After a year of traveling abroad (off-and-mostly-on), we are back in the United States exploring our backyard and beyond. A recap of the first month:
- On March 26, we arrived in Seattle at midnight and spent the next 19 days catching up with old friends; visiting our doctors, dentists and physical therapists; and enjoying all that Seattle has to offer in the springtime.
- By Tax Day (April 15 for you international readers), we were headed south to see Josh's family in Oregon and then his brother and our nieces and nephew in Redding, California.
- 4/20 brought us back north to the Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon for some paragliding and welcome conversations with our pals there. It was like returning home after a year away and I was so thankful to reconnect with the community and landscape that helped nurse me back to health after my accident last year.
- The following Sunday, April 26, we said farewell to Oregon's wine country and drove the winding road past deer and redwood trees into coastal California. In my mind, our roadtrip began there, in Prairie Creek, California--having already driven more than 900 miles from our home base in Seattle, Washington.
One of several vistas we ogled on the drive along California's wild north coast. These yellow mustard flowers always remind me of my dad who, regardless of the times I picked bouquets for him, is allergic to them.
We arrived in the mid-afternoon on a sunny spring day. The golden grasses glowed in the fields, the redwood trees towered in the distance and we were in search of a campsite with a beach view and a flat place to pitch our tent. We settled for a slightly sloping sandy tent site protected on three sides by tall green bushes with a weather-beaten and camper-engraved picnic table just a short jaunt from the ocean. It was divine.
Our plush camping palace complete with plastic outdoor rug and plenty of space for us and our crap inside.
While I drew, Josh walked on the beach. Then together we loaded up into our overloaded Subaru and drove the couple miles to the start of the Fern Canyon trail.
We had to ford a couple streams to get out to the trailhead. Luckily, we didn't need to unpack our boat from the roof to make it.
More than a decade ago, Josh took me to Prairie Creek and Fern Canyon on a camping trip with his high school besties. That same trip, his friend Jonny declared us a perfect couple when I emerged from our tent wearing a dorky headlamp which matched the one Josh sported. Little did Jonny know that thousands of other practical outdoorsmen rely on headlamps, and little did we know that Jonny's declaration would be proven out over the following many years. But I digress.
The hike up Fern Canyon at the end of April this year was beautiful. The ferns flanked the hillsides--albeit not as densely as in pre-drought days--and the winding canyon and its creek provided amble opportunities for Josh to show off his strength as he piggybacked me over the wettest stretches. You see, although my feet are about 75% back to normal, I still need to wear sneakers when I hike, while Josh can skip upcreek in his trusty Chaco sandals.
My matching top and sneakers was a happy accident; the smile plastered on my face is the result of our adventurous life.
On our return to the car, we met an unperturbed juvenile elk peacefully grazing alongside the trail. For more than ten minutes we watched him chew green grass, pose for photos, and generally do his elk-thing while wild children and loud adults hiked past just feet away. I was amazed that a 800+ lb creature calmly devoured his vegetarian dinner while I gazed on. This was one of the highlights of my day and probably even of the week. What can I say? I love wildlife.
So I drew the elk and all his velvet-horned glory.
Back at camp that night we feasted on sausage and vegetables grilled in a single pan and eaten straight from it to avoid any unnecessary washing up. The evening ended with stars overhead and comfy sleeping bags beneath us. Our Western States road trip was off to a good start.