I apologize for the lack of posting. Life has overtaken writing recently, and I can't decide how happy or sad I am about that. I only know that it is happening, and it's the current state of my life.
So here I am, again on an airplane, this time headed to Boston, MA. And I sit right here, recalling the moment (on our second day of our great little road trip) when we left Crater Lake National Park for the northern border of California. Crater Lake is one of the "8 American Wonders” and the deepest American lake, caused by a unique volcanic eruption years ago. The beautiful blue waters were perfectly complemented by the land features and distinct islands found scattered across the lake. There was plenty of snow on the ground, and falling, which made me wonder how the weather conditions are in the winter.. But nonetheless absolutely stunning. I’m stoked that we got to visit Crater Lake, especially because Chloe canvased neighborhoods on behalf of Environment Oregon to help preserve the lake and its region that is being slowly deteriorated by the logging industry in the Northwest US. It was eye-opening to see the effects firsthand yet was also a phenomenal start to our five-day trek down the coast.
At that stop, we simply got a snack and a coffee at the truck stop. Took our pisses and stretched out our thighs. But the night before we’d had a much different experience stopping for food. When we decided to alter our plans to stop at a hotel, there was a this tiny, woodsy, slightly sketchy-looking hotel with a restaurant across the street. There were signs that said “hotel check-in across the street,” so we hesitantly made our way there. Once at the restaurant, we realize that they don’t always get so much business. It was slow. They were closing soon. And the guy that checked us in to the hotel was also our server and bartender, in addition to his apparent role of single parent. Good people trying to make a living in southern Oregon. Deep in the Cascades, living on tourist dollars, and we were happy to pay a pretty modest amount for a room for the night. The cherry on top was the rustic pool table that we found at their bar, along with way too much Marilyn Monroe memorabilia that looked like it had been there since the 1960s. The following morning, a standard American breakfast was served for $6/plate, and we hit the road, content as could be.
Fast forwarding to our epic in CA, we’re driving through windy mountain roads in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. It’s past 4 pm, so the sun is delicately filtered through the limbs of leaves of the trees in the forest. Light trickles in to our windshield and the road ahead, and the trip through those mountains was truly mystical. Thoroughly enjoying our time together and some damn good jams, we keep driving until a solid rain starts up again. Caused by the unfriendly precipitation, we decide to stop at a charming campground just past a huge mural of Sasquatch. The grounds are perfect. About 12-14 sites, each with a good bit of privacy. We drink a six-pack of local brew and indulge in Oregon-purchased cannabis as we dive into a deep yet playful conversations about life as the stars begin to take over as our main source of light. However, most of the night was damp with rain, a pitter patter of rain drop on the tent fly being a plus for us.
Arcata is where I saw my first Redwood trees, and I was stoked on that experience as well. It’s really not so much the size of the trees (although that is quite impressive) as it is the texture and character of them that caught my fancy. Redwoods have a mystic nature and appeal to them that is unique to any other tree I’ve seen or touched. Forests full of them immediately made me feel like I was in a movie, and when you’re walking through the woods you’ll periodically hear the a heavy creak of one of the trees, as if it were trying to communicate. The voice is felt, and the Redwoods are very alive. In preparation for hitting the highway yet again, I wanted to get my legs moving, so we stopped briefly at the Arcata Skatepark, The park was essentially a crusty old concrete park consisting of snake runs and windy bowls without coping. But that was perfect for a roadside carve! And then it was off to Eureka...
Meanwhile, on the road south to wine country… Our goal was to find a nice campground in or around Napa Valley, the heart of the famed wine country that made our bucket list. We drove in the direction of Napa, almost to Santa Rosa, admiring each and every vineyard along the way. Which is a lot. The green expanse of wine production is pretty unbelievable at first, but I can both understand and am jealous of those that grew up within that. It’s such a great lifestyle to live: sustainable living, growing food, celebrating spirits, and leading a quietly rewarding life. It was a nice place to spend time as a couple, and the plan was to find a place to pitch a tent, but all the campgrounds were booked out. We probably should have known that, after doing some research, but hey. We got jipped. So we decided to drive to the coast in search of campgrounds more available. Although there was rain the whole way, we had a merry old time driving through the night storm to Bodega Bay.
Waking up at beautiful Bodega Bay was a real treat. We were in a campground without a view of the ocean, but as soon as we packed up camp and walked off a slight hangover, we made our way to the 1. Highway 1. And in this region, its stunning views of the Pacific from abrupt cliffs. Lots of wild gulls and other bird species were around to grace us in our time soaking in the view. Bodega and the entire surrounding area is a beautiful one but also a beautiful community. The whole region kind of reminded me of the scenery from the movie, Moonrise Kingdom (if it took place on the Pacific Ocean).
Every moment in San Francisco was soaked in like a happy, sunny sponge. And although we were only there for 2 or 3 hours, we made a true experience out of it. Now, onward to Big Sur!
As we should have known, camping in that area was completely booked, and no breaks were given. We couldn’t find any campground with an opening within 50 miles, so we made the decision to risk ticketing and pitched a tent, cliffside. Chloe spotted a cozy little natural nook between a grove of trees and a wooded drop-off leading down to the expanse of ocean. Although our view of the ocean was challenged by the trees of the cliffside, we were still able to wake up to a partial view of the ocean. At night, we settled in to our tent porch with a bottle of wine and six pack of local beer. Deep conversation is made much easier with conscious lubricant of a bit of alcohol and view of the almost-full moon. many good times were had on the trip, before, during and after that night just south of Big Sur, and I’m infinitely grateful for all of it.
When we woke up to no police officer, we were stoked to say the least. We decided to keep driving south, as we needed to be “home” by the end of the day. So we hit the road, stopping occasionally at “vista pt”s along the road as we cruised along it. Each one more beautiful in its own way. when hunger hit, as it inevitably does, we stopped in a sleepy little town called Cambria for a deli sandwich and chips. Taking our time and taking in sun, we got back in the car. When we were cruising south with the windows down, Chloe’s driving, I spotted a beach full of seals to the our right. FULL of seals. So many that I couldn’t believe my eyes and sort of thought they were rocks or sand bags on the shore. Many of them weren’t moving.
We promptly pulled over to admire the masses of elephant seals that were molting on the warm beach. A knowledgeable volunteer filled us in on the situation with Elephant Seals and how they visit this area of the coast to molt away their “baby” skin and hit puberty in a safe place among themselves. These particular seals can hold their breath for up to 2 hours and dive as deeply as 2 miles to kill and gather food in the far out Pacific. It was so interesting to learn of this unique species, watch them fight, play and sleep, and simply admire tribal and instinctual behavior in nature at work. And, they had funny faces. So there was that.
I had totally forgotten that there was a heat wave forecasted almost perfectly to meet our arrival in Highland Park. And unfortunately for us, there was no working air conditioning in the SUV we inhabited. Windows down in slow traffic was what consumed our souls for the last hour of our long journey. The highways turned into lonely dirt paths, the street signs into somber signals, and the gas station marquees into mere mirages. Just kidding. We eventually did make it home, then immediately unloaded the UHaul, making for a sweaty evening, but it all worked out, and we had finally arrived home.
The typical sweaty hot move-in day mixed with the relief of homecoming nicely. We hung out with the other two roommates, catching up and hydrating appropriately. But with big smiles on our faces. For we knew that this was one of many more big adventures and just one of many many more kitchen conversations in this new home. Southern California is the current status. It might not be home forever, but then again nowhere really is. On this epic.
Excited to report more stories of times ahead... Berkeley this weekend.
- 7Ply Epic