San Francisco to Carmel:
I'm frankly amazed that people are willing to rent me a car. Not that I'm a terrible driver, or a criminal, or under 25, but the whole process of handing over the keys of an expensive piece of machinery to a complete stranger seems, well, vaguely irresponsible. I feel like I'm getting away with something not quite legal, which makes it that much more fun.
Today the rental process went absolutely in my favor. Budget-conscious, I months ago reserved the cheapest car I could find, at the cheapest off-airport lot. It took a mini-train, a bus and a shuttle to get there, and when I finally made it, I found they had given away the last of the super-tiny-compact-economy cars they had.
And so, like a genie granting wishes, they offered me two choices: an X-Trail SUV and a sweet silver Mustang convertible.
You can guess which car I chose.
So today I had the pleasure of getting my hair very messy, driving with the top down like a real Californian. Except that I'm pretty sure the real Californians were protecting their hair in Jaguars and BMWs, as I saw very few convertibles with the tops down. But it fulfilled in me the teenaged dream of blasting tunes on the highway in an open car.
I love to drive. To qualify, I love to drive alone. Whenever I have a passenger I'm either distracted by conversation, or self-conscious, convinced I'm going to do something stupid like cut off a cop. It has happened. I make a better passenger, really, when it's more than just me. Ask my husband.
But when I drive by myself, everything unwinds. It's meditative. My brain, usually ridiculously busy, focuses on the task at hand, and I can belt to the tunes and nobody's listening. When I'm driving alone, every song is in my key, and I sound fantastic. I slow my thoughts down to the pace of the scenery outside, and the best roads are slow and curvy and hilly, with huge open vistas around the bend.
Today's drive did not disappoint. The Cabrillo highway, south from San Francisco to Carmel is perfect: cliffs with waves pounding below, tufted hills, strawberry fields and tall trees - I couldn't tell you what kinds - and fruit stands every few miles.
Being from Canada, I forget the joy of counting in miles. Even though I grew up with kilometres, I convert to miles in my head. I'm that in-between generation that is neither comfortable with metric nor imperial, and so I count distance in minutes and hours instead.
Here, the distances are short, and the hours shorter.
I can't wait for tomorrow.