The Curse Of CaliforniaPosted on Mar 5, 2013 | 22 comments
14 years ago my wife and I were fresh out of school, newly married, and hungry. We wanted something; we wanted change. So we decided to pack up all our belongings and head west to California. We had no jobs, no money, and no real idea of what we wanted to do, but none of this mattered. To us, the west was a dream . . . and we were dreamers. Nothing was going to stop us.
As we crossed the state border into California after our 3,000 mile journey, we pumped our fists and staked our claim on the promises that lay before us. We'd made it! We'd done good.
15 minutes after we'd finished patting ourselves on the back, the engine of our tiny Nissan Sentra seized and we were stranded in the middle of the Mojave Desert. No phone, no money, and now . . . no car. All we had was some clothes, a TV, and 2 months paid rent at some place in the not-so-lovely portion of North Hollywood that we had never seen.
And so starts the curse of California.
Fast Forward 14 years.
We are driving with our two children. The car is packed with everything we own. We are in the middle of the desert, pushing it to Joshua Tree National Park so we can beat the sunset and set up camp. Nothing is going to stop us.
As we cross the border into California after our 7,000 mile journey, we pump our fists and scream out, "Weeeeeeeerrrrrreee . . . IN CALIFORNIA!" 10 minutes later, smoke's pouring out from under the car's hood and there is nothing but desert for 50 miles in every direction.
The curse continues . . .
When it starts raining a little bit, you tend to bolt for cover. But when it's pouring and you're soaked to the skin with no hope for relief, you just say screw it and enjoy the comic relief.
This day could be a book. If it could go wrong, it did. Everything just hit all at once.
- The car blew.
- The phone couldn't get any service.
- We found a desert oasis that had frozen pizza rolls and a microwave and on her first bite Maggie shot hot pizza sauce all over her leg and screamed so loud that the 3 people who lived the area came running to our rescue. She was fine of course.
- The tow truck driver charged 9 dollars a mile. Remember, it's a very big, wide desert.
- The driver told us a big story of how his family once broke down and a tow truck driver came out to save him and gave him a room at the hotel for the night and fixed his car and then in the morning didn't charge him a DIME! So I looked at him and smiled and he turned the other way.
- When the mechanic looked at the car, he said, "Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh . . ." I don't know what ""Ehhhhhhhhhhh" means, but it didn't sound good.
- I overheard the mechanic on the phone calling someone about a new engine. Then he hung up the phone and walked over my way.
- Through the window, I saw a staggering man walk out of the woods, cross the street, and proceed to enter the shop. With beer in hand, he said, "Mannnnnn . . . I am having the worst day." And I said, "That's funny . . . so am I."
- The man from the woods got irritated. He started prancing about the shop and around our kids who were reading on the floor in complete ignorance that the man from the woods was dancing, spilling beer everywhere, and swearing up a storm in Spanish.
- Management entered, called for back-up, and then asked us to take our kids some place else. "But WHY?!?!" pleaded the kids. "Because this guy comes in here everyday and does this," said the mechanic. "It's fine," said the kids, "we're just traveling." (The kids have taken to saying "we're traveling" to everyone they meet. I'm not sure what it implies, but for some reason it seems to give them limitless liberties.)
- I ate Little Caesars Pizza, which wasn't really so bad until now.
- I soon realized that they essentially have to put a new car in our old car.
- I got the final bill for the car. Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh!
But then . . .
- We rented a new car and the kids went wild!
- We used our seemingly endless pile of rewards points to snag another free hotel stay with a great pool.
- We swam all night.
- We realized we're pretty lucky and stuff happens. Actually, we realized this the whole day and really had no problem with the car breaking down. We knew that was going to happen eventually. We enjoyed it. We got to ride in a tow truck! Our driver had traveled for 4 years with his family. And our young driver from the Enterprise rental cars started talking about his dream to move to Hawaii and I think we convinced him to do it!
- This was an expensive day, but a great day. Unexpected surprises, but no bid deal. We'll figure it all out.
Many people have been asking about how life has changed for us and what's different since we started traveling. Well, I'm going to get the big details out shortly, but until then I should just say that life is great. We love traveling. It takes more work, more patience, more flexibility, and more care, but it pays off with more unexpected experiences, joys, adventures, insights, and challenges. It's not always great. Stuff happens more, in both good and bad ways, and we like that.
There is no curse of California. There is just the reality that when you take on new, big, and exciting challenges, stuff is going to happen. Push through these challenges and things get easier. You get used to challenges. Big bumps become little bumps. And once you get used to the little bumps, you can do whatever you want.
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