Pools of antacid and looking ahead to the future. Subtitle: So Cal, the grand finale of work travel.

With the hubby’s retirement date approaching with alarming swiftness, I opted to travel with him this week on what will be most likely his last travel trip to a luxurious location.  No offense to St Louis, where his current project is, but Huntington Beach California appears to be decidedly more appealing.  Because of one word:  ocean

Laguna Beach….ahhhhh
And I found a lot of bliss sitting on our shaded balcony in Huntington Beach, reading and watching the waves.  Ahhhhh

Every morning I looked from the balcony at the sunrise and saw this:

Yes, the sun is rising over mountains.  Beach on one side of us, mountains on the other.  If you know me at all, you know that I am in love with mountains.  Colorado.  Ahhhh.   The bliss of being out in the fresh mountain air surrounded by trees, clear streams, stunning vistas and very very few people.
So, you guessed it, three days into this trip DeWayne asked where I’d like to explore next.  We’d seen the Mission at San Juan Capistrano (really really enjoyable), and driven Highway 1 from beach to beach a couple times.  Naturally, me being me, I said, “Let’s go find that mountain range.  I want to see some pine trees and clear streams and feel the cool mountain air.”
Google maps indicated the quickest route and it would include what looked to be a beautiful lake to start our trip down highway 74 from the lake, through the mountains and ending up in Dana Point on the coast.  Man, I was so excited.
I anticipated leaving the bustle of the coastline and quickly reaching lightly traveled smaller highways.  A few miles in we indeed had left the heavily populated area behind us.  But the traffic.  Oh the traffic.  Six lanes of traffic in each direction.  Almost stopped in some locations.  And it was only 2 pm.  Hardly rush hour.

At least we were climbing a bit altitude-wise.  Surely it was getting pretty cool.  Check the temp in this picture.  95 degrees.  And look at the mountains in the distance.  Brown.  Hmmm.  After driving several miles we exited onto the highway that would lead us to the beautiful lake and highway 74.

Lake Elsinore is the name of the lake and we opted to drive on a lake shore drive before heading on the advertised “scenic drive” toward the coast through the mountains.
 Here it is, the lake shore in all its glory.  The water color was a shade of green I’d never seen before.  Not emerald green.  Not turquoise.   And take a look at the close up of the water lapping on the shore.  It looked thick, like mint green Mylanta sludge.  Never seen anything like it before in my long, long life.
Yes, we’d never seen anything like it….but after using our phones to google info on this lake we learned that we actually have seen anything like it: it is BLUE GREEN ALGAE!!  At danger levels.  This lake has been this way for quite a few years.  Lake people of Kansas, take note:  THIS is what dangerous blue green algae looks like.  oh My LANTA!!!!
There were a couple boats in the lake…. were they fishing??? Surely not.  **insert gasp of horror accompanied by shuddering and a bit of gagging**    We didn’t see any people actually in contact with the water on what may have once been a nice beach.  **repeat shudder, gagging, and horror at that thought**
This lake really made us sad for the little town surrounding it and the folks living there.  From a distance, high up on scenic 74, it looked a little more lovely.  Although we had already seen it up close so this view to me looked like a sewer lagoon. I had seen the Mylanta.  I had not so quickly forgotten.
We traveled further up on 74 and it was indeed a two lane mountain road.  At this point in our journey DeWayne mentioned that he had read online that it is the most dangerous two lane highway in all of southern California.  This comforted me very little.  It was two lanes of bumper to bumper traffic in places.  And my generally lead-foot hubby actually pulled over several times to let traffic pass us.  That was a landmark event in our marriage.  Normally folks in front of us pull over so that we can pass them.  I sat stunned in the passenger seat, wondering what is next for our marriage.  Will he… start asking for directions???
As we drove on closer to the coast, the terrain changed quite a bit.  No pine trees.  No clear streams, or really any streams/water at all.  But there was green vegetation, which to me is essential for mountains to be considered beautiful.
I was not stunned with the beauty of this particular scenic drive.  But it was definitely interesting.  And swift.  And we both agreed when we arrived back on Highway 1 that it’s a drive we don’t need to take again.
As I’ve occasionally joined the hubby traveling with his job over the past fourteen years, we’ve gone to Paris and Germany, New York City, Seattle, Toronto, SAVANNAH, Ga (oh how I miss Savannah).  All on the company dime, cost:  $0.00.  Soon, very very soon, that zero cost is going to be history.  We’re going to camp.  In our 5th wheel.  Maybe just at a Kansas lake with a blue green algae warning.  It’s okay.  It really is.  I’m very thankful for the wonderful traveling we’ve done for free but it came at a different sort of cost.  For me, loneliness, from spending many days and most nights alone in our home in Kansas, communicating by Skype for an hour or two in the evenings when possible.  Or having meaningful conversations with an old Boston Terrier who, though she worships the ground I walk on, never really has any meaningful words to give back to me.
Twelve or so more weeks of this life.  And I pray it’s the beginning of several years of time spent with the man of my dreams.  Like every day, every night.  Like together forever.  That whole better or worse, sickness or health, richer or poorer dealio.  Hmmmm.  I might perhaps need to activate the prayer chain at our church.  JUST KIDDING….  
Yes, just kidding…. for real… As we were walking along the beach on this trip an older man looked at us and said “You two look like you’re in love.”   Awww, isn’t that sweet?  To clarify, his vision may not have been the best, and he had a small tote with possibly all of his earthly possessions in it.  He was sitting on a curb.  But you know what, I’ll take his words.  I’m thinking he was right.  💕

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