Oregon to San Francisco in an old Mercedes Wagon

As Kuri, Greta and me drove out of Full Bloom Community and down the treelined road that runs alongside the creek of Little Applegate Valley, dust clouding away behind us as we headed off into adventure, there were mixed feelings whirling around in the car.

An air of crazy excitement, mixed with a little nervousness.

Excitement for just about ALL the elements of the journey. From the freedom of being out on the open road, fulfilling a dream I have had for years with a cross US roadtrip (old school style), the Sustainable Brands conference I had been waiting for for nearly a year, and finally….. for seeing Aisha (my bestie in San Diego).

But, like Kuri, a little nervousness of hitting a big city.

Such a change from the rural life I have grown accustomed to, and a far cry from the open hearted transparent sustainable circles I often move in. How would it be? Would we be lost in a sea of consumerism? Would we be eaten up and spat out by media and marketing? Would we cope with all the concrete and clothing shops and want to run away to sit under a tree?

At least we had the buffer of our destination we said. Gay town in San Francisco’s suburbs, with planned farmers market visits and thrift shops. A perfect transition stop off before hitting the San Diego “big city life”! We giggled a little about our process and relaxed into the journey with anticipation!

Twenty minutes down the road and our first stop filled me with great enthusiasm. All the concerns fell away!

A DRIVE THRU bank!

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Yep, typical America, you don’t even need to get out the car! The money goes up and down from the auto tellers and you can sign and deal with almost any transaction from your drivers seat. Including an ATM. Much childish glee ensued!

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Next up, a swing past Medford for some essentials:

Suit trousers for me and Greta (6 months in a backpack does not bode well for conference suitable attire)

AND the wonderful organic shop stop-off for food supplies before hitting a journey 8 hours south.OH the joys of catching a ride with another community member rather than getting a lift with a random american where we could have ended up in “McDonalds” or “Jack in the Box”. Happy days!

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Shopping successfully undertaken, food in the chilly bin, and Arlo (the dog) comfortably seated in the boot of the wagon ….. it was time to hit the open road! WHOOOOOO!

We headed out of Southern Oregon down Highway 5. We had discussed a trip through the Redwoods but it was getting late so adding another few hours on to our travel time was not an option.

So the 5 it was. Past Mt Shasta. Not exactly a BAD deal! Mt Shasta has always had a strong calling for me so as a “back up” route to the Redwoods I was pretty pumped about it.

Off we went.

The journey out of Southern Oregon was full of ooohs and aaaahs as the thick treelined valleys were high either side of the road, sometimes falling away to a winding river below the road but pretty consistently beautiful and abundant.

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The border crossing into California was accompanied by many whoops and cheers (it was new exciting territory for me and Greta), and everything changed. The landscape shifted to a drier, far more arid scenery within only a few miles. The tree lined valleys became lower rolling hills with dry grassland and oak trees, causing contrast of dark green against the light yellowy brown dry grass. The temperature increased both outside the car and inside. It was hot!

Then, there it was. The excitement of the long awaited Mt Shasta summit appearing on the horizon as we weaved through valleys towards it filled us all with a quieter, awe filled energy. We were almost silent as we approached the huge snow capped mountain. Its power exuding from its striking appearance against the greener lowland.

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We climbed altitude to around 5000 feet on the road as we approached closer. A cooler, forest lined windy road giving us sporadic glimpses of the Mt as we approached, its magnificence filling us.

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Our quiet appreciation and respect for the energy emanating from the rock stayed with us as we continued past and down to the beautiful Shasta Lake.

Then as we dropped down from the heights of the Mt Shasta National Park into the northern central California plains the heat hit us full on. Kuri had explained that it was HOT in northern central California but I’m not sure we had FULLY computed exactly what she meant by that.

It was CRAZY hot!

We stopped in Redding for a release from the heat and stumbled across a “healthy” cafe that supplied us with cold water to refill ALL our water bottles and jars and some iced peppermint rooibos. Arlo got out to stretch his legs (post vomiting in the boot – hes not so good with car sickness) and happily laid in the shade while we munched on organic yumminess in the car park and took our time before returning to the journey.

Once cooled we headed off for another 4 hour drive.

As we drove south the temperatures increased, the dry grassland spread wide in front of us and the talk of the California drought that had filled the conversations of the farmers and consumers of Southern Oregon became blazingly apparent.

California grows over 60 per cent of the US food supply. And it is currently in the worst drought it has ever seen. Masses of crops have been lost to the heat and it has caused dramatic price increases not just for consumers but also for local businesses that rely on these ingredients for their goods. Even the bakers at Full Bloom have had to take BIG steps to finding new solutions as their wheat flour prices shot through the roof this year!

Soon the scenery changed to mass fields filled with monoculture as far as the eye could see, and a searing heat that caused steam to arise from the roads ahead. Large scale farms with occasional factory processing plants filled the landscape and rows and rows of crops of all types spread out from either side of the road.

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Out there in all the flat landscape and no water, it was HOT.

The full extent of the drought was obvious. Many of the fields were lost to the dryness, some crops standing tall but their usual greeness had been replaced with a crispy brown from the sun. Many fields were simply earth. With farm machinery standing idle. Not exactly a picture of sustainable food supply for the masses.

As we drove south towards Sacramento the dry grassy rolling hills glowed beautifully in the setting sunlight and the aridness of the land had a new face, but the heat remaining in the sun burned strong until it set. A reminder of all that we had travelled through.

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The bay of San Francisco was the perfect view for the setting sun and as we cruised across the bridge towards Oakland the light was just perfect for a hanging out the window shot!

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We arrived in Oakland around 9pm. All grateful for the cooler city air. A quick call to Kuris sweetie, Sparkle, and we knew where to head. We were all crashing there the night, before a little morning San Fran tour then flight in the afternoon direct to San Diego.

Blue lights and sirens rang out as we were just a few miles from Sparkle’s place.

Turns out things aren’t quite as relaxed in California. Greta needed to be strapped in. It isn’t Malta now! A lot of car dismantling later and we were good to go.

For some reason I really enjoy interacting with the Police, I am often doing something a little wrong so quite enjoy the fun of it all!

Needless to say after 8 hours driving in heat you should only be swimming in, Kuri wasn’t SO welcoming to their little chats.

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Sparkle’s place was lovely and we settled in quickly. A shower off and a well earned rest led to good long sleeps, and a new refreshed excitement in the morning!

San Francisco we’re HERE and we’re QUEER!

Next installment coming SOOOOON!

Loads of love

Gayle

xxxxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

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