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A Thanksgiving Family Road Trip Cruising Through Carmel, Big Sur, and Big Basin With the Manrique Clan
L ike most things with my family, Thanksgiving is always an adventure. Whether we’re hosting my family in town or trekking to Orangevale to meet my in-laws for the weekend, it’s an exciting time. Every year we alternate going on Christmas or Thanksgiving to my in-laws. This year, it’s our turn to head north for Thanksgiving. The kids, my wife, and I are taking the whole week off so we can make a road trip out of it, stopping in some of the most beautiful spots in California and plopping down our tents for a couple nights along the way. It’s a tradition by now, and we have done it the last few times we’ve had Thanksgiving in Orangevale. We pile into the Expedition and head out early in the week. Whenever we have a trip like this planned, I look forward to it for months. There’s nothing better than cruising up the coast with your family. We crack the windows open to let in the salty tang of the ocean air, and, in the distance, we hear the lull of waves hissing on the beach. First, we’ll pass through Carmel, then move up through Big Sur and keep an eye out for the perfect camping spot among the Big Basin Redwoods.
Redwoods, of course. I think we Californians are spoiled, with many of the most incredible natural sights in the country only a few hours apart. The fun continues when we finally arrive in Orangevale, usually on Wednesday evening. My brother-in-law typically joins us as we help prepare the following morning’s Thanksgiving feast.
The spread for the meal is a little different than the
traditional roast turkey, as my wife’s family is all vegetarian. My wife was actually born and raised to be a vegetarian. The first Thanksgiving I spent with her family, I was dumbfounded at the lack of meat. “Well, we can get you a little game hen,” my wife told me, and I thought, “Well, that isn’t exactly turkey … ” But when I finally began to dig into all of the wonderful food they’d prepared, I came around pretty quick. It’s always delicious because my mother-
Often, our first stop is Morro Bay. We set up our tents in a lightly wooded area not far from the lagoon. Though, I have to say, my favorite place to camp has to be Big Sur, overlooking the sloping mountain faces that stretch along the forest right up to the sea’s boundary. There’s steep competition for camping in the
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in-law is a really good cook. And all the other staples are there: mashed potatoes, cranberries, and my mother-in-law’s insanely tasty pecan pie. I feel blessed to have this time with family, and I’m reminded of that every road trip we take and holiday we celebrate. On Thanksgiving, I’m especially grateful for the abundance in my life, including my healthy and happy family, the wonderful food, my career, and, of course, being able to take in the gorgeous California landscape every day. -Julian Manrique
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