Sunday, September 30, 2012

Seattle to Ukiah in just three blunders

As of September 19, I'm officially a Ukiah resident (Ukian?). I left Seattle on Monday evening with a very well-packed U-haul trailer attached to the Matrix, thanks to my dad's super powers.

I was fine until about 30 minutes before it was time to go, and then I got butterflies in my stomach. As I pulled away from my parents and the house I've known my whole life, I realized that I was taking things with me that had never left Seattle. It's the most I've ever committed to a move in my life (and there have been many). I cried until I got on the freeway, called my friend Amber, and then let the monotony of the road guide my thoughts.

I drove to Portland to see Robyn, my very accommodating buddy on the way to and from Seattle since I started this back and forth in March (I've now done the drive three times). She fed me a bowl of homemade soup we're both obsessed with (her mom's recipe and a childhood throwback) - which she specifically saved and brought back for me from a weekend away, hello Good Friend Award - and then let me pass out on her comfy couch.

The next morning I drove across town to pick up two gals and their very well-behaved dog to share the ride all the way to Ukiah with me (Craigslist rideshare never lets me down). As we talked we figured out that we had actually had fairly similar summers, knew the same people, and had been at the same events (they made the cool leather wristbands for the Not So Simple fair!). They were excellent driving companions and in general the trip went well. However, there were three rather large snafus during the drive, all of which were my fault.

1) Pulling away from a gas station in Grants Pass at the end of the I-5 leg, I noticed the "door ajar" light on. We all opened and shut our doors but it stayed on. "Oh, sometimes the back gate doesn't fully shut" I said as I casually pulled over to the side of the road to give it a good slam. Except when I got out of the car, I saw that the back gate was COMPLETELY OPEN. I either a) drove away without shutting it, or b) it was poorly shut and launched open, a sound I attributed to the trailer going over a hump. Either way I  had made two left turns like that and driven a quarter of a mile or so, without a single passerby honking or trying in any way to alert us to our plight! Eff you, Grants Pass residents. The real miracle was that not a single thing had fallen our or even shifted in place (including some very dear houseplants). I stood there staring at my companions through the open hatch for a full minute, silently freaking out and then cracking up.

2) After the semi-trauma of having nearly caused a shower of beloved debris over a busy road, I somehow missed the sign for our next highway, I-199, and got on... I'm not sure what. It was GORGEOUS, one of the most idyllic roads I've ever driven. All three of us commented on how beautiful it was, and I thought to myself, "I don't remember 199 being this nice before." Then we came to a fork in the road. "Uhh.... I don't remember 199 having a fork... do you?" (They had made the drive several times as well.) We sat helplessly at the fork for a moment before a farmer in a pickup slowed to a stop next to us, and confirmed our suspicions that no, we were not on the right road, and worse, the only way back was the way we came, about 20 miles back. Woof. Luckily we were making excellent time so this scenic detour only pushed us back to our estimated arrival time, but it was still a deflating blow (as anyone who has spent 13 hours in the car in a single day can relate to).

After getting back to devil Grants Pass and finding the 199, we drove to our next stop and freeway - Crescent City and the 101 - that would take us home. Choosing the least evil fast food, we ate at a Subway (the same one I've now patronized on three of the four occasions I've passed through since last spring). I switched to the passenger seat and we set our eyes on Eureka. It's only 84 miles away but it felt like forever for all three of us; somehow those 84 were the slowest miles of the whole trip, and it took over 2 hours since we were towing a trailer. Finally in Eureka, we pulled over to gas up, where I discovered that:

3) I LEFT MY WALLET IN CRESCENT CITY. Crescent City, now two hours behind us; we're on the home stretch with only three and a half hours to Ukiah and I left my goddamn wallet at a Subway. It took about thirty seconds to decide I wasn't going four hours out of my way for it. I called and confirmed that yes, they had it, thus beginning a complicated week-long but ultimately successful process of getting them to mail my wallet to me in Ukiah. Special thanks to Mary, the employee who made it happen, and the kind folks at FedEx Ukiah who watched me cry to the point I couldn't speak while they competently searched for a solution. When it finally arrived, one of the employees called me instantly (rather than letting the automated call go out to me several hours later) and looked almost as excited as I was when I walked in to retrieve it.

The rest of the drive was uneventful and we pulled in just after dark at around 8:30. The best part - and admittedly part of why I was so quick to forgo the four-hour round trip to get my wallet - was that I got to see Carson. After 40 consecutive days on the fire line (!!) he was finally home, the first person to officially welcome me to my new hometown. He was moving into his new house as I was driving, and we now we live just eight blocks apart instead of 30 minutes by car.

Stay tuned for details on my rad new house and the all-too-familiar (and expensive) process of furnishing yet another home.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seattle and the Not So Simple Fair

Well, August flew by. All of a sudden it was September 4 and time to leave Mendocino for a return trip to Seattle to be the wedding planner for my first and only official clients of my VERY short-lived event planning business (it didn't take long to figure out that wasn't what I wanted from life). The wedding was on Saturday and it went perfectly, beautiful weather complete with a very short sprinkle - the first rain in 44 days, apparently - which I assured the couple was Mother Nature's benediction. They were the sweetest bride and groom, their vows made me cry, their families and friends were awesome, and I was able to hire Amber to assist me that day so we had a fun time working together. All in all a delightful event!

Since then I've barely left my parents' couch, except for a foray into Capitol Hill last night which included 45 minutes of traffic and a $53 parking ticket. Ouch. Today I'm off to Amber's to garden and then to catch a ferry to Vashon to spend the night with Dustin and Alan, so I thought I'd better get this posted already.

Seemed Simple Enough to Me!

When last I left you I had just gotten back from the Not So Simple Living Fair (in late July - I'll write an August catch up soon). We spent days preparing - we were helping to host the hospitality corner so I made six loaves of chocolate zucchini bread and two trays of rice krispy treats. We were camping there too so we also had to feed ourselves; I helped make a giant potato salad and another huge pesto quinoa salad, Whitney made some of the best pasta sauce I've ever had, and there were lots of other treats as well (not to mention the excellent food vendor options). We were awake until 3 am the night before cooking and having a ball. The next morning we loaded up the cars and drove to Boonville, about 45 minutes on the way to the coast. This is the sweetest little town! Once there we chose a spot for our camp, set up the hospitality area, and started reviewing the very comprehensive list of classes offered.

This is the most fun and useful idea for a fair, EVER: want to know how to live a more sustainable life? Use things found in nature? DIY? This is the spot for you! I took classes on seed saving, greenhouse building, how to forage and use wild plants, harvesting and cooking seaweed, and - by far my favorite - how to tie a variety of knots. At one point I looked up and there was Adrian Grenier holding a length of rope, trying to mimic the knot. Apparently he was in town shooting a movie. It was a bit surreal seeing him there but he was gone before I could give much thought to whether or not it was fun or invasive. Here I am practicing a square knot - how is it possible I never before knew this simple but amazing knot??

In between classes you could do woodworking or blacksmithing, ride around on the musical cabaret-mobile, visit the farm animals on display, or just talk to any one of the many interesting people there. There was also the sustainability bit that I really appreciated. Everyone brought their own dishes, and food vendors didn't offer paper products. If you forgot your plates, you could go to the dish table and buy a thrifted plate or bowl for 50 cents. There was a dishwashing station that was kept very clean (no one wants to use dirty dish water), and there's something fun about eating out of your own dish. On Saturday night there was a huge potluck dinner - everyone brought a dish to share and local farmers donated meat, including a pig that was slaughtered and butchered in one of the classes. Here's the barbecue and the potluck line:

The meat was delicious and it was so fun seeing looong lines of bowls of food people had made to share. As I was leaving the potluck I walked by the barbecue and noticed a heart on the grill. "Who eats that?" I asked the guy. "You do!" He replied, and sliced a few sections of the pig's heart off for me to eat. It was quite tasty, surprisingly tender and not chewy at all. (If you look closely at the photo above you can see the heart on the grill.) Here are the two slices I ate:

Saturday night a very popular local band named Dgiin (pronounced "gin" with a soft g) played and we danced our butts off. All in all the weekend was another reminder of why Mendocino County is my perfect place in the world.

Jamming out at the camp:

Whitney enjoying life:

Our big fun group: