Don and I met in college at the University of Rochester in Rochester, NY. We were fortunate enough to have an AMAZING college experience, full of academic rigor, incredible memories, and excellent friends.
One of our friends from college, Doug Laity has been sharing some great suggestions for hikes and travel routes around the west over the last year, as he is an experienced hiker and world-traveler. He is a kindred spirit in our love for nature and the outdoors, and so we have trusted his recommendations.
As we were finally headed to his “neck of the woods,” we were looking forward to seeing him. But we didn’t expect him to go so far out of his way to see us. Doug took the initiative to volunteer to lead us on a day hike during one of his days off from work in the hospital. He offered to drive up from LA to meet us pretty much anywhere in California!! We took him up on his offer, and so we met early in the morning in Santa Barbara and drove to Big Sur together for one of our most memorable days of hiking yet.
I knew it would be hard to capture this day in words. It was truly magical. It started with probably the most healthy pancakes I’d ever eaten. Rachel and James Winslow, of course treated us all to whole wheat plus pancakes and bacon and made-to-order lattes, not to mention, great conversation about global issues. After loading up our car and a photo shoot outside, the Winslows sent us on our way up Hwy 1.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous!! We had to pull over a couple times to see the elephant seals and snap a great shot or grab a bite, but the entire drive was just relaxed and scenic. Don drove with Doug most of the way, and we managed to hit Limekiln State Park, McWay Falls, and Andrew Molera State Park all in one day. Each stop was memorable and enjoyable together. Fun conversation and total resonance in terms of appreciating the hikes. Truly, one of the top 5 hiking days of this entire year!
Here is an email exchange between Don and Doug, that captures the essence of this magical day:
I had to pinch myself to think you were hanging out with my kids climbing all over the place. Thank you so much for trekking it up to see us. I loved it, and my family totally connected and enjoyed you very much.
Keeping it real, loving all nature offers and taking in the moments was such a great time. It’s what I have known you for and told my kids about you from my memories long ago.
As we get older, it’s sweet to be able to enjoy the friends that helped make us who we are. I’m glad we could pick up a bit from so many years ago.
I’m also glad for great conversation and enjoying the drive with you up the PCH. It is cool to hear that you found happiness in your work. Not everyone gets that and I can tell it fulfills you. Nothing like happiness for friends. We are very happy for you.
I wish you could spend a month teaching our kids about geology, plate tectonics and all the wonders you have absorbed out in this wondrous creation. Thanks for speaking into their life to “Always be curious.” Well said. They will remember that and it is refreshing to hear it reinforced from someone that is not their parent. They know it’s real 🙂
Doug, wherever we are, always know you are a welcome friend. If I can do anything for you anytime, just ping me. Life’s too short not to go through good and hard times together. Take care and keep the joy going!
Don and the Dalrymples!
You have absolutely no idea how happy your email made me. Without reservation, I deeply value those things you touched upon — and thus your kind words are particularly meaningful to me. Thank you.
Understanding life and our role in it can be endlessly complicated — there is plenty I do not get about life — there is plenty you would be better off asking a Ph.D. philosopher like Manuel Cruz about. But what I DO understand is the importance of physically engrossing ourselves in nature and in community, with love and acceptance and humility and unbridled curiosity.
And without question, I fundamentally and deeply connect with you and your entire family’s approach to life.
Driving back from Big Sur, I called up several close friends to rave about your family. I raved about how enjoyable it was to spend a day exploring with the Dalrymples. I raved about how you and Sonya are pretty much among the best parents I have seen firsthand. I raved about Gabe, Isaac, and Jadyn — all three of whom have unique, inquisitive, powerful, enjoyable, and positive dispositions.
A day with your family makes me exceedingly excited about the prospect of being able to have a family of my own. I am extremely happy about my life thus far. What would truly complete my life and make me a happy man going forward would be to raise children with the skill of you and Sonya.
I do hope I can hang out with you, Sonya, Gabe, Isaac, and Jadyn sooner rather than later. Until I do, I will look forward to it with eager anticipation. And I will recall our day in Big Sur ever so fondly!
Please give my best to all the Dalrymples,
Thanks, Doug for being so generous with your time, knowledge, and love of nature! We are forever grateful!!!
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Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, it’s gets better!!! This is such an endearing and “magical” story. Thank you for sharing, Sonya. I’m gushing with love. Wow, I’m pretty speechless. Haha! Y’all are just so beautiful and it exudes in this story and in the photos!!!! I want to be there. 🙂 Keep spreading your love & light! Mwah! ❤
My-Cherie, you would love Big Sur! The cool thing about those magical days is that we get to keep reliving them in our memories and can share them with others. Special friends make life pretty sweet for sure! Miss you!