We spent a rainy day in the warmth of The Best Western All Suites in Santa Cruz. We listened to the patter of the rain hitting the roof. The staccato sound put me in a trance as I stared out the window. Water blurred my view from the window but it didn’t stop me from staring. I couldn’t help but think of the all the days I had been on the road. They were coming to an end. Question marks swirled around my head but I wasn’t worried. Crystal had often remarked that she experienced a melancholy feeling when she thought about the end of our trip. I didn’t see it that way. Every time I replied by saying, “The adventure isn’t ending. We are just beginning.”
The next morning the weather looked promising. It wasn’t sunny but at least the water in the air was just a light mist. I enjoyed a hearty breakfast and soaked my body. When I got out of the tub Crystal greeted me with great news. The Holiday Inn Express in Watsonville was happy to host us for the evening. The distance wasn’t too far away so we didn’t need to hit the road until the last minute. When I finally started stepping the rain fell a little harder. Crystal and my mom had driven ahead to Watsonville so, when the rain started to really pour, I was on my own. The large droplets pelted my face and charged my soles. I ran faster and faster through the puddles. As I ran I rubbed my eyes whenever another runner passed me. “Were these people nuts?”
Every fiber of clothing was soaked by the time I was halfway through the mileage but I felt great. I increased my pace as I encountered hills. Plenty of horses along my route stared at me and probably wondered to themselves, “Is this guy nuts?” Brown muddy water drained downhill and made swirls in large puddles. I was like a kid again and I couldn’t resist splashing through those puddles. The water that fell into my mouth tasted clean and I enjoyed the falling rain while it was there. The day ended quickly. The weather lightened, the sun peaked through a crack in the clouds and I reached the hotel way before check in. A cloud of steam floated out of the trailer when I opened the door. Crystal had barely started to make some rice in the trailer. I threw off my soaked clothes and got into my sweats. I was happy to know I could still call upon my speed if I needed it. My mom had been worried about my adventures in the rain and insisted on taking me to the sporting goods store across the street to purchase some rain gear. While I wasn’t sure I would need it, I knew she felt better when I let her buy me the waterproof clothing.
The staff of the Holiday Inn Express welcomed me with smiles. They were excited to host us for the evening and we were happy to be dry. They mentioned booming thunder but I didn’t remember hearing any. Once I had settled down, I was happy to be out of the rain.
The next morning I woke up with cinnamon rolls on my mind. I had come to look forward to the treat whenever we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. I also happened to have a couple of pancakes, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and a few cups of juice. I wanted to make sure I had the energy for my run to Monterey.
The road out of town took me over a bridge and to some country roads through farmland. At around the eleven mile mark I spotted the water. Large waves rolled in and crashed. When I approached a little Marina, I heard barking noises in the direction of the water. I giggled with delight when I spotted sea lions swimming around and playing. They looked like they were smiling at me and having fun. A little further on, I spotted an entire community of them lounging on the docks. Just after the docks, I ran into a couple of fresh produce stands. I sent word to Crystal and my mom to stop there because they had very inexpensive fruits and vegetables for sale. I kept pushing forward. They eventually caught up with me and we had lunch just before I was to turn on a bike path. I ran through a tiny town and reached a state beach that was popular with cyclists, walkers, and runners. It ran along the coast and was a military firing range in a previous life. The vegetation was like a succulent autumn. The icicle plants were auburn, green, and gold. I took this path all the way into Monterey. When I hit mile 27 a shirtless runner tried to overtake me. His chest was puffed out and he looked like he was on a mission. I unconsciously picked up my pace and discovered he wanted to pass me. My competitive side took hold and the speed picked up. I felt as good as I did on the previous day. A drop of salty sweat fell into my mouth. When I looked behind me, the runner had disappeared. Had there really been someone there? I kept my pace for another mile until I hit a stoplight. At that point I knew the hotel was close by. I went into cool down mode and strolled into the Abrego Hotel in Monterey. The dark wood furnishings coupled with a private fireplace gave the room a warm feeling. The toiletries were all organic and eco friendly. I immediately ran a bath and drank a ton of water. The day’s run had left me parched despite the water in the air. When I emerged from the bath, I discovered the P.F. Chang’s nearby had agreed to donate a dinner for the evening. I had to admit. Live was good.