Wednesday, July 2, 2008

On the Road

“And for just a moment I had reached the point of ecstasy that I always wanted to reach, which was the complete step across chronological time into timeless shadows, and wonderment in the bleakness of the mortal realm, and the sensation of death kicking at my heels to move on, with a phantom dogging its own heels, and myself hurrying to a plank where all the angels dove off and flew into the holy void of uncreated emptiness, the potent and inconceivable radiancies shining in bright Mind Essence, innumerable lotus lands falling open in the magic mothswarm of heaven.”
– On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Ah yes. To be on the road again is a magical experience. Countryside of all varieties whipping past the windshield, flipping through the radio station to get a glimpse into the ears of the locals, munching on crunchy things sweet and salty, feet on the dashboard taking in the sun.

But let’s back up and tell this story how it ought to be told.

Monday. I wake up to the daunting task of moving all of our belongings into our Honda Accord. As the sun streams into the window to warm up the apartment, Nate and I begin filling the car. Four hours later we fear that not everything will fit. While Nate magically continues to stuff bags and boxes into the car, I start cleaning. First the bathroom, then the kitchen, then the rest of the apartment. Top to bottom! Everything gets scrubbed, vacuumed, and scrubbed again. They’re not going to deduct from our beloved deposit if I can help it!!

At 4:20pm, we hand in our keys and say goodbye to Bill and Margaret (and their daughter, who has taken a liking to Nate). Whew. We’re off. Oh wait. Except the passenger seat is already filled with stuff. I end up sitting on piles of stuff with bags on my bent legs that almost reach the ceiling. It’s going to be a long drive.

At 7:17pm, Nate finishes his shift at Stone Gardens and by 7:40pm we are on I-5 heading south. South, south and more south. Oh, and a little east. The sun sets and we are left in darkness to navigate the winding roads through the interior of Oregon.

Arrive in Smith Rock State Park at 1am, dig the tent and sleeping gear out from the piles of STUFF, set up camp, and asleep under the stars by 1:38am!

Tuesday. The sun wakes us up, poking us in the face. In record time we pack up our gear and set off on the trail. For months, Nate has wanted to return here to take a picture. It’s not just any picture. He has the perfect picture in his mind’s eye. And we need to take it. Today.

So we hike down to the river, breathing in the spectacularly intoxicating views and listening to the warming sun. Across the river and up up up the winding path to the top of the huge rock face. Loose pebbles slide out from under us. Nate has to wait for me to rehydrate and catch my breath. He’s a speedy hiker.

At the top, the breeze and shade add some much needed relief. Nate explains the picture he wants and I try to capture it. He wants to be climbing on this boulder with the huge rock tower looming behind him.

Click. Click. Click. Clickclickclickclickclick. I must take a gazillion pictures, but Nate’s not satisfied. Click click click. It’s getting hot. Click click. I want to get on the road. We have a nine hour driving day ahead of us. Click. Nate, the power climber, climbs and poses until I finally convince him that we should go.

On the hike down, I pretend that I am a little desert animal.

On the road by noon. South on US-97. We pass Oregonian small towns and beautiful countryside. For four hours I sit in the passenger seat with my legs crunched in unhealthy yoga-like positions. There are things falling on me from all directions. I started fanaticizing about throwing things out of the car window. My only thoughts were: “we need to get rid of ALL of our stuff RIGHT NOW” and “I hope Nate slows down because the last thing we need is a speeding ticket.”

We stop at a viewpoint of Mt. Shasta. I couldn’t walk, my legs and back were in such bad shape. After a few photos, I started driving.

We drove into California. Nate’s long legs didn’t look so happy. We saw if we could speak without using the letter “r.” Sentences went like this: I do not have a job because I am busy navigating this vehicle in the planet.

Lush hills covered in trees outlined beaches with water of the bluest hue. California drivers range from severely aggressive to arrogant left-lane huggers.

As the sun was setting we pulled into Berkeley. Nate’s mom’s apartment is on top of a hill overlooking the city. The view is awesome, but I just wanted to unpack and unwind.

After a pasta dinner I pass out to the sounds of Nate’s busy fingers on his laptop’s keyboard. Click click click.

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