On a warm September afternoon, we drive south in a rented SUV from Oakland to Paso Robles—a wine town on California’s central coast. It’s Monday, and taking time off work so early in the week feels self-indulgent, but I’m excited for the break from routine.

It’s our first time traveling together, my three housemates and myself, and my cousin who’s been with us since the summer. The air in the car seems to hum with excitement and anticipation. Our conversation ebbs and flows over the music playing in the background. I make slight movements in the driver’s seat to familiar songs and tap rhythmic fingers on the steering wheel in time to the beat. We share snacks amongst ourselves—kettle corn and granola bars, and cool slices of cucumber and starfruit.

The hours pass by quickly and soon we’re driving past several rows of lush, evenly spaced grapevines that make up the scenery of the Central Coast. Shadowy mountains and a sunlit blue sky fill the background. It’s hard not to slow the car to keep the scene from moving too quickly.

When we arrive at our destination – Allegretto Vineyard Resort – I’m expectant and not surprised to see that its grounds mirror the surrounding landscape —sprawling and verdant. Outside, at the heart of the resort sits a courtyard with an infinity-shaped fountain.

Huge archways line both sides of the courtyard, and most of the open space is covered with tall trees and shrubs with white-petaled flowers. Inside, hanging wall paintings and sculptures decorate the hallways and evoke feelings of walking through an art museum. I remind myself not to rush through.

We take photographs of the space, and of ourselves within it—capturing the expression and experience of our joy.

In San Luis Obispo, a nearby city, we sit down for a delicious dinner at Novo restaurant. Over shared food and drinks, our conversation is light and punctuated by laughter. From the head of the table, I can see the girl’s illuminated faces, and wonder if my face mirrors how I feel; happy and grateful to share warm moments with people I hold close to my heart.

Continued next week with Letters from the Central Coast #2. 

As always, 

Thank you so much for reading. 


Same Footprints, Different Sands 

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