Travels With Arlo’s Chant

People, if you don’t already have a zippy little sports car (or motorcycle), get thee hence and rent one and make sure it’s a convertible. Then take a long weekend that starts on any day that is not a weekend, when the roads are clearer. Oh, and you have to be in Northern California. Drive on a day that was supposed to be sunny but instead is raining cats and dogs. Crank up the tunes, and highball it out the highway. Take 1 thru Pacifica, with the ocean sort of now blended with the gray skies and making a whole different scene. After Half Moon Bay, take a left up 84 through San Gregorio and La Honda (doesn’t it just feel like you’re going somewhere exotic just to say those names?). Stop and eat at Alice’s Restaurant. Yes. THE Alice’s Restaurant. Then hit the road back up Hwy 35, otherwise known as Skyline Blvd. which winds above the most beautiful No. CA valley you’ve ever seen, except now you can’t see it. It is filled with white white roiling fog. You are now traveling one of the best damn roads for driving fast and hitting the curves. You MUST watch out for bicyclists, deer, and be careful because the sun dappling change of light through the trees can be tricky. Otherwise, enjoy – it will make you laugh out loud. Eventually you’ll move onto Hwy 9, also a sweet treat to ride, and as it just gets more and more beautiful, halos of trees, actual birdsong, you pull up to Boulder Creek, California. Such a perfect small town, it just makes you cry. You are suddenly reminded that California is also Country. Stay at the Brookdale Lodge – dilapidated, rooms are slowly being renovated, but not well, they are trying. But it’s also been there forever – I used to drive by it when I was a little girl, we never went inside, but it always meant that we were halfway home. Inside is a sight to behold, their dining room has the creek running right through the middle of it. They are closed now so it is empty and the river is running fast and loud. Above is some sort of an amazing glass ceiling with a huge suspended glass dome. It’s all just a little bit dirty and old, but you can just imagine it in its heydey (think a little bit like The Shining). At night, walk out and look at the stars – they are still there. Next morning the Sun is shining bright, the top goes down, the music goes on, and you drive up to Big Basin Nat’l. Park. Walk through the redwoods. Touch a tree. It will heal you … really. Breath the air, listen to the creek roaring, Stare into water with the sun puddling on it so that it looks like milky jade. That night, eat a steak dinner with red wine at the best local restuarant you can find. Go by yourself, and if you can manage it, pick a night when the local businessmen’s association banquet is being held. Now head back to the small bar at the lodge (open only on weekends for now). Greet the locals, belly up to the bar, notice that everyone is dressed like a lumberjack and are drinking beer. Order a martini. Flirt viciously. Go back to room (alone and smiling broadly). Look at the stars again. Still there. Next day, the sun is also still shining, the hills are green as green can be, the mustard fields are in bloom, the ocean and the valleys are visible and on full gorgeous display, drive homewards. At some point, find yourself on the road, top down, hair blowing, music blasting, driving zippity-zip along, and throw one hand into the air and yell Whoo. Happy Trails.
[Orig. post date: Sunday, March 14, 2010]

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