They spent midday in Monterey, where they first stopped at the aquarium. Though Kepa had often gone to the beach to relax, and had even gone spearfishing in the ocean when he was younger, he had never really appreciated the multitude of colors that ocean life displayed. The tall glass panels revealed an almost dervish dance of fish that mesmerized Kepa.
Maite laughed as she pulled Kepa away. “You’d think you’d never seen a fish, country boy,” she said.
Kepa shrugged sheepishly. “Not so many at one time. They are fascinating.”
“If I’d known you’d react like this, I’d have taken you to more aquariums.”
They left the aquarium and found a small spot on the water for lunch. Maite ordered fish and chips while Kepa ordered a burger.
“What? A burger? Here? With all of this great seafood?” exclaimed Maite in exasperation.
Kepa smiled. “I’m just a country boy, after all. And American burgers are simply awesome.”
Maite shook her head. “Sometimes, I really can’t understand you.”
“Well,” replied Kepa with a smirk, “at least I keep you guessing.”
Maite laughed. “That you do.”
After lunch, they got back into their rental car, this time with Kepa behind the wheel, and continued south toward San Luis Obispo.
“Look at that,” said Maite, pointing at a sign as they turned onto Highway 101. “‘Historic Route, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail’.”
Kepa shrugged as he accelerated the car down the road. “Who was he?”
“I don’t know,” replied Maite. “But, isn’t Anza a Basque name?”
“Is it? It’s not one I know.”
“I think so…” began Maite as she tapped on her phone. “Bai! This guy was an explorer back in the seventeen hundreds. His dad was from Gipuzkoa, from Hernani to be exact.”
“Ah, a Giputxi, that’s why I didn’t know it. That’s pretty cool. Seems like there were a lot of Basques around here even before the sheepherders.”
The road took them inland, past large swaths of farmland and rolling hills covered in brown grass.
“I always expected California to be more… lush,” said Kepa. “It’s all farmland.”
“And what isn’t being farmed seems pretty dry,” added Maite. “I guess we only ever see pictures of the coast and the big cities.”
It wasn’t much longer before they saw a sign telling them that San Luis Obispo was only thirty miles away.
“Not much longer,” said Kepa. “I’m ready to stretch my legs. I don’t know how these Americans drive for so long.”
Maite laughed. “You’re just not used to going anywhere. How often do you even leave that baserri?”
“I leave it enough!” replied Kepa defiantly. “I’ve been to Paris and even London.”
“Fair enough, but you took a train to get there, didn’t you?”
“Hey, what’s that?” asked Maite as she pointed out the window.
A bright point of light hovered above a sign that pointed toward Bakersfield.