Thursday, May 31, 2012

Destination Big Sur

I've been winding my way up and down, twisting and turning on the scenic Highway 1. Driving the central coast of California is jaw dropping. It made me queasy too. The jutting cliffs and crashing surf, jade and turquoise water tumbling into pure white foam lining the shore. Then back out again. Repeat. The ocean is a mystery. To stare out into it, I find it both calming and sort of eerie. I think about all the sea creatures that reside in that massive under water world. What's really going on down there that we don't know about? I think about boats that have capsized, and the lives lost. What about the oil spills that occur and all the junk deposited in the sea. I hope the whales are doing fine.
I grew up on the beach, but I'm afraid of tidal waves and the unpredictability of big water. It can swallow you up.
When I was nineteen, I went to Alaska with my best friend. We got jobs as deckhands on commercial salmon fishing boats. It was thrilling and fun and we were adventurous. One day my friend went out fishing on a 32 ft. trawler and never came back. I quit fishing after that.
Driving up to Big Sur reminded me of how massive the ocean is. Standing on the shore just watching the repetitive motion of gigantic waves pounding the rocks, and the sound of it all, that ROAR, puts it all into perspective of how powerful mother nature is.
We pitched our tent under a giant, old, Redwood tree and drank tea around a blazing campfire. It is a magnificent forest, with plenty of entertaining stellar jays, bopping around and squawking, looking so blue black and noble.
Highway 1 has been called one of the most scenic drives in the world. I didn't know that, but I wouldn't argue one bit. If you've never been on it before, it should be on your "bucket list" of places to see.
Would you share with me one of your most favorite drives?


Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Rocky Mountain High

 I found an aspen grove to run away to. It was warm and sunny and quiet. C and I spent our first night beneath the acre of aspens we now call our own. It rained all night and this morning, while we were putting honey in our second cup of coffee, it began to snow! Before long, everything was coated in wet, white flakes. I must say, it was unexpected but beautiful. I normally wouldn't have been so pleased with this spring snow storm, because I LOVE SUMMER! But, just south of us, there is a wild fire burning in the Poudre River canyon. I watched the fire smoke drift up through the canyon and pines, flames ravaging thousands of acres in it's path. So, this morning when it snowed, I was happy. Maybe that fire will be out soon. Very soon. Happy spring snow storms to you!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guitar Man

He is. Yep, my dad is the guitar man. His birthday is in a couple of days and he will turn 91.
He's also known as Guitar Whitey. Let me explain.
When he was twelve, he bought his first guitar from the Sears catalog for $3.89 and taught himself how to play. Then at age thirteen, he hopped his first freight train.
You can still find him on a sunny porch playing old timey songs, but his train hopping days ended when he was 76. He's got other things to do now, that keep him closer to home. No longer does he feel the urge for going.
My father was a teen hobo during the Great Depression. In 1938, his family fell into hard times. Bobby became a summer tramp, riding the rails picking apples, strawberries and shaking walnuts, from Oregon to California. Every penny he made went to support his mother and father and three sisters. After harvest season, he worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana, until he joined the Navy. After that, he was a merchant seaman, sailor, tugboat operator, deckhand, guitar store owner and a busker. Yes, busking is a job!
Throughout his life, my dad never stopped traveling, mostly by hopping freight trains. It's a freedom thing. Like Merle Haggard sang:
                                          I caught this ramblin' fever long ago
                             When I first heard that lonesome whistle blow...
Even while rambling around the country, he always had his guitar with him. Guitar Whitey, riding trains and singing old time hobo songs, wherever he went.
PBS airs a history series, American Experience: Riding the Rails. It's the story of teenagers in the 1930's who were going through hardships, like my father. Some of these men and women are still around, and in this documentary, they tell stories of freedom and lonliness. My dad is one of the ten they interview. The music that accompanies the film is some good old american folk tunes. The book, Riding the Rails, is also available, (through Amazon of course) or your local library, that include some interesting black and white photographs. I hope the next time PBS airs this film, you'll be able to watch it. Take a trip back into time. You'll be glad you did. And, while we're on the subject of books, if you're curious about Guitar Whitey's train adventures, he wrote about them in his book, Ridin' Free. I've read it five times. It's a wild ride, and all true. Check it out!
Incidently, how 'bout a Happy Birthday shout out to the Guitar Man!
He's probably on his porch in California, playing you a song right now, with my beautiful mother by his side, shakin' the tambourine.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wanderlust : Joni Mitchell tribute #1

I've got it. I've always had it. My father has it. Perhaps it was an inheritance? Nevertheless, having itchy feet means I get to travel and go places I've never been before, or visit landscapes and towns that call me back. Have you ever gotten the urge to just take off and go somewhere without a clear destination in mind? To JUST GO. Hop in your car and hit the road. See what's out there. Where does that dirt road lead to? You drive and drive and then, well, there you are. In New Mexico. Again.
I'm drawn to the desert. I like warm weather and cactus. I am known to run away to Arizona on a whim.
I'm pretty sure Joni Mitchell has travel fever. She writes and sings songs about it on her album HEJIRA (a journey). Those songs were written during a road trip she had taken cross country. A spiritual journey. One song in particular, Amelia, she sings:
I pulled into the Cactus Tree Motel to shower off the dust
and I slept on the  strange pillows of  my wanderlust.

When I was a teenager, I spent hours in my bedroom, listening  to Joni Mitchell  records. Reading the lyrics on the record sleeve, singing along, dreaming of far away places and hanging  out with the "ladies of the canyon". I was living what she was singing. I still listen to her music. Those songs still speak to me. Every once in a while, if I'm feeling out of sorts, and a tad restless, my husband, without saying a word, will put on a Joni Mitchell album, kiss me goodbye, letting me wallow in it all. He knows that Joni's music is medicine for my soul.
Do you listen to Joni Mitchell?