emma b. says

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Notes from the Road

I don't want to talk about Tuesday, when the movers came.... Let's just say I had been on the phone in the bath until early Tuesday morning with the Runner (uh huh) and woke up for the last morning in my apartment with a hang over and a lot of lust.

Yeah, moving companies, a lot like a remodel, whatever they quote, just double.


I wake up at two. bing!
I wake up at three. bing!
I wake up at four it's pissing rain. bing!

P wakes me up at seven. bing!
walking, coffee, breakfast, empty apartment, goodwill, mopping. bing! we labor over packing my car, somehow we make it all work, we high five, we embrace quickly, she says drive.

It's noon o'clock, I leave the City under strange skies, pelicans track me incuriously as I cross the bridge and wheel away. There is no ceremony, there is no trumpet playing taps, I am a little surprised, instead, out of the rearview mirror, the city is as still in profile as ever.

Up 101N to Cloverdale, I take the 128W. I stop for lunch in an old school weird place, in my quest for old school weird... Pasta Garden/ Burger Shack.... What a beautiful road, through the tail end of the Alexender Valley and through the highlands of the Anderson Valley, apples and grapes and pumpkins and no cars, and then redwoods and dappled light out to the coast, up the coast. I had intended to stay in Mendocino, but found it entirely too precious and decided to head to the more downmarket Fort Bragg. I hadn't been this far north (by car) since I was little girl, staying in funky places and the yollobolly wilderness with the train, you know, the train with the face.... I called my parents when I got to Ft. Bragg - I have a phone tree I am obliged to dial -- at least four numbers when I end up somewhere.

So last night, covered in late afternoon seaspray and the morning's last push of moving sweat, I pull into some AARP approved Inn called the Harbor Lite, this befuddled me to no end, I was all, what it's a diet friendly harbor for the blue haired set????? I elected to spend more money for the view of the harbor and the sea, and the sign posted on the door before my window very sternly warned me not to bring my freshly caught fish into the room.

I had dinner down in the old harbor, fish tacos and margaritas, there was a blue heron, and there were seals bobbing in the dusk, before the breakers were melting towards an untamed peach, before the sky went violet and I decided it was time to sleep.



The alarm sounds in darkness, black out kind of darkness, I hit snooze out of reflex, then I lie there coming to conciousness, I have no idea where I am. My last clear image is a salt sprayed beach somewhere, with things bobbing in the surf, I thought they were seals, but they might have been posts.

I tumble out of the extra large king, fall to the floor, try for a few half assed pilates moves, ignore the knot the size of lower manhattan in my back, eat a waffle, drink some old people coffee, check out and get in the car, and drive through the sporadic pockets of rain.

I still haven't wept.

I am still tense enough that the food and coffee just liquifies...


I've got more to tell, but have been on the phone with the Runner, and now suddenly it's 2:3o and I am in desperate need of sleep.

Still, it's undeniably savage in it's beauty, still the roads beg for double fisted driving and race car dreams, still there is the surf breaking to my left and the river to my right, still, still, wending my way through the trees after so many moss green hours, a girl starts to wonder when the road will end, when the road has only just begun.

Somewhere just past noon highway one came to a sudden end at the 101N juncture, I was grateful to rediscover two lanes and seventy (eighty-five). My but those trees are ancient and massive.

Stopped in Garberville for lunch, some place called the Eel River cafe, full of cows, wallpapered in the eighties, your lackadaisical waitress may or may not be interested in delivering your lemonade, but the french fries were good. P says I have got to talk to people on my road trip, honestly, I would rather eavesdrop, I got no business trying to talk to people I don't want to, I would much rather drive.

So I get back on the road, full of turkey and cheese and hybrid lemonade, I decide to wait out gasoline until I get to Eureka, sixty miles or so of nobody else on the road and my iPod assuming I am a gay man. Up, and up and north we go, with the eel river to my right and the coast just beyond my reach, up and up we go, I keep rubbing at my eyes. See my maps, they don't match, my California map ends at Ft Bragg, and I sort of thought that California ended there, but then there is Eureka, and Arcata and Crescent City, lonely towns in lonely places and all I thought is who but the hippies and the freaks and the misanthropes would live out here in the wilds of the Pacific, who indeed, the freaks, the misanthropes and the hippies all living in tenuous harmony.

P calls just before I get to Eureka, we talk for a minute, but my mind is on the road, also, I need gasoline. I fill up, sort of, my mind has some disconnect, and I sort of drive off before my tank is full, I think I must have it in the back of my mind that once I get to Oregon, they'll clean my windows and take my pulse, I mean check my pressure.....

And then, I am following the signs north, towards Arcata, towards Oregon, Sufijan Stevens comes on the iPaod and I have dual thoughts, one, I could turn east, here at the 299, make for the nearest airport and disappear, I have an eight hour lead before anyone would worry, and two, I am an american cliche, the stateless girl with no address, in the packed to gill vehicle, replete with random lampshade (the movers forgot, and the agave plant that travels with me) not six minutes later I got a speeding ticket, which only made me cry harder, from Klamath to Crescent City.

but I saw elk, and I saw beauty, I saw rocks jutting from the coast like giant primordial shark fins coming forth to take us all to sea.

I drove and I drove and I drove, through eight hours of topography, through mountains and valleys and dying seaside towns, and I landed here.

I am in Bandon, Oregon. Quaint old town on the harborlet where I will walk tomorrow. I had an excellent dinner at the wine bar, I ate baby artichokes and crab salad washed down with a lovely tuscan white, I decided that life - speeding ticket aside - was good.

I expect to reach Portland tomorrow, late afternoon.


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