Friday, May 26, 2023
It’s National Road Trip Day.
Apparently I’m on a lot of email lists, because it came to me today from Roadtrippers, which is an app we use for mapping trips.
It’s pretty much the definition of a corporate holiday because it was invented in 2019 by Pilot Flying J, which is every service station once you leave the coasts. They decided that the Friday before Memorial Day would be for celebrating all things road trip, and to be fair, they do have some pretty good service stations.
Anyway, I don’t need an excuse to take a word when it’s given to me, so I’m paying tribute to the roadtrip. Which is now one word, you’re welcome.
This is a story in pictures, with a little bit of color commentary, but mostly enjoyment for your eyeballs. You’re welcome again.
By far my favorite part of any trip is seeing the natural world. The difference in topography between New York and New Mexico, Oklahoma and Oregon, is so stunning that it’s hard to believe it all exists on the same planet.
In Colorado we visited Garden of the Gods, Mother Nature’s museum of awesome geological rock formations. I mean, the earth actually does these things.
In Arizona we visited Meteor Crater. It’s a little dent in the earth, a mere three-quarters of a mile across and 750 feet deep that was the result of a meteor impact. However big you think that is, I assure you it’s bigger. There was a man-sized cutout at the bottom that you could only see with a telescope.
Also in Arizona: cactus. Seriously, who invented this stuff?
In Oregon we visited Crater Lake, which happened when a volcano erupted and a mountain peak collapsed. It’s the bluest, stillest, most word-defying view I have ever seen. Photos hardly capture a fraction of it. You really need to experience the 360 degree panorama of it to appreciate how exquisite the view is.
When we arrived in California for the first time, I was woefully disappointed. We drove through miles and miles and miles… like, hundreds of miles… of brown, drought-stricken land. My brother showed me pictures from his road trip a few years earlier and everything was bright, lush green. It goes through phases. We got there during desert phase.
But at least there was this.
My first glimpse of the Pacific was Seal Beach, which was awfully awful. The beach looked out on an oil rig and was so ugly that I don’t even have a picture. There were no seals.
There were, however, seals in San Francisco. It was the sole thing I wanted to see in the city. They mostly napped, occasionally showed off, and entertained me quite a bit.
In Point Reyes we visited an elk preserve. We were told it was elk mating season, and not to disturb them. In fact, to stay out of their way.
We walked 13 miles across the preserve and back, and I will tell you this much: not a lot is as thrillingly terrifying and awe-inspiring as a full sized male elk showing up next to you right after someone told you to stay out of their way.
Olema is right next to Point Reyes, where the San Andreas fault splits the peninsula of Point Reyes from the mainland. We visited the spot where it last opened up. There is a picket fence there that used to be connected, but is now two pieces set twenty feet apart, a scar that still remains.
Also, you can never really have too much cow. Unless you get out of the car to take photos and then your car stinks of cow for the next week. That’s definitely enough cow for a while.
The Point Reyes seashore made up for Seal Beach. It was as blue and as glorious as ever your imagination could conjure. When we visited the lighthouse there, it was so windy that we actually warned a woman coming up the hill with a small dog that she might want to carry it or risk it blowing over the edge of the cliff. We weren’t kidding. The trees there grow sideways in deference to the perpetual gale.
This is me trying to retrieve our camera lens cover, which had blown off and onto the side of the cliff. I painstakingly nudged it half an inch at a time to the left, in hopes that I could get it to the end of the fence where I could reach down and grab it. All seemed lost until a teenage boy noticed, hopped the fence, picked up the cover, and somehow lived to tell the tale. Teenagers.
Yes, it actually does look like the ground has sprouted a rainbow. And the deer actually navigate these cliffs.
In case you want to feast your eyes on some more seashore.
You’ve seen a thousand pictures of the towering redwood trees, but until you walk through the forest you don’t appreciate the true artistry of nature.
New Mexico was flat as an anvil and striped in beige pinks and reddish browns.
Our room at The Salish Lodge in Washington, which you might recognize from Twin Peaks, was at the top of a waterfall. Our suite overlooked the edge and from the balcony you could hear the roaring of the water. Staying there was the most luxurious thing we ever did.
Every morning we had breakfast next to a window overlooking a valley where clouds settled and rainbows kept them company.
This is a beehive at Heidrun Meadery, which we toured, loved, and continued to order mead from until a few months ago when we learned they can no longer ship to Tennessee because… Tennessee.
In California we visited Cotati because we wanted to say we visited a town called Cotati. We were treated to a Walgreens parking lot full of chickens. Apparently they escaped somewhere at some point and have wandered the town ever since. Traffic stops for them. This is why road trips are so great. How else can you say I went to a town called Cotati where chickens hung around my tires while I stopped for gas?
Speaking of birds, this little guy hopped onto the hood of our car somewhere in Oregon.
Then flitted over to the mirror, just to get a different view.
When we opened the door he casually perched on the frame and whistled a little tune. Nothing to see here!
Clearly we made a friend.
My next favorite part of roadtripping is the food, because inevitably you’re going to find something delicious.
Like beignets. We’ve been to New Orleans a few times and always eat inhuman amounts of beignets. Don’t be fooled by the empty table. This place was jam packed every day with a line out the door and down the sidewalk.
This is how we ate pretty much every day in Olema. All grown and made locally, all delicious.
I had my first Croque Madame in Healdsburg. I had my second Croque Madame in Healdsburg a day later.
There’s a place called Rehab Burger in Scottsdale that has a peanut butter and jelly burger that sounds ridiculous and also tastes ridiculous. Ridiculously good. And then there’s this gem.
I have no idea what this is or where we had it, but you know you want it.
Dessert in New Orleans. They only do things big and colorful.
A Kentucky Hot Brown in… Kentucky. And yes, that is a plate-sized pancake in the background.
A tuna and pineapple ceviche cone in New Orleans. No, seriously. And yes, more please.
I could do this all day but in spite of my best effort at using fewer words, I have used quite a plethora and I want to wrap up with a little bit of random funness.
Like evening on Bourbon Street. At night it explodes in color and noise and people. We were there during an off-season so it was not as crowded as it could have been. Still, it was full of tourists and musicians, preachers and parades.
And daytime in New Orleans. The architecture is beautiful.
Artwork in Olema. The cottages where we stayed were surrounded by unique sculptures.
As was Paradise Ridge Vineyard in Santa Rosa. This used to be a huge, old tree there that had died, so instead of cutting it down they turned it into art.
And then there was just art.
Lots and lots of art.
Thing I learned driving across the midwest in both directions: there are trains. A lot of trains. The cars went on for miles.
Of course we find a bookstore wherever we go. This one in Point Reyes had them suspended from the ceiling. Is anyone surprised that they hovered over the food section? It’s almost like they were magically beckoning me there.
Ralph, discovering his inner caveman in Olema. We were there during one of the hottest summers on record. Fires literally burst out in random places wherever you looked.
It was so hot that when we visited one of the markets, the chocolate on the counter was actually melting. This, however, did not stop us from starting a fire every evening in the wood burning stove.
And not one, but two real, wood-burning fireplaces in our suite at the Salish Lodge. Ralph continued his caveman skills. Once, we forgot to open the flue and ash exploded out of the fireplace in a cloud of black that covered every square inch of the room. We had to explain that one to housekeeping, and tip very, very well.
It’s been a while since our last road trip and looking through photos has stirred the itch. There is so much to see and do and eat! And I know of at least one person who agrees with me.
Photo: some kitties just itching to get out and travel.