The morning after posting my last blog, I awoke planning to drive all the way here (to Pleasant Valley Sanctuary, henchforth known as PVS) but had an email that their generator had broken, and it would be better if I could wait a few days. Right from the get-go, I was optimistic about the news...knowing I could take the opportunity to have a spontaneous adventure and scope out the region I’ve been so enamored by, despite really not having spent any time here. The verdict is out already... it’s all it’s cracked up to be!!
Ashland gets an A for Awesome! The town itself is just quaint. A real cozy, comfy atmosphere, with barely any chain stores (of course Starbucks has infiltrated!). Over the next day and a half, I checked out all the little cafes (got a ton of my continuing education credits done for renewing my Architecture license), and spent probably close to two hours just driving around, completely enthralled with the residential architecture. This town is pretty much my ideal. The homes are diverse, charming, well-maintained, and pretty obviously loved. Everywhere I turned there was a house I would live in (which is saying a lot... I’m picky about such things you know;)!! They have this great innercity park and the entire town is surrounded by mountains, half of the homes build into the side of them (thankfully the old truck was able to chug it’s way up ;). I went to my favorite last minute website, meetup.com (which is where I discovered Dragon Boating btw) and found a group run to join. There were around 13 of us, we met at ms. gung-ho's house, and proceeded to run an ‘only a local would know’ route through the woods for an amazing trail run! Over little streams, past a waterfall, along a private dike... and up and down big ol’ hills! A small group of us couldn’t keep up with the hardcore-ers, but we still ended up doing a not-so-shabby 6 miles! It was wonderful! Also found on meetup.com, I joined a group hike of 27 nice folks (plus 5-6 dogs!) for an afternoon hike in the nearby historic gold miner town of Jacksonville. That too was just wonderful. Friendly, kind people :). I give a serious A grade to this place... the ONLY thing holding it from an A+ is the cloud cover. If I find someplace like this with a sunnier disposition, I’ll be hooked :)
|Old train trestle in the forest on our hike|
Next it was on to Redding, but I can’t skip over this drive! Normally I like to use travel time as my phone time, killing two birds with one stone you know. In this case, I made one birthday call and that was it... I couldn’t be distracted from this great beauty!!!!! From Ashland just over the border is amazing. It was all snow dusted, evergreen immersion. Love. The next 30 or so miles of Cali is pretty, not really my thing though, more desert like, with low bushes and vast views. BUT then... there is Shasta. Ahhhhh Shasta, I must come back and see you ;o). It had been cloudy, but right as I was passing by (and singing happy 30th birthday to ms. Kim) the sky opened, the blue came, and the mountain appeared!!!! Waaa LLLaaaa!!!! Wow! I’ve heard so many things about this town, a spiritual mecca it is, which I def want to check out..... but that mountain is what calls me. I must climb it!
|The last bit of Oregon|
|Just entering California!|
From there on is the Mt. Shasta National park... back to my happy realm. Incredible greens and hills and rivers and valleys! SOOO great! I pulled into Redding, and was greeting by freshly baked cookies and 3 adorable children :). An old friend from high school hooked me up with her friends for a place to stay, and it ended up being someone who has been in a band with my cousin! Small world! Not so surprisingly, their kids (9,7, and 3) and I got along juuuuusstt fine :). Cats cradle, duct tape jewelry, an intro to parkour, flying helicopter toys, and a few flips got us aquainted real quick:). In the morning, after a ballerina story reading, we said our goodbyes, and I was off again. I checked out the Sundial bridge by famous architect Calatrava... It's pretty neat. Then off to Shasta Dam/Shaska Lake. That was pretty sweet :). From there I drove to Chico, a city that I’d been told is worth a visit. That drive was neat. A small, almost country road highway FULL of orchards, barns, tractors and fruit stand signs. I’d love to bike this road, stop when they are in season and try everything!
|Mt. Shasta National park|
|Sundial bridge, Redding, CA|
|Love that I caught the birds :)|
|View from Shasta Dam. <3|
|I think tractors are sexy ;)|
|Must come back in Spring!|
Saying Chico is worth a visit was an understatement. I had a FABULOUS time there! First off, went to a cute cafe for lunch. Guy next to me immediately starts chatting it up, gets us a teapot to share. We decide to roam the town. I got an odd feeling then, so those of you who think I never take any precaution, I made a clean exit! Decided to try my luck at selling my hats, so settled in on the main strip with my freshly made cardboard signs. I’ve realized that selling these hats for me is more about the social experiment then it is about actually selling them. It’s very interesting to be behind a cardboard sign on the street. There are those who avoid eye contact at all costs, and won’t even look at what you are doing/selling. Those who look but quickly glance away and are pretty uncomfortable. Then those who smile. Who say, ‘cute’ or some other token of acknowledgment. Those who stop for a chat or exchange of words, say thank you. :). There are also those that have zero intention of buying but want to chat it up with someone for 30 minutes ;0). The adage “I’ll come back later and buy one”... sureeee :). THEN, you have the people that makes the whole thing worth it. The reason I’ll keep selling hats in random places, for the intriguing psychological study that it is. There came Courtney. She rides up on her bike and wants to know if I have gloves. We start chatting. Few minutes later she sits, within ten minutes, we’ve got a dinner date! She goes to return her bike and Chris comes by. We chat (actually, WHILE we chat, a car with 2 ladies pulls up honking, passes him a slip of paper with a phone number!!! Hilarious!!!! I love that I got to witness that!!!). He’s going to get ice cream with his girlfriend and I’m invited to that too :). I have to wait for Courtney though, but thanks. Few minutes later, I’m eating tacos with Courtney, her bf, and a guy named Cornelius who was an extra in a Christopher Walken movie back in ’85. He was an interesting fellow ;). The dinner was nice, turns out Courtney is studying to be a doula (a midwife like) and she and her bf also want to start/work/live in a commune! Ahhh, maybe Barefoot Village just got a labor division ;)! Then it’s off to Ben’s place. Ben is a couchsurfer who messaged me in perfect timing that I could stay oveer. He wasn’t home yet, but I could go on ahead. I was greeted by roomies Lindsay and Jeremy, with who I chatted up a storm. Ben and JP get home, and the 5 of us stay up a few hours and bs. Good people!!! I surf that couch, get fed breakfast, and then it’s a Chico adventure! Ben is succccch an interesting person! He’s a pedicab driver (bike taxi) who is really interested in reviving farming in America. He gives me a free ride around the block on his cab, where he posts his own really impressive “poem of the day”. An artist too! It’s a perfectly cool, clear day, so after that we take regular bikes and ride thru Bidwell Park (the 3rd largest municipal park in Cali), tour the downtown, and stop for hot drinks at an old train car turned coffee house! Neat! We’re two birds of a feather, similar thoughts about sooo many things, so conversations just flowwww. This is what I love about couchsurfing!! There are so many interesting people out there to meet!!! We ride back thru a cork forest! WOW! Chico is FULL of WAY friendly people!!! Chico gets an A for people!
|Dinner with Courtney and Michael!|
|Ben had me do a Mad Libs, that ended up being this awesome message left for the roomies :)|
|Bike ride and train car cafe!|
|Perfect Pedicab message :)|
The drive from there to PSV was more orchard lined roads. Another thing I should mention about this ENTIRE drive from Kelso, the whole 600+ miles of it... it was almost perfectly devoid of road rage!! On my part certainly, but more impressively on others too!!! I set the cruise control to the speed limit (a true feat for me, I must be feeling zen, that never happens) and couldn’t believe how many cars actually drive under the speed limit!!!! There was no tailgating, no cut offs, no traffic jams. Pretty freakin’ chill!!!! Pretty much just all-around wonderful journey this whole way.
Back to the drive, about the last 10 miles, it became the mountains and 15mph winding roads. I pass a fabulous covered bridge, the sun starts setting and the rolling hills are lit with that wonderful dusk light. I reach the driveway and there is a creek on the property!!!! A wonderful surprise! Jamie (who I’ve been coordinating with) greets me, he just oozes of peace and calm and quiet! He walks me to my adorable yurt, a simple 13’ octagon room, complete with my own balcony and spectacular view of the sunset!!! Yes, yes, yes. It’s just perfect :). He walks me thru the gardens, shows me the money creek-view, and that’s it for today, we’ll talk more at dinner :). I unpack, make my room my own. There is cell and internet reception on the property, but not in my cabin- exactly what I was hoping for! It’s just me, my books, my writing, my art, and a perfect view of the landscape.
|My new drive 'home' :)|
|Perfectly timed arrival. A good sign and sign I'd say :)|
|My balcony. Yay :)|
I go up for dinner and meet Naomi. As described by Jamie, she’s a “feisty 82 year old”. My first impression is of shock... I would never guess 82. Another benefit a lifetime of yoga no doubt :). She’s impressively mobile and with a head of jet black hair. I haven’t sensed the feisty yet, but she certainly has led an life I’m dying to hear all about. We chat as dinner is finished. It’s just the three of us for January. In February another girl will come. We dine on baked yams, avocado salad and broccoli carrot soup. It’s delicious. Conversation is easy. It feels nice. I do feel much louder than either of them. Both are softspoken. We’ll see if it rubs off on me ;).
Back to my room. It’s going to be fascinating to see how our relationship grows. What my chores will be. How my own energy morphs. If I can transform and find the balance I so seek. I love right now :)