Friday, June 29, 2018

Long Miles

June 5, early in the evening we pull up to Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco.

There comes a point in almost any trip I organize, when I would like a chance to do it over. Some parts of a trip sort of inevitably disappoint, because it's through a dull spot, or includes lots of transitions and layovers. But I flatter myself a good travel agent, with the skills and experience and nature to know how to prepare, be flexible, and see the bright side. But. Yeah... this last part, our drive into San Francisco, and the frankly crud Airbnb stay, then the long haul home, was brutal, with some levity, grace, and beauty sprinkled in. I know, somewhere in Orange County, I swore Never Again! And I meant it, but a couple of months have passed, and I would like the chance to do it over. Maybe.

1. More Time in In the Woods.
I love Oregon, and Northern California, those redwoods, fern canyons, rivers, the relaxed drivers, and wildflowers. One night camping is never enough, and hardly worth the hassle of getting setup and settled in... which was exacerbated by how minimally we were prepared. Need: Sleep pads, matches, more pillows.

At least it was safe, and clean.

2. Always Read The Fine Print.
That Airbnb, in SF, was kind of awful, and it was my fault, at least in part. I never noticed that the check-in was 7pm, and despite my asking if we could please at least drop off luggage, the host was firm: No. Very firm, and very lecture-y, and very alarmist about city crime, car thefts, and break-ins, robberies, and tigers and bears, oh-my! Send me a nickel and I will share the rest, including how the host demonstrated the proper way to sleep between sheets, explained the difference between shampoo and conditioners, counted towels, and described in degrees how to turn a door knob. There is no hyperbole or even a smidge of exaggeration in what I've shared, and it's only a fraction of what we endured, before we checked-out escaped at 5 a.m.

3. San Francisco Deserves Its Own Visit.
I'll never have a one night stand with that city, again. It's great there, and I love it, but thinking we could drive in, from camping, walk and sightsee, before driving home the next morning, was naive, and I regret it. We love the Musée Mécanique, and I am so glad we finally got a chance to visit, but the whirlwind exhaustion of transitioning into city traffic, the aforementioned alarmist text messages from our "host," and simply running out of time, were brutal. We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at our campsite, for breakfast and the whole drive south I imagined we would finish our day with a delicious SF dinner... nope. The Airbnb check-in was late and narrow and by the time he finished his required introduction we were 30 minutes from "quiet time," and too defeated to dare leave the room in search of a bite to eat.

4. Maybe Take The Train.
Like San Francisco, Los Angeles is not to be trifled with. It's wild there, but worthwhile if you give it space, and time. I would have liked to come home from our visit to Oregon, with the easy and relaxed feel of Oregon still in my psyche, and nervous system. Unfortunately, drivers in California have become kind of awful. It's one thing to drive very fast, but enough with the tail-gating, and roaring past... a lane change does not have to be a hostile take-over. Chill the f*ck out. From Willits, all the way home, I would have known we were driving in California, even if I were a blind-folded passenger... the tension and urgency is tangible. Of course, I am back in the groove, again, and know how to manage the interstates and highways of my favorite state, but I sure do miss Portland drivers, and Oregon traffic. My impulse and inclination is to somehow ditch the car, when returning to the Southland, just chill the f*ck out, and ride in on a train.

It wasn't all bad, not at all. Those peanut butter breakfast sandwiches in the redwoods were the last thing we ate before we finally had another meal, the next day, in San Luis Obispo, at about 11:30. We felt like the Madonna Inn was more glorious and fun than ever before in our famished states! And! Maria was finally able to try on boots. You see, at the Gaslight Gathering, back in April Maria won boots from Oak Tree Farms. At a shop in Malibu, Maria was able to take the different styles for a test stroll before picking her pair, and size. They sent her those gorgeous purple ones, a bit sized up, so hopefully she can wear them for many years to come.

Oh, that was a lot of miles. From home to Oregon, and back again. For a bit, I thought I could never do it again, but now, I see I could try once more, and do it better.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Way Back Home

Leaving Oregon... June 4, 2018

It's no small feat getting to my Mom and Dad's place. It's a bit off the beaten path, a long way north of Southern California, up in Oregon, tucked away in the woods, a stone's throw from a harbor and lighthouse. As hard as it might be getting there, it is even harder to leave. I have to brace myself... be steady for the sad parting, for thinking of how much I will miss the time together, and the emotional wrench of wishing we were not so far apart. It would be so ideal if it were only a few hours distance, instead of twenty, if we could see each other monthly, or whenever the mood struck, these are always my crestfallen, heart heavy thoughts as I back out of their driveway and leave for home.

The drive home is a strange mix of wonderful and kind of awful. There's some torture involved, at first sweet, then painfully dull and draining. It's because the highway begins scenically, through coastal towns, and in good weather, with stunning views from forested bluffs of the beautiful Pacific, but the closer we get to home the more natural beauty disappears. At first, around every turn in the road is a new attraction, vista point, inviting trail, and natural wonder. It's a twenty hour drive, but I would love to make it in twenty days, so I could visit every riverbank, float on the South Fork of the Eel River, camp more nights, explore more trails, meet more trees. Here are some moments from southern Oregon, on the coast, through the Humboldt Redwoods and the Redwood Creek and the South Fork of the Eel River, and The Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove. Our first two days were full of stunning beauty.