Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Fortuna to Corte Madera

If this is July 18, then we are driving from Fortuna, California, along the Redwood Highway, detouring through the Avenue of The Giants, where I have special plans for a two dollar innertube I picked up in Eureka, and ending up at our hotel in Corte Madera, with dinner plans for Amy's Drive-Thru. I had it all written down in the plans, except for the innertube. The innertube was a spontaneous stroke of inspiration.
The Redwoods. My favorite. The End.
Should I elaborate? Maybe not. I have said an awful lot, recently, and a while back, sometimes with a farm, and really special when we are camping. I know I even write about the redwoods when I am nowhere near a forest, but looking to feel calm, making plans, making wishes. Why wouldn't I love the redwoods? When we are there, we are vacationing. When I am hiking, or camping, or just pulling to the side of the road to look up, and take a breath, I don't have daily chores on my mind, I am not dealing with "real life," so everything can seem particularly charmed, simple. And I do get crushes. I do have a tendancy to romanticize and feel endeared to places. I haven't tired of New England memories, and I still look at Wisconsin homes, Linden Hills homes in Minneapolis. My heart is swept up when I catch some slack key guitar notes. I would love to walk bare footed on old wood floors, slice mangos on the lanai, while listening to myna birds converse with Hamakua coqui. But, the Redwoods. The Eel River. Coastal Redwoods, Humboldt fog. Ferns, clover, moss, and elk. A canopy that hangs mere inches beneath stars. In the Redwoods, I am utterly enchanted, healed.
We found one particular spot, along the river, that I cannot stop thinking about, which I am glad for, because I went back wanting to fill up, to immerse myself, literally and figuratively, so that I could think of it, always, and hopefully feel like I could travel back, in my heart. I sat on the hot sand, inflating the aqua-green striped inner tube. It was the very last one on the shelf at Target, Eureka. It took a long spell of inhaling, then exhaling into the tiny valve, and I quashed every thought of giving up, that I was wasting time. And, finally, I succeeded, and had a good size, well inflated swim ring. At first I tried sitting in it, wearing shorts and a Tshirt. I managed to sit on the ring, for a triumphant moment, before tipping over and down into the river. I came up laughing in splashes, and already resolved on a new strategy. The water felt good. It was clear, like a window looking into a fish's world. I lay face down on top of the ring, and floated. I paddled with feet. I paddled with my arms. I watched a mother merganser lead her chicks southward. Their red heads barely visible as they sat low in the water, quietly floating by. I did not ever want to leave. Not ever. I asked William to take my picture, after I wrestled out of wet clothes, and... well, I am wrestling with my critical voice about how I look, and what I am sharing, but I need to quash those messages, too. Here is a picture of one of my happiest moments, of feeling thankful to be here, to have imagined getting in the river, and actually getting in the river, a picture of feeling a bit brave, and every bit lucky. I felt clean, washed. I felt accomplished, even strong.
It was 101 degrees Fahrenheit in Ukiah. My bra was still damp from the river. I filled the gas tank, and calculated how much longer we had to get to Corte Madera, our stop for the night, outside of San Francisco. I could still feel the river on me, and all I wanted to talk about was when and how we could come back to the Redwoods. We planned things down to very particular details, and spoke with enthused resolve. We can't not do this! We have to come back, and with our friends, and we have to camp. Traffic got heavier, trees and cool valleys became fewer as we traveled ever southward. We discussed transportation options, how far we could drive in one day, what we would pack. I tried not to lose the feel of the river, the pleasure of the woods, as we got closer to urban centers, and congestion. I tried not to let big trucks, and fast cars, concrete malls, road construction, and urgent rush of traffic, take away the memory of feeling well and strong, of being in the woods. I knew, from other times, that the closer to home we got, the further I would be and feel, from the quiet, comfort I feel in the redwoods. How do I cope with this? What more can I do to retain, to sustain all the good?

On the way up, William just happened to notice a familiar name: Amy's, as in Amy's frozen foods, and in this case it was an Amy's Drive-Thru... organic, vegetarian and vegan fast food. We made iron-clad plans to stop on our way home, and conveniently, this oasis happened to be a cross the road from our hotel! What luck! We love Amy's, going way back. We checked into our hotel, and made thorough notes about how ideal it would be as a first stop on our Family & Friends Redwood Caravan! Amy's Drive-Thru was better than we'd hoped... pretty, clean, bright, appealing, and it smelled really good. We were ready for a delicious meal, and this one was tops. We ate very well, and road-trip fun... burgers, fries, salads. I had an iced chai. It was all tasty, fresh, healthy, and a convenient, relaxing end to our day. Again, I must say, Amy's Drive Thru is not a Chickenblog sponsor, and all of my praise is sincere, and umcompensated. We really really really hope they will come further south!

We've got to get through SF, the big city, and first cross that big bridge! Spoiler alert: We did it! A word about driving and big cities and traffic... I have had a hard time with all of that since a certain collision, and this trip was, in part, a self-prescribed remedy for reclaiming my driving confidence, and. yeah. no. it didn't work. By this point I was rather fiercely practicing mindful breathing, affirmations, and all methods of remaining calm, focused, calm. Calm. Breath. It got bad.

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