I am on Day 6 of my trip and finally stopped for a long enough internet-capable second to update:
I arrived in Seattle on Tuesday and spent a fabulous night out in Ballard with a local friend. Flying in, I had the most amazing clear views of Mount Rainier and the Cascades. Leaving Boston was, obviously, not without its challenges: leaving meant ending my routine as I know it, leaving my job and my apartment without the chance of returning to them, organizing all my belongings and finances and then saying goodbye, at least temporarily, to people I love dearly. I arrived in good spirits, however, bolstered by that delicious Bloody Mary, the beautiful scenery and a warm welcome.
Seattle has always appealed to me, and this short trip through was no deviation. I had amazing local oysters, excellent local beer, strong and delicious Stumptown coffee (grounds of which I bought to bring for the rest of the trip) and an absolutely perfect brunch, all with the Seattle vibe and views I'm coming to recognize and adore.
Leaving Seattle on Wednesday, I took a bus to a bus to a ferry to a bus to my parents' property out on Whidbey Island. There, I picked up the Dodge van with the bed in the back that will be my home for the next few weeks, organized the extra supplies they so sweetly mailed to me, packed my stuff in road-safe slip-proof spots in the van and hit the road, destination: Berkeley.
The drive down is about 14 hours, so I planned to do it in two days and stop somewhere for the night. I made it just South of Portland, where I stopped for a burger and great local beer (Double Mountain India Red Ale, to be clear, which I would highly recommend), and then slept in a hospital parking lot in the van.
Thursday, on the recommendation of a very road-savvy friend who once traveled across the country on his motorcycle, I stopped in to Ashland, OR. I found an excellent local food coop and got some supplies, debated but decided against trying one of the local breweries and wandered around the picturesque upscale crunchy downtown. This, my friends, is a very cool Boulder-esque town and I really enjoyed the stop there.
I arrived in Berkeley Thursday evening and met up with my friend Dylan, with whom I would spend the weekend. He showed me around his adorable neighborhood and then to the delicious Picante Mexican restaurant for dinner, where I recognized a Smithie I hadn't seen since 2007 (I had also recognized a Boulderite in a coffee shop in Seattle - the world is awfully small sometimes). The rest of the weekend deserves more than I have time to say right now, but, in short: Cheeseboard's cheesy bread for breakfast, walk in Cesar Chavez park on the marina, Berkeley Bowl for the best gourmet groceries, drive to Ukiah, CA, stay in an adorable cabin at the secluded, beautiful and private Orr Hot Springs, soak in the water under the open sky and shooting stars until two in the morning, hike/walk the redwoods at Montgomery Woods, enjoy sunshine, the mineral pool and learning to play cribbage before leaving for Muir Beach. At Muir, play with Dylan's adorable 6 and 3 year old nieces, learn/play Settlers of Catan with his wonderful sister and brother-in-law, wake up with the girls to an amazing view of the beach, go for a stunning coastal hike while discussing non-profits, careers and direction with Dylan's amazing sister (a fellow Smithie), see a baby coyote on the trail, get to the beach just as the cloud cover burns off, play with Dylan and the girls in the water and on the beach (after which a stranger sarcastically told us, "You don't have enough fun"), head back to Berkeley and then off for Concord.
I arrived at my aunt's house in Concord last night and got to spend some time with my aunt and cousin, which pleases not only my mother but also me greatly. I have done some laundry, repacked and organized my mobile home, and planned for the next few days, where I am now headed to drive through Yosemite to Mono Lake, where I will stay and take day trips in to the park. I am hoping to take some pictures of my own, but I found this one of Mono Lake online and am excited to see it's bizarre landscape and isolated locale.
The trip so far has been incredibly relaxing, fun, luxurious and social. I feel so lucky, thankful and happy. I am also really looking forward to the next few days of solitude in the wilderness before I return to San Francisco on Thursday or Friday to meet Alecia at the airport, as she will be joining me for the North-ward leg of the trip.
Not surprisingly, given my overly-analytical nature, I have been doing a huge amount of reflecting, thinking and processing. I have challenged myself, however, to not try to solve any of my questions or force tangible growth. Instead, I am focusing on the adventure and the enjoyment, trying to truly appreciate these amazing moments. I have found some success in quieting my never-ending internal monologue and the moments of peaceful content have been more and more frequent as time goes on.
Now, I must run to my next stop, I will try to post pictures sometime soon! I have also been adding some pictures to Facebook from my iPhone when possible, if you want to see them: http://www.facebook.com/#!/mmeaneyervin