Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area gave lots of opportunity for adventure. But probably like most of you, I was most familiar with the areas right around my house. Even after getting my drivers license I didn’t really explore much beyond my town and a few adjacent. The horizon was pretty small for me.
My dad loves to drive on dirt roads. Our family still jokes about the seemingly endless dirt road adventures in Arizona and Utah when I was a kid. But I think I got some of that in me. It is sort of a symbol to me now. The dirt road is the ultimate symbol of just wandering anywhere. “Who knows where this road possibly goes?” It’s an adventure, let’s take that road and see where it goes. It took a while to really become a part of me, but I love exploring and finding what may be down a dirt road…or any road that isn’t on a map.
With such a now built-in drive to explore, I’m always amazed that when close to home I don’t take the opportunity as much as I’d like. As much as I had seen during all the years I lived in the Bay Area, there is still so much to explore and find. So many treasures to be surprised by. I wish I was there more frequently.
I stayed the night with a friend in Marin County a few years back. In the morning when I headed out, I could have turned right and been on the freeway in two minutes, but I wondered what was to the left. So, I followed my wanderlust and found an amazing State Park called China Camp. Rolling hills, California oaks, salt marshes, and a little historic area. On this day, the hills were the quintessential golden that state is nicknamed for. The historic section tells the story of the Chinese shrimp-fishing settlement whose heyday was in the 1880’s. The whole park felt like finding hidden treasure. I kept saying to myself, “I can’t believe I never knew this was here.” Had my time been unlimited I would have walked trails and explored more. I spent my few exploring moments near the dock area and reading the placards on the history. The moments were few, but absolutely treasured.
I wonder why we don’t take the time to wander when we are close to home? There are time demands for sure, and we become jaded and callous to the things we see every day. We forget to look up, we forget the wonder of things when they become normal, and we just drive by without thinking. I have to intentionally think about going down different streets than normal, and that takes energy. And when you have two young children, energy is a limited resource. I think I need to write a post-it and place it in my car with the words “remember to explore.” We need that reminder. There are so many treasures to find in unexpected places, that we miss out when we don’t explore. Everybody loves a surprise. And sometimes it’s as easy as taking the left instead of a right.