Sunday, July 21, 2013

Run, Part 2

Cali greeted us with grey skies and the occasional cool drizzle. Summer seemed to have left us back in Ashland, and stayed there.

We drove and drove and drove some more, as I came to the conclusion that parts of Northern California looked a lot like home. Too much. Green, grey, damp. Where was the Cali sunshine?

We found our camp at the Redwoods KOA, and dropped off Lavern, and went exploring. Our Ashland German neighbor had been all buzzy about this trail we had to go on, that was kinda a hidden secret. Secret, I found out, because yes, it is off the beaten path, and secret, because it is way on the outskirts of Jedediah State Park, with the entrance to it being in what looks to be a dead end street of a residential neighborhood in the middle of nowhere.

Go through the white gate, he had told us, and make sure to get out of the car, and go on the trails.

So, we went through the rusted white gate with not a soul in sight, thinking we were breaking the law a bit, but we weren't. The paved road gave way to a one lane dirt road which led us through fog, and ancient giants.

As promised, it was an amazing drive. A humbling drive.

The Redwoods are magnificent, and lovely. They make you want to tiptoe, and whisper, because they listen. They really do.

We got out of the car, and did some hiking. I am pretty sure our German neighbor was smiling somewhere.

Does the scenery look familiar? The lady at the KOA desk told me that this is where they filmed parts of Jurassic Park, and Return of the Jedi. "No way!" I exclaimed heading straight for the DVD selection of rentals at the end of the counter. "Do you have Return of the Jedi?", I ask, Grace would be tickled to see it. "No..." she replies, "We should probably get it though. That would be a good one to have here, I think." I look at her and nod my head. : / !

We walk, and there is still no one around. Secret, secret. One thing about the Redwoods, there are no birds, either. It was eerily quiet, so quiet, we felt uncomfortable, as if we were being watched, so we turned back sooner than later, and hiked clapping our hands because I forgot to bring my bear spray, because, you know, clapping your hands is just as effective if you are being hunted by a Cougar, right?

Back at camp, I decide to do laundry.

 Having never done laundry on the road before, I go buy $6 worth of detergent at the KOA store, enough for two loads, and a gut load of quarters, and start my very expensive endeavor.

I get to a open washer, and it takes me a moment to read the how to's when I get confused and another woman comes to help me. I can tell she is thinking that I have never done laundry before by her sideways glance. I get it started, give myself a gold star, and head back to camp to have dinner.

I time it pretty good, I think, but there is a line of ladies waiting for an open washer when I return. Sheepishly, Grace and I hurry and unload as they stare holes into my back. I over hear one of the louder ladies pushing her laundry into the machine that just opened up about how her son got sick all over the car on the way here, talking to no one in particular. Ahhh, yes. I smell it now, that smell of fresh bile, as she shoves more clothes in. I nod and scurry away to the open dryer farthest away.

I look at it. More quarters, more instructions in a language I do not know. Easy button? Anywhere?
This time no one helps. I plug in my quarters and set it to the settings I set my dryer at home, start it, (squee!), and high tail it out of there, noting the time. I come back just as the drum stops spinning, and stick my arm in. Hmmm..they are still damp. So I feed in more quarters. $3 more in quarters, two visits later, and they are still damp, and I have had that dryer occupied for going on an hour and a half. The ladies are not happy. There are more dryers, but, all are in use. I talk Jeremy into coming with me to provide a buffer for the glares on the third visit, and he points out I have the dryer set on low heat. Ya? So? That's how I dry my clothes at home. That way, my clothes don't turn into polly pocket clothes.
He shoves in more quarters, flips it to permanent press, and I swear I hear clapping behind him, but it is silent, and I duck my head as I leave and make Jeremy go pick up the clothes when they are done. I am very surprised they are not on the floor when he returns. Yes. I took a dryer at the KOA for three hours. So, sue me. I may be banned from KOA laundry rooms in the future. There is a high possibility.

We wake the next morning, and the weather is still grey, but better. No rain, and it is a very pleasant 68 degrees out. It is time to go visit the Trees Of Mystery.

Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox stand tall at the entrance.

"What's a "Bunyan?" Grace asks us when we get to the base of his feet. We shrug and point at him.

It turns out, Paul talks, and picks on people as they arrive and leave. Paul has a very sarcastic dry sense of humor. If anyone plays with Babe's nads that hang down, which they do, he warns them to "Be careful. It's not a pin-ya-ta.", he drawls. We heard that many times.

The Trees of Mystery is such a sweet hike. Gorgeous vibrant hues of green carpet the ground and branches while the trees work their magic, making you feel like you are walking on sacred ground.

Hmmmm....Shouldn't be a problem? I hate to think that there has been a problem, enough to put a sign.

As you walk through the woods, you start to hear music. The music is an old tune, a tune I didn't know, but a lovely tune indeed, as the sound wafted through the air, making magic even more magical. We came to the source, which was coming from the base of the Cathedral Trees, a place where many, many come to get married.

Absolutely breathtaking, sweet, and soul moving as you stand and take in the beauty. At the base of it, a moving poem that sprung tears to my eyes. Sweet, upon sweet.

And so we moved on, as the music slowly drifted into soft background music, and hiked.

We hiked until we came to this. A freaking Gondola.

Admission into the Trees of Mystery also gets you a Gondola ride.

Now, I don't like boats. I don't like heights even more. A Gondola? Do I even try? Grace and Jeremy are all over that, but, dang. D-a-n-g.  Do I dare?

My heart races as I watch family after family get whisked up the mountain in a tiny pod that looks like it's only sitting precariously on a very thin wire, and that is all that is between you, and plummeting to a very unpleasant death.

So I get on the freaking Gondola.

I take this last picture of Grace before handing the camera to Jeremy so I can totally flip out, and not hurt my camera.

Why, why, why would I think a Gondola ride would be awesome? Being as tall as those Redwoods is cool, right? It wasn't. Not even a bit. I am sure if I looked anywhere but the floor it probably was, but, focusing on breathing in and out and trying not to pee my pants was taking all of my energy and then some.

And, the conclusion, the finale of the Gondola ride at the top when you get out? This view:

Yup. Not worth the one in a million chance of having that gerbil cage accidently come unhooked and splat on the forest floor only to roll down the tiny mountain like an egg and then rest at the home base of the Gondola ride making people scream and run in horror at the sight of what is left of you. Yes. This is what I thought about on the ride down. Get me down. Now. No, no, no, more Gondolas for me.

Back on safe ground, where we belong, the rest of the hike tells the story of Paul Bunyan in these big, lovely wood carvings.

I love the Trees of Mystery. It has a quirky sense of humor, and I like that in a hike. So sweet.

We reluctantly leave, as there is somewhere I think I need to go. On that trip to nowhere, Jeremy and I briefly drove through the Redwoods. I barely remember that part of the drive, but for some reason, I remember being on the highway and the Redwoods completely towering over us like a dark cave for miles, and I remember seeing chainsaw carver after chainsaw carver after chainsaw carver at the sides of the road. Is my memory correct?

We drive further South to chase down this memory, and I get a sick pit in my stomach. What am I trying to find? Why do I feel that I need to see this stretch of highway again? What if that memory isn't a memory at all, just a dark, confused, hurt, part of my brain?

Fearing it will turn into another Yreka, I stop Jeremy and turn him around. As we speed away, I feel like I did when we left Yreka. Ridiculous. Get me the hell out of here.

As we drive back to camp, we decide to ditch the KOA early, and take an evening drive to the coast and go to our next stop a night early. I am joyful, as I don't have to slink around camp as the girl-who-can't-do-laundry. I am also joyful because I get to go to the Ocean. One of the only places on Earth where I feel my heart click into the right place.

So, we gather Lavern, say, sayonara to the KOA, and head to the beach.

Bandon By-The-Sea.

To be continued....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Run, Part 1

When I was a newly minted adult, just freshly eighteen, I ran away from home. For one night. Not that home was a bad place to be, it wasn't, it was all over a heartbreak drama. You know the kind, in high school, where you think your world is going to collapse because high school and the people that occupy it are all that matters in the world? And the world is going to stop spinning over a teenage break-up? For reals? Ya, that kind. Those darned boys will do it to you every time. At the time, I just wanted to run as far, and as fast away from this little Island that I could, take the ferry off of it, and never look back. Just run. Buuut, I was still in high school. I would miss my family, and I had maybe $40 to my name. So, clearly, this hormonal, naive, dramatic, teenager thought it would be a good idea to put a distance on that heartache and crazy drama, and run. So she hopped into her car with a friend, and decided to go crash at another friends place for the night who lived clear across the state of Washington, darned near into Idaho. And, she didn't call her parents until she reached Ellensburg.
 Mom. I bet you are getting mad all over again just reading this. Just know that I am not proud, and I seriously cringe when I tell this story. I am so sorry. Not the best decision, I know. And I also know I am still grounded forever.
Let me tell you something about running. It feels good. I wish I could tell you that it doesn't, but it so does. Running away that night felt free. I could breathe. But, it doesn't take long before what you are running from finds you. Don't kid yourself. It always,always finds you.
Long story short, I was in big, big trouble when I got home the next day, as I cowered home, tail between my legs.

 It would be another eight years before I would run away again. This time, over the biggest heartbreak of my life, and this time, feeling the freedom of leaving it all behind, was gone. There was no feeling good about it, in fact there was no feeling at all. Just a descent into darkness. I wrote a little bit about our trip to nowhere when Jeremy and I ran away in this post. I never finished the story, but someday maybe I will.

On that trip, we had no plan. Just get on I-5 and drive. That's it. Just drive. Much of that trip I have a hard time remembering, and only remember bits and pieces of it in debilitating flashes that come without warning, triggered by who knows what. The pain of those subsequent weeks fresh from losing a child has seared itself into all parts of my body and hasn't let me go.

Where am I going with this? Oh, ya. Running. Lavern. She makes running feel good again.

 When taking trips in the RV, you have to do a little planning ahead because the RV parks fill up fast, so back in February, I sat down with a map and started to map out our Lavern trips for the year. I have always wanted to see the little town of Ashland, Oregon, so, ya..let's do Ashland. It's a big drive, so on the way back, let's cut the drive in half and stop in....Silverton? Sure. Silverton. What's in Silverton....Silver Falls State Park. Perfect. So, the trip was planned, but changed a week before we left, once I started looking more closely at the maps. The Redwoods? They are only 2.5 hours from Ashland? Yes, we'll go there, too. Oh, look. Bandon Beach? I've always wanted to go's two hours away from the Redwoods... yes, Bandon beach, too. I could have ran faster and farther as the map opened up a world of possibilities, but there was a nagging feeling I couldn't shake. I've been this route before. This was eerily similar to our trip to nowhere.

As time got closer to running away from the mundane with Lavern and my family, I was very nervous. And sad. Would landmarks of that heartache trip spring up and bite me in the heart? Would I remember things, feelings? How is that going to make me feel? I was surprised how it made me feel. Let me explain.

We left on a Friday, bright and early, all packed up, ready to hit the road for ten whole days. We were going for the 9:40 ferry boat off the South end of the Island and was happy to see that we would make the boat even though the line was a bit long. Just before getting on the dock, a ferry worker walked up to us, shook his head, and squatted to look at Lavern's backside. Rude. At least she has a cute backside. He came up to the window and said, "Ya, you're not going to be able to get on the boat for a while. There is a super low tide, the trailer is too low, so you won't be able to catch a ferry until after about 3pm." I gulped. We had a eight hour drive ahead, and wanted off the Island something bad. Off, off, off. But the Island wouldn't let us, and I thought about the show "Lost" and how the Island wouldn't let anyone leave. It felt like that. Sheesh.
We decided to see if we could luck out on the North end of the Island, so we drove to the other ferry dock and after waiting in another line and holding our breaths, they waved us onto the ferry. Operation running-from-the-mundane was a go.

As with many a road trip, there is always road trip food. For us, it is tradition to have fruit leathers and peanut butter cup trail mix from Trader Joe's in little Dixie cups. Diners are fun too, and soon, the Country Cousin caught our eye. Cunrty cuzin'? Yes. We have to see what that is all about. So we stopped for a spot of lunch.

*The pictures on this post uploaded fuzzy. Can't figure out why. If you click on them, they are much clearer*

And lunch, we had. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked my meal so much, but pretty much anything with a side of fries is an instant thumbs up.

Then it was on the road again. The long road. We had lots of road to cover, and after getting a later start, we were itching to get the long haul done. So, to pass the time Grace and I played many a Auto Bingo, until she was Bingo-d out.

The sun was out, and we were glad for that. I was dreading the drive through Roseburg, as it was going to be the first memory pang that would hit my heart. As we neared it, I looked around. Green grass. Rolling hills. I didn't see pieces of our hearts on the highway, but I know they were there. We hit Roseburg, and it was there, then it was gone. Flying down memory lane on Interstate 5 doesn't give you much time to ponder.
We spied the hotel we had stayed at from the highway, and it was nothing like I remembered it to be. It's funny how your state of mind totally affects how you see things.

The rest of the drive I was unaware of the magic that was happening in the backseat. Little did I know the little girl in the backseat was busy repaving I-5 South. She was laying down a new memory for me, with a little voice that would randomly shout out "Motorcycle!" or "Haystack!" as we blazed through Oregon. As I look back now, I am humbled by the new, sunny, memory she made for me. Something I was not expecting.

We rolled into Ashland as June's Supermoon was rising in a clear sky that looked painted with smeared blackberries, and found Emigrant lake Campground. Since it was a weekend, it was packed, and we quickly found our spot. As I exited the car, I spied a nervous looking older man with his arms crossed along his chest, looking at us from the next site over. He let me know quickly that a tissue had blown out onto the ground as I opened the door to get out. I walked over and got it shaking it a little to show him that I got it. He let me know that it was late. Yup. Got that. We know. He let me know he was German. Sure,okay. He let me know that people had been eyeing our spot aaaaaall day. I reserved it back in February, I told him, so, no biggie. Where are you from? How long are you staying? What did you have for lunch? The questions came, and I answered politely before excusing myself to unpack the car. He watched us for a little while, saw we weren't a threat, and said goodnight.
Goodnight, nosy neighbor.

Nosy neighbor turned out to give Jeremy and I a good laugh. He was friendly, and always eager to tell us about fun things to do, which was nice. I liked his accent, too. As far as neighbors go, he was alright.
Ashland turned out to be totally different from the Ashland I imagined in my head. We did a lot of exploring on our four night stay.

And, my favorite part, there was a lovely park right in town where I could have spent many hours doing a whole lot of nothing. Lithia Park.

There was this creek there that runs through the park and has places for people to play in it. It was great, however, the water was as cold as cold could be. You dip your toe in and your temples are frozen immediately.

We loved Lithia park. I would fold it up, put it in my pocket, and take it home with me if I could. I must go back. Next time, in Autumn.

It is always good to find excellent food when you are out. If you ever happen to go to Ashland, stop at Sesame, which is kitty corner to the park entrance and eat food for me. Any food. For me. Order anything, it is scrumptious.

During day three at Ashland, I knew there was something I had to do. On our haunted highway, there was this town that we stopped at during our trip to nowhere named Yreka. I remember stopping at a restaurant sitting in a booth, and crying through a meal clutching my photo album of Vanessa in this tiny little nowhere town. I had to see it again. Why? I don't know. So we wasted a day trying to mend a heartache that couldn't be mended. We drove about an hour out of Ashland to California and went to visit a ghost.

As we pulled into Yreka, it was again, nothing like I remembered. Not even close.

The town is an I-5 pit stop. And, a ghost town, it definitely was.

It was completely closed down on Sundays, only one or two shops open, but only slightly. On the drive in I spied that haunted restaurant. It stood out like a sore thumb to me, and I swear through the window I saw Jeremy and I huddled in a corner booth, sobbing, but we were skeletons. Last time we left here, there was almost nothing left of us.

As soon as I walked the street, my mind yelled run. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. Whatever brought me there, God only knows. Nothing was going to help this memory, so leave, and so we did. And I never want to go back there. Ever.

There is even a dragon there on the way out, warning me to make sure that I never return again.

Back in the safety of Oregon, we played. The campground we stayed at had this there, which is brilliant:

A water slide? At a campground? Yes, please.

We also played on the lake and went paddle boarding. I couldn't decide if I loved it or hated it. Dark water with a tiny board between you and it? Eeep. I thought I hated it until I just recently went again, this time, at home, and I loved it. I like paddle boarding in the Sound much better.

Before we left, we bought a boat. The kind you spend an hour or two inflating. As we were blowing it up, I remembered that I don't like boats. Why did I buy a boat? Why?

 off a inflatable boat? Probably not the best idea. The three of us argued the whole time we were on it. When I paddled, I could only paddle in a circle, and there was ONE branch in the whole entire lake slightly sticking up in the water to avoid, and I couldn't not hit it. I don't like boats.

Back at the campsite, the morning were filled with Uno and coffee, and the evenings, s'mores and picnic food.

Ashland was pleasant. I did like it there a lot, but it was time to go.

Because, running feels so good again.

To Be Continued.....