It has been a long time—nearly a month—since I officially ended the Road Trip of Passage and returned home from Peru. Steve Jobs passed away, a movement began, and I started my semester at home. Keen readers will remember that before flying to Lima, I left my car in Seattle with my cousin David and his wife Maria Jose. These next and final entries will tell the tale of how I got it back.
My Dad and I decided it would be fun to embark on a father-son road trip adventure, so after persuading him to take some time off work, we flew out to Seattle. Normally the route home would be a pretty quick 3000 mile trek across the northern US, but since Dad had never seen the Grand Canyon we would take a 1500 mile detour. My Camry, dampened by Seattle rain but more than happy, I’m sure, to have a well-deserved vacation from my driving habits, was dried off, got an oil change, and was ready to go. After spending two nights with our rainy city relatives, we headed south.
It wasn’t long before the issues of the day caught up with us. As we passed the college town of Portland, we saw helicopters buzzing up above the peninsular city and the news was excited by this new movement “Occupy Wall Street.”
“Do you wanna go check it out?” Dad ventured cautiously.
“I guess so.” I responded with relative indifference. Lethargic from the pacific northwest coast cloud cover, I wanted to sleep more than protest, but I didn’t want to miss it either. I figured that traveling across the country during the birth of the movement, if it turns out to be one, gave me a unique opportunity to watch it take shape in different cities. So we saw a sign for city center, and sped off the highway. We realized in short order that we had no idea where the protest was.
After driving around aimlessly for several minutes, I thought of using the positions of the overhead news copters to triangulate—a word forever linked to class with President Ayers—the position of the protest. It actually worked—sort of. We did run into three squad cars with riot police dressed up for their date with the protestors, and eventually found the park itself where the frustrated Portlanders had set up camp.
That’s when I was introduced to the Human Microphone, a form of call and response between the speakers and the masses that echoes of catholic ceremony. This article isn’t really about the protests though, but I’ll return to them throughout the trip.
After Portland, we drove to Eugene, Oregon. We had intended to get a motel room, but discovered that Oregon had a professional football team playing that very night. Who knew. So we drove on, finally finding space in Roseburg, about an hour long trip from California.
The next day, we titled this article. After a three hour trip to Crescent City, CA on which we dueled with the road-raging owner of a purple show-truck, we made it to the Redwood forest. That’s when we saw the Grey Whale.
Ok, I skipped a little bit. We spent some time learning about the forest at the Park Center before beginning our drive through the dirt-gravel roads of Jedediah National Park, home of some of the most picturesque redwoods in California. These trees are huge, in a word, but their size is a matter of spirit. They grow so tall that the groves that form when several grow close to each other are shrouded entirely in damp shade, even on the sunniest day. They grow so big in fact, that very little else aside of giant three-leaf clovers can grow at all, leaving the forest floor barren save for fallen red pine needles. The Redwood forests are silent and open, giving an aura of divinity to the entire experience.
Then there is the Grey Whale. We had heard that, another 50 miles or so south, a Cliffside lookout marked a perfect spot for Whale Watching, albeit from 500 feet up. Sure enough, after driving the windy roads that led out to the cliff, a Gray Whale was feeding in the bay below. I had never seen a whale before, so although I was far away it was an amazing sight.
After the whale, we drove on through countless miles of redwoods on our way to my long lost aunt’s house. I’ll tell that story shortly, leave you with this image from Occupy Portland for now: