Monday, July 16, 2012

Adventures down a dirt road

For most people, each day is one in which we are expected to do things, to be a certain way. Most of us are loaded down with responsibilities and stresses. It's as though we are running on a freeway in fifth gear hoping the cops down stop us to give us a ticket. Our lives all move so fast. We need to accomplish so much. Sometimes there is hardly time to breath.

For a few lucky people, like me, there are moments that are sacred. They are so precious because it is in those times when the noise if life fades away are I am surrounded with nothing but a warm and familiar glow from being with people who have known you forever in a place where time stands still. Its a place where for some reason you feel like you are 20. Its here where your shoulders somehow magically unhitch from your ears settling down in relaxation. Where the music that plays on the boom box are the Stones and Cat Stevens and your face thaws from the radiated warmth into a soft and contented smile.

This week I found myself in this place down a dirt road at Alamo Ranch with my Tri Delta sorority sisters.

 Alamo Ranch sits at the back of a secluded valley about 30 minutes from 101 near Santa Maria.
For several  years now, this has been the site of our college sorority reunion. It is a ranch house built by the uncle of one of my sisters as a retreat for his family and friends and it is spectacular in its beauty. But maybe more significant is how the place lends itself for groups to gather and relax.

There is a HUG house that can sleep dozens and an outdoor kitchen with BIG Santa Maria style BBQ. The pool is solar heated and warm. There is a putting green and ping pong, bunnies in the morning (which I am sure pleases the hawks over head). The morning comes with the sound of birds and their different songs. Ya Coo Koo for the quail. AWWWKkkkk for the Jay and several I haven't a clue what kind of bird is making them. There are cattle in the fields and big cats, Deer and lizards. This valley is known for its fossils and you can certainly see a Jurassic Park scene as you wander though it. The recent addition of vineyards give it a gentrified quality that it takes to. It is one special place.

We wake up and a couple of people are responsible for each meal. MB and I were in charge of the Friday morning breakfast. Over the years we have tried to pare down the quantity and increase the quality of our food and drink. This brunch included a French toast casserole, a Potato Frittata with Basil, French fruit salad, apple smoked bacon and Chicken apple sausage with Mimosas.

 For me, since I am in the middle of training for the Sam Franciso 3 day, I need to walk. This of course isn't a bad place to do it. I had to make mine as long as was possible but I had a couple of friends come along to join me for much of the walk. MB isn't a 3 day walker yet... but maybe next year? And Barbara who is walking in the San Diego walk. Their training schedule has just begun. Their goal was to walk for an hour (approx 3 miles) and turn around.

At one of the many cattle grades they turned around and I continued on. I had noticed along the walk the track of a LARGE Cat. I didn't tell Barbara and MB about it, but as I walked I thought about what I could do if the unlikely happened and I met up with this cat. I decided besides being "LARGE" I could put my camera in my hand a punch him in the nose. If all else failed I could spray him with hand sanatizer.

I made it to the road feeling just fine and turned to head back.

Almost immediately I noticed as I walked with the wind instead of against it, the temperature felt 30 degrees hotter.

 I began looking for shade.
 It was not that plentiful.
But when I found it, I would stop and turn around to face the breeze hoping to cool off.
In the final bit of the walk I was literally shaking. I took my bandanna and dunked it into the 1/2 inch of water I had left in my bottle and wrapped it around my neck. When I got back to the Ranch, I walked into the pool fully clothed and got an icy beer and a bottle of Peligrino and returned to normal...

The walk was only 10 miles but in the heat it felt like 25.

 That afternoon we relaxed by the pool trading stories about our families, our parents, our old classmates and life.

 Our paths have us in many different directions. Lindy's husband is a coach for a Texas Ranger's farm team in North Carolina, so she spends much of her time there. Some of our sisters come form LA area and three of us come from Marin. Barbara comes from the road where she and her husband, both retired, are trailering through the US exploring. They have a boat (now in Florida) that they sometimes get in the water  there. Barbara flew in just to attend this weekend. It is THAT important. A couple of our sisters couldn't make ti this year but Susie came from Stockton here part time home (a frequent flyer due to work).

 Each year as time passes we each change a little I suppose. But to me, I think we are as bright and as beautiful (or more so) than we were in college. I definitely think we each are just a little more interesting!

 And each of us bring to this place a smile we may not have had in a long time.
Easy. Relaxed and REAL.

 Oh... and a lot of laughing does go on.
 The next morning Barbara, Patti and I walked for an hour out and an hour back. It was cool enough to wear a sweatshirt in the early morning fog. Patti, Barbara, Carol (who lives in Minnesota) and i are walking in the San Diego 3 day. It will be an all Tri Delta walk.

 Saturday is our theme night. Our chance to be creative and silly. This year's theme was "Books". We were to come as a character form a book. I thought long and hard about what I should come as. I couldn't imagine wearing a southern ball gown. I thought about a burka. But finally I settled on the wicked witch (a part I have played before to good reviews) I actually went as Elphaba from Wicked.

 Barbara from the Hunger Games
 Suzanne went as "Gold" from a poem. Tales of the Yukon.
 Jill, as always was a show stopper as Cruella De Vil from 1001 Dalmatians
 Patti as a character from "The Help."
 The whole motley crew.
 Susie as Blue Fish
 MB from "Same time next year"
I'm melting.

 For food this dinner, the word is abundant ! Pam's cousin came and created a Santa Maria BBQ and trust me you have never had anything better. Cooked over a red oak fire we had, ribs, salmon, bass, tuna, chicken and Beans, Corn and amazing Garlic Bread. There are no words, just a wish that you could have another three stomachs to stuff full.

 The "prizes" are handed out. The laughter continues.
The make-up comes off as you know its time for bed.
The next morning we all clean and eat left overs before piling in  the cars to head back to life.

Our lives may in different places and different circumstances, but we are so connected. How blessed have we all been to have been able to maintain this connection over the years. Maybe there will come a day when all of this becomes too much "work". But I know for me, there is nothing that is work about this weekend. It is pure play and that play has helped to keep us all sane over these years.

NOW.... I am back and I have a plate full of tasks to accomplish. TASK #1 PINKTINI and POPCORN.
I hope you will be able to come. If you can't I hope you will find something to bid on in the silent auction. OR certainly there is a Cancer Warrior you would like to honor with a donation to our quilt. Either way, remember this is a world made better by the love we show to others. You become richer each time you reach out. CHECK it out.

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