Here's something I've noticed: No matter where I go to stop and make dinner, sleep, or just settle in and hang out, I'm almost never out of earshot of the sound of cars. Granted some places have very little traffic (Montgomery Woods), or less traffic but the sound of ventilation fans from nearby grow rooms (Redwood Valley), but otherwise I can't seem to get away from it. I'm realizing I need to regularly spend time in places with no traffic noise or I think I'm gonna go a little crazy.
The past week or two hasn’t had an excessive amount of adventure in it, but I’ve been working on the van with my dad, (built new cabinets, installed a faucet with running water (!!), putting some finish on the interior…), spending a little time with Aurora before she heads off to her next adventure, working, and enjoying a bit of city life with Megan. After one such SF visit, I drove all the way up to Ft. Bragg for a photo shoot, enjoying my first drive up the length of Hwy 128 for the first time in forever. I have some poignant memories of that drive, which goes from Cloverdale up through Yorkville, Boonville, Philo and Navarro before connecting with Hwy 1 on the Mendocino Coast. Memories from the time I still lived in the Bay Area but my life was taking big turns that eventually led me northward. I’ll save the story of that particular time for later (or for that memoir I’m gonna write when I’m old), but some of my first memories of Mendocino County were made along that highway as well as the little towns of Albion and Mendocino. The road and surrounding acreage is picture-perfect gorgeous, and never ceases to impress me even after all these years.
After my photo shoot I headed down to Big River Beach to cook some dinner and take a walk along the river and out to the ocean to watch the sunset. That, too, is a very special place, for many many reasons that stretch back over 23 years. Lots of memories there.
I decided to spend the night at Montgomery Woods again, and drove out Comptche/Ukiah road to my little spot in the redwoods, which waited for me like a faithful lover. I was pretty tired from the full day of driving, so I turned in early. Woke before dawn and took a walk along the road, taking in the rich aromas of the rainforest and appreciating the quiet solitude and the chance to enjoy the beauty of this place once again before heading eastward feeling good I’d gotten an early start to my day considering how much I had to do in town. I was only 10 minutes from Ukiah, but lo and behold, I’d forgotten that Orr Springs Road was closed for construction. A chunk of the road collapsed in a mudslide the winter before last, and the county is finally getting around to fixing it. Slapping my forehead and cursing my bad memory, I turned around and headed back up the road. I stopped at the Greenfield Ranch gate praying I remembered the gate code (I did), and cut through the ranch out to Redwood Valley and then down to Ukiah. Took me an hour out of my way, but I got to see one of my favorite places in all the world and didn’t have to drive all the way back around through Boonville.
The following week I found myself back out in Fort Bragg again for another photo shoot, and after finishing up I drove out to Pudding Creek beach to park and have some dinner. The sun was going down over the ocean and it shone through the trestle in such a sublime way, I had to get out my camera and make some photos.
It began getting dark, and I drove around town looking for a place to park, eventually settling in a tiny corner of an industrial area on the north edge of town. It was quiet enough that night, but I was awakened by garbage trucks tossing cans and revving engines just before 5 AM and never fell back to sleep. Hashtag vanlife.
I spent a lot of time this week driving around the Ukiah valley making photos for Visit Ukiah, the city’s tourism board who’ve hired me to run their social media and create content for it. It’s a pretty cool job, providing me with the opportunity to visit wineries, parks, lakes, rivers, campgrounds, restaurants, and tons of other places I might not otherwise go. And especially now that the weather is getting warm, being outside taking photos is a delight. I’m pretty fortunate to be able to do this for work.