Monday, July 26, 2021

In The Woods

Mom and Dad love the woods, and the flowers and bees, and spiders and slugs and deer, and just everything that sings and grows and lives in the woods. So, where some homes might have a lawn, or poured concrete, or patio furniture, they have a meadow, wildflowers, bumblebees, blackberry brambles, and tall trees. Their home feels like a cozy nest in a pocket space between trees. Sometimes my Mom is a bit apologetic about the bits that haven't been mowed, or how Dad doesn't want anyone knocking down that spiderweb. I went outside to take it all in, and I saw beauty, which I tried to capture in this Instagram Reel. We almost always arrive too soon to pick blackberries, but we were in time to see the happy bees and bumbles gathering nectar.
On some visits we have gone into town, or visited area nature trails, and even an aquarium, botanical gardens. This time I only had one agenda... to be together, to talk, or listen, to putter around, to share things that don't translate as well on the phone, or in texts. It's "normal" stuff that I really miss, like heating tortillas, folding some laundry, lingering over lunch, just so we are together. When we did go out to lunch, I enjoyed the luxury of observing, of relaxing. We didn't bother with rushing around, trying to be busy. Maria recited some of her poetry, some I hadn't heard, yet. My Mom wanted us to see her beads, to help ourselves to some of her inventory. My favorite part of this was seeing the beads she wasn't ready to part with. She can't work, not like she used to, but I love seeing that she still has the yearning, the spark. I also loved seeing the displays of affection between Mom and Dad. I thought about how glad I was they have each other, and all that meant during the long months of lockdown, isolation, uncertainty. This was what I came all this way to see, for myself, that everything is ok, that familiar things, and dear sentiments are still there, still tanglible, accessible.
I stopped at the State Beach, drove through to where the Coquille River meets the Pacific. We let the wind chase us around, up and down some dune paths, out to the lighthouse. We admired the shelters and lean-tos on the beach, the piles of driftwood, like lumberyard building supplies. I think if we were more warmly dressed, we would have built a cabin of our own. I'm sorry we didn't go back and do just that, but I am happy to think of making a new list, and new plans, for next time. I made another Reel, adding Aurora's beautiful song, a favorite of Maria's, Runaway. It began to rain a little. I didn't want to leave.
And when it was 9 o'clock, the night was just beginning to overtake the sky. Birds called one another.
I felt fortunate to capture just a bit of their songs, without wind and microphone clashes. When night took over, it was very dark, and still in the woods.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Here's The Plan

Besides all the plans I wrote down, we had a new plan that my Mom came up with when she realized she couldn't see us soon enough! When we woke up in Eureka, and were about to hit the road again, I'd give her a call, so she and Ron could make their way south. We would meet about half way. We had cereal in the hotel, packed our stuff up, bid a fond farewell to the fun and restful hotel, called Delia, then went into town for a quick browse.
We didn't expect to find any open places at this hour, but we were happy we could get some hot drinks, and a couple of bagels. There's a happy comfort in walking into familiar places, like Los Bagels. It had that welcoming glow, outside and in, that is inviting on a cold, early morning in a quiet town.
Exchanging glances with Maria, her ready for her breakfast, and me behind my phone/camera. I promise... I let her eat in peace, and was only having a bit of fun. I gave Delia an update. We walked a little more, filled the gas-tank, then pointed ourselves northward, again.
Another plan: See more of Eureka on our way home, hopefully, when some of these shops would be open.
On the map: Elk Meadow Day Use Area. It's a favorite, familiar stop. This time we got really lucky. It was quiet in the entry area, so we drove further into the preserve, and found no crowds, only elk. Many elk, including a fawn or two. We got out, walked a ways, came back around and just watched, admired, those beautiful animals. It was misty, cool. We still had a long and winding drive ahead of us, but these were calm, soothing moments.
I am absolutely open to seeing new places, trying new things. Also... I absolutely love seeing the same familiar places. Especially in the middle of a long drive, it really helps to see a landmark, to remind myself I am making progress, to be fairly certain of clean bathrooms. Another place to stretch our legs, check our Plan, and recall times we've stopped here before and had a laugh. From here, we continued northward, gingerly navigating the massive rockslide section just south of Crescent City, and at last to the spot where Ron and Delia arrived and we hugged and hugged, again. I took my Mom into our van, so we could commence right away with catching up, as we drove the last two hours of the long drive into Oregon.
All this time, Maria had been signing into her online class every night. She had a deadline for a health class, and depending on wifi etc, she got as much done as she could. She's diligent and patient, but the timing was a stinker, and the class was boring, to be frank, which is often worse than "challenging" or "compelling." Our first night at Mom and Ron's she had to excuse herself and work at the class. The sun sets so late, and I was so happy talking and sharing with Mom, getting all caught up, that it was nearly midnight when I went to crawl into bed. And there was poor Maria asleep on the floor. She'd got a lot done, before falling asleep. That darn class was an unwelcome ride-along for the entire vacation, unfortunately.
One way or another, all the plans worked out. We made it to Oregon, to the little house in the woods, where Delia and Ron live.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

On The Road Again

So. We made it to Monterey, and continued seeing deer, right up to arriving at our hotel, which always feels magical. A word (several, in fact) about hotels, and stays... I am so glad I could book places in advance, and be sure of having a place to stay. Sometimes I have just winged it, and been ok. But it felt like the whole world was traveling, and every place we stopped there were people in the lobbies hoping for a room, and when a room was available they were quoted prices much much higher than what we paid. Yikes! I was eager to get through San Francisco. Just navigate the maze of that city, get over the Bridge, and start escaping the last of the urban centers, until Portland. I used to have a huge crush on SF, and now it's more like a fond rememberance. It's crazy there, and without definite plans, a dedicated, secure parking space, and lots of time, I can't deal. We were in stop and go traffic, which is actually easier to manage than whizzing through at break-neck speed. So we just admired the houses, like fancy cupcakes all crammed together, and made it to the Golden Gate. We almost lived there, when Geoff was offered a position at ILM, and as exciting as that prospect was, I think we made the right choice... things I think about when we drive through Golden Gate Park, and passed the Presidio.

There must be things I am not thinking of. Things we saw or did, observed, laughed about, between San Francisco and Willits. Aha! Yes. As we zoomed through MarinTiburonSasaulitoCorteMadera, William saw Amy's Drive-Thru and we made an actual note about stopping there on the way home. FYI, a very good decision. (Amy's Drive-Thru is not a sponsor, but if they want to work with me, I will gladly sing their praises.)

Where were we?

Ok, here is another instance of me just being full of information that I can't help sharing. Back in 2018, when I rented a van from Portland, and came south with William, Alex, Max, and Maria, I was anticipating driving through Willits. Only it never came. No charming motels, old storefronts, no sign across the two lane highway, Gateway to The Redwoods. It was a big letdown. Later I figured out that they got bypassed, when road improvements were made to the 101. So, if you want to see Willits, and the Gateway to The Redwoods sign, then you have to exit the 101, slow down, and drive through the town. I think it's worthwhile, and it's only a brief deviation from the fast route. And because I was not going to miss it this time, I was rewarded with an unexpected treat, that actually became a trip highlight! I saw a fruit-stand right at the outskirts of town. We love fruit stands, and local produce, farmers. I pulled over, expecting to buy a bag of cherries, but! They had jicama, mangoes, pepinos, limón, Tajín! It was 98 degrees F in the shade, and almost like being in the middle of nowhere, and here was the most nostalgic temptation that I could never have imagined! He sliced everything up and squeezed fresh lime juice over each layer, and I have never had a more refreshing, delicious road-trip snack in my life! We loved our fruit cup! Are you going south or north on the 101, along the Redwood Highway? Stop at the south, or the north end of Willits, and you will see one of two humble fruit stands... ask for a mango cup, with jicama, and cucumber, get lime juice and some Tajín. It's so yummy.

The End.

Just kidding. But I do like to pause, and appreciate points in the trip, when I can honestly, say "It was worth it, just for this _____."
The Benbow Inn. We discovered this place the first time we drove to Oregon. It was November 2005, and we'd camped the night before. This place was serving breakfast, and everything was so pretty, warm, and inviting. It was a welcome stop on a long drive, with four young children. I remember Alex and Max playing chess, the fireplace, and William recalling details of the Benbow Inn from Treasure Island. The deep patio on the back overlooks the Eel River, and it comes just after you pass Richardson Grove State Park, and just as the whole drive is really feeling like a getaway. We got cold drinks, this time, and stretched our legs.
Nothing can come close to describing how I love these woods. I won't even try. I can say this much, it makes me cry, makes me vibrate, thinking of them, and I did not want to leave. All the rest of the trip we would revisit a conversation that began here, about coming back, with some friends, and staying for a few days, at least. We planned every bit. I did try to make reservations, for this trip, to camp here, which would have been a colossal pain. Every site was booked. The pain would have been totally worth it.
Another hotel. Another win! We made it to Eureka. And we left 100 degree weather for deep fog, and temperatures in the 50s! For all of my love of the woods, and the river, and the majesty of nature... I cannot deny that what awaited us at the next hotel was sheer delight. I had no idea we were in for such a low-key yet totally amusing and relaxing experience at this stop. We came prepared for the possibility that maybe we might swim, and I am so glad we dared ourselves to just go check it out. There were tiki torches brightening the sunset sky, Hawaiian slack key was playing, and families were unwinding at the pool, hot tub, and many tables. There was ping pong, and enough space for everyone to spread out and feel at ease. We didn't even mind the bracing walk back to our room, after the long swim. We ate apples, cheese, and crackers from home, for dinner, and slept soundly.