Fall Color

Ray: ¿Cuándo vas a dejar de ser tonto? Tan estupido. ¿Realmente crees que ella iría contigo? ¡Tonto!

Third time is a charm, no? Sent the invite, and she messaged me happy things about meeting her at a place and time. All good, right?

As if. I got a call from the discharge nurse for Tucker, the regional public mental health ward. It is where the cops drop you when they decide that you are not drunk, and haven’t done anything criminal but your behavior weirds them out so you need a time out on the funny farm. Felina wanted to go home by way of me. Yikes.

I have a good heart. I want to help. Broken-hearted kittens that trigger calls to me from the discharge nurse are hard to refuse. Felina is my kind of crazy. This is why she has engendered so many words from me as I flip between wanting her as a [ahem] roommate and messaging that I was going to ignore her (not).

I spent a sleepless Friday overnight conflicted. She’d said she’d message me where she was so I could pick her up. It was a Starbucks I frequent. No harm, no foul, right? I mean, if she wasn’t there I could just buy a coffee and be on my way. Wait for it. Not yet. Ok, yes, she wasn’t there. Something about a domestic with her sister and “Mom” (who isn’t her Puerto Rican birth mother) and an ultimatum that she had to be out of the house right then.

Whatever. I’ve been there. I was a 20-something who bounced around, pissing people off, burning bridges with glee, blaming those whose bridge I smoked, sure that I was the one with the righteous indignation that would set the world on fire and make everything amenable to me. I’m older than early retirement age by a couple of years. I could be a lot of places this warm Sunday afternoon. I’m here, in that Starbucks, writing this.

Before I get to my travel log, a sentence or two about our presidential election. I’ve avoided joining the fray. This site is about story and how we both tell and use story in our lives. I won’t endorse either candidate here. The most you’ll hear is that I have voted. The only question I have is this: of the choices, which one is proposing a narrative you can live with for the next four/eight years? The whims and battles of those in Rome and on Mt. Olympus don’t touch our lives in a big way. The universals, the daily need to have and to hold what we need, this is ageless. What Caesar does doesn’t change that bass beat. Caesar will change how we maintain the things we have and hold. What the god’s do has some impact. Their story, then, becomes important to us. Only a little, though, and only for a while. Do vote, it does make a difference. Vote your heart and your hope for the story you hope they’ll tell while they are in office.

Enough politics. Both billary and dumpf have enough trash in their lives to keep this site occupied for a long time. It won’t matter to this site who wins. We’ll still malign them. Back to my day trip. First, the older I get the more I appreciate some travel dictums from the Empress. 1) There will be clean bathrooms enroute. 2) Each leg will not be longer than 2-3 hours. 3) There will be at least one good Chinese dive restaurant mid-way. 4) Camping will not happen. She will have a hotel room. 4.1) If it’s more than 6 hours driving she is flying to the destination. 5) The car will be nice, a rental if need be.

When I lived in the SF Bay Area I managed to drive most of the recommended ridgetop roads. There is Skyline Boulevard running south to Santa Cruz from San Francisco. I rode that on my motorcycle to Alice’s Restaurant in Woodside. Berkeley has Grizzly Peak Boulevard which runs through parts of Wildcat Canyon. Oakland has Redwood Road. There is the road to the peak of Mount Tamalpais and an hour west, the road to the peak of Mount Diablo.  Of the two, I’d recommend the road to Mount Tamalpais and on the way back, a run through Mill Valley. The Empress liked Mill Valley. Two summers ago now while driving a mapping car for Microsoft, I drove a lot of northern, rural New Hampshire, including some ridge roads. I added Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park to my list yesterday.

As I drove Skyline Drive I had two recurring thoughts. The first was that I probably missed peak fall color by a couple of weeks. The maple trees still had some of their leaves. But those leaves were dropping fast and didn’t have the vibrant yellow I found in Illinois two summers ago. No matter. It was still a nice drive. The other thought is how much Skyline Drive felt like Grizzly Peak Boulevard but more monotonous. Miles of similar vistas and trees. Grizzly Peak Boulevard suits me better because once I’ve seen the pretty trees and stopped to have my picture taken of the view of SF in the background and am over it I can drop back in to the city along College Avenue in Oakland’s Rockridge district where there was (is?) a thriving coffeehouse scene punctuated by a few good taco places.

I entered the park at the southern end near Calf Mountain and exited at Sky Run Ridge. I coulda/woulda/shoulda parked somewhere in there at a spot where the Appalachian Trail is a short walk from a parking lot. I didn’t and I’m sad about that. The other coulda/woulda/shoulda is less solid. There is a tourist store near Loft Mountain that I drove right by. Next time, methinks. Get me a t-shirt, maybe.

I don’t narrate drives well. So, a blow-by-blow of the hour on Skyline Drive? Nah. As I sit in Starbucks writing the only thing I have is this: sometimes in life, you have to show up. Social media is great. It allows an illusion of experience crafted by those who post. Most of it is story of questionable veracity. RayRoberta Bob loves it. On the drive yesterday were us old folks and some families. There were a few couples but those seemed to be way past early dating tension and deep into ?marriage? trains of thought. Yeah, I’m not stupid. Courtship for some is under 15 seconds: “do you want to?” Then, you know . . . A drive to a national park that takes 9 hours to do is like a whole full cycle narrative from first date to break-up and battling over stuff, complete with custody battles over the toy poodle.

Besides, I’ve hit my minimum word count. Skyline Drive is one of those things you have to do f2f. Love isn’t just fucking. It’s Saturday morning as you stare at a sink full of dirty dishes and a laundry bin overflowing. It’s the fourth hour of the drive to and along Skyline Drive when one of you wants to shop at the tourist store and the other would like to punch somebody in the face, just cause. It’s 3am at the campsite when a bear has brought down your food bag and is deep into gorging on it. It’s sitting on a stone retaining wall at 3:30pm looking over a valley at soaring buzzards. It takes time and effort. Liking some pics pales.

I’d rather fail and write about it than burn hours with my face in my phone living on the posts of others. I’d rather be troubled by whether my pics from yesterday are any good. Update on Felina: I haven’t heard from Felina in a week. She packed a lot into seven days. she met a guy at a party, who promised a ton to her, including a room rent free (solving the domestic difficulty), and after a couple days, let the other shoe drop. It was a cam-show house. To earn her keep she had to have sex on camera with guys who had paid to appear in a cam-show. She was in that house for a few hours before she bailed and blew up my phone wanting a ride. Now I owe another cab driver a couple favors. Long story short, she ended getting caught by a homeless guy who lived at the Healing Place sleeping in his unlocked car parked near the Healing Place. A caseworker from the Healing Place came out and talked with her for a bit. She’s still freaked out about the overnight shelter worker who fondled her. So, no Healing Place, not yet. Mom and sister are still pissed, it seems. That’s still out.

After the ultimatum and the creep, Felina got an e-ticket to Tucker by getting caught pissing in front of Balliceaux by the doorman then resisting while ranting about RayBob being an actual alien. That’s why she couldn’t meet me at Starbucks. Life.

Parasitic tree in my backyard
Parasitic tree in my backyard © Alan Webb 2016