SoCal, Sweet SoCal

Our whirlwind week in San Francisco ended on Monday.   Trips to the tourist spots, a day trip to Berkeley to see Heather, the best coffee I’ve ever poured in my pie hole, a night at the museum, too many good eats, walking…lots of walking, and a day on Captain Colin’s worthy vessel were but a few of the highlights.   After packing the Bear, we bid aloha to our extraordinarily lovely, accommodating, and hospitable hosts, Alex and Katana, and began our journey down the coast to Big Sur, where we’d planned to camp that night before heading into LA on Tuesday.

Twenty miles south of Monterrey we learned the last heavy rains had caused a huge rock slide north of Big Sur and washed out the road to the south entrance, completely closing the park and Interstate 1 from where we were all the way past San Simeon.  We messed around on the beach, poking washed up jellyfish with sticks and enjoying the beautiful scenery while kicking around ideas for alternate plans.  Then, back up the 1 we drove, past the artichoke and berry farms overlooking the Pacific and heading into the vastness of Central California farmland on our way to the 5 freeway.

Seven hours later as we crested the last hill of the Grapevine and saw the lights of the north Valley spread out below us like a big, twinkling bowl of stars, we breathed a sigh of relief to be back in familiar territory.  I quickly programmed all the old stations into the radio and we smiled at recognizable street names.  Having departed with such disdain for LA when we moved to Washington a year and a half ago, this reaction was unexpected.  Don’t tell Los Angeles, but I guess there will always be a fond place for her in my heart.  A decade of building a relationship with this pulsing town and her people is no small matter, I suppose.  But still, don’t tell.  I don’t want LA getting all uppity and thinking I want to come back or anything.

Sam’s house might as well be a luxury hotel, and Sam himself makes for gracious, easy company.  We’re being spoiled with filet minion, a huge yard in which Douglas can kick up his heels, a giant soft bed, our own giant flat screen television with real live television (much to Tyson’s delight), and gluten-free treats aplenty. Tomorrow, a dinner service at Hells Kitchen awaits, and in between all of the friend visits I’m trying to cram in as many business meetings as possible.

Saturday, we’ll be meeting at 12:30 until whenever at Griffith Park in the old zoo.  Hope to see you there, Angelenos!

A Soggy Send-off > Sunny San Fran

I’d like to think Washington was crying to see us go, but then again, perhaps it was only a typical spring day in the Pacific Northwest.  The eight straight hours of rain as we headed from the Estes compound in Hoquiam to the beautiful town of Ashland, OR took its toll on Tyson, and he was thoroughly exhausted by the time we reached CB & Steve’s house at Monday’s end.

Our journey started well.  The house was immaculate when we left; we finished cleaning at 11:27pm on the 31st, just under the wire, and passed out on the empty living room floor for the night.  We left for the parents’ house on Friday morning with the back of the Xterra and the roof rack fully stuffed.  We planned on staying till early Sunday morning in Hoquiam, but being with the parents was so lovely that we ended up leaving Monday afternoon.  Douglas Furbanks enjoyed some extended time in the greenhouse, nibbling the tops off John’s spring onions, and his first escape to the out-of-doors, which was short lived, but exciting.  Tyson and I spent some good times playing cribbage with the parents, visiting the very cool Polson house museum in Hoquiam (in which we received a private tour from Tyson’s old high school friend, John, the owner and curator), and socializing with the brother, sister-in-law, and their brood.

We headed to Ashland, and toward the mythical Steve and CB, uncle and father (respectively) to our good friends, Alex and Shannon, about whom we’d heard fantastic stories for quite some time.  As it turns out, the stories are true; these gents are two of the most delightfully quirky human beings I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.  After a single evening with the two of them and breakfast at the fabulous Morning Glory with CB, Tyson and I left with good, strong hugs, heads full of questions, and a desire to completely reevaluate everything we’d previously thought we wanted from our lives.  It was a spiritual experience for both of us, that evening in Ashland.

We departed Tuesday at noon under a big, blue sky and a profusion of cherry blossoms.  The Siskiyous are still sporting snow this late in the year: patches on the roadside and peaks blanketed in smooth white were much more enjoyable in the Bear than they were on our move to Olympia in a U-Haul towing the Bear in the black of night and running out of gas.  We marveled at the vastness of the peaks and valleys.  Mt. Shasta’s slopes became visible in the distance, and we let out our collective breath as we crossed the California state line, feeling like we were home again, letting the sun drench our pale skin, drowsy vitamin D high tingling down our spines, dropping the windows to let in that beautiful, cold California mountain air.

San Fran is amazing, of course, as is our hostess extraordinaire, Alex.  The resident beast, Katana, has become enamored with dreams of eating our Douglas, so the bunny has been living in his travel hutch in the garage with limited outside time so he can stretch his bunny legs.  We’ve been walking a lot, trying to squeeze in lots of sights and sun before we head off to several days of Pacific coastline and camping between here and Los Angeles on Wednesday.  Hopefully our spur-of-the-moment planning will be agreeable to our friends, Erin and Heather, and we can squeeze in plans with them before we live the city.

Until next time…