Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hoofprints in the Sand

A few months ago, Hubby asked me what I wanted to do for my 40th Birthday, and also as a “last hurrah” before he goes back to school for two years. I gave it some thought, and kept coming back to the same longing---to see some Old Growth Redwood forests again. I’ve long been enchanted by these forests. These trees, and their cousins the Giant Sequoia and Dawn Redwood, deeply resonate with me in ways that go beyond mere appreciation of a pretty tree or forest. These trees make me verklempt and humbled, and I find a peace in their deep forests that I don’t find anywhere else. The floor of an Old Growth Redwood forest is carpeted with big, poofy, lush ferns, with relatively little underbrush, unlike your typical forest. They also don't reek of gaudy pine, but have an earthy fragrance, like an old book or a comfortable room in an old house. They smell of the elements. These forests also tend to be rather quiet and still, with a humming sense of great age and timelessness. Redwoods are the largest living things on the planet, and grow to remarkable heights and ages. They inspire. They also have a tenacity for life and an ability to adapt to nearly all sorts of hardship and injury that serve as an allegory for life. These guys want to live, and they’re able to regrow in crazy situations, like the Phoenix of the tree world. The result is like being in Nature’s Cathedral, a place you can’t help but feel reverent, serene, primordial and mesmerized. Truly, when you walk into an Old Growth Redwood Forest, you’re walking right into the belly of ageless, enduring Nature and this recharges my soul like nothing else. On top of that, Hubby had never experienced a Redwood Forest, being used to the usual pine forests of our northern dry climates, so that simply amplified my desire to share this with him even more. Honestly, if you get a chance to meander through an Old Growth Redwood forest, don’t pass it up!

So we decided to do a three day tour of the Redwood National and State Parks around the CA and OR border, focusing on the
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There was so much to do, and three days is hardly enough, but we were able to get a good taste for the time being. A quick fix. We even saw three magnificent Roosevelt Elk bulls up close, as they quietly meandered through the trails in their own good time, very dignified and commanding, calmly gazing at those who tip-toed by, giving them their due space. I must sculpt one of these incredible animals! How can such a big-antlered, large animal move so quietly? They reminded me of the day incarnation of the Forest God as he walked with the deer in Princess Mononoke (btw, I plan to create some little garden Kodama of my own!). What a magical moment. After his graduation in two years, I would love to return for a week long camping trip. That would be a fitting celebration, I think. Hubby was completely blown away, and wants to return, as well. We even hiked to Fern Canyon, which while not Redwoody, was well worth the trek!

Let me back track a little bit though---we started the week riding out of Boise with a large HOG group, who where also touring the Northwest area to end up in Joseph, OR for the Bronze, Blues & Brews Festival, which we originally planned to end up at, too, but our schedule didn't allow for it this time (next go-round though!). Instead, I wanted to visit
my brother and my sister-in-law in Bend, Oregon, which worked great on our way to the coast. It was great to see Little Bro and Megan again! They took us on this fabulous little hike around Lake Todd and what a great way to spend an afternoon! We also got to play with their old Lab, Noah, by throwing his "kong" into the lake and he'd bound in to fetch it. He's a seasoned hiker, and behaves so beautifully on the trail, no barking, no harassing the wildlife and no getting out of control. Later, we walked around downtown Bend and sampled the brews at Deschutes Brewery in downtown Bend. They had some dark specialty stouts available only on the premises that were outstanding! Wow. Thanks so much Alex and Megan! It was a terrific time!

The next day, we left for Crescent City, which would serve as our headquarters for Redwood indulgence. Our hotel there was right next to Battery Point, one of the last commissioned lighthouses in America. It was so cool to gaze on it from our balcony window every day! We ate a fabulous dinner at The Beachcomber that blew my socks off! I'd never had halibut cheeks before, and wow....the texture of lobster or crab with a flavor between halibut and shrimp. Yum! Cooked perfectly, in a crushed pistachio crust!

Then we left for our ride to Oregon Caves National Monument, since Hubby wanted to see this cave, being a "cave man." The tour was fascinating, and our room in the Chateau was rustic and comfortable. Our dinner there was wonderful, too. I had bison meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes and Hubby had prime rib, washed down with Dechutes Obsidian Stout.

Then off to Crater Lake for a quick stop, on our way back to Bend, Friday night. This lake is stunning and so impressive! We definitely want to return for a ride around the rim, and some leisure hiking. My photos are a bit hazy from the smoke from the CA fires, but it was still a thrilling view all the same.

We also did all sorts of little silly things along the way, taking as many walks along the beach in the mornings and evenings as we could! We both love the ocean, and venture to the coast as often as we can.

We arrived back Saturday, exhausted and happy. Perfect timing---we were ready to come home. I missed my Charmkins unbearably and Hubby was ready to just chill at home again. So many adventures and wonderful memories! As my family will tell you, I'm a pill to get out the door for a vacation. Really awful. I turn into an ill-tempered Tasmanian Devil at the thought of...gasp...not working in the studio for a week. All the work that needs to be done, and the thought of not doing it drives me insane. Also, when you love what you do so much, on every level of your being, not doing it is a kind of torture. However, my dear Hubby weathers my tantrums and grumpiness like a patient Redwood, and once I'm out the door, everything is peachy. When I return, I realize just how re-charging the experience was, how necessary it is to step out of the studio routine and reorient one's perceptions and priorities once and awhile. Will this stop my crabbiness before our next vacation? No. It's just one of my quirks that I hope my Hubby will eventually find amusing.

Anyway, Hubby did a brilliant job piloting the bike, and his Fatboy performed like a champ, as always. We're racking up a lot of great memories on that bike! Plus, touring on a bike is so different that riding in a car. In a car, you're hermetically sealed away from the world, in this bubble that removes you from the road, but on a bike, you experience the journey. The smells, the temperature changes, the weather, the wind, the motions on the bike to ride it....you become the journey in many ways. Not for everyone, I know, but I've found it gives me a richer experience.

I have a new eagerness to get back into the studio and as I reminisce on the past week, I'm sure I'll find new sources of inspiration!

"The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn't know enough to take a vacation." ~Clarence Day

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