The Joy of Veering Off Course

Committed to greater creativity this month, I decided it was time for another adventure late last Saturday afternoon. With my good camera broken, I tossed a new Nikon Coolpix in my bag and was out the door.  I hopped on the 101 and drove down the grade. As I passed Shell Beach, I noticed the sign for PCH 1 South. I hadn't driven that direction before, so I took the exit and headed towards all that was new. Pismo Beach. Grover Beach. Oceana. With town names like these, I assumed I was in for a gorgeous drive along the coastline.  I was wrong. Trailer parks. RV lots. Tractors. ConocoPhillips Refinery. Say what now!? 

Out of nowhere, I had found myself traveling amid a sea of retirement, agriculture, and industry. I hadn't been this excited in ages.

After weaving and turning in and out of randomness, I passed a sign that I was entering Santa Barbara County. This was a big moment, considering I had only explored San Luis Obispo County. In under an hour, I had crossed over into unfamiliar territory with a huge smile plastered on my face.

There was something interesting and uneasy about Guadalupe so I kept going.  A few miles later, I noticed I was nearly out of gas so changed my mind and decided it was time to head back to Paso. Grateful for cell service, I went online so that I could find my way back to the 101. The highway I needed took me right back to Guadalupe.

Thank you Google.

As I approached the intersection I needed, the light turned red. Something told me to zig when I was should have zagged so I quickly switched lanes. With the change of my blinker and glance at the gas gauge, I turned left down a lonely road with a single sign that assured me the coast was only four miles away.

To my surprise, that road led me to one of the most spectacular sights I've ever seen: Rancho Guadalupe Dunes Preserve. In less than five minutes, I had gone from feeling like I was driving in a different country to feeling like I was on a different planet. 

There is something magical about the pull of the ocean, especially during a perigee tide. 

This beautiful flock of brown pelicans flew right over my head.

Only mere minutes separate secluded agriculture and ocean.

I've learned that we can feel lost and be off course but still reach our destination, especially when we allow our enthusiasm and intuition to guide us. In other words, life is not about constantly sticking to the straight and narrow. Stop lurking in the darkness and step outside. Whether you veer left or stray right, let your inner child out to play and explore your world... and then trust that Google will help you find a gas station at the exact moment you need one.

To learn more about the preserve, visit


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