Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Road 420, Dude

Since summer began three weeks ago, Carrie and I have been taking Amari and anyone else who will join us on epic walks on and around the Mendocino coast. While my dad was visiting last week we covered about fifty miles of trails and coastal roads, soaking up the sun and making the most of our extended family time. While Carrie's all about the destination, I'm more about the journey, so when she charts out our next adventures I just strap on my pedometer and start walking. 

This week the fog rolled in like a vacationing tourist and decided to camp out. After a few days, we were all suffering from cabin fever - much like Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" - so Carrie pulled out her handy dandy hiking guide, searched the very useful Inter-Web, and found an extensive network of old logging/fire roads that run inland through Jackson State Forest. If we wanted to, I think we could walk every day for a year and never see the same road twice. 

Yesterday we took a pilot run a little more then 10 miles east of town. We found the described pullout and telltale yellow gate, piled Amari into the jogger, and headed down a steep, bumpy, narrow road. Clearly there hadn't been a fire recently enough to make this enjoyable. About a mile in, the grass began to creep onto the road, while young blackberry bushes rose on either side. I'm definitely going back there in a month to raid the bushes, but without the lure of delicious berries, the road had little merit. Not enough destination for Carrie and far too much journey for me. This is what the road ended up looking like.  

We did decide, however, to start chronicling our walks so we could organize them according to length, points of interest, etc. Anyone else smell another riveting blog?

Today we struck gold. Sort of. The weather on the coast was better, and as the fog began to lift from our home in the sun belt we headed out on another adventure. We parked our car about two miles inland this time - another pullout and another yellow gate - and headed into the woods. The website said this was Road 400, that it stretched for over five miles and met other similarly numbered roads. It said we would come to a bridge approximately four miles in, but also cautioned us strongly that we stay on course and not veer off onto "the endless Road 420." Interestingly, I offer this same caution to my students in middle school. Dude. 

So this hike appeared to have all the elements of exciting Greek myth - an adventure, a hero (Team Fishman), a destination (logging bridge), and even a temptation to avoid (the endless 420). I would have preferred a few sirens, but you take what you can get. When Carrie told me about the logging bridge, images of old, wooden trusses stretching across long forgotten streams danced in my head. I imagined Hobbit homes dug into the sides of the hill with Bilbo and Frodo living in constant fear of the dreaded lumberjack troll. Instead, four miles into the woods, we found this. 

Pretty wild, huh? Fortunately, the long journey to the bridge made the car and the promise of sushi a new and exciting destination. I would also like to note that Carrie's experiment of carrying a piece of fabric softener in her pocket worked to keep the mosquitoes at bay, which is both interesting and useful information if you're as delicious as Carrie. Only one bite appeared the next day. And it was static-free. 

Another thing we discovered on our walk was how handy it would have been to have access to Google, because we stumbled upon some questions ranging from curious to inane. Here are a few that came up.

1. What is this pile of shit we found that looks like a cross between human and horse dung? No picture available?
2. What is this brown snake we found sleeping in the road?

3. What does this facial expression mean?

4. How old is Leonardo DiCaprio? (Pictures available everywhere) 

Evidently, the answers are:

1. I don't know what kind of shit that is.
2. Californian Rubber Boa
3. I don't know what kind of shit that is, either and
4. That's a stupid question. And  it's 35. I don't remember how it came up, but I'm pretty sure I was closer. ;)

So that was our day. I feel like we all fare better when we get out of the house for a while. I wonder all the time how these early experiences, trekking through forests and alongside oceans, is shaping Amari's young mind. I have a fantasy that she will be the outdoorsie type and continue to love being a strolling spectator even when she's ready to walk. I'm constantly impressed by both her mental/emotional stamina and the strength of her neck as her head jostles back and forth, back and forth as the stroller bounced over the rockier parts of the road. The only times she complains is when she's fighting sleep and the terrain isn't being helpful. 

I guess she'll either be outdoorsie or permanently disabled. Here's to hoping it's not the latter. 


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