Pepperwood Farms aka A Visit With An Old Friend0
I wish I could pull a Dumbledore and tap my head with my wand and gently pull out my memories, stirring them in a cauldron for all to see. But alas, I am a mere Muggle and besides, I left the wand at home. But, I am holding out for a Fairy Godmother store SOMEWHERE along our travels! I mean, really, if there are stores that sell guns/liquor/fur/fireworks/beef jerky, I think my chances are pretty good.
Let me backtrack a bit to give you a Cliff’s Notes version of our days leading up to leaving on our 4-week journey. It goes something like this – too many mental lists that brain begins to liquefy; frantic catching up with projects you swore you were going to start weeks ago; 1 yard of decomposed granite and 3 yards of bark waiting in front of the house 3 days before leaving; confirm and reconfirm with ‘Good Day Sacramento’ with hopes they don’t keep you in the 6AM time slot; get the dog to the friends, the orange tree to the neighbors and hope you don’t confuse the two; 11th hour cleaning out of the fridge (aka Tilt fridge forward and empty contents into trash can); crazed look on faces as the mad scramble to wrap up all work projects ceases to wane. I think that covers about most of it. Just insert a few choice words here and there for color and you’ve pretty much covered our life this past week.
So this early Friday morning, I’m fortunate enough to be sitting at the table of a childhood friend, tucked away off the Avenue of The Giants, deep in the soul of Humboldt County. I’m attempting to gather my thoughts but find myself replaying yesterday over and over again. What were the highlights? All of it. What moved me the most? Everything. So, let’s try this again…
We were asked to come by the ‘Good Day Sacramento’ studio on Thursday for a send-off from one of their news people. Courtney and Dave came by on Wednesday and did a few segments in our backyard. Talk about a lot of fun! You never know what you’re going to get with the “Wacky Bruce” crew, but Courtney was an absolute delight to host. We’d met Dave (the camera dude) last year at another segment about a kid crawling into a plush crane. Don’t ask. Our Wednesday gig consisted of showing them how we pack followed by me cooking them breakfast via JetBoil and sporks. Okay, I cheated juuuuuust a little and cooked the potatoes in my kitchen before crisping them up with the peppers and olive oil. Cut me some slack! I was barely vertical and had just completed the bark project less than 12 hours previous! Courtney and Dave were truly a delight and stayed for breakfast and swapping of stories. So when we stopped by the studio on our way out on Thursday, it was like old times when Courtney and Dave pulled up in the news van. We were hanging out waiting for our “big send-off” which was to consist of us giving the final goodbye with promises of Skype calls and pictures, waving as we pulled out of the studio parking lot. What it REALLY consisted of was us pulling out of the parking lot, U-turning it back and Dave giving Jack a tour of the studio. I know, I KNOW, I’m blowing the magic moment, but how do you deny a 9-year-old gear-head a look behind the wizard’s curtain? In the end, Courtney fixed Jack up a plate of food, we chatted it up with a few of the news people, and suited up for the “real” departure. No cameras this time around.
Can you guess what is the BIGGEST archenemy of motorcycles everywhere? Wind. Gusting, blowing, curse-inside-your-helmet wind. And today, there was plenty of it. Shazbot! We had to make up time on Interstate 5 to get to Highway 20. I loathe the freeway. But when we have to get from A to B in a certain amount of time, there is no other option. So imagine 30 MPH gusts coming from the north, two eager parents and one exhausted child. We were not in our “happy place”, but we made it through unscathed. We thought the foothills would provide some relief but they only proved tricky when struck by a swirling gust as we rounded each corner. Fine. Whatever. With a brief stop at Foster’s Freeze in Lucerne, just along Clear Lake, we headed west to the 101, eventually making our way into redwood country. Oh, how I MISS this area! Being from Sonoma County, I truly do miss the rolling hills, redwood trees and fog. Riding along 101 is like coming home for me, and for Terry as well. He’s a Sonoma boy but could do without the tourists. That I understand. But here we are, tourists for a month. The roll of the road promises to wear out that flat spot on the back tire while the scenery keeps you rolling on the throttle, eager to see what’s around the next turn. You want to stop and take pictures, but you can’t. The ride is too perfect. I assure myself that Terry’s head-cam will capture whatever pictures we should be taking. With only 25 miles to go, we stopped at a small market along the Avenue of The Giants to stretch. Jack was pooped and my and Terry’s legs were not yet used to the hours spent on 2-wheels. That’s okay – muscle memory will prove itself yet again. Back on the road, we finally spotted the ear of corn alongside the road (you have to trust me on this one) and knew Nette’s place wasn’t far away. We rolled into her driveway only to be greeted by a toe-headed cherub with tendrils cascading out from her 2-year-old head. Meet Alma, spitting image of the young Shirley Temple with a spunk that rivals any child I’d ever met. Holding Alma was a friend I’d know since our band days back in junior high, Nette. We used to play flute together in Santa Rosa and went through all the awkward teenage years together only to go our separate ways come high school. Why? Not really sure, but I’ll chalk it up to “It just happened that way”. I’ve always loved Nette for her intellect and free spirit. And this farm that she and her husband, Jay, had acquired through her family reflected everything I’d remembered about her. Chickens ran free, acres of chard and other greens covered the grounds and an old VW bus sat in the carport, leftover from the days of her grandfather. She and Jay took over the farm just last year, cutting their life in the south bay and taking a chance on a life less cluttered. Good choice. While Alma led Jack by the hand inside the house, the three adults wandered the grounds as Nette told the history of the land, the trees and how floods had changed the life in Pepperwood forever. Always thinking about pulling the “plug” and gettin’ the heck outta Dodge, Terry and I took in every story she had to tell. From the old Ford with the lift gate to the 60 foot tree that was once a bonsai to the fig tree heavy with fruit, it was like our own little Wonderland.
Because we had spent the day battling the wind, we decided to punt and not camp on the grounds. There will be camping aplenty in the days to come. We spent the evening sharing wine, eating a home-cooked meal that included peas just picked only minutes before, and sharing tales from days past. It was a magical evening. I do wish Jay was there to join us, but a previous engagement kept him away. Next time. I finally had to call it around 11:30PM and hit the sheets. Terry was right behind me. Jack had finally given up around 10PM. I hope the kid sleeps in. He needs it and we NEED him to sleep in. If you’re a parent, you understand.
So what will today bring? Where are we headed? I know we’re going north, maybe to Brookings, maybe not. The plan is to have no plan. We can’t do the regimented schedule thing. Too many time constraints and it’s just too rigid. The goal is to enjoy each other and the places and people we encounter. You can’t do that if you’re always looking to what’s ahead. We’ve learned to enjoy the now, the moment. You grow weary of always passing by with promises of returning some day. Some day. We hear that term a lot. So, when will it “officially” be some day? Will your inner alarm go off at 65 and say, “Okay, Timmy! Some day is finally here! Let’s go get that (insert object) now and go take that trip to (insert random location)!” Sorry, kids, but Terry and I have known too many people whose lives ended far too soon. And these were the one’s who lived as if some day never existed! They KNEW how to grab life and enjoy the ride. Yet so many of us are waiting, just WAITING, for some day. Why? Everyone has their reasons. And everyone has their fears. I get that. But the question is what are you going to do about it? And that, my friends, is your challenge for today. Cheers.