August 29, 2008 - Departing Oakland
The sun rises up over the redwood canyon ridge across from the house at 7:00 am and with it the mercury begins to climb. We've been having a heat wave for the past few days an it seems like today will be one more in the chain of sweltering afternoons. There is almost nothing else to do to be ready to depart, but somehow, we take a few hours to complete last minute house departure chores. We've left temporary tenants to watch over the place, but as we review the instructions for them we realize there are a million little details that govern how we manage the plants, the feral cat, the water conservation, the sun and heat, operation instructions for all the high tech gizmos that should be easy to operate but are not, and on and on and on. After 5 pages of notes, I simply give up and wish them a good visit and cap it off with a list of some of our favorite places nearby for them to explore.
Waiting for Diane to be done with work, I've been busy preparing and imagining what this extended trip will be like. For the past few days I've been slowly adding items to the camper being careful not to infringe on the visible living space. That means modifying interior shelves, organizing drawers, and making use of every nook and cranny we can find to pack things like dried nuts, berries, spices, books, maps, camping equipment, tools, and the like. If there is anything we forgot, we'll need to get it as we go.
Our plans should take us in a grand clockwise arc out of California, north through Oregon out of the redwood empire. We'll then head north and east through Washington State - passing to the south and east of the Cascade Range popping up into southern British Columbia and the towns of Nelson and Ferny on the fringes of the rockies. From there, we'll dive back down to Glacier National Park/Waterton Lakes Park. We hear there is snow expected on the way - but its hard to image when the dashboard thermometer is climbing close to triple digits. From there we'll pick a route across the plains and weaving through the Great Lakes to end at Pumpkin Island in the St. Lawrence River - a place of peace, solitude and family just over the Canadian border and southwest of Ottawa in the 1,000 Island archipelago.
As we leave the Bay Area it seems as if someone has plucked the sky up by its center post and puled it upwards. Likewise with the hills, valleys and farm fields - the edges of our experience have been stretched outward as the landscape expands more and more as we leave the city and it's congestion behind. The number of cars shrink, but the size of the trucks grow - to doubles, even triples of tractor trailers. The machines in the fields dwarf the workers tending them, and the grain, corn, and rice elevators appear massive when surrounded by the pancake flat valley bottom of this ancient lake bed.
It's harvest time in the central valley and large combines can be seen churning over the vast fields - throwing up a cloud of dust, that in some places is the only indication of their presence - when seen from 5 miles away. Artichokes, fruit, vegetables, tomatoes, and nuts. Its hot out - really hot - like in the high 90's, and the sun beats unmitigated upon the earth here. The few clouds we have are high and scattered by the cold wind blowing in the stratosphere.
We're on a two hour rotation for driving duty - enough time to really settle into an activity, but not too long to get bored.