It has been a long day today though I slept surprisingly well last night in-between a Chevron garage and a Presbyterian church in Monticello. Woke at around 7.30am with an aching hip but shifted myself and went off again till just before 9am. Pretty good.
It has rained constantly but I’d enjoyed being curled up like a chrysalis in there. Coffee at Moodys coffee shop whilst an English couple called home saying they had never seen anything so beautiful. They had a point. The rain and the mist coming off the Pacific horizontally now and picking up speed, Moody for sure, definitely.
I’d bought toothpaste, shampoo and a tin opener today, they were missing from my kit. The rain just didn’t stop and it means I’d not be able to get out and walk for too long. So Hummingbird and I just took it easy along the coast.
The coast road from the up to Rockport wasn’t to bad as far as hair pin bends go, but boy did it didn’t stop and the sea raged. I’d thought the UK weather was bad.
I’d seen signs saying road closed in 17 miles but just kept on as I thought there would be a turn off just before the road ended. I got just nearly to Rockport when I came up against the road block, damn ! I didn’t even stop, just spun smoothly around and headed back to Westport and took the Branscomb road across the foothills to the 101. I’d thought it would be fairly straightforward and right then I was quiet enjoying it.
I had planned to drive straight up the one and go to Shelter Cove in the heart of a Redwood forest right on the pacific coast. But wasn’t to be the way I planned, we detoured without complaint. The Branscomb road proved to be quite a test, swooping, climbing and sweeping around hairpin bends in my heavy bottomed girl.
Then onto the 101 coasting along north towards Garberville a place I’d stayed in for a few weeks long ago. I entertained myself that I’d call in to see if an old friend still lived there. It was a distraction and we were to pay for it.
I’d dreamt last night that there was an argument, it hadn’t been me, when I thought about it I realized it was the Family, there was something to be learned today and there is no such thing as wasted time if you have the eyes and ears for it. Nostalgia has its place if it awakens you to the present.
I’d passed the junction where I could have turned back onto the 1 I was now set on Garberville, then a few miles past we were suddenly stopped. Nothing came past us either. A fallen tree I guessed and I turned out to be right. I thought it would be a few minutes so I waited and took the time to open up. I saw the sea rolling in with frothy white waves coming in in waves and was sure we would make Shelter Cove today. But we were held there on the road for an hour
Still I didn’t mind I used the time to search my body with my mind trying to loosen up tensions, my attention is always brought to the same place. I worked hard on it.
People came up from behind to see if they could see around the bend in the road. I didn’t see the point, we’d be off soon wouldn’t we. Then finally the road gave way and we headed to Garberville, and oh gosh what a dreary town.
I regretted it immediately as I rolled down the main street. I had has some powerful experiences here, but that was long gone and nobody remembered my friend. The place drips not only damp, but with suspicion every time I asked somebody something nobody really made eye contact with me or gave me straight answer.
I bought a coffee and the girl serving beat hands down the indifference of any London east end corner shop and still it poured down.
Under the walkway awnings hippy drop outs sat in lines like piles of damp black rags. I wondered if it had always been the vibe here. It had always drawn the fringe and the damp air loaded with mosey spores robbed anything of its warmth
The locked church had a couple of warning signs on its glass 70’s style doors No smoking within 30 feet of these doors. No loitering” the church awning looked like the dryest place in town. I recalled long ago being told stories and legends of the cannabis farms up in the mountains around here so the locals had an ingrained air of suspicion of anything outsider, freedom and free love gone badly wrong. I couldn’t wait to get away from the narrow-minded miserable place.
Trouble was, as is my way I remembered the direction but not the road, and sometimes as is the way the road forward sometimes has a few twists and switchbacks that you couldn’t have guessed.
I rolled out of town on the road down towards the swollen eel river that snaked and coiled its way around the town down below past the airport I knew I should be going past a town called Briceland. So when I saw “briceland road” I though ‘oh ok’ and turned right onto it. Bad move. It got quickly and steadily worse. I imagined Orsi Cussing at me and asking me to turn back, I of course went onwards because the sign had said Briceland 8 miles. How bad could it be. The road climbed and turned and climbed and turned back on itself getting more and more narrow and more unloved, pot holes got wider deeper and the water from the surrounding forests flowed in ever greater torrents across the fallen stones and rocks. I kept thinking it’ll be ok it’s only 8 miles.
Then around another hairpin hair graying bend, a large section of the road had subsided, a stream now was running across it and under it. I got out and did seriously contemplate driving over it. But it was just loose dirt, there was cracks running along it. Somebody had been there before me I could see where they had tested the earth with their boots, but there were no tire tracks onwards, I very …very nearly drove onto it, but at the last second thought, if I move my heavy girl onto the loose earth her weight could very easily dislodge the whole slice of road and that would be that, and us.
Caution got the better of me simply because I though, “bollox I really want to make it to New Mexico” The adventurer said “Go on, do it do it” it is a voice I have always known, sometimes he is right and we live to tell tales, and we love that. But I really deeply and profoundly want to see Zion and New Mexico.
I held back, the voice laughed at me, “You wet soft fucking wimp”
It quieted down though as we drove back down. I tried another road by the grinding swollen broiling River but just knew it was wrong, then as if by chance a little old lady came out of a side road in her car. So I flagged her down and she gave me directions
Basically back Garberville and through town of Redway. Of course damn !!
As I drove back then the left and climbed the road back to town, I wondered if again I had taken the wrong road. I had come this way for sure but now there was red grey earth and rock with fallen shattered timbers from the forest above right across the road. Stunning. It looked like the hills were bleeding across the black asphalt.
Then I was on the right road. I had the sense now to check directions in town some camouflaged bearded and dreadlocked forest hippy’s in the gas station gave me good directions. I was off with a new lease of life.
Redway and onto Briceland in minutes, happy now I would make it back to the Ocean. But just as we were almost in view, driving upwards we came round a bend to find a tree had fallen right across the road. I was stunned. I did contemplate using Hummingbird to nose it out of the way, but again caution prevailed
Voice said “Go on, what the fuck is wrong with you”
I had driven all the way around Humboldt county to get to the sea and no matter which way I had gone something blocked my way.
At this point I was actually genuinely spinning, I had been so focused now for hours, swinging left and right, slow stop accelerate, swerve, cringe, another jarring pot hole. I was feeling actually mildly seasick. I tried one more road to get across to Honeydew as two great black pick ups loaded with gear wizzed past me back towards Shelter Cove and the fallen tree. Should I go back?
I have to say here that Hummingbird has performed exceptionally well today. She still shudders now and again, but she is solid, later I pushed her up to 90 on the freeway she coasted and has hugged the roads and cushioned me today. Very happy with her, great car, a big bottomed heavy girl.
I check a forest map before I finally gave up and realized that if I took the scenic honeydew dirt logging road I wouldn’t get through till after dark now. I was very frustrated to say the least.
So I settled for the avenue of the Giants along the Eel River and the 101. I always like to get away from the well-worn beaten track. I always imagine that there is something undiscovered and undisturbed out there. But it has to be said no matter where you see a group of redwood trees if your jaw doesn’t drop there is something wrong with you.
At points all day I’d driven into small groves of Redwoods, you know when your in them because it suddenly becomes twilight, things begin to look very ancient time slips and the imagination is ignited. There is nothing apart from the Sequoias to equal them and nothing to prepare you for the actual size of them. There is sadly only 5% left of the 2 million acres they had once inhabited along the Northern Californian coast. Can you imagine what that had looked, and felt like.
I have to say I hated the road side, House in a log, drive through tree attractions, I put it down perhaps to coming from Blackpool, being a punk rocker etc, but maybe not. Who needs a theme park out here when you can park up your car and go and stand next to, touch and creak your head back contemplating these beautiful giants. There is nothing to equal them, anywhere !!
From there I was now set on making it to Arcata, where I would spend the night and maybe tomorrow I would be able to have the coastal walk I have been trying for.
I walked into Everett’s bar the plaza at Arcata to the Rolling stones version of Bob Dylan’s “Like a rolling stone” was playing the, line ‘how does it feel to be on your own with no direction home ‘really struck me. I feel a little defeated, letters from friends, of collapses, the rains have driven into all and every cavity it seems today, exposing week spots but perhaps developing strengths. Healing is sometimes about helping someone to collapse, a great tree falling in the forest, exposing blue skies. Suddenly the horizon is clear and the road ahead obvious.
It isn’t always great being a catalyst, but there it is, wouldn’t we all prefer to make em laugh and sing and dance. Maybe that is where it begins, but some trees do have to fall, some roads are no longer drivable and sometimes we have to turn back, turn away, and let go of ideals we had held so dear. They have their time their place and their reward, but you cannot live on them forever and you cannot live that way forever. Sometimes healings are goodbyes, consciously going into a place or a person to break a spell that holds us in the past, a sharp edge or a fuzzy glow can keep a person from realizing what they have under their nose right now.