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Runaway Mom - Southern California - November 2015


Start of travels: Nov 05, 2015

End of travels: Nov 07, 2015


Pro Surfer Mick Fanning was quoted in Outside magazine "The smartest people are the ones who give everything up and go hiking or take a long trip." Well, I'm not in a position to "give everything up", in fact, I'm snack mom for the soccer game on Saturday... But sometimes a gal just needs to break out of the mundane day to day and Runaway! My plan was to set out for a long walk, a couple of nights camping and a train ride home. Not quite a "hike" or a "long trip"...but I'll take what I can get.

Cardiff by the Sea, California, United States

Thursday, November 5, 2015

While getting ready to go on this little adventure I spent way more time and energy on getting everything ready that I had to leave behind...schedules, groceries, rides for the kids, etc. I knew what basics I'd need and threw a couple of Backpacker dehydrated meals from my pantry and some Clif Bars and a hunk of dry cheese in my bag. Easy. I set off down the driveway with the plan to walk to Oceanside, arriving at a predetermined time to meet my mom who would drive me across Camp Pendleton Marine base, a 23 mile stretch that doesn't allow for setting up camp.


I found it pretty interesting how many comments I had heard from people about "being afraid to go alone". I can't wrap my mind around what is scary about walking Hwy 101 in broad daylight or camping in State campgrounds. At any rate, I wasn't anxious about it at all.

About 10 minutes after leaving home a "mom type"...looking like someone from my peer group pulled along side me and asked if I was hiking (the backpack must have been her clue) and asked if I had just come into town and needed somewhere to stay. It was the Nice kind of stranger... Not the Danger kind of stranger. When I told her I was just running away from home she seemed envious. Every woman I met along the way who asked about my trek seemed to have that same kind of envy/interest, longing for some adventure. This kind of feeling, I believe, was inspired by, if not at least helped along by the book and movie "Wild". I think far too many people have the heart of an adventurer that is trapped and tied up by fear. Get FREE! Go out and wander!


My starting point today was at Swamis and HWY 101 in Encinitas at 10:45am with the goal of getting to Oceanside Pier around 3:00pm. I've walked long distances down roads and on beaches in my running shoes without problems. I've hiked with boots and a backpack on trails and up mountains without problems. But I've never walked long distances with a backpack IN my running shoes... and never will again. That combination proved to be dreadfully detrimental to the condition of my feet and by South Carlsbad (5.4 miles) I was already feeling expanding blisters. I called Nana and asked her to swing by and pick up my hiking boots before picking me up in Oceanside later in the day.

It was a really nice day for a walk and I just listened to my music and enjoyed the repetitive motion and cadence of my steps. I found a check for 450.00 on the side of the road by Ponto beach and called the phone number on it. The guy was so happy when I told him I'd send it to him in the mail. When I found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk later in the day, I just figured it was sweet payback. From Encinitas, through Leucadia, Carlsbad, across the low lying road into Oceanside...

I called Mom to tell her I was going to fall short of the appointed meeting place by about 1.8 miles and she found me sitting on the wall in front of the old Oceanside cemetery. Sweet Nana. Of course she had my boots..and a thermos of soup and some orange slices.

We drove from there up to San Clemente at her Senior Citizen speed, every other car on the road flying past us...and I enjoyed it. Talking and Not walking. We found the State Park campground and my campsite and laughed about stuff while I put up my tent. Beautiful afternoon. Clear sky. Bright sun. Cool air. I waved her on her way and enjoyed a sense of freedom, without accountability or responsibility or a schedule. Haven't had that in years.

In a short time I met the couple from the campsite next to me. I'll refer to them by their most prominent feature, "Rum and Coke". Very nice people. We watched the sunset together leaning on the fence at the edge of the cliff. Once the sun had gone I built a fire and looked at the dark sky and the plentiful stars and talked with God about topics which had been big and difficult at home, but in the scope of the hugeness of the heavens now seemed smaller and not so monumental.

It's 7:45 and I'm in bed wondering if I'll sleep and considering the real need for a different sleeping mat if I'm going to be doing anymore camping in the future. Reconsidering my decision to not bring deodorant or soap (!)... but also thinking about being thankful. So thankful for the opportunity just to run away for a couple of days. Thankfulness helps to lighten the load of everyday life.


San Clemente, California, United States

Friday, November 6, 2015

Oh! It was a rough night! Going to bed so early can make it a really long night. I think I slept lightly until 11:00 or so. I started hearing some people noises (which is still nicer than bear noises, by the way). Then those people began to hammer in tent stakes around midnight. That was a bummer. So, anyway, not much sleep, but that's ok. I woke up for the final time around 6:00am. I had been very "aware" of my feet all night long. I decided to spend a little time on them this morning and see if I could do anything to help them out. I have one huge blister and several smaller ones as well as a few toenails that are SCREAMING! I popped and drained the big blister and it honestly spouted like the fountains at the Bellagio. I just needed some Bocelli playing and colored lighting to complete the show. Fabulous.

After a leisurely pack up I started walking at about 8:30, down the bluff to the beach where the trail becomes the groomed San Clemente Beach Trail. It runs along the train tracks on the beach all the way past the pier to north San Clemente. I loved it...so cool. The sun is warm but the air has that early Fall cool which kept it comfortable.

When I got up to San Clemente pier I found a picnic table under some shade and sat down for a while, which made me realize that I would really like to lay down for a while...so I did. Somehow 8 miles didn't sound like it was going to be that far, so I wanted to pace myself so I wouldn't arrive at Doheny beach too early to check into my campsite at 2:00. And, something is hurting on my left foot. Something inside, not blister like. So, my pace is slow anyway. The walk from North San Clemente once the beach trail came to an end was long and tedious, along the side of the Pacific Coast Highway, but I just focused on my music and the feeling of being free and pressed on. By the very north end of Beach Road I thought I couldn't handle another painfulstep so I stopped to use the restroom and take my boots off for a bit. The warm sun was so nice, I ended up laying out my jacket on the sand so I could lay down again. That's been a favorite thing about today is that I can just stop if I want. No schedule. No responsibility.

I could see Doheny from where I was, so I thought it wouldn't be too much further. I put my socks and boots back on and started up again. Just across a foot bridge to the east side of the PCH are a couple of restaurants and I started thinking about how good a cold drink and a salad would be, but somehow that felt impure, like cheating...an adulteration of my plan to live simply. So I marched (hobbled) on and finally got to the campground, but then realized that I had to go back on the road and another quarter mile or so in order to get to the check in kiosk, then turn around and come back...which tacked on about another half mile. However that is what I came out here to do, to walk...so...


My site #107, conveniently located near the bathrooms is a pretty barren, dismal little campsite. Kind of a parking lot with a fire ring and picnic table. In clear, unobstructed view of sites 105, 106, 108, 109, 76, 79 and 89... so... it's private. I decided to pitch the tent on the side of the site which did Not have the bee hive hanging in a bush. Once the tent was up I cruised down to the beach which was stunning. The slight Santa Ana winds made the sky crystal clear and the sun danced on the water. I sat on the sand until it got too cool then headed back down to the camp lot. Big trailers and rvs were pulling in, after all it's Friday afternoon of Veteran's Day weekend. There are campers flying a combination of their Raider flags and flags that said things like "IT'S FIVE O'CLOCK SOMEWHERE" or "WELCOME TO OUR CAMPSITE WHERE THE FIRE'S ALWAYS HOT AND THE BEER'S ALWAYS COLD". So, it wasn't long before my neighbors 8 feet from me in site #79 came with their friends out to their picnic table for cocktails and took note of me sitting alone at mine and asked what my deal was and if I wanted to join them. I went over for a minute, but the tipsy old men were, not creepy, but just a little more hospitable than their old wives thought they should be and I, in my complete sobriety could see I was clearly the 7th wheel. So I retreated to my table and fired up my Jetboil in order to enjoy my bag of Backpacker Chicken and Rice.

I venture to say that it's going to be another long night, especially given the fact that it's dark and only 5:20pm and the campers continue to roll in from places like Hesperia, Apple Valley, Norco and their set ups are long and loud. So, I brushed my teeth, filled up my water bottles, strapped on my headlamp and climbed into the tent pretty sure that by 7:00 I will have listened to as much music and written as much of this story as I can and will try to go to sleep.

OH! BUT WAIT!...Classic. One of the wives just hollered to her husband, "Babe, are you done with your cocktail and gonna switch to beer now?"

That's right folks...pace... It's all about the pace.


San Juan Capistrano to Solana Beach, California, United States

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Boy, did it ever sound like a freight train was just yards from my tent! Because it was. The train tracks lay just about 25 yards from my tent. When the train came through during the night it was about the loudest thing I've ever heard. It was so ridiculously loud it made me laugh. So, for that reason, and due to the other campers who were still up at 4am, it wasn't a great night's sleep. I didn't expect it to be, so that was fine. ...and oh, it was cold. I stayed huddled with my head in my sleeping back until about 6 when the sun popped up and I had hope that it would bring some warmth with it. Hot cup of coffee in hand, I headed down to check out sunrise at the beach. It's going to be a warm, off shore, dry kind of day. I packed up while having a Clif Bar for breakfast, said goodbye to my camp lot neighbors and walked out toward the beach and north to connect with the San Juan Creek Trail. The creek trail runs west to east and would take me all the way to San Juan Capistrano, about 3.8 miles, where I would catch the train home.


The ligament on the side of my foot was absolutely killing me with every step, but eventually I made it to San Juan Cap just 5 minutes after the early train left. I found the ticket office and got set up for the next train which was in 90 minutes. That left me with time to have breakfast at Sarducci's, which was a nice change from backpacker meals and Clif Bars!

I got settled on the train and enjoyed the easy ride home to Solana Beach. Back to real life.

Running away was awesome. I can't wait until I can justify doing it again!


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