The Great Quest West: Northern California

The Great Quest West is a series recounting the two-week road trip my brother and I took this August through eight of the most western states. 

August 6, 2015

Rule number one in any road trip – one must travel with an open mind. Within the first five hours we changed our entire itinerary. Our first stop of the trip is Hearst Castle in San Simeon, the estate to the heirs of Hearst Publishing. The castle features authentic sixteenth century Italian interiors. The grounds were suitable for the taste of the 1920s Hollywood crowd that vacated the premises during the on season. Neptune’s pool was so glamorous and ostentatious that I had no reference for comparison than illustrations of Zeus’ castle. We swerve through Big Sur chased by rain clouds and private roads. A quick stop off in Carmel and decide to stay in Santa Rosa. Thunder and lightening lit up the violet gray sky and rapid rain drops blurred our tired eyes. We arrive at the motel a quarter till one.

August 7, 2015

Road trips are not for those with wandering minds. Endless opportunity to explore uncharted territories and dangerous locales, ghost towns and hitchhikers abroad. Sounds of California natives, Red Hot Chili Peppers flooding through the speakers. We dodge through five hours of cruise controlled open highways falling in and out of tree lines. I swerve past familiar places I’ve never been. When the temperature drops twenty degrees in under an hour it is safe to assume we are officially entering the Pacific North West. Fog and marine layers collide leaving a cloud of mystery dangling off the cliffs. We are warned of bears and aggressive birds in the Redwood Forest. I always considered myself a city girl, but I have an inexplicable attraction to nature-sans insects that is. The scariest part of fear is fear itself. Taking chances and taking risks are terrifying, but so is vulnerability.

August 8, 2015

The sunrise in the East seeps through the thin tent walls. Driving to our hike at dawn deep in the Redwoods, the paved winding road blurs your vision to a mossy green, making the very apparent drought back home seem like a myth. Tree trunks uplifted expose the history in their roots and the vastness of their glory. I’d rather someone plant a tree in my honor than buy me flowers. We managed to get lost off the trail and find the opening to a shallow river with a wooden bridge and a thick layer of luscious fog. A school of tiny birds soar artfully choreographed through the grey skies diving centimeters above the crystal clear water and swishing feet away from my very head. Wish I could join them.