The Trip that Changed Everything

Beach On Our Cali TripIt was the spring of 2013.

Driving south from Eugene, Oregon,  Sheryl and I wanted to stay with family the first evening in Santa Clara, California, and then begin what we hoped would be a little adventure trip.  The plan was to drive down the California coastline along Highway 1.  We would take our time, visit lots of new sites, and go as far south as Santa Barbara.

This was an area of California neither one of us had taken the time to see. It was full of scenic coastal towns and beautiful beaches. It was to be a week devoted to  spending  time together experiencing places yet undiscovered.

Generally, we knew the towns we wanted to visit, as well as the types of sites we wanted to see, like the old Spanish Missions.  We intentionally kept planning to a minimum, however, so as to be open to new adventures.

After starting out from Santa Clara, we drove west across the coastal range to Santa Cruz. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk, taking in the sun and sites.  We devoured lunch in Capitola a few miles south, and then meandered along Highway 1 toward Carmel by the Sea.

We soon stumbled upon an out-of-the-way RV park a few miles south of Monterey.  Saddle Mountain RV park is tucked into the side of the green, forested hills of Carmel Valley.  It is perched halfway up the side of the hill in the trees, and affords MDX at SADDLE MOUNTAIN campgroundspectacular views of the valley.

It proved to be the perfect little hideaway to relax and regroup before the next day’s adventures.   We decided to make the park our home base for a few days. We then explored the area, riding bikes in Seaside, hiking coastal trails south of Carmel, and driving up and down the coast to visit new sites each day.

At this point I need to rewind the story just a bit.  After leaving Eugene, Sheryl and I had begun listening to podcasts on the drive down.  We were soon in the midst of discussions about de-cluttering one’s life and living more intentionally. We listened to life-changing podcasts like “Simple Life Together” with Dan and Vanessa Hayes, and “This is Your Life” with Michael Hyatt.  We would both listen and discuss, listen some more and discuss some more.  Before long we realized we needed to make some big changes in our lives.

It’s funny how time, circumstances, and attitude, can come together and coalesce into something unexpected.  Much of the time we spent driving around that week was done while listening to the friendly,  encouraging voices of people  talking about editing out the meaningless, excess stuff in life, so that time and resources could be spent focusing on the things that really mattered, like faith, family, friends, and the experiences along the way like the journey Sheryl and I were on.

After arriving back in Eugene, we did not immediately decide to sell our large house  and embrace simplicity. However, the seed had been planted. The rest is our unfolding story.

My fondest memory of the trip?  Deciding to get out of our comfort zone. It was liberating to re-experience simple pleasures. We laughed at ourselves trying to camp in the back of our car.  We had to muffle our giggles as we would  struggle to get in and out of the side door from a prone position in order to plug the extension cord back into the outlet. Even battling the lumpy misshapen mattress was an exercise in creativity and overcoming.  Each trip to the bathroom in the dark was like being a junior explorer. We loved it!

We rediscovered that our fondest memories turn out to be life’s  simple times. You remember them with a smile, because the experience was shared with the person you love, engaged in a mutual adventure.

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Can you think of a time in your life when you suddenly saw things differently, because of a realization, or a change in circumstances, or because the time was simply right to move in a different direction?

We would love to hear about your  experience in our comments section.


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3 thoughts on “The Trip that Changed Everything

  1. This sounds like a fabulous trip! I can remember when I had an unexpected cut in hours at my job. I had been planning on moving to the East Coast and was in the beginning stages of planning. The cut in hours meant that I had to make a decision: leave all my stuff and make the move or find another job and keep all of my stuff and stay. I opted to give away/sell everything except what I could fit in my car. I’ve never regretted that decision but I would have regretted staying where I was because of “stuff.”
    Great post- it inspired some memories in me!

    • Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your experience! Whether we realize it or not, our “stuff” has a profound impact on the choices we make in life. We want to make the same decision you did – namely, choosing “life” over “stuff”!

  2. I love your story and can relate to it so well — we are now empty nesters and decided to just start with getting rid of the extra “decorative clutter” we had everywhere in the house. It led to an art studio addition above our garage which led to cleaning out and emptying the entire garage. We then decided to add wood floor to the other half of the house to match the new room which led to cleaning out every closet. We now live with what we have and try to not bring in new things (especially decorative) — a huge bonus is we were able to take inventory of what we have and know where it all is.