It's almost light at 6:00 am. We're driving south this morning. Twelve hours on the road with about four planned stops. We know the drill. Portland to Berkeley and other parts of the Bay Area. Must have made this drive at least 10 times in the last few years.
I slowly drive down the street where I live and think about the cup of coffee that will give me enough courage for the next few hours of this sojourn. The baristas at Peet's are like family. They'll say good-bye, see you in a couple of weeks. The mist is lifting as I straighten out and drive up Hawthorne Ave. Is someone in the middle of the street? Am I seeing things? Three small figures come into focus right on the white line. I slow down and come face to face with three young deer looking at me, flicking their ears, all seeming to say, what are you doing here? I stop and flick my headlights at oncoming traffic and soon about half a dozen cars in both directions are aware. The three invaders (all does) get the message and leave the street and disappear into the foliage of a nearby mortuary. Nobody died...yet.
In the days that follow, I go as far south as Monterrey to help some in-laws move and then to the Eastern Sierra to my nephew's wedding in a small Gold Rush town.
California seems so different to me now. Almost a decade as an Oregonian and the landscape is so different. The price of everything is so much higher in Cali. Gas is just under $5. a gallon. I forgot about sales tax, especially at restaurants when four people have dinner. I cope.
On day three of this adventure I check my email and social media and find that Portland has had more wildlife enter the city limits. A bear has been sighted in a NE Portland neighborhood and, sadly, another school shooting...only this time it's the high school where the son of a friend of mine goes. It's close to the schools where I now supervise student teachers. Two dead. 74th school shooting since Sandy Hook. People double check that figure, but it's unfortunately true.
I spend the night in Carmel because of my brother-in-law's connections. I'm out of my league here sleeping on a bed in a room with incredible views of the ocean and cypress trees. I'm just along for the ride.
The wedding is beautiful. I encounter a former student who introduces me to her husband and 3 month old daughter. It's only been 15 years but she looks the same. Doing well. I have another glass of wine amid the pines and the oak trees and a smattering of redwoods.
I wander around a couple of these little foothill towns with cell phone service wandering in and out as well. This is Calaveras County but there are more motorcycles visible than jumping frogs. Still many bikers but they are aging fast. It ain't pretty. I tire quickly of the little tourist traps and just sit on a bench for awhile.
Years ago I used to fantasize about having a small TV that I could peak at from time to time so I could watch a ball game or a horse race I had to miss. My I-Phone is just that. I am way into the future in a town that lives in the past.