by Julie Carobini
Thinking of heading to the coast for your next family vacation? As a writer of beach fiction, I’m all for it. I grew up in California – live there still – and fell for the coast as a child. When I saw the bright, blue sea at the end of a tunnel near the Santa Monica pier I was inspired. But when I dug my toes into the fine sand and breathed in that briny air – I was hooked.
So imagine my thrill when my 13-year-old daughter recently asked (more than once) to drive up the coast to one of our family’s favorite beach towns. For years, my husband Dan and I happily drove that three hour trip north to Cambria, a charming small town in a famous castle’s shadow.
Well, we thought of it that way. In the early years, on occasion, it felt more like we were dragging the kids along. Know what I mean? Instead of Disneyland, where fun parents took their kids on vacation, we followed a sleepy, winding road to a weekend getaway without all the pop and color and amnesia-causing sounds of an amusement park.
What kind of parents were we anyway?
Evidently, we weren’t so bad. It has been awhile since we’ve had the chance to take that drive north, and our kids – ages 13, 18, and – gulp, 20 – are asking to go. Maybe their wistfulness stems from all the memories made along the way, slowly, purposely, and with great ingredients – like ice cream.
Those excursions include taking them to Piedras Blancas, a ten-minute drive from Cambria, to marvel at 5,000 pound elephant seals wrestling in the surf. And searching out Nit Wit Ridge – a local landmark made out of, er, junk. We also toured the famed Hearst Castle together, strolled along Leffingwell Landing, and watched the sea overtake the stairs at the base of Otter Cove. We held picnics at Shamel Park, sipped warm beverages at a non-chain coffee house, and bought trinkets from Mom ‘n’ Pop stores lining Main Street.
We treasure our children’s desire to relive the things we’ve done together, don’t we? It’s like blessings raining down upon our fatherly and motherly heads. Psalm 115:14-15 (NIV) says, May the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He wants to bless our families. Even in a few short years, we can see the blessings that come from occasionally frenetic, yet often idyllic family travels.
Ultimately, some of our family’s memories formed while on a fog-swept Moonstone Beach on the edge of Cambria. And I’ll let you in on a secret: I grew so fond of this area that I wrote three novels set in “fictional” Otter Bay, aka Cambria. I wanted readers of my beach fiction to experience the allure of the area that my family always has. The most recent Otter Bay novel, Fade to Blue (B&H), takes place in and around the nearby historic Hearst Castle that sits on a hill overlooking the sea. You and your family can tour this castle, or just explore its visitors’ center as we often have.
When I look back on all our trips to the sea, making memories – whether we realized it or not at the time – became our goal. Now that our kids continue to launch into new adventures as they reach adulthood – a second child will be leaving for college in the fall – I’m in the midst of planning one more excursion to take together this summer.
I hope and pray that you too will experience what I’ve learned: Each time you venture out on a family vacation, you have the potential to make memories … that last.
Award-winning author Julie Carobini writes seaside novels filled with faith, flip-flops, and waves of grace. Her fifth novel, Fade to Blue, was released by B&H Publishers in 2011. Julie is the recipient of two writing awards from The National League of American Pen Women, and her books, Truffles by the Sea (2008) and Sweet Waters (2009), were ACFW Carol Award Finalists, and her books received favorable reviews in Library Journal and Romantic Times. She is a board member of CAN, and a member of ACFW. Julie and her husband Dan have three children and live on California’s central coast. To learn more, visit her website: www.juliecarobini.com