Led Zeppelin. Hello Los Angeles. Goodbye Los Angeles.

The Pacific Coast Highway gets all the pub, and deservedly so. It’s the most beautiful stretch of road in the entire country, arguably the entire world. However, after the rains have soaked the hills, I-5, which runs through Central California to Los Angeles, is also beautiful in its own way, especially in its northern half, replete with cattle and sheep grazing the rolling green hills, and dotted with farm houses, with horse ranches, and brightly colored apricot and peach orchards. It’s truly beautiful.

I drove to Los Angeles for a dear old friend’s wedding, another gathering of friends from high school, a relatively big group congregating in Malibu for a beautiful occasion and a wonderful time. I’m fortunate that some of my closest friends live in Southern California. To 99% of those reading, these are but names. For me however, Derek, Tad & Annie, Lisa, Eve & Stew and their little kids, Sara & Eugenio and their baby boy, Sean & Erin and their little kids, Shelley, Tammy, Thuan and her little girls, Aimee and her little girl, Mike & Kelley and their kids, Jamie & Henry and their baby-to-be, Jorge, and others are all names that mean love. I don’t get to see all of them every time I visit LA, but I always go with the intent that I hope I get to. And so it is, every time I visit Los Angeles, I smile; and every time I leave, I am a little saddened.

So I think of these dear friends driving down the 5, listening to Led Zeppelin the entire journey, made possible courtesy of Spotify, which now has every Zeppelin song a touch away. The music escalated the road trip from ordinary with a beautiful view to truly epic with a stunningly spectacular view. I listened to Zeppelin I (the greatest debut album of all time), Zeppelin II (the greatest sophomore album of all time), Zeppelin III (have you heard a better song than Tangerine especially when the big guitars kick in, or Gallows Pole, one of the best foot stomping songs ever?), Zeppelin IV (while unfortunately overplayed among Zep’s lexicon, but despite that, quite possibly the best album of all time, perfectly produced), Houses of the Holy (when Rain Song kicks in, it literally feels like the sun breaking through storm clouds), and In Through the Out Door (who doesn’t love Hot Dog which beckons you to rock to a square dance?).

About 150 miles away from LA, the rolling hills dominating the majority of the trip gave way to flat terrain for the following 75 miles until the hills reappear nearing Fort Tejon National Park. Depending upon your definition, those “hills” looked a lot like mountains. As the sun started to make its descent, amidst the haze of the late afternoon clouds, wonderfully ornate shadows appeared as I listened to the Misty Mountain Hop, driving “over the hills where the spirits fly”, the highlight being Pyramid Lake.

It was a short but wonderful weekend with wonderful friends, bookended by a wonderful drive, the torrential rain on the drive back north seemed to echo my sentiments to saying goodbye to Los Angeles.

Go Adventure. Go Travel. Go Live.

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