Rest Stops – The Pause that Refreshes

We took advantage of Tom not having any other commitments yesterday and drove down to see my Dad. Dad, as Dads do, is getting older and his garden had been overgrown with grasses and weeds during the winter. Which made him sad, so we decided to go down with picks and gloves and turn the soil for him, so he could plant.

My Dad, Chet Cunningham, with a fence post pick, in his back yard. March 24, 2013.

A small thing to do for a man who loves to garden.

The road from my house to my dad’s is a long one, though. And there’s only one rest stop between the two, on the 5 Freeway southbound (and one Northbound) near Aliso Creek. After being under construction for years, it’s all open and pretty and – amazing – a pause in the trip that truly refreshes.

http://www.beachcalifornia.com/beach/sandiego-alisocreek-reststop.html

I’ve seen this rest stop under construction, with thirty port-a-pottys lined up (wish I’d gotten a picture!) and lines of people waiting to use them. That was on an Easter Sunday a few years ago, I believe.

But now? Gorgeous. Lots of trees, picnic tables, THREE buildings housing both men’s and women’s restrooms, LOTS of updated features (auto flush, auto water and soap at the sink, air dryers). The grounds are clean, there’s a building that houses every possible vending machine you can think of (from gourmet coffee to condoms, chips to cheese crackers) and the breeze is straight off the ocean. Go up the rise behind the trees and on the other side, blue sea and waves.

Every time I’ve been there, I’ve seen a family picnicking. It wouldn’t surprise me if local families go there just to enjoy the breeze and the sun and the wildlife. Because every time we’ve gone, there’s been wildlife in the migrating birds. Yesterday, we saw red-wing blackbirds, gorgeous birds with a circle of red on their wings that show when they fly, as well as the more typical seagulls.

We also saw the cutest – and I do mean cutest – 8 week old Springer Spaniel puppy. White with chocolate markings, he was a sturdy little fellow, with big feet and floppy ears, and (after asking the owner’s permission) had the softest fur and sweetest puppy breath I’ve smelled in a while, which always just fills me with joy. Of course, I think ALL puppies have sweet puppy breath, but that’s just me. The owner said he thought the puppy’s breath smelled like skunk.

I almost kidnapped the puppy right then and there. I would have punched the guy in the nose, kicked him in the groin, snatched the pup and run, without ever making it to the bathroom. But he put a friendly hand out, wanting his dog back, and reluctantly I let it go, thus keeping me out of the slammer.

Tom and I talked about getting another dog. When the kids are grown (uh…) and gone (oh yeah).  And when we don’t garden so much, because any kind of digger will dig up our veggies in a heartbeat. And when we have time to train and love and pay attention to a dog. That will be a good time to get another one.

In the meantime, we’ll let Zaphod, our polydactyl cat, rule our universe indoors while we work hard in our garden.

As far as my dad’s garden goes, Tom dug most of the bed while I interviewed my dad, staying cool inside the house. Tom got exercise, I got precious time spent with Dad and more memories, and my dad can plant his tomatoes now.

3 hours of hard work, revealed.
A round, lemon cucumber from dad’s garden last year, July 2012.
This is what was in that bed last year – an amazing amount of yummy tomatoes! July 2012.

(Had to show a couple photos of the bounty from Dad’s garden last year. You can see why we wanted to help.)

All in all, a great day – plus I got a good dose of puppy breath yesterday. Life is filled with simple joys that fill the heart.

What have you done lately that has lifted your heart with joy?

~ Until the next time, cheers – and remember to drink responsibly! ~

~oOo~

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