Essentially Wilde

A W Clan Adventure

Monday, September 19, 2016

Standstone Love Affair

Great white mounds sliced through with red veins of lightening that billow out of the earth like they would be soft clouds, but are mostly sandstone.  Deep umber colored towers rise in lumpy segments toward a sky they will never touch, while a river rushes at their feet carving its way through willow and sage.  Creamy shades of white, burnt oranges, reds that dive into a bilious purple, all piled on top of each other, all looking like they’ve been painted, all carved by wind, and water, all stunningly lovely, all in southern Utah. 
This is a Disneyland for nature lovers.  It’s almost goofy.  These huge pillars of bloated rock striped in shades rich and wonderful, rounded feet of cliffs overflow onto the floor of canyons yielding themselves to become fine orange and pink dust.  Inevitably there is a river of some sort snaking through their maze-like canyon floors; generous layers of willow, sage, rabbit brush, and tiny yucca bank these rivers.  We are wandering through a play land that is both benignly wonderful and still a desert.  Rattlesnakes, long needled cactus, dry heat and the always-present possibility of flash floods during this monsoon season dance on the periphery while we happily run down trails and splash through rivers.
Tonight is our 6th night in canyon country, we are currently perched above Calf Creek, in the Grand Staircase and its music is mingling with the crickets and my typing fingers and my husband snacking on granola. 
And then the baby woke up and it’s days or so later…  We are in Zion.  The penultimate natural Disneylandia.  Tour buses run up and down the valley from 6am until 9pm leaving every 5 minutes.  The turn over in the 300-site campground is dizzying.  Today I heard several different languages batted around the tour bus. 
We came here 4 years ago when Wayland was moving from Colorado back to California and we spent 4 days tromping around the Narrows, and Climbing Angels Landing and getting off those over populated paths to explore quiet canyons.  We were still in that cloyingly sweet phase of love, where everything the person does is fascinating and forms a new doorway to their soul, or something.  We were madly in love.  We barely knew each other.  And it was awesome.
Now we are married.
Now we have a toddler.
Now we know one another real well.
Now we are prone to snapping at one another, to being short, and our patient kindness is used up by our tender toddler.  But, walking the paths I once walked with my boyfriend, (now my husband) sparked the tenderness, the absolute trust I had in him and us.  It has been good medicine to tromp through the Narrows once again, watching him carry our son on his back and see him once again in the light of fresh love.
It has scrubbed away some of the hardness, the built up assumptions of who a person is, and what they are going to do.  Scrubbing away those expectations, pulling away from what I think I know of him and being willing to let go of my whole construct that I’ve boxed him in.  Freeing.  I got to see the man I wanted to marry and build a life with.  And he got to be seen in that light, received and loved for who he actually is, not my narrow box. 
We need more pilgrimages like this.  Or I do.  I need to be diligent in finding ways to shed the stories I write and forgetting the plot, I get to dive deep into living.

But, really, it’s just all about huge cream colored sandstone striped in deep orange that invite us all to want to climb, play, find the next ridge and keep going. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Possibilities and Thunder

Once again the road yawned before us.  Down through mountain passes and south towards the four corners area.  The San Juan Mountains stood regal, like the knighted teeth of a shark, lightly dusted with the first snow to kiss their peaks since winter.  Tall and jagged their stance brooked no excuse, and I could only smile with the deepest respect as I watched them shrink in my side view mirrors.  We are leaving the high mountain country and descending into the land of mesas stacked like grand altars to (mostly) forgotten gods. 
As we sat in the trailer plotting our next moves (Arizona?  Utah?  Canyonlands?  Grand Canyon?) a storm strolled in from the south.  Thunder, real thunder, shake the ground and say a prayer thunder, crashed raucously above and all around us.  Thick erratic stripes of lightening tore up the sky and touched the earth, rain fell like it had been holding its breath and could finally let go.  Our son smiled and pointed to the sky with every crash of thunder, his eyes wide.
We decided to back track 15 minutes and head to Mesa Verde.  Here we are.  Monsoon season in the desert, coupled with an unusual storm that is bringing snow to mountaintops and an icy wind to boot.  I have the kettle going now to heat the trailer, Bay is sleeping wrapped in wool blankets and Wayland is enjoying a hot shower. 

Every town we spend time in, each area we tap into, we are interviewing. 
So far in the interview process we have had a couple noticeable mentions, but today was the first real contender we have had.  When we began this adventure, I thought for sure that Southern Oregon would be my choice of where to move to.  I have been surprised by what has moved me and where I can now imagine living.
A town in southern Colorado has grabbed us both and we are heavily considering what it would be like to live there.  I have lived on the ocean or within 35 minutes of the sea my entire life.  The ocean is my church.  I am accustomed to a rather Mediterranean climate, where the elements are fairly gentle.  I am thoroughly aware of the seasonal transitions, the changing of leaves, the absence of birdsong in winter that erupts into a wild cacophony in spring, the way fog rolls in and when, all these things and so many more tell the story of changing seasons. 
Being in Colorado, I was on a walk with my girlfriend who freaked out seeing two yellow aspen leaves on the ground.  Seasonal change here is a big fucking deal.  Snow.  Ice.  Frozen soil and pipes.  Below zero temperatures.  I am not intimate with any of these details.  I am a California girl born and raised.  Winters that send people into wild exclamations upon seeing two fallen yellow aspen leaves are foreign to me. 
The people we’ve spent time with in this area are ranchers, extreme runners, extreme mountain bikers, deeply dedicated outdoors people who use each season to its fullest extent.  Hearty people.  One man who does 100 mile races for fun.  Snow shoeing into the backcountry, just because.  This is not a landscape for the soft, it is a landscape that will demand the most from you, require it of you to live. 
This intrigues me.  I love a good challenge.  I enjoy pulling on my depths and breaking through the floor, discovering what more I possess in me. 
Is this the next step for our family? 

After this journey, I feel like (if we make it) we can do anything.  Even live in the back country snow shoeing our asses off.

Portals of Hot Water

I am wrapped in a wool shawl, perched on the couch in our trailer while my son sleeps and Wayland is off on a run.  Thunder rumbles in the distance sounding like a cranky hungry sky, while lightening occasionally splits the pale grey coverage, and rain softly splatters fat drops onto our roof. 
I am cozy.
We are in Pagosa Springs Colorado.
We left this morning from a perch on the Rio Grande at one of Waylands dear friends ranch in Del Norte Colorado.  We didn’t mean to stay here, or even stop here.  But toddlers need parks, and we were driving past one and stopped.  While Wayland made lunch in the trailer, Bay and I tromped around the park and quickly bored of its typical antics.  We went rogue and discovered the river carving the town in two.  We climbed rocks and he discovered the joy of a river surging between boulders. 
After lunch the three of us returned to the river and realized that folks were sitting in small rock enclosed pools.  Hot pools.  Steaming deliciously warm pools.  I am of the belief that hot water is one of the greatest creations on earth.  And here is a town where people just get to slut around in hot pools down town.  I’m in. 
Bay has eyes only for the river and the sandy beach, but the husband and I take turns laying in a very hot pool that we had to ourselves.  Sitting in a naturally occurring hot spring on a river bed and resting my head on mineral stained rocks, I thought, I could move here.  I could definitely live in a place that has hot springs just bursting out of the rivers edges, where kids are sliding down the river and pausing when chilled to warm up in the sulfur scented hot water.  This is normal. 
As my muscles relaxed and softened, as anything I was concerned about dissolved, I opened my eyes to see people strolling down the path, businesses conducting business, and strata of rock laced with mineral seepage lining the river.  This is normal.  This is just another day in Pagosa Springs. 
So, we stayed.  We are boondocking in the back of some restaurant on the rivers edge. 
And I’m cozy.  I’m soft, hot spring soft, lulled in the song of rain and thunder too lazy to be too loud, and so radically content. 

Lately when people have been asking us what this trip has been like, our answer has been “hard”.  (more on that later) Today, this experience, watching my son laugh and run in a river, hot water, husband happy, today, this trip is absolutely priceless.

At the Crossroads

There are many pivotal moments in life.  A fork in the road that must be forged, getting married, having children, not having children, changing careers, going for a degree, so many ways we can split the hair of fortune and steer life in a different direction.  The conception of this journey has become (as it was intended to) just such a fork.  Peeling away all the layers of routine, of comfort and familiarity to discover what is left.  And what does that person left want in life?
One of the purposes of this trip was to seek out if we want/could live somewhere different than Sonoma County or the Bay Area in general.  I am the 3rd generation to be born in Oakland and Waylands family is 6 generations deep in the Carmel area.  We have roots that dive deep.  But, with the cost of living, the absurdity of housing prices and the palm to the forehead rental rates, we feel forced to look around and see if there is another place. 
I know that this is a popular and necessary conversation right now among lots of us who live in the Bay.  Let’s be honest.  It’s fucking crazy.  I have mixed feelings about leaving.  I have watched friends go elsewhere, and they seem really happy.  They keep coming back to the Bay to visit, but they say they love where they live and are so happy to not have to generate the income required here.  I understand that.  That makes sense; I get excited to do the same.  Yeah, lets move to Montana!  I can do it!  I hate snow, and love the ocean, but, sure, yeah, I can do this. 
Seeking out a new landscape to build a life is daunting, and forces me to recognize what is truly important to me.  Access to clean water, wide-open natural places, good food grown free of chemicals, and the trickiest one…community.
We’ve been through Northern California, all the way up to the tip-top where we explored Oregon, and then up into the San Juan Islands of Washington.  I gotta say, there is something that happens to a person when they are born and raised in a particular region.  There is the sharing of language patterns and vocabulary, general companionability of values as well as similarity in politics, and of course, FOOD.   
As we travel I recognize all the ways in which I am conditioned to live in a certain climate of people.  I am stretching myself, I love traveling and deeply appreciate the lens being shifted and broadened in my own psyche.  I suppose that the current political climate has me looking with a magnified eye at the disparity of what I hold precious and what other populations seem to hold in high regard.
The more we travel and sample our potential new homes, the clearer we become that we don’t want to leave the Bay Area.  In fact, we become clear that we just want to go home.  Both my husband and I come from divorced parents who moved us around a lot.  Like, a whole lot.  I’m accustomed to a certain gypsy life style, I get itchy after a year and want to hack off the new roots and find a new spot. 
This journey has uncovered a deep yearning to settle down.  To let roots seek the soft earth and make a home.  Like a round solid stone this truth rests on my heart.  I am ready to retire the gypsy wagon and find our home.  Thankfully, as fate would have it, so is my husband.  We are ready to make our home.

Now if we can just stop getting enchanted by the different songs we here in the voices of our friends who dearly love where they live.   If they love it so, couldn’t we?  Sigh.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Adding Value

Wild flowers, white and yellow, pink, purple and magenta explode in staged explosion along the black ribbon of road.  Magenta paintbrushes bound dizzily towards the sky, swaying in their seeming giddiness, while yellow starbursts thrust out of vibrant green leaves while their pure white neighbors spread wide with joy to receive the bright piercing summer sun. 
Lake Irely near Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula
The bright colors offset the polychromatic shades of green that otherwise own the landscape.  Because it seems that here I have found the primordial stew, the original brew from whence we came.  The dark green that gives way to a blacker green that surrenders utterly into a grassy sky infused shade of green, I keep trying to name them and give up.  Verdant, fecund, damp, moist, these words were birthed here in this ancient forest teeming with determined life.
I thought I’d seen moss before.   I’d merely sampled moss.  I had an appetizer of moss. 
Really, I’ve never seen moss before.
This is moss.  This is moss on growth hormone.  This is moss with a vengeance to take over the world.  Even the moss has moss hanging from it.  Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  Moss.  That’s what I’m laying down here. 
Moss hanging over a mossy creek, this is with no filter
The Olympic Peninsula is wildly peaceful; the Hoh Rainforest may be the loveliest campsite I’ve yet seen.  A glacial river bending behind our picnic table, trees that pierce the underbelly of sky and provide a home for moss, smooth river stones and whole trees moved by the powerful river are strewn lazily across the riverbed while elk nap on the sun warmed stones. 
We’ve been holding some essential oil classes and it’s forcing me to move beyond myself and into the social hive that buzzes in a campground.  I’ve met some truly lovely folks.  People are keenly curious when they learn we are a family traveling the states sharing oils while taking in the breath taking beauty of the terrain.  People immediately drop into the fantasy of it all.  The epic nature, the sweet campgrounds, the freedom to roam and do what we please, it sounds great! 
More and more the road is feeling like work.  It’s exhausting, it’s wildly replenishing, and it’s the same every day as much as it’s different each day.  Life on the road becomes more about making lunch and finding good routes then it is about that epic hike we were hoping to take, because now the baby is tired and needs a real nap in the bed, not in the backpack. 
It’s creating structure where structure does not belong.  Finding the fluidity of travel amongst a family of individuals who have varying needs is something we haven’t yet found.
We are working on learning to listen, to hear the need of our loved one and not feel like it is a vicious attack on our own needs.  I am learning to ask for what I need, and then actually take it. 
I practice yoga.  When we were plotting this trip my mind was rich with thoughts of me and my mat in a hundred different natural spots, on cliffs overlooking the sea, next to a river, in the quiet of a forest and in a field of wild flowers to name a few. 
The reality?
I’ve practiced a total of 4 times in 34 days. 
I don’t ask for it.
Or I ask for it, and it seems unnecessary in the face of other needs. 
I am seeing the tremendous value of self-care.  I am seeing what happens when I don’t value me, how I become less the woman I want to be.  I am making a great effort to provide myself the opportunity to do the simple things like stretch my body, take 5 minutes alone to meditate, to focus on how I want to add value to the day.  These are the bones of what makes me a patient, kind and loving woman, there is great value in that.
In doing so for myself I am at wonderful liberty of heart to provide it for my husband, and when we are both soul fed, the whole of the gypsy wagon takes on a lightness and a fleet feeling that gets us singing, praising the world around us and cultivating happiness.

Ahhh, so here we are again, on the road, listening to the song of trees over the hum of tires on asphalt.  Listening, listening, always listening.
The Hoh Rainforest, absolutely spectacular

Wayland made Bay a wee hut to have some solo toddler
and truck time

This is a Maple grove providing ample terrain for
the moss to thrive.  The moss does not harm the
tree, they have a happy relationship.
Little man getting plump on berries.  He has a fistful of
blueberries in this photos and a mouth covered in logan
and blackberry juice.