Today in Crested Butte – April 24
There’s snow on the peaks that circle this funky mountain town, a snowboarding and mountain biking mecca off the beaten path in the middle of Colorado. Autumn and I have a two night layover here; one week to go till we are on home turf – woohoo! It’s been a long while since the last blog post, with barely the time to settle into writing between visiting folks and outdoor adventures and a whole lot of driving. So here’s a catch-up, a mix of travel stories, memories, and reflections:
Cruising Up The Pacific Coast – written 4/15
The last two weeks have been filled with renewing old friendships and personal explorations, both inside and out. Right now I’m on the Oregon coast, staying two nights in a yurt at Beverly Beach State Park near the town of Newport. Last night I walked the nearly empty shoreline of Beverly Beach, a wide, flat, long expanse of Pacific coastline: wind creating waves constantly crashing into each other as far out as you can see, a roiling boiling pot of surf shooting up sprays of white plumes under white clouds floating by in an expansive blue sky. I couldn’t help laughing everytime the sprays shot up, like watching the wonder of whales spouting water from their blowholes.
Today, while looking for wi-fi service, I stumbled on the Old Newport Harbor – filled with fisher-people unloading their boats, fish being skinned on the docks, seafood cafes, and barking harbor sea lions piling on top of each other while resting on platforms in the water. The southern Oregon coast has turned out to be a goldmine of sights like these.
Prior to heading north to Oregon, I spent time exploring new places, visiting with cherished college buddies and seeing places where I used to roam. Here’s a few of the highlights:
-Driving into Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in northern Cal. on this old dirt road that wove down through a thick magical grove of massive redwoods reaching up to the sky; 1-2,000 yr old legacies in time.
-Riding my bike on the bike paths and bike lanes of Santa Cruz county, a most progressive bicycling community that was pure heaven for this bike lover!
-Arriving at my Airbnb Santa Cruz stay and immediately joining Susan, my host, in a fun-loving challenging game of ping-pong in her backyard.
-Climbing Echo Mountain in the San Gabriel Mtns on the outskirts of LA with my college friend Gabriele and Bjorn, all of us hiking enthusiasts rising early on a Sunday morn to get out there and switchback our way to the views at the top.
I also had quite a few flashbacks to my days as a hitch-hiking twenty yr. old as I traveled up the coast. Here’s a sampling :
– While walking in Santa Cruz, I realized I was right where I used to hang out listening to jazz at the old Cooper House cafe. One day long ago, after hitching to town barefoot from New Brighton Beach campground, an older dude pulled up behind me on the street with his two-seater Harley-Davidson, an extra helmet on the back. I was thinking that would make for a cool way to see the area, so I asked him if he’d take me for a ride – you can guess the answer. We took off and made a loop around the beach and up into the hills filled with redwoods on about a 45 min. ride and yes, he brought me right back to the same spot, dropped me off with both of us grinning, and then he took off, just like that!
– While visiting with my college friend Helen, we walked down the beach near Santa Cruz and went up a set of stairs which took us to New Brighton Beach State Park. We ended up right where I used to camp. I had an instant flashback to the sweat lodges I took part in almost forty yrs ago when I camped there for three weeks. I had stayed with a community of mavericks and misfits who temporarily lived there, folks who’d been burned by the system or love or who just didn’t fit in anywhere else (I fit right in). I appreciated the denouncing of materialism, the music that was made, and especially our way of watching out for each other…and the sweat lodges. It was an eye-opening time into other ways people lived.
– After driving across the Golden Gate Bridge heading north from San Francisco, I flashed back to a Grateful Dead Concert I had gone to with friends in San Fran. I left my friends after the concert and took off through the sleeping streets of San Fran for Sausalito, on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge, knocking on the door of my friends’ Bobby and Kristin’s apartment somewhere around 4 a.m. And yes, they let me in. Uhhhhh – I still can’t believe I did that!
Reminiscing has led me to compare my travels now with traveling then. I just can’t believe how much stuff I think I need! Settling in at an Airbnb can take four trips to the car as I organize all my “necessities” – the bathroom bag, my stuffed to the brim clothes bag, numerous books I’m sure to use, the computer, my guitar, the food bag, my pillow, and oops, forgot my journal. Quite different from the orange backpack I slapped on my back yrs ago – and still do, on occasion. Believe me, there is plenty of room for clearing out the collection of stuff in my life. Look out junk piles, here I come!
Reflecting on those hitch-hiking travels also led me to reconnect with that bold spirit living within, the one that believed with clear intuition in whatever I set out to do. Not that I didn’t have my share of bloopers and scary situations back then. Now, as life rolls on by, it’s easy to get caught up in being super careful, cautious, and comfortable as a result of the falls I’ve taken in life and the ease I crave. There’s certainly a place for that, but mostly you’ll find me dipping into large doses of new explorations for as long as I am able. 🙂
Flash Forward to Paonia, Colorado – April 23
Yesterday, after driving 1000 miles in two days, from Seattle to Green River, Utah, Autumn and I treated ourselves to our first hike – The Windows in Arches National Park. The whole area is filled with unique and odd shaped natural formations of red-rock desert sandstone. Picture enormous outcroppings looking like giant elephant toes, large oval balancing rocks on top of thin pillars, and two 20-30 ft “windows” in the shape of eyes set in huge dusty dark red-brown rock masses; like windows to the soul, one eye opens to brilliant blue sky, the other looks inside to the endless sandstone. We were drawn by the mystery to stay as long as we could.
While in Seattle, I visited with Pat and Rich – catching up with my childhood buddy Pat from Edgerton St. was heart-warming indeed. So was having dinner with Josh W. and breakfast with Jake M. in Portland, family friends from back east. I am filled to the brim with the beauty of earth and sky, with heart-warming friendships rekindled and thought-provoking conversations with folks I’ve met. Now I’m looking forward to being home on the land I love with my sweetheart, getting back to work, and seeing family and friends – soon!
Be well and happy spring to all – Donna
PS Photos may be coming, if the darn computer and I can coordinate on this!