I am on vacation.
I have 12 days behind me and 4 days to go before it is back to work for me. I think it has been one of the best vacations I can remember. Not necessarily because of the things I have done - but because of the things I have experienced.
I have experienced wonder and amazement, renewed friendship and family ties, humility and awe before God, a sense of belonging, youthfulness and childlike happiness, the joy of fatherhood, newlywed-like passion with my wife of almost 12 years, and calmness and serenity toward life and where it is taking me.
Yes - this has been a great vacation and I am sure that the next few days will not disappoint.
The Central Coast of California
Last week we started a drive from San Clemente (just north of the San Diego County border) to San Francisco. We made pit stops in Santa Babara, Solveng, Santa Maria, Hearst Castle, saw Elephant Seals bathing on the beach, went to Santa Clara, visited pier 39 and China town. We even crossed the Golden Gate bridge and saw some of the countries most expensive homes on Belvedere Island, Sausalito and Tiburon. But none of these was more impressive than the hand of God.
You see - the Central Coast of California, unbeknown to me until this last week, is still largely untouched and still very rugged and untamed.
As we left our stop at Hearst Castle the kids in the back fell asleep and Katherin dozed off for a nap. I was left to myself for much of the drive along the windy cliff side road on the Pacific ocean - on Californias central coast.
I was left to my thoughts. It seemed to me to last a few hours from when we left Hearst Castle until we arrived in Monterey.
What lies between the two is an undescribeable beauty of nature. Along this route there moments where there were so many pine trees along the coast - you could have thought you were high in the mountains. At other points the landscape was so flat and filled with cattle that you might have guessed you were among the great plains of the midwest. (trust me - i have been there too). At other points along the drive we were on cliffs so high you dared not look over.
The one thing all of these landscapes had in common was the Pacific Ocean just feet away. With its enourmous kelp beds and jagged rocks (some so big you could build mansions on them) the water has never looked so intimidating, majestic, or full of life.
One cannot deny that world was created by some supreme being. I call him God. He is a a master artisian and geologist. He is an awesome God.
All Things Big
As I mentioned earlier - we visited Hearst Castle. In its own right - this place is amazing. More than that - it gives man hope that he can dream and keep dreaming never being satisfied with what he has already done and where he has already been. But to keep striving for better and higher. And in the example of William Hearst, not at the expense of others - but with the purpose of bringing others along.
One of those persons he brought along was my son Isaac. During the tour of the Castle and the Castle grounds Isaac was in total and complete focus on the tour guide and everything he was showing us.
I have never ( and I repeat NEVER) seen Isaac so focused. Not on baseball, not on coniving a secret plan to get something of personal benefit, not on food or sports. Only here.
When you think about it - it makes sense.
You see - Isaac, like the Castle, is gi-normous. Not in physical size. But in heart, imagination, and in what he demands of himself.
At the end of the tour he made a pact with his brother Matthew to build something just like it. Later that week - he had the same fascination with the Golden Gate Bridge.
Isaac is big. Not because of some sort of Napolean complex that he keeps deep inside. But because of his capacity to become.
Isaac is all things big.
99% of this vacation has been with immediately family. Some with extended family. And just a little bit of time with some friends.
Once we got to San Francisco - we were invited by my good friend and work associate Tracy Cook to stay the night with her family, have a BBQ together and just hang out.
So thats what we did. Her and her husband Scott are very warm hosts and a blast to hang out with. Very genuine people and very kind.
The short visit we had with them reminded me that friends don't need to do a lot together. Friends are like family. As long as you are together - the where doesn't really matter.
The magic of Disneyland
Fatherhood is great. Nothing beats looking down at your kids seeing the complete amazement in their eyes as Tinkerbell soars overhead during the Disneyland Firework show. Or the joy they get when they accomplish something hard. Nothing is as great as riding a speeding roller-coaster with your oldest son and knowing that you are both beaming with smiles from ear to ear. Watching your 7 and 5 year olds embrace each other in hugs and and even bigger hugs as they find out they get to ride together on the Pirates of the Caribbean. That is cool.
I have discovered that the magic kingdom has its effects beyond that of young children or newly-in-love couples. It transcends deeply into the hearts of parents who watch it happen all over again and again and again - in their kids.
Disneyland is awesome.
God is the ultimate creator. The greatest things we can create are strong families and strong friendships. But if we decide to go further than that, Walt Disney and William Hearst are good examples of what we are capable of.
Inside all of us - even little guys like Isaac - is something great and inspiring. If you need a reminder of that - I recommend Disneyland with a 5-year old.