Northern California

There are places in Northern California where 270′ tall trees comb ocean breezes heavy with seawater and the smell of kelp. I hike through a short canyon where rivulets of spring water shower down mossy stone walls and collect in a glassy stream, which in turn reflects the fern embanked walls and a cerulean sky. We have been traveling for the last ten days, hiking, camping and visiting friends, all far away from Los Angeles and the Internet. I am composing this post on a yellow legal tablet and remembering that I like my own handwriting. If all goes as planned, I will drive fifteen miles into Crescent City, look for the best phone reception, and transcribe these words, one carpal tunnel-inducing letter at a time. Greetings from out in nature!

There are people who live in these places. Many make sacrifices to do so. The redwoods are full of trailer parks and double-wides. I asked a teenager working at the Safeway in Eureka, “What do people do here? What drives the economy?”. “Marijuana, I think. A lot of people grow weed”. I want to move out of Los Angeles, but I’m not ready to farm ganja to make it happen.

I love Los Angeles. I hate Los Angeles. It is both a home and a way point to something else, I’m not sure what. I’m tired of eating out. I want to eat something I have made with my own hands. I’m convinced that if we buy some of the Northern California coast, move in with a used RV, I could raise some chickens and grow some food. I could catch some fish and maybe make a go at professional photography. If that failed I could teach math or art at a local high school. No more smog. No more desk work. I would be done with it, and off to something different.

It has been seven days since I last hooked into the Internet, in a motel in Ukiah. Spotty reception and an IPhone provide glimpses of the tethered life. Susan tells me Obama’s speech in Germany inspired a crowd of more than 200,000. “That’s great!” I say, and I really mean it, but then we spot a herd of elk grazing along a coastal marsh. We pull over, and Susan leaves the phone in the car.

5 responses to “Northern California”

  1. lane says:

    weed, yes,

    check out this week’s new yorker. there’s an article on medical marijuana. it’s the author’s opinion that nothing but MJ drives the economy in Humbolt county. nothing.

    good luck with those “back to the land” fantasies.

  2. Dave says:

    I love your escape fantasy. I’m still hoping for a Great Whatsit commune at some point.

  3. ruben says:

    before you get rid of all of your technology i’d watch a certain albert brooks movie…

  4. lane says:

    ah yes, lost in america, so great!

    “head out on the highway, heavy metal thunder . . . “

  5. Ahhhh! Back in LA, and wired once more.

    1. Lane, that copy of the New Yorker was waiting for me in my mail box when I got home (even though I had put a hold on my mail, it was sticking out out like a big fat tongue. The USPS will do what it wants). A fun read. California rules!

    2. Count me in for the Whatsit commune… just please let it happen in California.

    3&4. I will add it to my netflix list ASAP. The escape fantasies always hit a wall when I run into someone that is actually failing at something similar, like this guy living out of his van up in Trinidad. It was fun listening to him jam on his guitar and wail to the crowd of six, but after his first set, I started to talk to him about life, and I realized he was in a fairly desperate situation. Susan won’t let me get to that point, but I probably would if she and Asa weren’t around. I’d seriously fall off the map if it weren’t for those two.