SAN FRANCISCO - KING RANGE CONSERVATION AREA - MIRANDA
We left San Francisco behind fairly early as we had a long drive ahead of us. I’ve always had this weird...issue with bridges and rooftops and the like. I guess it might be vertigo. I don’t know. As I type this, I realize it never occured to me to mention it to my neurologist; it could be related to MS for all I know. Anyway, my spatial awareness and equilibrium get thrown off. It’s not that I’m afraid of heights exactly, but I’m just not able to cope with them. I once had a fourth-story apartment and sometimes just looking out the window made me feel loopy, and a trip to the balcony meant grabbing onto the railing and gripping it for dear life.
So I handed the keys over to my beloved; there was no way in hell I was going to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. After relinquishing command of the car, I admired the bridge from the road as we approached it, but upon actually driving on the bridge I had to hang my head and close my eyes for fear of vomiting. I could never live in a place like New York or Pittsburgh. Truthfully, I don’t even like elevators, and avoid them when I can. The sensation I get from riding in elevators or traveling across a bridge is the same as some people get from riding an amusement park attraction. As a result, I never feel truly safe behind the wheel. I can barely survive freeway interchanges.
As the bridge vanished and we were once again on terra firma, I exhaled and opened my eyes and the squirrels in my stomach finally stopped doing their summersaults. Brianna didn’t say a word; she didn’t chuckle. She didn’t even ask, “you okay?” and just waited for me to orient myself and pick the conversation back up. She didn’t ask if I was okay, not because she didn’t care, but because she’s seen this many times over the years and knows the routine by now. We used to travel the Zakim Bridge in Boston often enough. And that one’s not even that high. And Coronado Bridge in San Diego is the thing nightmares are made from. So while she found it odd, and at times, amusing, Brianna doesn’t react much anymore. It’s just one of those quirks and make me me that she has long since accepted without question.
We had quite a hike that day--literally. After four hours cramped in the car, we found ourselves at the beginning of a trailhead in the most beautiful stretch of coastline I’d ever seen this side of Arcadia National Park in Maine. This was the King Range Conservation Area of California’s “Lost Coast.”
It’s called the Lost Coast simply because it’s too rugged to really develop. There’s little in the way of roads or towns in the area. Highway 101 (as it’s known in NorCal) simply bypasses the entire area. We hiked down to the beach and had a picnic, such as it was--apples, cheese, jerky, and water, spent a couple hours down there, and didn’t see a single other person the whole time. This was some true wilderness, and as I stood with my hands on my hips and watched the waves, I wondered if this stretch of beach had ever been surfed before. How cool would that be? To surf places no one had ever thought to surf before?
We took a snake-like country road, that wound through the countryside and back to Highway 101--which this far north, was known as the Redwood Highway. I was driving this time.
We headed to our cabin in Miranda--a tiny town nestled among some gargantuan trees. It was the most charming, and cutest little place I’d ever seen. A dozen or so cabins were nudged into the woods, the area dotted with gazebos, a communal campfire pit, a pool, and, much to Brianna’s delight, a basketball court.
We got settled into our cabin and decided to benefit from the full kitchen provided, and cooked dinner. We’d probably both put on 10 pounds since we left home after so many meals at restaurants. Besides, we missed eating alone. We had a nice, quiet dinner, before Brianna paid me back for every surf excursion by abandoning me for the basketball hoop. I opened a couple of bottles of wine to breathe, and went outside to join her.
Our relationship with the great sport of basketball is a complicated one. I guess it’s the same difference between a movie buff and a filmmaker. Brianna is incredibly gifted athletically, and played basketball through high school and college, and has been on one recreational team or another ever since. She’s the true jock, also playing softball and volleyball. But as a sports fan, her only real interest is football. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no talent when it comes to playing basketball. I might shoot baskets here and there with Bri, or even try to mimic a Paul Pierce spin move or a Kyrie Irving crossover just for the hell of it, but I lack all athletic coordination to truly play the game. As a fan, however, I’m absolutely obsessed and have been since I was about 12 or 13. In high school, as a cheerleader, I did my duty during pep rallies and football games: stunts, cartwheels, pumping up the crowd. But during basketball games, I’d get downright rowdy, especially when Brianna was playing. I would talk trash to the other school’s players, argue with referees, and taunt the opposing coach. One time they threatened to hit our team with a technical foul if I didn’t pipe down.
So, yeah...I love the game, can’t play worth a damn, and have no interest in doing so. I just drink in the stands, or yell at the TV.
Brianna gave herself a little workout while I hung around and provided the commentary of her workout in my best Mike Gorman (“Brianna...spins to the hoop...gets two; Brianna...crusin’”) and Tommy Heinsohn (“Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me!!! This is absolutely ridiculous! I’ve gotta tell ya, this kid Brianna has gone up and down the flooah all night, and hasn’t gotten to the line once! NOT ONCE!! This is ridiculous…”) impressions.
I don’t know if any of you will get any of these references with the possible exception of @hotwater
After that, we joined some people around the communal camp fire: three middle aged guys on a fishing trip and an elderly couple enjoying their retirement. I don’t know if it was the wine, the warmth of the fire, or the exhaustion from galavanting all over the place, but I just fell asleep sitting there. Brianna nudged me awake and I, recalcitrant and taciturn, shuffled to our cabin while Brianna, having taken it upon herself to say goodnight on our behalf, followed a few paces behind. When we awoke the next morning, it was cold and crisp like a fall morning in New England. The temperature was climbing, slowly, but steadily, from its overnight low of 49 degrees. In my best Jon Snow voice, I warned Brianna that winter was coming.
But winter had to wait. Giant redwoods, seals, and our first stop to a brew pub--including the best nachos in the history of nachos awaited us.
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