Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Whole Lotta Miles

We drove and we drove and we drove. And we sang weird songs and we made elaborate plans for our flying submersible family vehicle, with solar panels. The first day of our return trip from Oregon was hard for two reasons. I didn't want to leave my Mom and Ron, the relaxed quiet of northwest living, the forest and the small towns, the quaint harbor, the cold mornings and all those ripening berries. I didn't want to leave the sight of farm houses, grazing cows, goats in meadows, old barns, and trees beginning to hint of autumn.

We joked that we could just settle-in and wait for Geoff to come find us. Thinking of Geoff was one of very few attractions for returning to Garage Mahal, so we did eventually get sleeping bags, frozen blackberries, clean clothes, toys and tent packed in to our Odyssey and we pulled out of the long driveway reluctantly waving good-bye to grandparents, and sand dunes, to banana slugs, cranberry-walnut farmer's market bread...

The second thing that makes it hard to leave is that there are hundreds of inviting, compelling, intriguing, historic and beautiful sights, so that for about 700 miles I had to resist pulling over and seeing the views. I had to refrain from taking one more picture. I could not browse in another state park visitor center, or take the Lost Coast drive and look for agates and sea glass. I did not walk in old town Eureka, or return to the French pastry shop in Ferndale. I steered clear of wide beaches with tide pools, like Big Lagoon, and I skipped the Avenue of Giants, this time.

My disciplined driving got us to the north side of the San Francisco Bay, where we happily collapsed in our hotel room. Our second day was practically an exact opposite... I strayed and tarried and took circuitous routes, almost as compulsively as I had resisted them the day before. I gave the children a driving tour of San Francisco, which is not an easy undertaking, when one has driven in that hilly, crowded, twisty, bustling urban circus only once before. We drove Lombard Street... that's the extra steep and twisty one the city is famous for. We sat at the top of Telegraph Hill and we rolled passed our all time favorite restaurant, House of Nanking. We drove through and around the Presidio and the Marina and Golden Gate Park. Since the kids are still sick and since parking in the city is a nightmare, we never actually stopped anywhere, but the drive was enjoyed by all. The boys were in awe of the steep hills and the foggy bay, the tightly packed houses, cable cars, the Golden Gate and Coit Tower. We left the city satisfied and still interested in returning for a more complete tour.

Ahh, next time. Return trips. Future plans. You know you've had a good time when even with four tired, congested children, 25 pounds of defrosting blackberries in the trunk and another 390 244 113 10 miles to drive you still find yourself thinking about Next Time. Next time we'll stay in San Francisco and next time we'll camp in Humboldt State Park. Next time we'll take more pictures, and take fewer clothes. And next time I will know that even though Oregon is far, far away, it's a totally worthwhile trip.


  1. Welcome home, Natalie & kids! Good to have you back. But soooo glad you had a grand time...and all those berries ;o) Wonderful you had time away with family, beautiful place, communing with nature and the miles of road. Next Time...It's always a boost to the spirit to think of all the Next Times, they give us hope. Enjoy settling in at home again and the comforts it brings! ((HUGS))

  2. Sounds like a nice holiday!
    Here it's back to the ironing board and the computer after a beach holiday...

  3. It's great that you guys had such a good time! I wish you guys great "next times." :)

  4. Are we having blackberry cobbler on Monday? See recipe on pioneerwomancooks. Maybe we can fit in a short visit before you go to WI.

  5. Natalie, you are a natural born story teller. I love all the details that make your return trip sound so intriguing - the places visited as well as the ones you had to miss.

  6. Ah it sounds like you had a great trip in spite of a little illness. Glad that everyone had a good time! And welcome back home. :-)

  7. I am so glad you are back! I have missed you and missed you! I loved your story and am going back to check out more of the links you provided! I am glad you all had fun and made some wonderful memories!
    I am going up soon to visit my Mom & Dad in Augusta Ga and then on up to Clarksville Tn to visit my Step daughter while she has the next new baby. I am taking the laptop with me though! I will be gone too long to be out of touch, well, I think that now, I will get there and have too much to do and not miss it, but I will have it anyway, just in case. Like a security blanket! I missed you! I am glad you're home! Rock on Chicken Blog!


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