Pacific Coast Road Trip

I hadn't seen the Pacific in decades and it had been three years since I’d flown anywhere. A good friend invited me to drive from Seattle to San Diego along the coast. Trip planning was sketchy and flexible. But a week sounded like enough. It really wasn't.

They'll pry my cold dead fingers off the Honda’s steering wheel but I have to admit her Tesla was more comfortable and fun. My back didn't hurt and it was great to drive.  It did occur to me that the fun might be limited if everyone zoomed Teslas all the time. I found the huge screen in the center of the dashboard distracting and I never did get the door and window buttons right. But the short stretch I drove was exhilarating - for me at least. Zoomies are always less fun for passengers. I drove a hairy little stretch of former logging road and really enjoyed the fun curves. But for some reason, that was my only opportunity.

The trip began the day after a King Tide and a week of big storms. There was evidence of flooding everywhere - huge trees down and closed portions of the coastal highways. The booming Pacific was unsettling, especially the first night when I thought I was hearing heavy furniture moving around the room. And it was especially impressive for a desert dwelling unfamiliar with its power. 

We blazed down the coast, stopping periodically to wonder at sights but never really long enough to fully relax. We made it to California our first night after zooming into the dark forest. There’s a giant peanut sitting beside the highway in Orick that's carved from a huge Redwood. It was sent to President Carter as an appeal to stop designation of the Redwood National Forest. It  was returned and the forest was established. We visited the awe inspiring “Big Tree” there, and many like it. In Leggett we stopped at the even larger “Grandfather Tree.” 

In the predawn hours in Monterey I woke to the unfamiliar sound of  barking harbor seals. It was Friday already. That night was Santa Barbara. Then San Diego. I would go the other direction if I had another chance. Hopefully the highway both sides of Big Sur, which we missed, would be open. And I would go north instead of south so that the population grew thinner and the trees thicker as the trip progressed. 


Coyote Rodeo

He jumped the fence at the regular place and worriedly looked behind him. If cows jump over the moon, why not this fence?

The bull stopped short and snorted. Call me Ferdinand again, I dare you.

Heifer who likes her head scratched and plays with the water hose had noticed him first. More greeter than aggressor, she trotted right up to him and was a little hurt when he shied away. That caught the attention of the other two.
Little bull has strengthened his self esteem by pushing fallen tree trunks and a big telephone pole around the pasture and corral. He enjoys intimidating geese and joggers along the fence line, charging at them with his head down, snorting. His head and neck are growing as thick as those old trees.

He dreams of having a nice set of horns. But everyone who knows him is very thankful he does not.

Coyote circled and dodged. He seemed a little upset. He avoided the corner where the three cows seemed to be herding him. Sure, this is all fun and games until someone gets stomped to death.

The heifers had to stop - winded from laughing so hard.  The bull's gratefully short attention span seldom extends beyond the heifers' butts so he stopped too. It was over before anyone got a camera out.

Coyote regained his composure but won't be back until that bull is gone. Now the chickens and guineas are getting a little too noisy and full of themselves.

While You Were Gone

Glad you're back! Bummer about the water line and too bad about your tooth. Good luck at the dentist and let me know if you need a ride. Those can be rough.

No kidding about the weeds at your place. No wonder you call it the Weed Ranch. I always thought it was a pot joke. Save me a couple of those tumbleweeds for a Christmas project would you? Tremendous!

Let me know if you want help with those fallen branches. Sorry about your lawn chairs.

Those Franken-stickers are back in that northeast corner (and the SW and SE corners too.) You'll need your leather gloves, chaps and boots for those. They're there in the shed where I moved them from under a leak.

The goatheads were pretty bad but the cows got them good when they got out. The fence fix with the chaise lounge and wire is obviously temporary.  I think the shrubs will recover, so no worries there.

You were right to worry about mold around that roof leak in the kitchen. Boy, that dark spot looks bad. 

I noticed the ladder was gone or I would have checked on your gutters.

There was some guy hanging around the ditch a few weeks ago and I found a wet sleeping bag back there. But with all those mosquitos I think he's moved on.

That reminds me, I heard something under your shed. Mice? Skunk?

Oh, and your neighbor - the one that was mad at you ... Or the other one that was mad at you after that - he's asking for that lost gate key so you may need a bolt-cutter.

Other than that everything looks fine. Welcome back!

Irrational Fullness of Life

The irrational fullness of life has taught me never to discard anything, even if it goes against all our theories (so short-lived at best) or otherwise admits of no immediate explanation. It is disquieting and one is not certain whether the compass is pointing true or not; but security, certitude and peace do not lead to discoveries.

CG Jung - introduction to a 1949 edition of The I Ching

Can't you just see the wind?

Mom's holding her hair out of her eyes, squinting behind ray-bans and glaring up at him and that damn pentax he got for Christmas. Mistake, she thought, turning back to the campfire to stab at the steaks.

Her mood and the wind came up at the same time. She'd begged him to leave it at home, that camera. She'd had some dentistry. The partial wasn't ready. She didn't want her gapped-tooth smile immortalized and she sure isn't smiling in this photo. But you can see that dark space anyway as her mouth is open a little saying, "Oh for God's sake Dave."

He took her picture all day like he always did. Our weekend and holiday camping trips and picnics were elaborately documented. If there'd been an internet then, my father would have facebooked, geo-cached and tweeted every one of our trips. As it was, he left multiple trunks of 35mm slides, rolls of super-8, shoe boxes of 3x5 prints, and a small library of photoalbums.

In the pictures from this day the wind is like an unwelcome family member, a crazy Aunt who visits for extended periods every spring and spends the afternoons screaming and crying at you for something that isn't your fault.

Continue reading "Can't you just see the wind?" »

Turtleback Mountain Diary 3

Fiesta Dresses are a distant topic from sex torture and murderous pitbulls.  Given the continuing notoriety of the David Parker Ray case and Sierra County's apparent desperation for economic stimulation, I'm greatly relieved and a little surprised no one has had the idea of re-creating the "Toy Box" as a museum piece - at least that we know of.
Fiesta dress fashionsfromthepast.blogspotLessons from that horrifying history seem limited to: A) Gosh, we sure hope that's history; and B) "Let this serve as a warning to girls." 

It's infuriatingly common to hear that this is what happens when girls do X, Y or Z.  Such victim-blaming is blazingly evident in the justice system and the Ray trials.*

The focus on the victim and her part in sex crimes doesn't change behavior - least of all men's behavior toward women and girls.  But it does evoke generalized fear and suspicion on the part of one-half the population toward the other. This is hardly the basis for a healthy community but it's great for gun sales. 

Pleasant and un-prurient interests abound in Sierra County, as fiesta dresses remind me.  The Geronimo Springs Museum also has a most fabulous pottery collection, including a Mimbres Black-on-White pot with an exquisite crossword puzzle-like design - as if the artist was tripping and picturing a New York Times of the future. But the fiesta dresses are my personal favorite.

My Mother, Aunts and every other female I knew had a fiesta dress or three during the day.  These particular rick-rack on-net artifacts of the 50's home sewing era were winners of T or C's annual Fiesta Dress competition. They're kept lovingly dusted and displayed in the "Barbara and Ralph Edwards Suite" along with fifty plus years worth of parade and pagent memorabilia - walls full of B-movie stars' signed photos and smiling fifty faces of Miss Fiestas. Fiesta dress and edwards's saddle

Ralph Edwards died in 2005 and in the 2006 parade the Sierra County Sheriff's Posse honored him with a riderless horse. The Fiesta event has cooled as the town struggles with finances in the absence of Edwards's largesse. But they're still crowning "Miss Fiesta" every year.


*For a detailed account see Consequences: The Criminal Case of David Parker Ray, by J.E. Sparks.  But better yet, don't.  Take a picnic or go to the museum where you won't see a thing about it.