Friday, August 30, 2013

Wind and Tight Spaces (road trip day 2)

Yesterday is proving hard to write about.

I can easily access and communicate the basic details. On the same night I got into Medford, my plans began to shift as I heard from a friend living in Eureka, California. I'd planned on staying in southern Oregon before driving scooping southwest towards Crescent City and finally Eureka, where my booked hotel room waited for me. But if I had other sleeping arrangements...

After much debating and waffling I decided what the hell. I would drive up to Eugene, have lunch, scan the sights, then cut across highway 126 to Florence, then straight down the coast to Eureka. What originally had been 3 hours driving suddenly bloomed into 8.5, but this whole trip was about exploration, right?

I'd had a hard time getting to sleep that night, so the snooze button didn't need to say much before I took advantage of its services. I still managed a fairly early start, all things considered, and after awkwardly navigating the unexpected (for me) benefits of serviced gas stations, hit the road again.

Oregon is truly beautiful in many places, most of my driving was scenic with sloping hills, alternating farm lands and woodlands interrupted by mini cities. Eugene is a college town, and like most college towns, there's a certain vibe. I guess I mostly felt discombobulated since so much of my travel time has been solitary. All of a sudden there was a high increase of people to square inch, and cars to square inch so my spacial meter went into overdrive. I enjoyed good food while observing the particular “look” worn by young, mostly white, city Oregonians. College kids. I am not that far removed from them, not by any means, but I could not wait to get away from the town. My hour spent left me feeling a bit panicky. I left somewhat quickly, watching the tightly packed blocks ease into less manicured sidewalks and convenience stores framed by overgrown weeds.

Highway 126, leading westward to Florence, is beautiful. Truly. Each tree and winding turn pulled me back into a softer state as the muscles around my gut released and the tendons in my fingers loosened enough to grip the steering wheel less tightly.

Bandon marsh
This stretch of driving proved to be longer than I expected; once I shifted southward along 101 I only stopped in a couple of spots to explore. One of which was Bandon's marshes. One residential road led me to a vista point where I was able to walk all the way to the edge of the marshland. I loved finding quiet, uninhabited spaces to enjoy the wind, mud, and tangle of brush and tree. I wonder sometimes why I so often seek to escape the company of people.

I also napped in my car at that marsh for over an hour. I woke up in that half-groggy, half-alert mind-fog realizing that I still had at least four hours of driving left. The clock read 5:15pm and I wasn't even out of Oregon. I wasn't even that close to the border.

This didn't stop me from pausing one or two more times. When fat, white letters on the road read “Ocean View,” what's a girl like me to do? Follow them, naturally. I found a beach spot next to a harbor that was, imagine that, uninhabited. Driftwood, crab carcasses, soft milky clouds and huge stones jutting up from the water's crystal cap like fists. Fine sand, too, a bit darker grey than beaches on the southernmost end of the west coast.

Then I drove. And drove. By the time I reached Crescent City the sky had blackened. I knew the ocean was directly to my right, but I hardly dared to lift my gaze from the road ahead even if I could have seen the long expanse of water. For many miles all I could only think of my lack of cell phone reception, the dwindling number of vehicles passing, and the isolating pressure of two black forest walls on either side. But my trip was uneventful, and I eventually tumbled into the welcome arms of my friend who graciously allowed me to sleep on her living room floor in a lovely, quirky apartment. The day's events still are unfolding for me, each moment spent offers a piece of me, I know. Putting the whole together is the patience game.  

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