The Long Ride Home

Alameda Christmas
Sister Cindy – Brother George – Jenny and me Christmas 1968 in Alameda

We left Alameda early Sunday morning and headed south, taking the same route home to Tustin via Highway 101.  We pulled off at the San Miguel Mission for a short time, and Jenny related how her family would stop there when traveling south.Up until junior high school Jenny went by her birth name, Jennifer.  There was a donkey at the mission named Jenny and a docent explained, a male donkey is a “Jack” and a female donkey is a “Jenny.”  The name Jenny was appealing and became her new name.

Getting back on the road we continued to Buellton.  Watching the billboard advertisements, we decided on Pea Soup Andersen’s for lunch.  The “Home of Split Pea Soup” was proudly claimed by Buellton in the 1960’s.  We ordered the traveler’s special which consisted of endless refills of soup, bread, crackers, milkshake and dessert.  Andersen’s became our travel stop for 50 years.

The coastline appeared at Gaviota State Beach and was continuous through Oxnard.  We loved the coast and could tell where the good surfing spots were by the parked cars (Rincon Point, El Capitan and Summerland).  The afternoon chop on the ocean was a signal to the surfers to give it up for the day, and we found ourselves driving home alongside woodies and VW busses.

We enjoyed being together on the road and looked forward to getting home and being in our own bed.  The apartment was filled with the fragrance of the noble pine, and the TV was still dominated with news of Vietnam . . . more battles won, more body counts, etc.

Two more days together before reporting to Camp Pendleton and we were starting to face the reality of being separated.  There were never thoughts of regret, only anxiety for what lay ahead.

Next Edition:  A Trip to the PX


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