Around the time of the 17th century, villages and towns in Europe were typically based around a central hub. Many times this would be around the town fountain (fed by a local spring). A place where people could go and meet to either catch up on the happenings, buy local goods, have a shindig, or just wash their laundry. In some cases, they’d take part in impromptu musicals about strangely independent and educated girls who people don’t quite understand, far-off enchanted castles, beastly boyfriends and jealous village jocks.

Mom with kids getting gas

Over centuries of advances, we have evolved and personalized these types of necessities. We’ve brought plumbing into the home and now you can order just about everything to your door. Catching up and following friends means something completely different now as well. Getting out is less about meeting people and more about spending time together.

Strange, I know.

Preschooler in car seat

Chelsea likes to visit our own version of a town hub at least once a week. Usually on Tuesday or Wednesday nights, we’re both creeping over the hump and our schedules converge. She’s wrapping up client reports or emails or whatever she does behind the computer and I’m getting done with a photoshoot or shift work. She picks the boys up from school and we meet – usually each taking our separate cars – at the local Shell station.

Getting milk at the fountain center

This is where she loads up on last-minute supplies for the week and where we do our obligatory fuel-up in adjacent spots while our eager kids look on. I never let the vehicles get low on gas (prepper mentality, folks) and we wash them at the car wash here at least every week or two lest the Cheerios take over our floorboards. This quick gathering is a chance to catch up, reset, and take stock so that we can make it to the weekend without a ton of errands on the docket.

Fueling up at the fountain center

Of course, we have the same ‘always stay stocked up’ approach to food. That’s another reason Chelsea loves our local gas station. It has a great little Mexican food place inside it that’s perpetually packed. It also has the best car wash around and a selection of local ‘late night movie drinks’ for Chelsea to enjoy.

Chelsea’s pretty picky about…well…anything she puts in her body, but alcohol in particular. This is where she grabs her favorite picks from Stone Brewing when we have guests in town. She could easily drive down the road and pick it up at the local brewery, but she gets some strange thrill out of seeing our infamous craft beer at the national gas chain just down the street. They also have a BIG buy-one-get-one-for-5-cents wine sale that includes a ton of wineries we’ve actually visited here in the state.

Californians like their alcohol.

Snacking with the preschooler

Back to the more kid-friendly aspects, our hangout coincidentally has a large fountain outside that the boys love to play around when we enjoy a small bit of down time either fueling up the car or our bodies. The boys seem to think orange soda makes them run faster.

Run on, little boy, run on.

Little boy in cool shades

And people often ask where we get the boys’ rad neon sunglasses. Here’s your answer. The gas station!

Baby playing with toy in stroller

I enjoy the clean yet laid-back community atmosphere of our Shell and its close proximity to the adventureway (aka the freeway). I like being able to fuel up, load up and clean up all in one stop. I like knowing that there’s a spot that we can go to get everything back on the right foot. Our own little adventure center…even when we’re just looking for some adventurous conversation together.

Small things are big things with family

Where does your family gather for some catch-up and stock-up time?


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