Friday, August 24, 2007
Travelogue VII: Coyote Tracks and the Slow Road to the Golden Gate
Friday, August 17, 2007
The day began in Vacaville, where we checked out of the motel, stopped at a store for some tylenol and then began the drive up the coast and across the coast range to Bolinas. We took the way through Novato and across to Olemas, rather than go through the city and hit highway 1. According to Google Maps, it was only a few miles longer and way less congested.
Novato is situated among the hills of the Coast Range, and when we stopped at a gas station, I took this picture. The beauty of the hills with the dry grass and open oak groves is so different from what we are used to that I just couldn't get enough of them.
When we reached Bolinas and drove up to the camp, the campers were engaged in a closing activity. I intended to get a photo of N. doing the activity, but he saw us and ran toward us as I depressed the shutter button.
He came running up to us, happy, dirty and smelling of wood smoke, sunshine and salt water. His first words to us were, "I want to do the next class. The one in the Pine Barrens in New Jersey!" We laughed and sent him back to the group.
We followed the group up to the fire circle, for the closing ceremony. Some of the campers started the fire using a bow drill that they had made. This one was large and required three people to work it and make the fire.
One held down the fire stick and two others worked the bow drill. Finally, smoke. Quickly, several others worked with the tinder, sheltering it from the wind and breathing on it to encourage it to burn to coals. Then, in triumpth, one of the campers held up the burning coal to the wind, where it ignited and the fire was transfered to the fire pit. The closing ceremony included a thanksgiving address, then a smudge ceremony, a story and song. The campers were reminded to take their skills home with them and to teach others.
I could tell that those who attended the camp had become close from all of the unself-conscious hugs and good-bye's that took place. Each of the camp leaders had a word for us about N. Tom said that he "really got into this stuff and had learned much." Rick said that he was "very focused and had great patience with the younger ones." Matt pulled N. in for a hug, saying, "Even Navy Seals need a hug!"
Meanwhile, Bruce had gone looking for the latrines and found the Yurt. Since he now wants to put a Yurt on our land in Madeline and have star parties there, he investigated it closely. It had a beautifully finished pine platform floor, a woodstove and was as comfortable as my living room. Bruce wrote down the Yurt makers name and address for further investigation. We lingered a while longer, talking to the Commonweal Gardens people about getting off-grid using wind and solar energy. As we were driving out, we were passed by a little car with New Jersey plates--the camp teachers. I wonder how far they got that day.
As for us, we decided to take the slow road to the city. We found one on the map that lead from Bolinas across the hills, through a resevoir, and into San Rafael. We turned on what we thought was road, which was unmarked, hoping that it was the right one and knowing that it would be beautiful. It climbed immediately away from the coast, providing the most wonderful views of Bolinas Bay and the ocean beyond. In the background is Mount Tamalpias.
Soon, the road took us across a small divide, and we began to descend through redwood forest. The tall trees made a green and cool cave across the road, as it twisted and turned through hairpins on the way down to the resevoir.
We stopped to marvel at the ferns and moss that grew in the shadow of the redwoods. In many places, Australian Eucalyptus trees added a shaggy beauty and a pungent odor to the woods. There is something about the twisting, turning road and the deep shadows and pools of sunlight in the redwood forests that beckon one forward. We were silent for a long time in awe of this shaded, green world, in which the sound of our voices seemed to be an intrusion. And then we began to see a few other vehicles as we came down to the lake.
We followed the road as it crossed the dam and then began to climb again, among hills bordering the north bay. We were once again among the dry grasses and open oak groves. Near the top of the divide, we stopped to have a picnic lunch under an oak tree. Here, at last, we began to talk again. N. did most of the talking--unusual for him, as he told of the adventures he had and the things he had learned at Coyote Tracks. We told him that we noticed that he had grown a bit and that he seemed happy and relaxed. After our picnic lunch, we continued on the road and found that, indeed, it did come out at San Rafael. I had phone service again, there, and we were able to call an old friend of Bruce's family in Oakland who was expecting us to stop by.
W. lives in the Oakland Hills, which was wiped out by a great fire a number of years ago. He took us out on the deck and pointed out that all of the houses we saw, including his, are new. 300 homes were lost to that fire and 17 people lost their lives. W. had been Bruce's religious school teacher at Temple Sinai in Oakland. He and Bruce caught up while we ate home-made ice cream (peach from the trees in the hilly yard) and had coffee. N. almost fell asleep at the table, so W. showed him a place to rest. Then he took us out to a funky hamburger place on Peidmont street, just up the hill from Fenton's. And then it was time to say good-bye.
The next stop was at S.'s house in Pacifica, where we would spend the night before leaving for New Mexico in the morning. S. has been Bruce's best friend since childhood, and I was looking forward to meeting him. After another trip across the Bay Bridge, N. fell asleep on the way. We arrived in Pacifica in the twilight, and we stayed up far too late, talking over apple pie.