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This has been amazing day, and has involved much scrambling and  bit of magic to make it possible for us to not only find hotels in Canada for this coming week – mostly overbooked already for Labor Day Weekend – but to score a condo in Banff for 5 days at an outrageously discounted price.

Getting there in time, however, will involve some hard driving, starting tomorrow, which probably means no serious blogging till next Friday or Saturday.

Sadly, Twilight zone explorations and musings on being different will have to wait a bit

Have a great week, everyone … think of us as Julia and I and the critters all boldly go where none of us has been before, starting Tuesday.

Till then, cheers & blessings to you all!

 

 

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After a day of trying to put what I saw and felt in the Hoh Rain Forest into words, I remembered that my friend Cammy had asked for pictures and decided to lean on that old saw of a picture being worth 1,000 words. If you’re a subscriber, I think you may actually have to go to the blog to see these photos … but if you’re as ga-ga about forests and streams as I am, you might enjoy them!

If you click on each photo you’ll get a better resolution, by the way.

This first photo was taken from the parking lot, believe it or not, and if you look closely you’ll see that the mosses are pretty dry from summer heat and reduced rain, but the wetland is still going strong.

Here’s my daughter Julia showing us what the rain forest can do to man’s puny efforts at civilizing this vast, mysterious realm …

Below is one of the loveliest, clearest and most prolific little streams I’ve ever seen, with layers and layers of water plants. Julia, who studied watershed management, said it was the best habitat for young salmon that she’d ever seen.

Here’s a better look at the mosses which are so abundant in a temperate rain forest.

This one is a lovely study of nurse logs, with older trees whose roots once drew nourishment from a nurse log in the foreground, their roots framing where the nurse log once lay, and busy nurseries in the background.

And last here’s a look at a rain forest microcosm.

Also, while we were on our way into the rain forest area, we discovered something about Washington timber/forest management programs. Washington has what are called State Trust Lands which are managed very differently from those owned by Weyerhauser and others, and the difference is stunning. These Trust Lands are thinned rather than clear cut, the undergrowth appears to still be intact (which takes a lot of work!), and, rather than looking like boneyards, they appear abundantly healthy.

Coming up in the next couple of days: musings on being different, and a quick peek at highlights of the Twilight zone …

I suppose it’s not that unusual to realize in later years that your most mortifying moment with a parent has become your fondest memory. Perhaps you’ve even discovered in retrospect, as I did, that the mortifying moment actually contained the seeds of all you were to become.

My mother’s parents (who always made sure that Dad knew Mom married beneath her) decided to treat me to a very ritzy tour of Europe for my 16th birthday. It was to last a full six weeks, a leisurely exploration of England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany and Spain’s poshest hotels and grandest artistic traditions.

My parents agreed very reluctantly to let me go, and this surprised and hurt me because I’d devoted my life to being Miss Goody Two-Shoes, the perfect daughter and big sister. It turned out that perhaps they knew more about me than I did, but that’s another story.

The tour leader, a professor of art history at a major university, claimed halfway through the tour that he’d aged 20 years in three weeks, all because of me.

I wasn’t intentionally a problem (still firmly committed to my Goody Two Shoes persona), but even though I was only 16, I somehow functioned as a European man magnet of epic proportions. The professor’s last straw moment came when I walked with the tour group through a Swiss hotel lobby and had three men offering me dinner before we reached the reception desk.

The tour was incredible, and even 50 years later it remains so vivid that, although I’ve never been able to return to any of the countries but England and Scotland, I still recognize art and architecture, cities and landscapes, and vividly remember the fragrances and flavors and visual feast of the gourmet meals which were part and parcel of an experience which had been tailor made for the exclusive sorority/debutante daughters of the very rich. Which is the other reason I was a “problem” on the trip. I was not only at least 2 years the junior of the next youngest girl, even worse, though my father was an aviator, a Colonel in the Marine Corps, and although my Mom had been brought up in the upper echelons of Naval military elite, my upbringing was inescapably middle class.

The other girls/young women were at worst tolerant and at best very kind and helpful, so I didn’t suffer for my plebeian background. I even got a foretaste of what was brewing in the early 60’s because one of them was deeply involved with the nascent radical movement in Berkeley. My conservative, military world view took a severe beating in Paris during a 2 am conversation over French onion soup with her and two of the other girls. She was gorgeous and militant and ferocious and, for all I know, grew up to be Gloria Steinham.

So, cut to the trip home. I’m returning smugly full of artistic erudition and sophistication, as well as being possessed of a highly trained gourmet palate and discerning knowledge of wines.

Before I tell you about what greeted me on arrival, I have to say one thing. I have always adored my father. He was boisterously and unstintingly affectionate, he always somehow loved and respected me in all my quirkiness without wishing I were better or different, he gifted me with a thirst for knowledge and a respect for the subtleties of language, and whatever storytelling gifts I have were seeded and nurtured by him.

Now, on to the Mortifying Moment.

My Dad hadn’t arrived to pick me up when we landed, so when he made his entrance I was being introduced to one of the impeccably groomed and mannered girls’ impeccably groomed and mannered, dark-suited and handsome fathers.

I heard a shout behind me and recognized my Dad’s deep, resonant and somewhat growly Marine colonel voice. I executed a calm, sophisticated turn and was greeted by an unforgettable image of my Dad in all his screw-your-social-rules-and-norms glory. He hadn’t wanted me to go to Europe, and must have gotten a good idea from my few letters of the condition I’d be in when I returned home. And obviously he was determined to get me retrained and back into the family fold beginning immediately.

So, there was my inimitable Dad, vigorously striding toward me, arms open, and dressed to kill (my pretensions). Besides his typical bald head and red handlebar moustache, complete with curled, waxed tips, he’d dressed in his outrageous best, which this time included a voluminous Hawaiian shirt, baggy brown pants, a Panama hat and his favorite down-at-the-heel cowboy boots. I wanted to die. And at the same time I was so glad to see him that I wanted to cry.

It was the first time I remember my Dad taking steps to make sure I didn’t get “too full of myself,” but it was far from the last. Another favorite memory (it really is a favorite) was when I treated him and my youngest sister Anne to New Year’s dinner at a client’s restaurant. A few seconds after I told him in awed tones that the owner was on her way to our table, he grabbed up our (excellent) champagne and took a big swig directly from the bottle, twinkling at me over the top with his rascally eyes. My 10-year-old sister completed the farce, just as my glamorous  client arrived at our table, by dropping her napkin over her head and declaiming dramatically, “Oh, the shame of it! The shame of it!” (You probably won’t be surprised to learn that, even though she’s more than 50 now, I still call her my Bratty Little Sister, or BLS for short.)

However, as much effort as Dad put into reining me in that day at the airport, I have to say I probably won that particular round. They decided to honor my homecoming by allowing me a glass of wine with dinner. After taking my first sip, and savoring the flavors for a moment, I said:

“This is quite pleasant … for a minor domestic wine.” I can still hear the thundering silence.

When I realized that towing a trailer behind the car meant driving 55 or less for the whole trip, I thought I’d be constantly frustrated.

Maybe it’s because my Dad was a Marine fighter pilot, and he’s the one who taught me to drive … perhaps it rubbed off … but, for whatever reason, I’ve always driven right up to the edge of the speed limit – and my reflexes – and a little beyond. I’m one of those who always sets my cruise control at 7 miles over the posted limit. One traffic cop (years ago, before I was a mom driving my daughter around) told me that I’d been passing other cars like they were nailed to the ground.

So I was amazed to discover that being the slowest on the road and not being able to do a darned thing about it is actually quite wonderful. Restful, freeing, conducive to deep thinking, and – best of all – just slow enough that I could really look at the changing scenery, and even notice view points soon enough to take advantage of them.

I mean, think of it! No embarrassment, because people couldn’t think I was an idiot (well, not fairly, anyway) since I was towing a trailer, and everybody knows vehicles with trailers have to poke along. No physical tension as I geared up to control the car when taking a mountain turn well above the speed limit. (At least, since the advent of cruise control, I don’t have to watch for cops … often.) No strained watching the road beyond my current slow-moving vehicular obstacle to find enough running room to pass in relative safety, and then tensing up and metaphorically pushing with all my might until the pass was safely concluded.

Instead, I had time to see new things on frequently traveled roads, time to just set my dreaming mind free to wander, and time to remember happy moments from past journeys.

Cultural ecologist and magician David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal, tells the story of traveling by Jeep with an aboriginal shaman in the Australian outback. The shaman wanted to share his myths, but they discovered that the stories did not unfold properly at jeep speeds; they were meant to be shared in walkabout. In my case, the stories arise at 55 mph.

One of my favorites, one I hadn’t thought of in years, was the time my first husband drove us from Highway 101 at Paso Robles west toward the Pacific Coast Highway, and Cambria, Carmel and Monterey. I’d driven the Big Sur route before, it’s one of the most gorgeous and treacherous drives I’ve encountered (especially headed south in dense fog), but Ernie’s route was new to me. He got a big grin and started fiddling with the tape deck (yeah, it was quite some time ago), popped in some rich and fabulous symphony, and then drove along, looking smug for a few minutes. Then, just as the music crested, so did the road, and I was treated to the juxtaposition of a perfect musical moment and mythically beautiful, rolling hills softened further by oaks clustered in their feminine creases!

Another sight took me back to the first World Healing Day on December 31, 1986. The Healix Center in Orange County, CA, where I worked and taught at the time, hosted an all night event – because for this event there was no convenient “rolling” coordination of noon in each time zone. That time, everyone joined in prayer and visualization at the very same moment – which meant 3 pm Moscow time, and 3 am in California.

Amazingly, when dawn broke there were still nearly a 100 people there, and we were led in a closing ceremony by a young shaman woman from one of the Pacific Northwest tribes. The two things which stuck with me were her getting a good laugh when she referred to her “sacred Bic” (Harry Dresden, anyone?) while lighting her pipe, and her initiating us all into the Fireweed Clan.

Fireweed is known as a pioneer species because it can thrive in areas which have been devastated by things like forest fires. Years after the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption I visited, and fireweed was everywhere.

Since that morning in 1986, fireweed has become a messenger for me. When it appears, it comes to tell me “yes, here is the place,” or “yes, this is the right direction,” or “yes, all will be well.” Fireweed doesn’t promise ease and grace, but it promises not only survival, but a thriving future.

When we got to the state of Washington, in spite of the fact that I’d seen it before, I was shocked again to see the trashed and brutalized areas of clearcutting on either side of the highway. Honestly, they look like bones and bodies strewn around a war zone. Not that California and Oregon don’t clearcut, but usually it’s done offroad, and behind a polite curtain of trees and hills.

My mind automatically spiralled off into adjectives like “barren,” “devastation,” and “desolation” … until I saw the tall, fuchsia spikes of fireweed. They lined the road and appeared here and there around the pitiful stumps of ancient trees. And then I noticed all the other new plant life, even in clearcut areas only a few years old, and I was reminded that life goes on.

That doesn’t excuse slaughtering elder members of one of earth’s species, but it reminds me that even after the most terrible human acts, toward our own or other species, life somehow finds a way to continue.

By the way, the most powerful and touching case I’ve ever read for why ancient trees should be allowed to stand together in healthy ecosystems is in Joan Dunning and Doug Thron’s From the Redwood Forest: Ancient Trees and the Bottom Line: A Headwaters Journey. There is a chapter which traces human history as it paralleled the life of a redwood. Read it, and you’ll never be the same.

Today we’re visiting Hurricane Ridge, and tomorrow Lake Quinault, so I’ll entertain you tomorrow one of my favorite stories about my Dad, and report our travels later. My Mom and Dad are much on my mind because they made this trip possible, and it’s dedicated to their memory.

Yesterday morning I awoke to the sound of rain. Not the pitiful sprinkle that used to send Sunnyvale, CA sissies screaming for cover, but the kind of steady, friendly soaker that I’ve missed sorely since we left Humboldt County just over a year ago.

I lay there quietly, aware of my daughter Julia and the critters snoozing deeply and peacefully, and felt my spirit begin to expand, refreshed by the steady patter and fragrance and soft air.

And then my reverie was shattered by a horrifyingly familiar sound – a screaming, grinding skill saw, behind the hotel! Rather than leaping around like a madwoman on the bed, shrieking and tearing my hair out, and scaring everyone out of their wits, I calmly followed the noise, and found it loudest next to the bathroom. Climbing up on the toilet, I opened the window and saw –  ohmygod, ohmygod – a huge construction project just across the road, and a big guy sawing through the sidewalk directly in front of me.

By the time I closed the window, of course everyone else was awake, and Julia and I tried to decide whether we wanted to laugh or cry about it. Then I had an encouraging thought. If life really is an oracle, then the fact that this was new construction rather than renovation might be a sign that we’re making progress. (Esoteric, I know … but bear with me, here.)

Heartened by that thought, I called the front desk of our motel to find out if, since this was Monday morning, the excruciating noise was going to go on all week … because, of course, if it was, we were going to have to move on. Happily, the owner had already built a relationship with the construction foreman, and he learned that the rumpus would be continuing for only another few minutes, but would we rather move to another part of the hotel? He would be happy to help us carry our stuff. We waited an hour, and when all remained quiet, we thanked him for his gracious offer and decided to stay put. Which so far has worked out just fine.

To bring you up to date:

Since my last post we have traveled up the west coast on highway 101, through the rest of California, through Oregon (more about this later; we stayed one night in Coos Bay and one in Tillamook), and reached our destination in the Olympic Peninsula, Forks, Washington, Sunday late afternoon.

As far as I knew, Forks was just an old logging town. Little did I know (until my youngest sister Anne informed me) that we’d wandered into teenaged vampire territory. Turns out we’re in the land of Twilight, and, at Annie’s request, I got to enjoy myself sorting through mountains of really tacky souvenirs to find a couple of the worst to send her.

We’re staying at the Forks Hotel, a slightly funky but (obviously) customer-oriented place full of fishermen and hikers. We’re on the edge of the Olympic National Park, within an hour and a half of Lake Quinault (140+ inches of rain a year), the Hoh Rain Forest, the reservation home of the Makah whaling tribe, as well as Port Angeles and Port Townsend, which is one of my favorite towns in the whole world. We even got glimpses of the rugged, snow-capped peaks of Hurricane Ridge, up on the northern edge of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, on the way.

As you’ll see, we seem destined to linger here, spending a couple of days planning and booking hotels and ferries (Labor Day weekend coming up!), and a couple of days meandering through the sights before we head into Canada.

Now, about the Runes.

As I’ve mentioned, neither Julia nor I have felt well for quite some time, and it begins to appear that at least Sheba, our dog, was also affected by whatever it was back in Sunnyvale. Up to now we haven’t been able to do much more than content ourselves with just putting one foot in front of the other, heading north, planning travel times, booking hotels, plodding along.

Then, a few days ago, somewhere in Oregon, probably Coos Bay, an odd thing started happening. Even though I don’t use oracles much in my personal life, I can’t resist collecting Tarot cards and iPod oracle apps. In addition to weather, shopping lists, to do lists, great games, and all the other app-paraphenalia it’s so easy to collect, I have the Voyger Tarot, Mayan Astrology, I Ching, the Creative Whack Pack, and Runes. My app uses Elder Futhark Rune interpretations, which is somewhat different than what I’m used to, but Runes are great for answering quick questions, so I use it occasionally.

However, back around Coos Bay, the Rune program started popping on every time I turned on my iPod, something that has never happened before, with any of my apps. I even tried leaving the iPod on email or weather when I turned it off … but, nope, there was the Rune screen again, every time I turned it on.

Not being a big believer in coincidence, I decided it was time to ask the Runes what they wanted, so I did a quick reading … and wished I hadn’t. The first reading was generally ominous, so I asked specifically about the next stages of the trip. Ominous. Full of hail storms and dragons. S**T!

I decided to ignore this, but it obviously festered beneath consciousness for a while, because as we drove that day and day after I started remembering some of my other niggling feelings about the next stage of our journey. Every plan I’d made just didn’t feel “right.” I talked in the first post about my internal guidance system, and I guess I just couldn’t get my compass needle to steady itself on a particular plan. No sense of disaster … just “not right,” and “not the right time.” Booking ferries across Puget Sound? Not the right time. Not the right ferry. Go into Canada Monday? Not the right time. Wednesday? Mercury’s retrograde till the 27th. Not the right time, etc etc etc

Then, on the way out of Tillamook, it came to me to just quit struggling to be wholly rational, because that’s not who I am (you’d think I’d have figured this out by now). I asked Julia how she’d feel about lingering in the rainforest area until Monday the 29th, resting, hiking, doing laundry, letting the pets (who had been rioting for 2 days!) settle, and she was delighted.

So, here we are, in God/dess’ country, with time to rest and think and explore some extraordinary natural wonders.

Oh, and by the way? I did another Rune reading about how the trip would fare if we paused in Forks (teeny-bopper vampires notwithstanding) and what did I get for the final, outcome Rune? The empty-headed (excuse me, empty HANDED) leap into the void. Guess this (and the new construction?) means we’re finally on the right track!

You should probably hear from me more often this week, too. I have two other blogs roughed out already, so until next time …hope you’re well and that life’s interesting.

To avoid getting completely tangled up in layers of complexities, here’s a sort of outline presentation of what we’d hoped for versus what has happened so far.

I won’t blame you for skipping this chapter … it may only interest people who know us already, who can’t look away from train wrecks, or who might be looking for weird plot ideas. Sorry it’s so loooong … but, well, you’ll see why.

The Opportunities

Me – To discover whether New England is as congenial, supportive, beautiful and soul satisfying as I’ve always believed it could be.

Julia (my daughter) – To get close enough to easily explore the most promising masters and Ph.D. neuroscience programs for migraines in the U.S.

Sheba (80 lb wolf dog), Basserina & Sneakers (cats who are NOT best friends!) – to leave behind warm sunshine, a yard, familiar surroundings and a comfortable routine to travel in cramped conditions for a month or more while being uprooted (just after getting comfortable!) almost daily.

The Original Plan

To pack up the household and put most of our possessions in storage in California, to be brought to us after we found a place to live in New England. And then, to make the trip across the continent a vacation, taking up to 2 months to explore places like Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the Canadian Rockies and so on. And to check out various universities on the way.

The Known (prior to July 1) Challenges:

Home Environment – In addition to my general difficulties with Bay Area air quality, pollen count, and so on, there were several really serious problems with where we lived. First, although we didn’t realize it at first, there was something terribly toxic in the back yard. Whether it was from the auto body shops just on the other side of the back fence, or asbestos in older construction, or old and new toxins released during the massive renovation which was announced and commenced about 4 months after we moved in … the cumulative effect was bad enough that it affected not only hyper-sensitive me, but also got to my daughter on the days when she didn’t spend 8-10 hours in an air conditioned lab. Bottom line, as long as we lived in the apartment, I would have to function in spite of both physical and mental challenges, and so would she.

Food – Julia and I are both on highly restricted diets, so, no eating in restaurants. Also, most of what we can eat can only be found in health food stores, requiring extra effort for successful travel arrangements.

Environment – For me, intense urban environments seem to generate too many toxins to be tolerated for even a day without extra meds, and after 16 years on the Northern California Redwood Coast, I had been spoiled by endless clean air, water and low population density. Even an hour or two of freeway driving requires extra medication to prevent backlash, affecting travel plans as well. My doctor thinks this will largely clear up in a different environment (!!)

Multiple Disguises and Varied Accommodations – We need clothes for travel, hotel stays, camping, job interviews and making a good impression on potential landlords. We also need cooking utensils, food storage and health support items.

Space – We’re traveling in a Ford Escape and towing a nifty little PulMor trailer so the fuzzy family members would have at least a little space.

Fuzzy Family Members – See above in Opportunities.

The Unanticipated Challenges

Earlier Moveout Deadline – On July 1 it was announced that the interior renovations on individual apartments in our part of the complex would begin on August 1 rather than the anticipated September 16th. Since I was basically bedridden for 6 months the last time I had prolonged contact with construction/renovation materials, and was already in some trouble due to allergies or intolerances, that meant we had to be completely moved out before they started tearing up the interior and exterior of our apartment. We finally negotiated an 8/12 moveout – thank goodness!

Mercury Retrograde – In case you’re not familiar with astrology, Mercury retrograde periods occur 3 times a year for 3 weeks each time, with an additional week’s residue on either side. These periods are famous for screwing up travel, scheduling, communications, computers, contracts and so on. There’s a deeper intent, of course, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. In this case, if one were cynical, one would say naturally Mercury retrograde would be heaped on top of the rest of the complications! How else to give me an opportunity to fully explore the challenge of meeting chaos and uncertainty by staying centered and present in the moment?!?

Personnel – Julia was working full time in the Stanford lab until August 1, which meant that any work requiring physical strength and stamina had to be accomplished (by her) in the two weeks between then and our moveout deadline, since I literally could not do it.

Last Minute Complications

Trailer – Rather than being able to work with the nifty little trailer we’d found to plan our travel supplies, we didn’t receive it until 5 days before the moveout, at which point we were working so hard on packing that there was no time for thoughtful preparation.

Health – As anyone with allergies can tell you, moving can create problems, starting with exposure to accumulated dust and so on. One of the big surprises was that anything which had been kept in the back yard (lawn chairs, bike, etc), as well as the expensive Uhaul boxes we’d saved from the move last year, had somehow soaked up whatever toxins were back there, making both Julia and me sick. Everything in the back yard, and everything in the storage unit (which had carelessly been filled with 30 to 40 year old roofing debris during the earliest part of the renovation) had to be trashed.

Day-Of Surprises

Things went really well with the movers. In fact, the lead guy suggested that we could work for Bekins any time, our packing was so professional.

You probably know that the last part of any move, when you have to decide what to do with the dregs and the stuff you need to keep available to use till the last minute on moveout, and first thing when you move in. We had a lot of it, and I – the Virgo in charge of lists and space planning – had not spent much time considering what went where. Nor, as mentioned, had I been able to work with the trailer.

Picture this:

It’s 2 pm and Julia and I are standing in our apartment parking area surrounded by a clutter of bags and boxes containing clothes, cooking utensils, and miscellany left behind by the movers. Within 6 to 15 feet of us, above and parallel, are at least a dozen construction workers, ripping off 30 year old shingles, revving skill saws as they cut pressboard to replace the shingles, rat-tat-tatting with nail guns to put the pressboard in place, and generally filling the area with sawdust, construction chemicals and bellowing  male exuberance.

I’m standing there in my allergy mask (which makes me look like Miss Piggy) and Julia is drooping under the combined pressure of hard manual labor and chemical exposure. And the critters have been waiting impatiently in the car since 8 am.

We have just discovered that we have approximately twice too much stuff and must make some instant, difficult decisions, because staying another night in the apartment will only make us both less able to make coherent decisions (the HEPA air purifiers have been packed, so all allergy protection is gone), or to act on them.

We ended up dumping all our new camping equipment, tent, sleeping bags, air mattresses and cooking equipment, and at the same time completely eliminating what had been an important part of our plans to manage the food part of our travels. (We did leave behind some pretty happy campers among the apartment complex staff, though.)

By the time we finally pulled away from the apartment complex at 3 pm, Sheba was cramped in a postage stamp place in the back of the car …

the cats were howling in their carriers, and Julia and I were poleaxed and exhausted.

Fortunately, I had made reservations two days earlier at a hotel about half an hour away!!! All that remained was for Julia and I to carry everything in the car and trailer into the hotel room – the equivalent of about a block in each direction from car to room – settle the critters, and sleep for as long as possible.

But Wait! There’s More!

Poor Julia woke up in the middle of that first night with a ferocious, full-body case of hives which is better now, 5 days later, but still giving her fits.

We spent 3 days at the first hotel, inventorying everything, rethinking our plans, and giving away things like my favorite cast iron pan to hotel staff. By the time we left we still weren’t rested or recovered, but at least the critters had enough room to travel in relative comfort.

Oh, and the wonderful ironies!

Remember that we raced to get out of our apartment to avoid the renovation? Our first day in the hotel someone knocked on the door midafternoon. There on the doorstep was the desk clerk with two huge construction guys who needed to come into our hotel room right then to measure and tap and examine in detail for – you guessed it! – renovation!!!

The next day we went to a nearby Whole Foods Market to pick up stuff for our fussy food needs. You of course, have guessed what we found … the market was completely torn up and chaotic, hung with visquine (sp?) throughout, and right in the middle of … renovation.

More than one friend has speculated that the Universe was just making sure we didn’t dawdle on our way out of the Bay Area.

And, once we left the Bay Area things did begin to clear up, almost miraculously.

There was time and space to feast my eyes on the rounded, feminine shapes of the land in the Napa Valley area, to soak up the sight and smell of Redwood groves, to smile over memories of my many years traveling up and down California Highway 101.

When we got back to the Eureka-Arcata area, aside from having to troop in and out of the Red Lion lobby with tons of stuff in tacky old boxes and grocery bags, including a litter box, things got easier and easier. Our favorite old Co-Op had all the food we needed. The scenery got more and more beautiful. Driving became the pleasure it usually is for me, and we all (including the critters, I  think) began to get into the spirit of our adventure.

So, here we are in Coos Bay, Oregon, finally getting rested and caught up with organized and presentable packing, blogging, accounting and travel planning, fulfilling fantasies and dreams of staying in the Olympic rainforest and riding ferries around Puget Sound.

Next, I’ll post a couple of “Fond Memories.” We’ll start traveling again Saturday …

The day I began my blog I had no idea that the light I saw at the end of the tunnel was actually an oncoming train. Fortunately, it missed us by a hair, but we have been madly buffeted by roaring, clattering and gusting wind as a juggernaut of awful possibilities thundered by mere inches from our noses.

Perhaps if I hadn’t dared the gods with my initial comments about how the chaos and uncertainty of a leap into the unknown keep me fit and refreshed, the past 10 days would have been easier to navigate … but probably not.

I think the real problem lay in two things: first, we were being pressed from behind by potentially damaging circumstances which couldn’t be mitigated, and second, the gifts which I depend on to navigate successfully through life seem to have been blunted to the point of uselessness.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a professional psychic. It’s one of the three ways I support myself, the other two being writing and management-level office work, and I have for most of my working life cycled through those three modalities as opportunity and whim dictated.

When doing readings for others I’ll often use astrology, Tarot and even numerology, but in my own life I depend on feedback from the world around me to let me know if I’m headed in the right direction, and when it’s time for a change. Jungian psychologist Jean Shinoda Bolen said that there’s so much meaning in the everyday experience of life that it can be interpreted like a dream, and I have found this to be true.

Even more, I’ve found that in my case, if things are going well, then I’m headed in the right direction. If the going gets hard and heavy, then it’s time to make course corrections, and keep making them until the road smooths out again. And often small events, ones most people would consider insignificant, will quickly validate when I’ve made a good course correction. A bird flying past my windshield, a serendipitous purchase at the grocery, a casual remark by a passerby … when I’m alert, that’s normally all the guidance I need. And it works! Usually.

However, for the past year, nothing I’ve done has achieved that shift in energy and circumstance which signals to me that I’m back on the right track. It’s been a complicated, slogging uphill grind since I moved with my adult daughter, Julia, from coastal Redwood country in far Northern California (Humboldt County) to the San Francisco South Bay area, where she spent the past year on a stem cell research scholarship at Stanford University.

A quick bit of backstory, here. My family has allergies and intolerances, and mine (I thought) manifsted mostly with foods and chemical vapors like formaldehyde and petroleum (yep, that foundational chemical of our culture). But when I got to the Bay Area the problems exploded in all directions, to the point where I couldn’t function normally. Foods, chemicals, odors, freeway exhausts, pollen, dust … all of that and more could lay me flat in an instant. Not only that, but it has affected my daughter as well.

Of course, a typical allergy symptom is mental fog, and mine has seemed debilitating this year. I was fortunate to find a truly outstanding allergy specialist who not only believed me (the first M.D. who has), but found a couple of simple, straightforward ways to treat and manage the worst of it until I could get out of the cauldron of triggers which the Bay Area proved to be for me. Of course, part of it involved staying indoors, doors and windows closed, and HEPA Blue Smoke Air Purifiers cranked up high – which, since I’m a fresh air fanatic, I hated!

Even with treatment, though, I’ve essentially been flying blind for a bit more than a year, wrapped in a numbing fog, completely without the sensitivity and mental acuity which I have depended on all my life to inform my choices and decisions.

So, I guess we’re talking about a rock and a hard place, here. The allergies are the rock.

Tomorrow, in “The Gory Details,” I’ll tell you about the hard place, the combination of circumstances that developed into a full-blown speeding train that, as I said, barely missed flattening us. Or at least that’s how it’s felt.

After that, you’ll be up to date, and it’ll be time for musing and reveling in beautiful scenery as we travel up the coast through Washington state, across Canada, and back down into New England.