Kubota Garden

The constant remaking of order out of chaos is what life is all about, even in the simplest domestic chores such as clearing the table and washing the dishes after a meal…but when it comes to the inner world, the world of feeling and thinking, many people leave the dishes unwashed for weeks so no wonder they feel ill and exhausted.
— May Sarton, Recovering
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Bridle Trails State Park

Seattle is a very cool city, but it's a complete pain in the neck to get anywhere because of the clover-leaf-inside-a-clover-leaf-under-constant-construction thing that seems to be an ongoing reality of life there. I didn't see half the things I planned to because I simply couldn't face more time in the car, but I did make it to Bridle Trails State Park for a long walk with Finnegan. It's cool and quiet, filled with moss, ferns, and tall trees. Everything is green and it wouldn't be strange to see a magical creature step out from between the trees. The paths are actually built for riding, so while there were some walkers, there were also a fair number of horses out for a ramble too.

Hometown Connection

One of the many things I'm doing to make this trip sustainable over several months is house sitting. I'm a member of a great international service, Trusted Housesitters, through which I can apply for jobs along my route. I've had an almost entirely positive experience, with just a couple of bumps along the way, and love to settle into a new place and get to know the area on a more personal level. 

While sitting on my childhood friend Kristi's couch in California, I applied for a 10-day job in Seattle. It turns out that the homeowner, Jill, grew up in the same small NH town as Kristi and me, though we had never met. Even more small-worldy, Kristi's dad built the house that Jill grew up in. 

I took care of Jill's dog Finnegan, a Labradoodle with an out-sized personality and off the charts levels of cuteness and sass, and 2 sweet cats, Pinto Bean and Pacha. Jill's tiny treasure chest of a house reflects her love of travel and indigenous craft. Perched right on the edge of Puget Sound, the murmur of rocks tumbling over and over lulled me to sleep every night. Located on a dead end street at the bottom of a twisty, steep street, the pace was a haven from the bustle of the city, a little bit of calm in a sea of people and constant traffic.

I ventured out on a few field trips of my own over the 10 days I spent in west Seattle, which I'll add as separate posts. There are a ton of things to see and do, and I didn't get anywhere near close to halfway done with my list.

Finn and I went out for a walk every morning and every afternoon, exploring the neighborhood or finding a local park. We hit a nearby dog park several times and Finn practiced swimming in the Sound, particularly useful on days when he found the dead rat that kept washing back onto shore [insert full body shudder here].

By the time Jill returned from her trip, we were well on the way to a solid friendship, something I never expected to come out of a house sit. I've realized more and more over these past few months that my wealth lies in the number of deep friendships I have with people all over the world. It's my very best collection and I'm lucky to have it.

Exploring Seattle

I spent an afternoon wandering around the Pioneer Square area, dodging drunk tourists playing football in traffic, and families with kids going in 42 directions. Not my kind of place to hang out generally, but I was searching for The Belfry, a shop I learned about via Atlas Obscura and didn't want to miss.

I wandered through a bunch of antique shops on the way (IMO, the best way for getting to know a place, aside form libraries and a local pub), and eventually found the store tucked on a quieter street. Victorian hair paintings, skulls and other bones, gorgeous vintage school posters, old photographs - this place is well worth a visit! 

I braved the tchotchke shops along the pier, walking as far as the Seattle Wheel before craving quiet, so I headed back to my little sanctuary on the Sound for a quiet afternoon of reading.

Seattle Touristing

At some point in my online rambling around, I noticed that tickets were on sale to see one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Gilbert, speak in Seattle. Happily, the date coincided with my first night there, so after an early morning hug from Molly, I took my time getting ready and then headed toward Seattle.

I eventually found a parking spot in a tightly packed garage down the street from the theater and set off to kill several hours before the show. I hadn't explored Pike Place Market since I came for a visit when I was 15, so I spent a lot of time ogling flowers, watching other tourists, and browsing through little shops selling every tchotchke imaginable.

I found myself down the street from the market at Von's 1000 Spirits for a late lunch, where I ate what was quite possibly the best burger I've had on this whole trip - a Vietnamese style Banh Mi - that I have not stopped thinking about since. This place also includes an optional, additional 3% tip for the kitchen crew on their bill, which said a lot about how much this company values everyone who contributes there. 

I wandered more after lunch, popping into stores until I got too tired and overwhelmed by all the noise and people, so I headed up to my car for a PB&J dinner and a little nap. Refreshed, I made my way up the street to the gorgeous Moore Theater, and waited in a very long line to get a decent seat inside. I was early enough to find a good seat in the balcony with a clear view of the stage and spent the time before the show people watching and admiring the theater's intricate decoration.

I spent a day or two listening to Gilbert's Big Magic as I crossed from Arizona into California. She has a great reading voice; her personality really shines through. She is also a great speaker, both emotional and funny, with good timing and plenty of self-deprecation. I learned the important difference between chicken shit and chicken salad, and alternately cried, laughed, and cringed through a tale about a terrible lady parts injury brought on by a total lack of self-care and exhaustion during her mind-numbing book tour. 

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After the show I made my way out into the cool night and followed clusters of people down the hill to the parking garage, then made my way to my uncle's apartment for the night.

Museum of Glass

If you are in the Tacoma area, make sure you stop in at the Museum of Glass. There are a lot of things to see and it's a surprisingly good place to take kids.

I checked out Ispirazione: James Mongrain in the George R. Stroemple Collection, full of delicate, fanciful, sea-life inspired vessels, organized by color.

The hot shop is open to visitors (there's even a live feed on the website if you want to watch them in action). I sat behind a school group and listened as a guide talked about the process while a group of artisans worked on a piece by visiting artist Ginny Ruffner.

I spent quite a bit of time on the Bridge of Glass after eating a truly good lunch in the museum cafe. The bridge features work by Tacoma native, and renowned glass artist, Dale Chihuly. I prefer Chihuly's sea forms to his flowers, and there were plenty to see in the ceiling of the Seaform Pavilion. I also especially liked the Crystal Towers, columns of blue glass chunks that anchor the bridge and are lit from below at night.

I wandered through Into the Deep and found a small exhibit of sculpture based on drawings by children in the hallway to the bathrooms.

The Art Deco Glass from the Huchthausen Collection was amazing, each vase or bowl more beautiful than the last.

After realizing that I had a solid case of museum fatigue, I crossed the bridge and poked around some of the downtown shops; Stocklist was my favorite!

Crashing in Tacoma

I added Tacoma to my list when my friend Molly invited me to stay with her while she visited the area for work. It's a quick trip from Portland, so I took back roads all the way, avoiding the rain-soaked highway. I stopped to see the World's Largest Egg in Winlock and the visitor center for Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I watched a terrifying film about the 1980 eruption and was sort of glad that the rain and fog would keep me from visiting the mountain itself, just in case

Molly is the kind of person who not only doesn't bat an eyelash when you announce that you need to go for a long walk, she will walk you until your legs fall off. So, that's what we did. We were staying on the waterfront, right next to a wide path full of dogs and their people, bikers, kids, and runners (insane people). The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold (for me, anyway); it was good to be out in the air and moving again after a day in the car. 

The next morning I went into town and had a coffee, then wandered around the Old City Hall Historic District, ogling buildings and signs, walking down the Spanish Steps, and peering into shop windows. There weren't a lot of people out, but almost everyone I passed smiled or said good morning. It's a strange impression, but this town felt so clean to me. The sidewalks were wide and free of litter, everyone was so nice, and it all just had this freshly scrubbed feel that I can't exactly put my finger on. 

Tacoma is the hometown of Dale Chihuly, whose work I've been lucky to see in a few places during my travels. There's a glass museum across a pedestrian bridge that features a couple of Chihuly installations, but I'll get to that in another post. 

I went to Seattle with Molly to attend her work meeting. On the way to the venue a cab drove right up over one of those giant concrete balls, just like the ones in front of Target, and came right for us on the sidewalk. Thankfully, there was also a large concrete planter, which saved us from being squished. I'm sure Molly is still having flashbacks about nearly being run over. I was so wrapped up in puzzling over how the whole thing was possible - it was a Prius, for Pete's sake! - that I didn't feel afraid. 

I tend to become calmer as things around me escalate, but you'd think a car coming straight at me would invoke some sort of flight response. I'll just file that one away to mull over at a later date.

Walking Around the Whole World

There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk around the whole world till we come back to the same place.
— G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man

This adventure has brought me everything I could have hoped: new and restored friendships, the chance to explore places I've never seen, time to truly unravel, and a return to the best parts of the person I vaguely remember being before my life became completely crazy.

Along with all of that happiness, some of my old anxieties still lurk, waiting to be tackled. Chief among those worries is money, and checking my balance this morning brought it all to the surface. I feel apprehensive when my balance drops beneath a certain threshold. Before I left, I worried about whether I would ever find a job again, if I would be able to survive on my savings, and if my loosey-goosey way of handling money would sink me.

With 3 months to go, I am just fine. I have a solid Plan B (in place since well before I left), and it's really the thought of ever needing to use that plan that distresses me, not the current state of my bank account. Though I'm nowhere close to needing my Plan B, my nature is such that I quietly stew, sifting through the coulda/woulda/shoulda's, as though every decision I've made is reversible through sheer force of will. I haven't skimped on this trip - I haven't gone crazy either - and I'm happy about that. Still, I brood about such things.

A lot of people have asked me how this trip was possible financially, and it's something that's uncomfortable for me to talk about in detail, because money is not a thing I like to talk about, though I put a lot of mental energy into fussing about it privately. Over several years, every decision I made was run through a "some day I want to go on a very long trip" filter, somewhere off in the distant future. I chose a savings goal that reflected a salary from very early in my adulthood, and with which I managed significant debt and living expenses. I thought that if I could manage so many responsibilities on that amount of money, then surely I could manage to drive around the country on the same amount of money.

I worked hard to get out and stay out of debt, got rid of a house, lived in a smaller, less expensive place, and walked away from monthly expenses that weren't adding value to my life. With less and less going out the door, more and more went into my savings account. A few months before I left, I was extremely lucky to receive an unexpected small sum of money from a family member who passed away. Since it put me over the top of the goal I'd been striving toward for so long, it was enough to give me the boost of confidence I needed to walk away from a steady salary and good benefits. Still, that's one of the hardest, best things I've ever done.

For me, it's important to say out loud those things that worry or scare me in order to reduce their power and open my mind to perspective. As someone I deeply respect recently pointed out, sometimes it's important to "throw the book at it" when there's something bothering you. So, I got a book, but I'm also working through a lifetime worth of thoughts and feelings around money, spending my time walking in the woods, practicing yoga, and trying to be mindful when I open my wallet. It feels good to finally be tackling this part of my worry list. I knew it was coming since I pretty much forced the issue, but I also knew it would hit me at the right time, just when I was ready to handle it.

I'm slowly coming back to the same place after my walk around the world and I will never fit into the spot I left behind, for which I am deeply grateful.

About Town, Instagram-Style

I got out an about a lot in Portland since it's a really accessible town with mostly friendly drivers and fairly easy parking in most places. I felt no desire to haul my camera around with me, and even on the days I had it with me, felt a great reluctance to use it. I'm always about 3 weeks behind in this space, but my Instagram feed is completely updated, so feel free to check out my adventures there as well. I try not to cross-post much, so if you read here, you'll see very little of anything I post there.

Powell's Books, just as overwhelming as the last time I visited

Celiac-safe mac and cheez from Harlow, where I had a super fun lunch with my high school teacher, Tim

House of Vintage on Hawthorne

Somewhere on Mississippi Ave.

Wishing Tree in NE PDX, where I left one of Kristi's tags

Choose Your Own Adventure

I didn't expect to get to Multnomah Falls via a special left exit from the highway, nor did I expect to see it from the parking lot, pretty much giving away all its glory for free. Somehow I thought I would have to work for it, at least a little bit, but I actually could have gotten the whole visit done in 5 minutes, minus the drive.

If you take the exit for the Falls, you end up in a giant parking lot in the middle of the highway. There's a path under the road and train tracks, which pops you out right at the gift shop and an even closer parking lot. Walk maybe 50 feet and you're in the money shot zone, dodging other tourists and their cameras. The air is pleasantly damp here, mist falling from both waterfalls, the river rushing by to the left as you gaze upward at the iconic bridge, slack-jawed. It's an impressive sight, and very beautiful.

If you're like me, you start the accidental hiking process here. Up a winding, not-too-steep path to the bridge that traverses the lower falls through a hard fog of spray, then up an innocent looking path into the woods. Eleven switchbacks to the top of the falls seems doable.

 

It is possible, but it is no joke. The 1.2 mile ascent moves sharply upward and gives little rest through each switchback as it angles ever upward. I came to loathe the sight of another x/11 switchbacks signs, but quickly loved them when I realized that 9 is the last up and that 10 and 11 actually go down toward the top of the falls. Still, peering over the edge at my ant-sized car in the far distance, and all the people who were milling around at the base, was deeply gratifying.

 

The descent was slow and annoying as the Tinker Toys in my knee constantly rearranged themselves into increasingly uncomfortable configurations. I kept a steady pace, took a lot of breaks, and breathed in the mountains across the water.

 

Back at my car, it was hard to believe that I'd been all the way at the top. In the end, that's the whole point of pushing to those places; if you never leave the parking lot, you have no idea what you might be missing.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Tryon Creek was a short walk away from my friend's house, so I got into the habit of walking there daily while I was in that area of Portland. It's a green (all of the green, every one you can imagine, and incredibly vibrant), magical place, quiet during the week, and filled with a few huffing and puffing trail runners on the weekend. I spent my time on just one trail since there was an active slide on the other option, but it was nice to see the same space over and over again, watching the slow progress of Spring in the PNW.

The Other Portland

The first few days in northeast Portland, OR were dedicated to a sweet Pit/Basset mix named Bunk. Ferocious on walks due to deep and abiding disapproval of most things, he was a total pussycat inside, lolling around taking extended naps on soft surfaces. He was serious about squirrel patrol and performed regular yard checks in between naps and snacks.

I spent an afternoon with my friend Marybel, a super talented artist whom I met at Alt Summit. We went to Tasty n Sons, a place I highly recommend. If you've watched the Portlandia episode about whether or not the chicken is local, then you understand the level of detail that waitstaff can and do get into - it's real and they're proud of it! I never felt worried about having celiac when I ate anywhere in Portland. We also stopped into Tea Bar for hot bubble tea, which was just about the best thing on a cold, rainy afternoon.

I spent part of an afternoon exploring Cargo, a truly delightful warehouse full of imports from around the world. The displays are beautifully done and the staff are really friendly. As a person with a penchant for paper lanterns, this was a great find.

There was drip coffee, trips to the market around the corner, wandering through shops, poking around the neighborhood with Bunk, and catching up on some overdue reading. I also visited my childhood friend in southwest Portland in preparation for staying in his home while his family was away.

On the morning I left my house sit I stopped by a neighborhood wishing tree and added on of Soul Positive's custom tags.

The Sun Came Out!

Cannon Beach must be absolutely mobbed in season, but when it's so rainy there's barely any point in taking out your camera, only the hardiest types show up and slog from coffeehouse to brew pub to Haystack Rock.

Ecola State Park had so many roads and paths washed out that admission was free, not that there was a lot of demand for walking in the sideways rain and blustery wind, but it was fun to be there, creeping around the misty paths under giant dripping ferns and swaying evergreens. Every tree was being slowly overtaken by bright green moss and the ground was carpeted with the thickest leaf litter I've seen since I stood in the jungle in Costa Rica.

I stayed in a small motel close to the beach. After battling around Ecola I spent a couple of hours reading, but suddenly realized that it seemed brighter in my room, though it was near dinner time. I looked out and noticed that the sun had come out, perfect timing for a walk down to Haystack Rock.

The sun brought people out of the woodwork and spilling onto the beach from all directions. They were wide-eyed and smiling, stopping to talk to strangers and friends, gasping about how "AMAZING IT ALL IS" and then staggering along, bathing in the light. The rock is pretty spectacular, but the sun was the main show for most of the locals.

I wandered for an hour, taking far too many shots of the rock, the sunset, and the waves. When it got chilly I headed back to my room and heated up some soup, then plotted my route to Portland.

In the morning the sun was still going strong. I ate breakfast at The Wayfarer, recommended by my friend Cliff, who had been the Executive Chef 17 years prior. The Wayfarer is the only restaurant with a view of Haystack Rock, which was gorgeous in the bright sun. After some of the most delicious Eggs Benedict I've ever had, I hopped in the car and headed southeast through Clatsop State Forest toward Portland and a new house sit.

Oregon Is Rainy and I Don't Care

I went to the Redwoods National Park Visitor Center and scooted around it to say my final goodbyes to California on a beach of black sand, listening to the pounding surf, ready for a new place.

As you might expect in March, Oregon was rainy. It was raining in every direction, misting, aggressively rolling fog around, dripping, down-pouring, hailing, and sprinkling. Even if it wasn't technically raining, the air was wet and the possibility of rain wasn't far off.

I loved all of it, from standing on a beach and needing to hold onto a tree branch to stay upright, to spending an afternoon snuggled in my bed, watching rain fall from the edge of the roof.

As soon as I went over the Oregon border there was a gigantic cannabis shop, which explained the California border patrol being in a place I didn't expect to see them.

I drove toward Coos Bay through the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor and visited Bastendorff Beach Park when I arrived, then headed into town where I had a super good dinner and browsed through a vintage shop for a jar in which to put the stuff on my dashboard that was threatening to spill over.

I stopped at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area for about 2 minutes. It was raining so hard that I was soaked through in the time it took me to sprint up a flight of stairs, point my phone's camera at some dunes, and sprint back. Still, it was a jaw dropping sight.

I stopped at every 3rd or 4th turnoff to ogle the waves crashing far below, careful not to slip off the edge of a slick rock wall in my effort to take a photo. The amount of water in the air made everything feel ethereal, until a semi would roar out of and back into the gloom. I was definitely in the minority in my enjoyment of the weather.

I stayed in Pacific City in a completely adorable motel, the Sand & Surf Inn, which was affordable with its off-season prices, but so very much nicer than Motel 6. The couple who own it are incredibly nice. I'd go back to that part of Oregon just to stay there and see more of the area.

For the first time in days I felt like going for a walk, which of course meant following a goat trail down off the side of a monument in the middle of nowhere and ending up at the top of a ridiculously tall dune overlooking the water. The scramble back up was exhausting and exhilarating. It appears that I no longer hike intentionally; it's all accidental.

I slept well in my cozy bed at Surf & Sand, dreaming about Cannon Beach, just up the road.

Last Night in California

After a very early morning visit to the Starbucks near the home I'd been staying in, I beat a hasty, giddy, relieved retreat toward the Redwoods. My latest house sit was behind me and I was looking at 4 days on the road, in a different place every night. When I think back to the early days of this trip and my deep need for at least 2 consecutive nights in a place, I can laugh, realizing how much more flexible I am, how settled into the flow of this traveling life. Two weeks in one place was rough.

I drove through San Francisco and up past Petaluma, remembering the velvety hills around Point Reyes. I chose back roads as much as possible, aiming to reach Occidental and Hinterland by the time they opened their doors. I climbed past canyons, switchbacking through view after view of the valley and finally, into enormous stands of Redwoods.

I cooled my heels in Occidental, eating popcorn and cookies for breakfast, popping into Hinterland when they opened for a shirt and some tree beats for my car. I have followed Hinterland on Instagram for a couple of years; their adventurous, take-no-prisoners spirit really spoke to me when this trip was still just a tickle in the back of my mind.

My next stop was Fort Bragg and Glass Beach. There's a long, winding walk along the clifftop that was pretty fogged in. The signs and fences asking people to stay off of the crumbling cliffs didn't seem to deter anyone from photo ops near the edge. Squirrels foraged for lunch among the wild poppies with little concern about people as ravens and gulls called overhead.

Eventually, I wandered over to the famous glass beach, the former site of a city dump, and now a major tourist attraction. I met a woman who said that a decade ago the place was piled high with sea glass, but that it's been depleted with so many visitors and because it's so easy to access. I collected a few small pieces of green and clear glass, only realizing miles and days away that the glass is not supposed to be taken off the beach. Whoops.

By early afternoon I was back on the road, pushing hard to get to Arcata before sundown. Still, I followed the Avenue of the Giants all the way, fighting Google's insistence that we get back to 101 and make up some time.

It's difficult to describe the Redwoods. Yes, they're enormous, but it's deeper than that. When you pull over and stand next to them (and sometimes inside them), you can feel them pulling at you. They're heavy and tall, serious trees with an aura of peace and strength. I struggle to find ways to illustrate how small I feel, and yet, how completely welcome. They are quiet, but incredibly alive. They smell like the trees should smell - of earth and sky, and they touch both.

After stopping many times to listen to the trees and watch the river tumble over rocks, I gave in to Google and made tracks to Arcata, where I settled into my last night in California.

Captain Whinypants Goes to Watsonville

Let me tell you how to kick your own whiny, tired, cranky ass. Get up. Make and inhale coffee. Give yourself 5 minutes to sniff, snuffle, pout, mutter, and snivel. Walk the dog (and be kind, it's not her fault that you're cranky), then take a shower. Get in the car, give yourself a stern talking to, and drive off to a town you would never have thought to visit except that part of your responsibility on this trip is to fulfill the tiny dreams of others in small, cold, snowy Northeastern towns.

Go to your friend's cousin's coffee shop and drink a cup of brew so strong and good that it causes you to levitate. Go find a gas station and put more gas in the car.

Find a good beach and walk yourself until you're all better. Discover that this is the beach for sand dollars. All the sand dollars. Collect some. Breathe deeply. Do a little skip. Dip your toes in the water. Watch some ladies painting the ocean and the cliffs.

Spend a long time trying to decide whether the flowers that carpet the cliffs look more like the sun or fried eggs. Dig your toes into the sand and push off quickly. Do some more skips.

Go home and walk the dog. All better.

Filoli

One of my happiest afternoons in San Jose was spent at Filoli, a huge estate with 16 acres of gardens and a beautiful home which are open to the public. Seeing 3 deer close to the driveway as I made my way toward the entrance boded well, and the house and grounds did not disappoint. Around every corner was another spot that felt more beautiful than the last. My camera died fairly early on, so I relied on my cell phone for most of my photos and made a mental note to keep better track of my battery situation; this was not a place in which you want to be without a camera! After rambling around Filoli for a couple of hours I made my way back to San Jose the long way, through the twisty tiny roads of the Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve. The wild abandon of the green, mossy, dripping woods felt like the perfect balance to Filoli's formal grandeur.

Santa Cruz

Cyrena rescued me with another long day out, this time in the Santa Cruz area. I drove up and over a small, windy pass and down toward Cyrena's childhood home on a grey, cold, rainy morning, dreaming about promised baked goods from Companion Bakeshop.

Once we picked up some breakfast we headed for the water and watched surfers for a bit outside the Surfing Museum. Then we headed down the road to Natural Bridges State Beach, where we took in the sights over the fence instead of heading down to the sand because it was still pretty windy and cold.

The next stop was Wilder Ranch State Park, which is still a working ranch with a few animals near the water. The buildings are beautiful and well maintained. It was here that the sun made a valiant effort and came out fully, increasing my happiness level quickly.

We drove up into the hills to check out the UC Santa Cruz campus, which is many, many acres of redwoods and cow pastures, with about a dozen small colleges tucked here and there into the trees. The emphasis there was definitely on the outdoors.

We headed off to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to ogle the trees and sniff the cool piney air. We saw a massive banana slug and a herd of deer (much needed sighting by Cyrena!)

We headed to Davenport Roadhouse for lunch, where the food was decent and the service was as slow as molasses. After lunch we went to the aptly named Shark Fin Cove, a highly Instagrammed and breathtaking spot just over some train tracks and down a precipitous trail to the beach.

After clambering back up to the top and walking along the clifftop for a bit, we headed back into town and called it a day. A very, very good day.

Sunol Regional Wilderness

One of the spots I checked out during my stay in San Jose was Sunol Regional Wilderness. The drive was long enough to catch up on my audio book and the park was relatively easy to find, though there was a lot of construction going on and the road was barely 2 lanes. Once Jazzy and I made it past that obstacle, we quickly found a path and headed into the trees, along a hugely swollen river, and eventually into the hills, where cows graze and hikers hike. The trails were really steep and reminded me of exactly how much (too much) sitting I've been doing lately. The views at the top were well worth the climb, though, velvety green hills stretching out as far as the eye could see.

 

California is Getting Old

If you look at my Instagram feed from the time I spent in San Jose, it looks pretty sweet. However, I allowed my view of the place to be colored by a description of it given to me by someone I had just met, and ended up feeling pretty miserable most of the time. Mostly, it was that I arrived there for a 2-week house sit when what I really wanted was to leave California. By that time, I'd been in the Bay Area for a few weeks and I was itching to be on the move again.

Instead, I was watching over a sweet, old dog and a handful of feral, semi-feral, and tame cats in a cozy little neighborhood. In hindsight, I made a lot of errors at the beginning of my stay there (mostly just not being myself, following my heart, and remaining committed to adventuring, you know, minor stuff), which ultimately led to a lot of feeling and acting whiny about being there, feeling stuck, and a crushing inability to get my head out of my backside and really find things to enjoy. This is part of being human, and specifically, me, which I battle less and less these days, thankfully. A lot of these two weeks were a flop, but I did rally, making the effort to get out and see some of things Silicon Valley has to offer.

With a terrible internet connection that made online work unreliable and frustrating, I was unable to catch up with this space unless I spent a lot of time babysitting uploads, hoping that the connection wouldn't drop, which it did frequently.

Every day began with feeding all of the animals in various places throughout the house and garden, opening the garden gate and the tiny greenhouse, and then making drip coffee before settling into some reading.

I walked Jazzy twice a day, following roughly the same route, which over time showed me little secrets, like a budding flower leaning over a wall, a tiny fountain in someone's yard, and lemons getting closer to ripe every day. Once I started listening to podcasts on our walks, my mood improved significantly and our walks felt more like a meander than a checklist item.

On the days I got out for an adventure I had a great time. The natural areas around San Jose are gorgeous and easy to access if you don't mind a little driving. One day I even made it to the Google campus to participate in a volunteer event for Feeding Children Everywhere, which really got me out of my head and thinking about the rest of the world, a very rewarding afternoon. 

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I visited Alviso Marina County Park one day and had a long, blustery walk while watching dozens of different kinds of birds.

I messed around in my sketchbook more than I have in several weeks and ended up putting together some chopped poetry from old letters that I wrote in my early 20s (oh, the never-ending DRAMA!), which were sent to my friend Amanda and returned to me in Atlanta, like a delayed diary. Messing around with paint and words felt good and definitely channeled some of the angst into good outcomes.

One of the most exciting little things was the beautiful personalized scratch map that I ordered from Kristin Douglas Art. As soon as it arrived I sat down and scratched off all of the states I've been through, which was deeply satisfying!

On my last day I got to meet back up with Miss Lady Luna, the dog from my very first house sit in Florida. Her family relocated to San Jose at the beginning of the year, so I spent an afternoon catching up. It was so good to see them all!