Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back to California

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Returning from a 5-month trip around the world is a very strange thing.  I definitely went through a few weeks of reverse culture shock readjusting to life back in America.  I traveled on an around-the-world ticket so I stopped off to visit my parents and friends in Los Angeles for a few weeks before returning to New York City.  I landed from Tokyo early in the morning and I had an overwhelming sensation of what do I do now?  I figured I should be practical so the first thing I did was go to Whole Foods and buy groceries for the house.  I love grocery shopping and I love Whole Foods, but it was very strange walking the aisles looking at all the people and feeling very distant from them.  Since returning I've talked to others who have done big trips to off-the-beaten-track type of places and they all agree that there is a weird feeling of separation when you return because you have seen so many strange things that it feels impossible to relate again to people who haven't had those experiences.  Fortunately those feelings faded away and I actually was able to slip back into my normal life relatively easy.  Certain things even two months later still surprise me- like waiters and cab drivers speaking English (although it is New York so a lot of the cabbies don't speak English and I feel like I'm back on my trip).

I missed Hannukah while I was away, but made it home in time for Christmas and New Year's.  Now as a Jew Christmas doesn't much matter to me, except for the fact that I love the decorations and holiday themed drinks at Coffee Bean.  After a few bad New Year's in Los Angeles my family decided it was nicer to do low key celebrations out of town so this year we decided to drive up the coast in Big Sur, California.  I've lived in Cali my whole life, but have never done the drive up the coast so it was a lot of fun and incredibly beautiful!  Unfortunately this was during the horrible storms we got this year in December/January so the weather wasn't great, but we got a few days of sunshine and beautiful coastal views.  For those of you non-Californians who don't know the central coast, it is made up of incredible mountains and cliffs that meet the pacific ocean for jaw-dropping views.  There are plenty of fun places to stop at on the way like Santa Barbra, the Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo, and Hearst Castle and the Elephant Seals in San Simeon.  Depending on the road conditions, how many stops you make and how fast you drive it takes about 6 hours to get from Los Angeles to Big Sur.  Monterey and Carmel are also just about 40 minutes farther up the coast from Big Sur.  The trip was great- we ate amazing local organic foods at the many amazing restaurants in the area like Aubergine in Carmel, Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn, and the Restaurant at the Ventana Inn which is where we stayed.  I went whale watching, kayaking with the sea otters, spotted 9 critically endangered California Condors and had cozy time curling up in front my room's fire place.  Stay tuned this week as I post more pictures and stories from the trip!
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