9 days was all we had, because John had to get back for a job, so we packed up my old '89 volvo which is beginning to reek with character, and headed north. Strangely, even though I'm a born and raised Californian through and through, I've never ventured too far north of San Francisco
. Mendocino, Eureka, and Ukayah are incredibly familiar names and now I'm glad to say "I've been there, I know where that is". I'm pretty sure that it was during the first day's drive, on the picturesque one lane road through the Mendocino wine country, that John and I decided that as we travelled through different states and towns, we'd try to eat as locally as possible. Most directly this meant nothing like fast food, no sodas, no wheat thins, we'd have to give up our normal driving staples: coke and sour patch kids, and opt for whatever local products we could find instead. Eating locally is getting tons of publicity at the moment and seems to be the new newest branch of the natural organic food trend. Generally I do think that it's great to eat foods produced near your home town in order to support the local economy as well as hopefully eating foods that are safer and more nutritious; while traveling though, I find it to be even more important to try your best to eat locally. What would be the fun if while driving through California, Oregon, and Idaho you only ate KFC, Burger King, and Pizza Hut? It would be easy and convenient. Going out of your way is more exciting though, especially if ventures into local towns mean dinners of local trout, wild boar, yummy organic beer, and special oregon jams.
Eating locally went great. What didn't go quite as well was the camping situation
. Three summers ago while driving back from Colorado to California, we had been happy and comfortable pulling off the side of the road into a national park to find ourselves a secluded private campsite. This time around however, our minds weren't nearly as at ease. On a few occasions we had fellow campers tell us never to camp without dogs, never to tell anyone where you're camping, and to watch out for meth-heads; all a bit disconcerting. Because of this advice and sometimes our gut instincts, we ended up camping in actual campgrounds surrounded by RV's 5 times the size of my car. We had the little volvo and a two man tent. Not much. Our neighbors would be taking up tons more space with multiple vehicles, boats, bikes, and walk in tents. Do people really need to bring the television and the entire kitchen to go camping? I suppose what I need to remember is that car camping and hike-in camping are fundamentally different activites. Both enjoyable, but you can't expect any private nature time when the next camp site is three feet away from you over memorial day weekend.
Aside from camping and eating, we honestly didn't do much else. We would have liked to hike and explore some of the beautiful national parks but everywhere we went there was snow. So instead of being active, we'd just return to the car and pop in another CD of a book on tape. Oh life is hard.
My interest in travel and exploration is not limited to international travel. Not in the least. California, the west coast, and the whole United States has an incredible amount of fascinating varied coast lines, forests, kitsch tourist sites, national parks, geologic formations, cute towns, unique populations, and clearly enough stuff to keep me interested and entertained for years. Practically as soon as I was back in Berkeley, and even before John had returned to the states, we were rearing to go and planning our next adventure...this time a short road trip to Oregon and Idaho to visit my friend Britta and her baby (now little boy) Henry.