When my husband Gary died of cancer, my kids encouraged me to take an early retirement. The plan was to temporarily move to my son Jeremy and daughter-in-law Denise’s place in Marina del Rey.
On my drive from Oregon to southern California, I was escorted off the Pacific Coast Highway by two patrol cars with flashing lights.
I’m blaming it on Jeremy. He recommended jogging over to the Pacific Coast Highway from the 101.
Beautiful scenery, he said. Less traffic, he said.
He was right. The Pacific Ocean was gorgeous as the sun painted a fiery sky and then bowed off stage.
And there was zero traffic. Which struck me as rather odd.
But then these two patrol cars showed up. With lights flashing. Pinning my car so I couldn’t make a quick get-away.
“Where are you going, ma’am?” (I could not, for the life of me, remember the name of Jeremy and Denise’s town, which, right there, didn’t look suspicious at all.)
“Where are you coming from?” Oregon.
“Do you live in Oregon?” Yes.
“How did you get on this highway?” Drove.
“Didn’t you see the big flashing signs indicating the highway is closed?” No.
The California Highway Patrol neglected to place flashing “highway closed” signs at the entrance to the PCH from Rice Road. And now I’m going to jail. That’s just great.
After further questioning, they provided my very own private escort—one in front, one on my rear bumper—back in the direction from whence I had come.
Welcome to southern California.
This was a life detour I hadn’t planned. Into widowhood. A new community. Living alone. Managing the strain of uncertain finances. It’s not what I would have written into my story, but it’s what happened.
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. admonishes us to:
See any detour as an opportunity to experience new things.
And so I decided to make the most of this alternate route. I played tourist at Mission San Juan Capistrano, Griffith Observatory, Getty Museum high in the hills above Malibu, and the Museum of Tolerance in downtown L.A.
My daughter-in-law’s pink-rimmed bike took me to the grocery store, the post office, out past the marina.
I rode as far as the Santa Monica pier one day. And numerous times to Venice Beach for the fabulous fish tacos and equally fabulous street entertainment.
I hiked in the Hollywood Hills with Jeremy and Denise when they were home and sampled some amazing food along the way.
I also attended a very unique church, Dream Center. They provide poverty relief, host recovery programs, sponsor a rescue program for human trafficking victims, and offer housing for homeless families, veterans, and youth emancipating from foster care. And I had a small opportunity to give back through one of their many outreach programs.
There are so many sunny, freckled, carefree, brave, whimsical memories playing in my head from a land called southern California, a place I had no intention of ever living, but a delightful detour of a place.
What if we could make the most of the detour we hadn’t planned on – the detour into infertility, or divorce, or caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s? What if we could pull out Google Maps to discover what there is to see and explore along the route?
What if we braved our way through the detour with an attitude of learning, adjusting, opening our hearts, falling deeper into love and trust with God who was not caught off guard by any of this?
No matter how inconvenient a detour is, it gets us to where we want to go because it gets us to where God wants us to be, even if we didn’t think we wanted to be there.