June 2007

9 Jun 2007 [link to here]
clouded judgement

I found a way to make it rain. All I have to do is plan to go camping. Both this weekend and last weekend, my plans turned limp and soggy before I had a chance to do likewise. Of course, I'm in Portland, and it rains here most of the time anyway, so maybe it's not my fault.

That's probably for the best, since artificial weather modification is prohibited in Oregon without a license from the State Department of Agriculture. I'd also have to post a bond or get insurance covering any damages from the resulting weather, which doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Just to be on the safe side, maybe I should wait until I get back to California before I make any more camping plans. My precipitation-enhancing powers there are limited to fog.

14 Jun 2007 [link to here]

As you may have gathered from the last couple entries, I've been out and about. In fact, I went for a drive. 22 days, 2306 miles, and 69 gallons of gas later, I'm home. That's an average speed of 4.45mph. I can run faster than that, but not for 22 days. I saw places and people, took lots of pictures, and renewed my general ambivalence toward travel.

In many ways the journey was an end itself, but I can't not compare it to flying to Seattle and back, since that was the other option for the weekend destination that inspired the trip. Driving was cheaper than flying and renting a car, but I probably burned a bit more fuel. A few minutes of poking around suggests flying would be between 40mpg and 60mpg (passenger miles per gallon, that is), and I averaged 33.5mpg, though it's not the same fuel. (I got 38mpg driving down the coast. That's what happens when I slow down.)

Driving certainly took more time, so it's a question of whether I'd rather have spent that time driving around or doing something else. I have to say, it was a beautiful drive, and not a bad way to spend a few days. Meanwhile, I got to see things along the way, I didn't have to deal with stupid "security" measures (except for the full service gas stations in Oregon, an old artifact of profit motivated fear mongering by fuel companies), I got to bring a lot more stuff, and my schedule was flexible.

I also got to drive the roller coaster known as southbound Highway 1, which was generally a lot of fun, though a bit nerve wracking in some parts of Sonoma. I'll never forget one picture I couldn't stop to take. It had been white-knuckle edge-of-the-cliff driving for a while, then the road ahead of me vanished suddenly around a bend. Straight ahead, in the small margin between the bend and the void, was a sign saying "road narrows". What made it surreal and not just terrifying was that the abyss behind the sign was not the sky, but an expanse of ocean, because the road was pointed down so steeply. The last time I drove that stretch of road, I saw a similar view on a different cliff-edge bend, and instead of the sign, there was a cow standing in front of the ocean.

I find that on every trip, there comes a point when I've started to head home. I'm a fan of gradual transitions that leave time to contemplate what's on both sides of them. When I fly somewhere, the turn-around point is usually when I go to the airport, and the journey home is a few hours, most of which are stressful and irritating, and are rarely fit to be the capstone of any enjoyable trip. On this trip, the turn-around point was when I left Portland, and it was another three days before I reached home, one of which I spent hiking and camping on the coast, going nowhere at all.

There's another inflection point on the returning leg of a trip. It's when you leave the last place you hadn't been before, and begin the home stretch, on familiar ground for the rest of the journey. On a straight there-and-back trip, that point is just the halfway mark, isn't very interesting. On my bicycle ordeal around the bay, that point was the Pulgas Water Temple, because I'd biked there from my house before. On this drive, it was Gualala, because that's as far north as I'd been on the coast.

The interior of the Pacific Northwest was gorgeous, but the coast of California and Oregon is probably one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.