake and sway of the wind whipping from side to side, it felt like a wall that was pushing me from the front, if not pushing me backwards then doing a damn good job of slowing down my exit off the highway and out of the desert. Trucks passed me on the right. Compacts loomed in my rear view mirror. But I simply could not go any faster.

I eventually broke through the wind wall and began my journey down to San Diego, where I'm spending a couple nights before flying out on Tuesday. On the lesser-known De Portola wine trail in Temecula, the folks at the Frangiapani Estate Winery were having a slow Sunday morning and were so happy to see me. They didn't even keep track of my servings and just kept pouring more, asking me about my travels, inviting me to participate in their bocce tournament (for which no contestants showed up, despite their advance sign-ups). In a final gesture of hospitality, they set up a lunch for me using the food prepared for the bocce match-that-wasn't: herbed potatoes, chorizo burrito, blueberry muffin and a slice of orange. And, of course, more wine (and chocolate to accompany their delicious Late Harvest Zin).

Now how do I find a way to spend a month in Temecula? One could surely be inspired by its rolling hills, undulating white fences (some that hold no horses), and unique varietals. And one could sustain themselves on not only wine, but locally-grown and crafted cheese, berries, bread, and olive oil. I could think of a worse life.

The driving got easier throughout the day (perhaps thanks to the wine) but the rest of the day was not without sadness, wistfulness, or tears. Still, if I must leave, and I must return to New York, this is definitely the way to do it. And as I try to cram in some more experiences, hike some more trails, and meet some more people, I'll start dreaming about the next place in which to set up camp...

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