Changing Templates Pt. 4
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
1633 miles, three passes, twelve summits, three crests, and several legitimate, but unnamed, candidates for several of the above, and I was standing by the Pacific Ocean just off Highway 1, “The Shoreline Highway”. The day of departure was like so many of its predecessors – filled with unexpected hurdles on the way to accomplish simple, last tasks on the “To Do” list. The plumber blew out the water pipes, we put RV Anti-Freeze down all the drains. The electrical plugs were pulled and the door closed – but I forgot to check the door to see if it was securely closed! I guess it’s fair to say that I never leave calmly.
But it’s been relatively easy days with very special friends, delightful cousins, and my loving Auntie Irene wineing and dining me for all but one of six nights of travel. I like taking the old, U.S. Highways. So that is what I’ve done – given my thirty year old Road Atlas, I took on more of those summits than any right headed fellow with even a modicum of sense would have.
I spent one morning with tea and serene music watching the sun rise over the valleys and mountains of the Trinity Alps in Northern California; took ‘the Avenue of the Giants’ and ‘The Redwood Highway’; made the obligatory New Age, burned again Hippie stop to feel for the pulse of a giant redwood – which was entirely unsuccessful. Did not stop at the ‘World Famous Tree House’ where it was clear that only a Hobbit who has drunk a substantial amount of Ent drink would find it comfortable lodging. That last reference is not entirely off the mark, for not too much further on there was the ‘Elfin Glen’ tourist stop.
I am writing most of this on a sunny, 50 degree day by the ocean. It’s a fine, isolated, clamber down the bluff beach with a seal sitting on a rock some 200 yards from shore and some of his fellows bobbing in the water less than 30 feet out.
History – particularly that of the 16th Century Mediterranean – has been a major determiner in my utilizing Travel as antidote and in determining where to go. While I recognize that it is not an entirely profound insight, I realized very quickly while crossing Montana that I was traversing History on my way to travel History. Lewis and Clark’s astounding mountain, ridge-top journey – over a hundred miles of clefts, valleys, downed trees, and near starvation – Grange Halls, the Oregon Trail, El Camino Real (a name, by the way, that only was applied by travel hucksters in the American 1920’s to the ‘Route of the Missions’ in California established by Fr. Junipero Serra beginning 1769). I guess one could say that it is a tidal pool type of history compared to the deep ocean history of Venice, the deeper history of Rome, and the nearly fathomless history of the Greeks, the Minoans, or the Phoenicians. Nevertheless, one very mortal and short life shouldn’t assign too much value or precedence to one depth of history over another. As illustration, I’ve included a picture of a stunningly marvelous Art Deco building in Morro Bay, CA. It is a superb example of tripping over history to get to history. Unfortunately, the photo artist did poorly, so take a minute to examine closely. There are three, stainless steel extrusions, windows in symmetry, and a flow and feel that rivals and beats anything Miami Beach has to offer.
The thought about a short life not assigning too much value to any particular depth of history was informed by the death of my cousin Jo’s husband Gary. I knew him from the relationship one has with a favorite cousin, but he was also a fellow District Judge. So I knew him better than might be expected. I liked him a lot. Calm, very conscientious and competent, and, I strongly suspect, a deep source of comfort and support for Jo who just lost her only son to suicide, and recently lost her beloved mother – my Dear auntie Em. He was younger than I. Came home from playing racketball, went into the bathroom, had a heart attack, and Jo spent an interminable time waiting for the ambulance while giving him resuscitation. My, the depth of sadness.
I continue my spiritual and psychic dance with my own mortality – more imminent not only because of thoughts of Gary, but also my 64 years and the very real lesson of history – that which I will soon be.
Continued . . .