Goodness, is it really almost August? It must be past time for an update!
Northern California was kinder to us than the central portion. More forests, more fun little mountain towns with one-room libraries (shout out, Upper Lake!), more space. We finally found some good free camping in Mendocino and had a chance to take a breather for a few days.
When you live as we are doing, it gets tiring to be in cities–always scoping out a place to stay, constantly on the move, worried that you’ll be accidentally breaking the law for sleeping (now a crime in Palo Alto, we learned recently–you can sleep indoors or outdoors, unless it’s in a vehicle!). Fortunately we managed to avoid any incidents, and found some really cool places to visit.
Our favorites were Willits, a blip on Hwy 101 with some excellent coffee and a friendly vibe, and Upper Lake, an even blippier blot on the edge of the Mendocino forest. Willits reinforced what I had already learned, which is that if you hang out in just about any municipal park for a while playing an ‘ukulele, you will inevitably attract a small band of local characters. I met an itinerant old man who proselytized me relentlessly with his particular brand of unorthodox quasi-Christian philosophy while tootling on a plastic recorder; jammed with a couple guitarists trying to break into the local scene, making a good friend in the process; and got propositioned by some very-much-minors to buy them something they mumblingly referred to as “grape crushers”, which I can only assume is some kind of booze (I respectfully declined, to their adorable teenage consternation).
In Upper Lake, the chief topic of conversation the day we rolled through was the police helicopters that had been dropping off jackboots to shut down well-known local grow sites all morning. We didn’t see any sign of their presence, but everyone was talking, so it must be true, right? Anyway, we were just passing through on the way to go camping. But we got a really excellent lunch at the Blue Wing Saloon (slightly pricey, but oh-so-worth-it)–highly recommended, especially the avocado cheeseburger and the garlic fries. Holy. Cow. So. Nom.
Next it was off to Eureka/Arcata for a couple days, where we visited a rather nice little zoo but otherwise didn’t find too much to keep us interested. Then came the Redwoods, which have been on my list to visit for years. Walking among these trees is a religious experience. They are too huge and too old to completely wrap your head around. Redwood forests are like natural parks; no other trees or bushes grow under them, so you can wander freely around on spongy moss and loam between ferns, communing with the trees until you are full of their peaceful strength. It feels like the grandest, most magical temple that humans never built.
It is so easy to destroy such perfect places, in our antlike numbers, much harder to safeguard them–and impossible to rebuild them, once they’re gone.
Winding our way ever northward, we kept rolling through the woods toward Oregon…
P.S. more trees and stuff!