I headed over the Richmond/San Rafael bridge, remembering my ez pass – traffic is at a stop. I think maybe there’s an accident – a huge dually truck, driven by an anxious white male, had been driving crazy, passing over 100mph on the right, swerving onto the shoulder rather than slow down for another vehicle. I figured he’d caused a pile-up, if not being part of the pile-up.
But I saw no evidence of an accident – only a lot of traffic. Soon I was over the bridge, missing the beautiful sites I can see from the big truck – I am in Chris’s little car so I can barely see over the wheels of the dually trucks, let alone the side of the bridge!
But it is still a beautiful drive. I head north on 101 and take the Lucas Valley Road turn off – thru the pretty coastal hills and some redwood valleys until finally hitting route 1 close to Inverness.
There is little traffic on 1 – I am grateful. When the road travels close to the ocean, I stop, park and walk for a minute along the wet sand. I dip my hands in the salt water and feel blessed again to live in California. I go back to the car and there, 4 or 5 feet from the hood is a little skunk, tail dragging behind her, foraging in the sandy hill surrounding the parking lot. She acts like she doesn’t notice me so I just wait patiently until she has turned around and waddled over another hill.
It feels like it is very late, but it is only close to 3 now. But dusk and the sunset will come early tonite. There is no evidence of fall – all the trees are green still. I keep going up 1, dipping onto the ocean beaches and then heading inland, but always within a stone’s throw of the mighty ocean – sometimes 20 or 30 feet high above it, sometimes ½ mile from it’s shores, but you know, the ocean is right there, to the left, a stretch away.
I am determined to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean. I grew up being able to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and always as a little girl fantasized about watching the sun set over an ocean. I reduce speed to travel through a sleepy little coastal town, tall trees lining the street now and suddenly I have to brake hard not to hit a deer that has jumped in front of the car as she bolts across the street. In the same second I feel relief missing her, I notice another deer following her & hear a soft thud but cannot tell if I have wounded the second deer.
There is a huge dually truck following too close on my tail – he doesn’t pause so I assume the deer has escaped.
As it gets closer to sunset, I look for a beach I can watch the show from. I am pretty far north and there are lots of beaches. I find a little overlook, grab my camera, and try to capture the soft, retreating sun. It is one of those calm sunsets, where most of the brilliance of the sun is covered by smooth fog. The reds and yellows spread out into a thin straight line far in the distance across the ocean’s surface. The sun is just a round glow, then a half-round glow, then just a broad slit of a glow – until it meshes with the straight red line resting on across the surface of the water as far as one can see left and right.
It is still bright even tho the sun has faded into dusk. I turn and see the giant full moon right behind me! She has suddenly appeared to brighten the dusk sky. I’m thrilled to be traveling when the moon is so full!
I continue up the coast, and finally see signs for the Redwood Forest – Avenue of the Redwoods. I have decided to camp amongst the Redwoods so I take the exit. It feels different, too much sky and open areas. I wonder where are the Redwoods. It didn’t feel this way when I drove my big truck through just a few months earlier.
I finally come to a camp ground only to find that it is closed for the season. I continue on and on, camp ground after camp ground, closed, closed, closed. I am disappointed and upset. I’m tired and wanted to call it a nite. I see that they’re charging $20 to camp in these public grounds anyway – 20 fuckin’ dollars. I can’t believe it. I remember the days of 3 and 5 dollar camp grounds, $8 was so expensive – of course that was before prop 13 and all.
I get out and hug a huge redwood, feeling the soft, soft layers of bark on my cheek. I cannot begin to put my arms even halfway around her bulk. She stands amongst several others, so I know the mother has been cut down a long time ago and these are the daughters. I am a daughter too, I say. I whisper my mission as I raise my head to see the very tops shining in the moon lite.
I get back on 101 – rt 1 has ended and 101 has begun now. I search for a rest stop – I haven’t seen one since I began this trip, although there have been plenty of public beaches (with no overnite stays allowed).
I have taped “120 U.S. soldiers committed suicide this week” on the back of the car on hot pink paper, and “Bring ‘em HOME NOW” – it stands out on the dark blue car. Chris is probably turning over in her grave – she wouldn’t even put a ‘CodePINK’ bumper sticker on her car. I have turned it into another statement for ending genocide NOW.
I stop at a gas station to use the bathroom and yet another huge dually truck pulls in next to me with a scowling white male behind the wheel. A teenager steps out the same time he does. “You’re a liar” he snarls. I have to think for a moment – I’m not in my truck so he can’t be talking about the Marine Corps lying to our youth. Then I remember: suicide. “Our soldiers are proud to serve – they’re helping Iraqi’s. If they are committing suicide, it’s your fault.” he continues.
I say to him “so you don’t believe soldiers are committing suicide, but if they are, then it’s my fault?” I regret that the teenager has disappeared – I want her to hear this.
It is dark, we are parked on the side of the station, I am tired and needing the bathroom. I tell man I’m happy to talk to him after he watches the CBS news report. I tell him I don’t need to make anything up, especially something as tragic as our youth killing themselves. But he has stomped off after the teenager.
I notice 2 highway patrol officers – they tell me there’s a rest stop 12 miles up the road, on the south side of 101 – so there’s where I’ll spend the nite.