All Dad has ever wanted to do was dip his toes into the Pacific and “cruise down the PCH in a convertible with a bleach blonde.”
I somewhat fit that description and found myself traveling to San Francisco over a weekend for a photo shoot, so I asked Dad if he wanted to join me. He’s never been to California, a place he’s glorified since surf culture took a hold of him in the ’60’s.
“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” he shouted into the phone. “Wow. It’s moments like this that justify my decision to have children.”
Dad’s not an overly expressive person. He makes his point and moves on. However, he does get riled up over certain things: his Miata, late-night nachos, my little brother’s “sense of humor,” and apparently, California.
It was a short trip – 36 hours or so – but just long enough for Dad to have the time of his life.
At last count, Dad shouted, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” no less than 14 times in response to the following:
- Putting his feet into cold Pacific water FOR THE FIRST TIME
- Discovering our Stinson Beach lunch spot was a converted lifeguard tower (he’s a former Milwaukee County lifeguard)
- Realizing the former lifeguard tower serves sweet potato fries (he startled the girl ahead of him in line)
- Seeing migrating gray whales breach the surface FOR THE FIRST TIME
- Eating scrambled eggs on the patio of an adorable breakfast restaurant
- Watching the Golden Gate Bridge disappear into a cloud of fog from the top of a double-decker tour bus
- Realizing the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood matches the exact vision of it in his head
- Watching the sun set over the Bay from Hawk Hill
- Watching San Francisco’s lights turn on from Hawk Hill
- Realizing Hawk Hill is an old Nike missile site
- Eating clam chowder out of a sourdough bread bowl on a balcony overlooking Alcatraz in Fisherman’s Warf (three items checked off his wish list in one fell swoop)
- Crawling through a horrendous traffic jam trying to leaving Fisherman’s Warf
- Arriving late enough in the evening to receive free admission to Muir Woods National Monument (thanks to the traffic jam stated in #12)
- Eating his first In-N-Out Burger
After letting the experience marinade for a couple of days, Dad called to thank me for planning the trip and taking him along.
“I think about all the trouble you went to and I love you so much for it,” he said.
I was a little surprised at this uncharacteristic expression of emotion, so I blurted back, “Oh, I love you too, Dad!”
He paused for a moment, then said with laugh, “Okay, that’s enough of that. Let’s move on. How are you?”