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Golden Gate

September 5, 2009

This has been a whirlwind week, full of memorable visits.  Jane Dolan, a new old friend we met at Cob Cottage Company, invited us to her colorful home in the mountains outside of Willits, California so we jumped on the Skunk Train which wound its way through the redwoods for an hour and a half, dropping us off right at her gate and picking us up there the next day.

Why, you might ask, would we jump on a train instead of taking Belle?

Well she needed a little rest after –  feeling a little adventurous after our peak experience at Mt. Shasta – we chose the wrong winding, climbing, descending route from Whiskeytown to the coast.  Trent estimates we went from 1000 ft above sea level, to 3000 feet, and back, FOUR times.  In two and a half hours we went forty miles, with cars on our tail the whole way no matter how often he pulled over for them.  After all day of this, on the way down the very last steep 3 mile descent of 10%, Trent started smelling the brakes and pulled over.  Immediately dark smoke rolled out from under the chassis, and he thought to jump out to check if we were on fire.  “Should I get the kids out?” I asked, as I began to unbuckle sleeping Holt from his seat, but the rapidly increasing heat underfoot answered just as Trent did – “Yes.  Yeah, get out!  We’re on fire!”   A little fire extinguisher foam, a little picnic to wait for the brakes to cool, a little kid reassurance, and we crept safely down the rest of the way.   The local gal who stopped to offer help said, “Welcome to Bridgeville!  We see this all the time.  We lost a schoolbus off the road around the next corner last year.  Need any water?”

In retrospect, perhaps a search of the road online would have been helpful, where we found rave reviews from motorcycle enthusiasts.  Not exactly a stellar recommendation for RVs to take the route.  So:  If you’re big and clunky, or are toting a house on a van chassis, avoid Highway 36 in northern California.  Later we realized a hubcap came off  too, in that last stretch, but there would be no turn–around to retrieve it.

Today we drove and then walked over the Golden Gate bridge, misty and with seals playing underneath, and find ourselves transfixed with the mediterranean sunlight glow that the hills seem to take on around here.  Tonight at long last we (and our laundry) are in San Jose with Jean, Gary, Penny and Jeannie and were blessed to meet Lynda today too.  To be with Jean is such a treat, it’s easy to fool myself that I’m talking with Grandma Warren.  (Grandma, I miss you!  Please put my email address on your family emails. )  We feel so welcome, with hugs from Gary, and Jean even made a key set for us for her car and house.  Spent an hour sampling the figs, finding bananas and green avocados, and juicing oranges and lemons growing in the yard, and had a tasty piecemeal dinner with the gals.  Tomorrow we’ll meet the fabled C’est Moi and Sunday will borrow Jean’s car to explore San Francisco.

Friends Amy Price in Willits, new baby McKenna, and the kids’ friends Tristan and Jackson had us over for dinner and play last night after an afternoon at the Mendocino farmer’s market.  Amy has an astounding biofeedback machine we had a chance to explore and in another post on a less exhausted night I’ll talk a little about that very fascinating experience.  Several experiments already come to mind for this unique piece of equipment.

The Redwoods offered not only the expected awe and allure and gravitational silence, but the kids and Mazie Jane especially had some Aha! moments about redwood tannins and bugs, about natural selection, about the life cycle, and symbiosis between ferns and redwoods.  We walked an otherwordly tree that fell twenty years ago, a 1600 year old tree, that had size unlike anything else we’d found down – even in a forest of giants it held a magnetic presence.

Photos to accompany soon.

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