Freedom is a full tank of gas and no obligations. Add a friend, take away traffic. Simple. My man and I left San Diego for the Sierra Nevada mountains and then Northern California, which would surprise no one if it were a separate state from Southern California. NorCal has trees and fewer people and valid reasons to own big 4WD vehicles.
We always forget the logistical details of road trips: constant snacking on dry cereal and Mint Milanos. Fighting with Siri because she never even considered that maybe you want to drive to the US town of Manchester and not Manchester, England. Attempting yoga at the Motel 6 where your travel companion, en route to continental breakfast in the lobby, steps on your mat with shoes because he can’t levitate over 6′ of floor space and there’s no other path.
We drove 2,000 miles without leaving California. We went through Raisin Country, snow storms and towns with population 280 that had a fully functional post office (and yet USPS wants to close the post office on my side of town that serves 20,000 people.)
THE thing that really stopped me in my tracks were the Coast Redwood forests. These are the tallest trees in the world, giant old-growth trees, often 1,000 years old, that used to take up much of the temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest. By the time white settlers realized the importance and irreplaceability of these trees, the forest was largely depleted and fragmented. These special trees are now protected in State and National Parks.
While mapping a destination on my iPhone using Google Maps, I zoomed in on tracts of land with odd white triangles. I kept zooming in and in (see pic) until I could tell that these triangles were clear cuts in the National Forests. All that’s left is mud, erosion and tire tracks. We’ve known about the dangers of clearcutting for decades yet we haven’t stopped. The aerial view of the Northwest US looks like when I tried to buzz my friend’s head without the proper razor attachment. Can you imagine being a bird or a bear and stumbling into this naked, barren land where just steps before you had your tree habitat?
All of nature- the big trees, the furry animals, the ocean dwellers, the tides- is perfect. We humans start out perfect and then get lost in our personal dramas. Like Counting Crows said in that popular album from around ’95, “We were perfect when we started. I’ve been wondering where we’ve gone.” If we could wipe ourselves bare, back to how we were at the beginning, our basic essence, we might care less about our individual success. In yoga classes, I tell my students to care less about the pose. Give up. Become hopeless, without hope, without a stake in the future, only concerned with the moment at hand. That would be in alignment with nature, with perfection.
Another trip highlight was seeing four of my canine friends who moved to NorCal in the past few years. To visit them we drove hours out of the way and stayed overnight in places we’d otherwise avoid (e.g., Wine Country because we don’t like wine.) All was worth it because true love never fades and is, like all animals and nature, simply perfect.