Sunday, June 03, 2012

Goodbye Seattle, Hello California (CA road trip revisited)

Well, I've officially left Seattle. Earlier this evening I drove to Robyn's new apartment in Portland and I'm currently camped out on her awesome leather chair, whining about not wanting to blog. Bug blog I shall! Forgive me in advance if it gets a little muddled; I'm doing about 4 blogs in one here.

I always leave Seattle just as something exciting happens. I moved to Philadelphia right after the smoking ban passed, only to go to a city where you could still smoke in the bars (yuck). This time I'm at least leaving a new perk that California already has: liquor in grocery stores! As of June 1, Washington state got out of the booze business. Here I am on the first day (my mom was very good natured, if not a little embarrassed, about taking this picture of me). The checker said they'd already sold 70 bottles and it wasn't even 4:00 pm.

Tomorrow I'm picking up another farm intern and we'll drive the rest of the way together. The weather in Redwood Valley has been nothing but sun (sometimes VERY HOT SUN) for weeks. In some ways, I find tomorrow's rain forecast - my first day in the state corresponding with its first rain in weeks - a welcoming omen, like "Don't worry, Elizabeth. We'll go easy on you." Have I mentioned I'm a bit worried about the heat? I get hot on 67 degree days. No joke.

So, since I never actually finished blogging about the road trip that kicked this move off, here's a semi-quick revamp.

Despite my well-laid plans to spend the summer in Seattle, my trip through California and visits to the last two farms on my tour de force revealed to me that I was ready to jump into this new part of my life right away. 


When I last left you, I think it was a Thursday. On Friday morning (April 6), I headed to a family farm in Petaluma not too far from where Meagan lives. From the first handshake I was in love. It's their first growing year and it will be a very small but dense operation. The wife/mother is the primary farmer and she is full of enthusiasm and determination; the amount she has accomplished in a few short months is amazing. While there I helped shear one of their Angora goats, and before I left we'd agreed that I would be back in September for a three-month internship. Score! I had finally found exactly what I was looking for, a farm to work on in the fall.

San Francisco

Walking - or rather driving - on cloud nine, I made my way the 30 minutes southwest to San Francisco to meet Meagan and two of her friends on vacation from a diplomatic posting in Sierra Leone. It was a gorgeous and totally clear day so we headed to Golden Gate Park so Mark could see the cherry blossoms in the Japanese gardens (he insisted he had never seen them before - I guess they don't have cherry trees in France). Here I am with Meagan and some blooms:

From there we headed to Rob's house to freshen up for dinner, a late-night affair at Don Pisto's in the North Beach neighborhood. It was a long but satisfying day, and I'm not sure I've ever had a better night's sleep on a relative stranger's couch before.

The next day I met up with my high school friend Casey, who has lived in SF for several years. He took me to his favorite taqueria in the Mission where we ate these awesome tacos made of a soft shell wrapped around a hard shell. Genius!

It was another sunny and clear day (what are the odds of two clear days in a row in SF?) and Casey, being a nature lover and a Parks department employee, took me to Bernal Heights park to enjoy its panoramic vistas:

Continuing our park tour, we went to see the "Painted Ladies" (as featured in the opening sequence to everyone's favorite childhood show, Full House):

We lazed in the sun for awhile, catching up and trying to think of interesting things to tell each other about people we knew way back when. It was really nice to see him and I'm glad we'll be living near each other soon.

Redwood Valley

The very last WWOOF site I visited was on Easter Sunday, a tiny self-sustenance farm in Redwood Valley, about 20 minutes from Ukiah. I had been invited for an Easter party and to spend the night, and I'd drive to Portland the next day to stay with Robyn before heading back to Seattle and flying almost immediately to Philadelphia.

Redwood Valley is gorgeous, and the farm is magical. While I was there, baby goats were born:

In addition to holding the babies, I helped "spring clean" and then throw a fun party. I met incredible people from the community and harvested edible flowers to add to a homemade iced tea. I took a late-night hot tub with the matriarch of the farm, during which she easily convinced me to come back. So that's where I'm going tomorrow! I won't say too much more about the farm right now but I will definitely be writing dispatches as I'm able.

Monday morning I left for Portland, winding through massive redwoods and, in one case, literally through one: 

I wish I had more time to spend in the forest, but I did stop for a quick jaunt through the trees:

By the time I got to Portland, I was hungry, tired, and grouchy from spending all day in the car. Luckily Robyn had pre-purchased a burrito for me and I destroyed it in about two minutes. Then she put me to bed. 

The next morning we went to Fuller's diner in the Pearl district for a cheap and cheerful breakfast before heading to her office (also in the Pearl) so I could meet her boss and see where she works. It's always nice to see people in their new spaces and I'm happy that she's doing so well down here. I don't have a picture of us in Portland, but while I was in Seattle I spent about 12 hours helping her clear stuff out of her apartment:

I was on the road by 10 am and rolled into Seattle before 1 (I made damn good time the whole trip). 2,981 miles later and I was back where I started.

I met Amber for lunch at her new house in Greenwood and then watched her do some gardening, after which I rolled up to LFP where I hung out with my parents and remained prostrate on the couch for about 7 hours. (Who says you can't go home again?) I left for Philadelphia the next day, but that's another blog entirely.

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