PULLING UP STAKES—PART 2
By Carolyn Richardson
I was homeless. That is, I had sold my rural property in the foothills of Northern California, had packed my car to the brim of personal items and clothes, yet it would be a week before I actually turned my car south towards the border and my new home. With still many last minute details to attend to, yet no real home base from which to work, I seemed to be living out of the car more often than not. Where sleeping at my daughter and son-in-law’s was giving me a chance to visit with grandkids and help out with the kitchen chores most evenings, my days were spent driving the 40 miles back to Auburn and area to complete many of the last minute details that always seem to plague any major life change. Last minute stowing of things in the storage unit; clean up of the property before I turned the keys and relinquished possession to the new owners; new tires on the car, change of address forms—all those last minute things you check off your lists. Hair appointment for me, grooming for Gypsy, my adorable little dog who was appropriately named, as she goes just about everywhere with me. Check! Appointment at the vet for Gypsy, load up on her special food for her as well. Check! Pick up my new glasses. Check! Details for this, details for that—but one by one, each got checked off the list, along with attending Grange meetings and my usual dancing events. A visit with my cousins in Petaluma—a visit with a friend in San Francisco. Lunch with one friend, dinner with another. I stayed a few extra days to make sure I attended to everything on my long list as well as visiting with family and friends as much as I was able, before finally that day arrived. The day Gypsy and I piled into the way overloaded car, and headed south.
I’ve traveled this route probably a hundred times over the years—but this time I veered off my usual route in order to visit Bobbie, who I’ve known my whole life and who knew my parents long before I was a glimmer in the universe. Bobbie is amazing, and at nearly 97 is still sharp as a tack and such a good friend to me and my brother. By mutual agreement, she and husband Hugh had long been adopted members of our family. Well into their 90s, Bobbie and Hugh were still out on the bluffs outside Yuma camping and enjoying the desert lifestyle until illness struck, and they had to retire their trailer and camping ways. It is through them that my brother and sister-in-law have taken up where Bobbie and Hugh left off, up on those bluffs outside of Yuma, and I credit Bobbie and Hugh for opening my eyes to see the often hidden or masked beauty of the desert.
Gypsy and I continued on our way, heading south along Interstate 5. A stop at Anderson’s Split Pea Soup restaurant in Santa Nella for my customary bowl of soup and rest stop. Then like Willie Nelson’s song, we were on the road again. Gone were the green fields populated with lazy grazing cattle that stretched for endless miles, green only months ago on my last trip to San Felipe. The green now was replaced with brown and arid fields, parched from the lack of rain, years of drought and legislative cutbacks. I’ve seen this same landscape a hundred times, but it was different this time. Because this time, I was leaving ‘home’ in order to ‘come home’. I was leaving behind the meadows and hills of Northern California that had been my hometown for many years. Auburn is a small town, I do not think the actual population has ever breached 15,000. My family had left the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Auburn in 1960, and other than a few years spent in Colorado and a year in Texas, most of my adult life had been in the Auburn foothills and area ever since. I’m not a stranger to lifestyle changes. My stint in Colorado was the first real lifestyle change I’d ever made, but I was also much younger, perhaps not wiser, but certainly gutsier then than now. But one thing I’ve learned along the Road of Life is taking a “risk” isn’t always a bad four letter word.
At the border, I checked in and purchased my visa, a process that before one actually does it, seems to ratchet up the anxiety level, but in reality takes only a few moments, and relieves my wallet of only about $23. Before I knew it, I was on the road again, passing along my well worn route through Mexicali. I’ve traveled this same route umpteen times, but this time it was different. My laden car, Gypsy and I were heading to San Felipe, not for a few weeks visit, but to our permanent home.
There is a certain curve in the road along Mexico’s Highway 5 south from Mexicali that when I round that curve, I suddenly feel like I’ve come home–another four letter word that feels pretty darn good! In the 12 plus years I’ve been coming to San Felipe, it never ceases to stir excitement within me as I round that curve! Before me to the east stretches the gateway of the Sea of Cortez—just a sliver of turquoise blue against the crystal white alkali deposits from the Sea, as it meets the deeper blue of the horizon sky. To the west lies the rugged, craggy seemingly barren, yet always majestic and mystical hills and peaks of the Sierra San Pedro Martir mountain range. The further south I drive, that turquoise sliver gives way to a wider and wider band that compliments the backdrop of the clear blue sky.
My destination is within reach–perhaps 120 miles south of the border, El Dorado Ranch, the largest resort and residential development in the area, and within which lies my home, comes into view. An emotion stirs within me every time I drive this stretch of the highway—I’m coming home to my little bit of paradise—San Felipe, a certain Village by the Sea.