Take California

Karin Kallmaker Cheers & Chocolate, Frosting on the Cake Volume 2


Today was the first day of my son’s away camp. It’s his favorite annual trip, dating back to Outdoor School in the sixth grade. Now just out of ninth, he continues the trek to a peaceful spot in the hills above Santa Cruz, which is contingent upon a mom to drive him there.

As we zipped along the windy road we agreed that the trip there he would select the music on the MP3. It was a spectacular summer day, and every mile closer to the sea the sky was bluer and clearer. The windows down and the car filled with the scent of pine, cedar, eucalyptus and redwood, we were both singing along to one of his favorites, Soft Cell’s Tainted Love (extended version with Where Did Our Love Go?, natch). He has learned well the ways of good classic music, the padawan.

However, he didn’t know those were beeps from BART trains. In spite of my efforts, there are still holes in his education.

After too many miles wishing that people in bulky vehicles understood the purpose of turn outs, we got to camp. I pulled in behind a car with the bumper sticker “I’m so gay I don’t even drive straight.” He pointed it out with a laugh.


I signed him in–it’s 70’s week. The Dude was wearing a black silk shirt unbuttoned to show a mass of gold chains in keeping with the (painted on) mullet and big glasses. Assistant Dude sported gigantic hoop earrings and a halter top. As I left the music changed to Wild Cherry’s “Play that Funky Music White Boy.” They will go on a 4-day hike to the ocean and back, among other things, and get completely dirty, tell stories by campfire, hang at the Beach Boardwalk and be kids. He doesn’t have a lot of years left for that.

Quickly discerning that my son was ready for me to leave, I undertook the reverse drive, the twists and turns all on the downhill going that direction. A side benefit of the trip was passing grapes in full leaf, planted along the curves of hillsides. I’m just finishing the story for Frosting on the Cake 2 inspired by Just Like That, and an important, um, exchange takes place in a vineyard. Passing through a couple of small towns, it also reminded me of Woodside, about 30 miles to the north, which is the major setting of my next novel, Roller Coaster.

All in all, it was an atypical day for me, and I was glad to take a time out from the usual with a lovely drive. Overall, though, it was a typical day for life here. Finally in control of the MP3 player, I let the Propellerheads’ “Take California” set the pace.

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