Saturday, August 20, 2005

On the road again...

August 17, 2005

I’m in a dingy Motel 6 in Eureka with the girls. It’s the Wild Blue Yonder all over again. Ostensibly I’m driving India up to Eugene for her ‘not back to school camp’, and visiting my sister in Redding on the way. But….I decided to make a detour up the coast and check out the rural landscape east of Eureka and Arcata. And I’m dragging the poor girls with me.

Actually we had a really nice time swimming in the Eel River on the way up here. Very refreshing! A young fellow parked next to us in a big old pickup truck gave us a watermelon he’d grown! His truck was full of them. And we had a nice exchange with a Latino family from Nevada with 4 boys who shared the beach with us.

I was surprised to discover that the motel rates are much much higher here in the Summer. So we ended up in this grungy place--honestly, I don’t know how it got so dirty. Places in Chiang Mai were'nt this gritty. But the beds are clean, and the TV works and we’ll be on our way tomorrow.

I’m debating whether to just drive around, or actually go see a real estate agent. There’s also the North Coast Environmental Center in Arcata, we might go have a chat with them. I’m just wondering what sort of arable land they have East of here and if there are nice communities--mini Sebastopols. We’ve only ever just driven through.

The girls are apt to be bored half to death tomorrow. I’ll try to make it up to them somehow.

I’m doing this, of course, because of the Peak Oil material I’ve been reading. I just want to explore some options, apart from waiting for the housing bubble to explode in Sonoma County.

So far, I have to say that Eureka is pretty damned ugly--except for the old town. And it’s awfully gray and it kind of stinks (from the pulp mill, I’m told). And there are lots of bums!

Wish me luck,


Friday August 19, 2005

I’m sitting on a big rock, which looks something like slate, all dark gray and covered with yellow green moss, here on the banks of the Trinity river. The sun has just risen over the canyon wall and is turning the water deep translucent green and sparkling white on the rapids. Across the river from our sandy beach a waterfall courses down through boulders and a thriving colony of plants. Stunning.

We got here last night about 6:30pm. This is a place Krista and I discovered 21 years ago. We've been here many times off and on, but this is the first time I’ve been here without her. I remember being here when India was in Krista’s womb. And Eden was here when she was about two, though forest fires made the Trinity Alps so smoky we couldn’t stay or even go in for a swim. I don’t think she remembers at all.

When we arrived last night the sun was off the water and beach, but the air was still quite warm. I decided to go for it and stripped off my clothes and (for me) got right in. Actually, my way of entering wild water has been consistent for about 30 years--I wade in up to my knees and turn around and lay back into it. A process which may take quite a long time depending on how cold the water is. Last night the water was surprisingly not-cold. I can’t say it was warm! I reckon the sun had been beating down on the river all day warming it up all up the line. I was surprised anyway, and very pleased. The beach is on a broad deep spot with white water just above. I love to swim out to the rapids and ride the strong current down, past the waterfall and the huge rocky banks on the other side. Heavenly.

There are a few big rocks down low in the water, but mainly it's just sand, which makes getting in and out very nice. And the sand feels very clean and it has gold (pyrite) flakes in it that glitter in the sun. I love this place.

The girls were enchanted and India finally got in and swam for a bit. We were all thinking that it might be rather nicer sleeping on the beach instead of some musty hotel in Weaverville, so I tramped up the hill, dodging the poison oak, and brought down our sleeping bags and pillows and that’s what we did.

We went to bed with the sun and amused ourselves by watching the stars come out and guessing which ones were planets. And there were bats swooping overhead for excitement. Occasionally headlights from a passing car would shine on the cliff face across the river and slowly glide across. Just as the girls were drifting off to sleep I woke them up, making that sort of gasping ’whoa!’ sound one makes when seeing a shooting star. It was a big one! Biggest I’d ever seen.

The sand seemed much softer when we were walking on it. Once I was laying down it didn’t really feel so much like sand anymore. More like cement! And it did get a bit cold right before dawn. Both girls said they got cold in the night, a bit, but made it clear that they didn’t mind. We were all glad to wake up on the beach.

I woke up often during the night and could see that time had passed by how far the stars had moved. Once India actually got up sleepwalking! She stumbled down to the river (dreaming that her shoes and sleeping bag had fallen in). She actually started to step into the water! Weird. I had to shout to wake her up enough to get her back to bed.

I was afraid of two things as we were setting out our bags and going to sleep--I was afraid of bad men breaking into our car, or bothering us down on the beach. And I was afraid of a mountain lion coming around (and eating one of us!). So we left all our food in the car, and I made a pile of rocks to throw and got a good stick, and the flashlight. I also said a prayer for white light around us. I could easily have given into that fear and we’d have ended up in a motel. I’m so glad I faced it down.

Now the sun is really warming up the air (though the breeze is still cold) and the water is waiting. The girls are collecting white ‘crystals’ while I type. We had French bread and cheese, grapes and almonds, baby carrots and chocolate soymilk for breakfast. Now it’s time for cookies and soon to swim.

About a year ago Krista discovered that one can buy old stone farmhouses in rural France for really cheap. We spent some time looking at different ones on the internet. We had just read a book by an American lady who spent had bought a funky old house and spent time there every year, slowly getting to know and be accepted by her neighbors and getting to know the surrounds. It was an enchanting story and I was enjoying fantasizing about the good life in France. I ordered a book for about $25 all about moving to France. It covered every aspect of relocating from the ins and outs of buying property to adjusting culturally. By the time I’d read the 10 page introduction titled something like “Is France really for you?” I knew that No! It wasn’t! I considered that $25 well spent.

Such was my little side trip up to Eureka-Arcata. Land is certainly a lot more expensive than rural France, but about half the price of Sonoma County. Meredith and Steve had recentlly visited Arcata and had given me a real estate brochure to look over. It seemed do-able. We could go in together on some farm land. Krista was getting worried and depressed--was I going to try dragging her off to the gray Northlands again?

But no. After touring about and taking the back roads, burning through a quarter tank of biodiesel, and talking to folks at the North Coast Environmental Resource Center and in shops and cafes, and even sitting down with a real estate agent---No. No way. Better to keep waiting for the bubble to pop. I want to stay in Sonoma County. Peak oil or no. If we’re going to die at the hands of starving marauding cannibal suburbanites, well so be it!



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