The marvels continue. I’ve spent the last week traveling up and down the coasts, valleys and mountain passes of Oregon and Northern California. Since my childhood watching Captain Kangaroo, I’ve fantasized about the giant redwoods. At 58, I finally had the opportunity to hike among them. The photos I post can’t convey the scale of these gentle giants. It reminds me of my first trip to New York City, straining my neck to peer at the skyscrapers that seemed to reach to the heavens. While Linda and I walked among a grove of sequoias in Yosemite, the tip of northern California has more than 130 thousand acres with more than 38 thousand acres of old growth. Literally your jaw drops.
The road to the redwoods also led me down the Oregon coast with rocky monoliths jutting up from the ocean, spouts where the action of the waves sent water high in the air and forests descending down to water’s edge often with trees bent to the powerful winds buffeting the shore.
I feel blessed on each step of the trip — the weather and road conditions simply could not be better and each experience has touched me. I wonder, however, whether I simply am able for the first time in many years to step back and fully appreciate each experience and the wonders that surround us every day. In the redwoods, it rained throughout my hikes but it seemed to add to the magic with mist shrouded vistas and drops falling from branches high above. (It also meant that I had the groves to myself.) Would I have been open to the joy of this experience a few months ago or would I have faced nagging concerns about the weather, time and delays in getting to the next step I had planned.
Oregon also offered the ability to stay with old friends dating from high school and my early years of work on campaign finance reform. The wonderful thing about friends that have stood the test of time is that they seem to have no expectations of you since they have seen your strengths, quirks and flaws. They know more about you than you can sometimes remember yourself. This summer at a 40-year high school reunion I heard stories about some of my pranks that I had totally forgotten. (Did I really go to one of my friend’s workplace and insist his boss let him leave for a “surprise party” when the truth was I simply wanted him to head out for a night on the town with a carload of friends I had assembled?)
The joy of rambling is that you are not surrounded by expectations and time seems to have no clear boundaries. Individuals you meet know nothing about you, you have no work or projects to complete, you aren’t responsible for anyone or anything and your day is your own to structure (or not). Of course it is only a moment in time and you always carry expectations of yourself. Perhaps that is the true blessing. The time for self-reflection without distraction (except those inspiring vistas). The opportunity to contemplate who you want to be and where you want to go in life.
I had some great meals in Oregon at local restaurants (don’t go anticipating an upscale experience – just tasty food in a welcoming environment)