Coastal Life: NorCal Edition [#7]

by Kaspar Heinrici - posted from the North Shore in White Salmon

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Scale is one of the striking characteristics of Northern California.  Whether it is the waves, the trees, the mountains or the windy roads one needs a contextual relationship to really understand what one is witnessing.  This first pic gives scale to the redwoods.  The only way to give scale to the windiness of Nacimiento/Ferguson Road is to look at it on google maps (without driving it in person) check out this link to for details. The beauty of this trip is being able to adapt to every situation because we have the time.  Due to the high snowfall this year many parts of Rt. 1 were completely washed out thereby isolating a 13mile section that is only accessible by spending the time to drive in from the East, so that's what we did.  We loaded up on Up and Vanished podcast episodes, watched the moon rise and lucked out on finding a campsite that was not reserved.  The next morning we were treated to a swim in the ocean and a shower in a waterfall.  The closed parts of Rt. 1 also made for some very scenic skateboarding.

Later that same day we rolled into Santa Cruz to hang with the zen master of landscaping and all things plant life on "Pleasure Point".  If you are wondering where this name comes from it is similar to the obvious naming of "Paradise Valley."  The waves, the plants, the weather, the beaches and the people are all pleasing.  We got quizzed on the Latin names of plants and grilled up some of the organic bounty from the garden.  The surf had the typical consistency of a Santa Cruz point break and we made sure to take advantage.  Joining in our adventures was little Owen "Rad Dog" who would skate, scooter, wagon or walk to the beach with us to play in the tide pools and spread the stoke.

Eventually we turned away from the relaxation of Pleasure Point, moving up along the "Slow Coast" proceeding through the belly of Silicon Valley and into the cultural center of San Francisco.  We tasted the organic berries and walked the protected beaches along the way.  That night we made one last meal using the zucchini, spinach, onion and garlic chives from the zen masters garden.

In San Francisco we did the typical tourist highlights, getting a primer in 60's counter culture flower power at the De Young and taking the Fiesta down Lombard St. and viewing the Golden Gate Bridge from China Beach.  Our lodging, however was not so typical.  We stayed on a boat in the Emoryville Marina which had amazing views of the entire bay area and we got a tour of the Berkeley Rose Garden, which was a highlight.


The best part of this road trip (without having to leave the car) is probably the section north of San Fran up to Oregon.  Point Reyes is like a scene from Inception where you are left wondering if that beach ever ends or if it just continues into infinity.  Further along the coast we were treated to our best sunset at Gull Rocks, which continued to morph and change colors playing with the clouds and entertaining us until blackness set in.


"As you get up past Mendocino there is a cultural shift.  Similar to many other places with lots of space to find isolation, people tend to follow their own paths and many diverse cultural ideologies can sprout up right next to each other.  The existence of an anarchic form of rural redneckery coexists with the later phases of experimental hippiedom deep in these woods which is fueled by the cannabis economy.  Other than the 9-5ers that visit Mendocino from Frisco one gets the sense that to live here is to pursue life as you see fit and steer clear of the status quo.  We began reading the book Boonville by Robert Mailer Anderson who set the book in the area, he describes this pursuit for "real life" like this,

"All my friends going to therapy and Al-Anon meetings, John thought, letting go, letting God.  Seeking safety in the status quo, straightening up so they can find someone to screw missionary position every night, watch videos with on the couch, eat ice cream, plan vacations to Jamaica. Buy a cat and call it Mittens.  They've all given up...  Everybody wanted to feel exalted and alive, but to pursue that instead of filling your life with excuses was an exercise in faith.  It was dangerous to search for something you've never seen, having only caught glimpses of the Grail from films, paintings, French poetry. Baudelaire dreams and Marquis de Sade reality."

We camped in the Humboldt Redwoods as well as Jedidiah Smith State Park in Northern California as we prepared to enter Oregon.  Since we had left Santa Cruz we had not seen a surfable wave, so it was a great surprise to find one in Crescent City where the open ocean swell was protected from the wind.  After a quick session we were ready to enter Southern Oregon.