Journey to California

Passing through the Siskiyou mountains in Oregon was sublime.  The mountaintops were covered with chilled gray clouds and ribbons of fog rolled through the hills like the smoky trail of a dragon.  The trip along Interstate 5 was a bit treacherous.  The road narrows, winds and is outlined with looming rock outcrops and eventually large redwood trees, that stood like an enclosing army of Tolkien’s majestic Ents, as you drive into California.  I was very happy to come across a radio station playing old country/bluegrass music which is always easy to sing along to even if you’ve never heard it before.  They played a song by Ned Miller called “Do what you do do well,” that gave me a little extra life for the trip.  When you’re headed to a new place, you never know what to expect.

I decided to stop for dinner in Crescent City and managed to get on the road again just in time to see the sunset over the ocean.  I was just running out of light but this would be my first albeit dim glimpse of the Pacific.

I got to my host’s home in Arcata around 7pm, just in time for a group of couchsurfers to start a lengthy yoga session one of them was teaching.  It turned out that at Paul’s there is a very steady flow of couchsurfers.  While there was luckily plenty of space, there were 10 people in the apartment last night.  Tonight, there may be less but there still seems to be many couchsurfers on a rotating basis.  Paul has practically turned his apartment into a hostel, while that makes him ridiculously generous and laidback, it makes for a fairly impersonal place to stay.  There are a lot of people coming and going that have limited interest in one another because they’ve already been introduced to so many others.

Last night, I slept horribly.  We stayed up late watching “The Wild and Wonderful Whites,” a documentary about the White family in West Virginia on Netflix.   It probably had more to do with the ice cream sandwich, soda and french fries I ate before bed rather than sleeping on the floor with two other people or watching the failed social experiment that is the Whites.  I got up in the middle of the night to forfeit to the empty couch but by then I only slept enough to have a really horrible nightmare.  So I dragged alittle today.  It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day; I walked into downtown Arcata to get some breakfast.  Arcata is a smaller version of Burlington.  There are a lot of art shops, thrift stores, restaurants and a co-op.  Ashland in southern Oregon is also a lot like Burlington based on the same premise.

Later I came back to Paul’s, took a quick snooze curled up in his leather chair, and as three couchsurfers got ready to move on, I headed out to explore some more.  I ended up driving to the Samoa Sand Dunes, only about 1o minutes from here.  I walked along the tall concrete wall lined with rocks along the water, a slippery boardwalk lined with old wooden rails.  Waves crashed against the barnacle covered boulders.  I watched a couple surfers dancing in the waves and the cormorants hovering nearby.

The air smelled clean and crisp, not at all fishy as I would expect.  There was a slight flowery scent, likely from the invasive yellow bush lupines.  The sand dunes are covered in invasive species and are being monitored and hopefully restored to natural flora.  The area is also covered with a succulent called iceplant, which spreads like a short cover crop.  They are very pretty actually but they aren’t supposed to be there.  I also came across a few transparent shrimp scattered just past the boardwalk in the sand.


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