Driving to Cali

For this year’s birthday, I took a trip down to Northern California, amongst new frontiers. I’ve seen the entrance into this part of the country driving south via I-5, through excessively trashy Redding, California, to extremely impressive Mount Shasta. This time, we took a new route that will always stand out to me.

My friend in Humboldt told my boyfriend and I of a girl who was driving down from Portland to Arcata, California. We found out that she bought a car, and was driving her old Rodeo truck and her new 1983 Honda Accord southward and westward, to where we wanted to be. We at first went along the familiar way down the greenery and mountainous territory of Oregon, from the clustered traffic jams on suspended freeway ramps, to get out of Portland during rush hour, through boring Salem and then through youthful Eugene. We stopped in Eugene, and then got back on the road and enjoyed the steep inclines and declines that this sprawl-less little city exhibits when it goes straight from the compact college town to lush rural and forested areas.

Strange rest areas came about southward, with little pregnant, mewing cats and passing-through people going to relieve themselves or stretch, checking you out to guess your story while you observe them to think of why they are in such a strange place on this freeway in the middle of nowhere. Driving down through exits I hardly recognized and hill formations I vaguely knew that I became impressed by in the past; it was so interesting to travel by car again. Trapped in the city I usually am, bound by my bicycle and Trimet transit services, put off by flat tires or expired transfers. My boyfriend and I switched off driving sessions, accelerating and decelerating, hitting the brakes and the gas, and changing CDs.

Pass on through California through new territory, and get that friendly inter-state inspection of police officers asking if you have any fruits, vegetables or produce in your vehicle.

Magically, once you cross the Oregon-California border, all of the clouds go away and the sun starts shining!

Through new mountains, new pine trees and new rock formations that resemble Oregon but are highlighted differently by the obvious sunshine. Trying to decide if this territory actually looks different from back home or if my perspective has become tainted by the drab, constant overcast. Forward through the Redwood Forests, not sure if I’ve ever seen a Redwood in the past, but now sure that I do see them passing by on the left and right of my vision out of the simple white station wagon.

Down to the coast, through Crescent City, meet the 101 Pacific Highway and continue on. See the sunny and sandy and windy ocean beaches full of humans and leashless dogs that no one really tells you about, or what a foreigner would initially think of California to be like. Keep the window cracked a little, keep the CD selection diverse, follow the girl in the Rodeo truck in front of us to finish our temporary western odyssey.