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Malibu Creek State Park

"Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway."

--- J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

Time got strange on me as I drove down through the Land of Nod - er, California. Part of it was just adopting a slower pace. I didn't want to go rushing headlong into the embrace of those massive fires down south. Part was less rational, as I entered into a sort of introspective gloom made manifest in flora - the fabled Redwood Groves, still lingering under a legislative spell here in the north, protected by a mumble of words from the inevitable axe.

It's hard to believe their overwhelming eternal presence is mere illusion, the product of whimsy and luck. Somehow a few patches have just never run into a man with a chainsaw. These giant living creatures, hundreds of years old, may yet find themselves abruptly sold by the square foot and turned into someone's suburban summer deck. People are like that. If I was a tree, I wouldn't trust'em.

Run away. Run away! Oh.

I tried to take a picture of one that was 28 feet through, and 260 feet high. It was like trying to get a good likeness of a man by taking a picture of his shins. Useless. Mostly you can't get far enough away, and when you can, it just looks like a tree. Redwoods have to be experienced, not photographed.

They are romantic places, of course, these dark dim dripping groves, like living green caverns raised above the earth, but for me they are not comfortable to camp in. No direct sunlight in the day, and an absolute abyss of blackness at night, filled with bumps and shudders and creaks when the wind blows. And there's no clear line between growth and decay, here in the damp hush, in the thick noise-deadening wet mush of mould and mushrooms underfoot.

These glens remind me of Tolkien's Mirkwood, where great trees moved slowly about on deep business of their own, at best ignoring and at worst inimical to the nattering apes that pass below.

It gets depressing, being ignored like that.

I spent a couple of weeks in these woods altogether, three or four days at a time, in Jedediah Smith Park, Humboldt Park, Redwoods Park, Samuel Taylor Park, moving slowly south from the Oregon border to the outskirts of San Francisco. I began to feel like a Redwoods zombie, raised from the dark loam untimely.

The sunshine and long sightlines of the coast were the proper cure for that. I couldn't get enough of the beach, and resorted to narrow county roads to stay where I could eyeball it. One particularly deserted and problematic patch was along Hwy 211 from Ferndale to Redway. Lots of switchbacks and bumps. I'm not sure a Motorhome would have made it, but the 5th wheel had no real trouble, or so I believed.

The land along 211 is cattle country. Where the road is away from the beach you can't get to the ocean without crossing a fence, but a good deal of the time the road is right along the bluff, and the water a short unencumbered walk away. I stayed in a couple of turnouts. Maybe 3 cars came by in the early evening. The ocean rocked and whispered at my open window all night long.

The Behemoth is starting to shake herself to pieces, as I was warned might happen. Coming into Fort Bragg, right after passing a wreck, I heard something metallic dragging on the road behind me. It was one of the cross members that support the floor joists. I pulled over into a turnout, broke the final bit of weld holding it on, and limped into town. Next morning I found Wally's Weld-All. For $107 he replaced the thin angle iron with something twice as thick and strong, and also reinforced another piece that was coming loose.

The hidden price of buying a cheap trailer is eternal vigilance.

This is just my kind of luck. Happens all the time. Things fall apart, but the cure is never far away.

A week later, near Santa Cruz, I had another one of those fateful moments. I'd been holed up in Butano State Park reading the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. After two days and 800 pages or so, I decided to move on. It was crisp in the morning, so I had my catalytic heater going. Those things are so quiet, it's easy to forget about them.

Easy for me, anyhow.

I stopped on the side of the road across from a cafe called Whale City to check in with the NG and get off some emails. I'd forgotten my AC power brick for the laptop, so I went back to get it out of the trailer. When I opened the door, there was a bottle of wine rolling around on the floor. I'd forgotten to hook up the bungee cord on the door to the wine rack that sits underneath the dinette.

So that's 3 things I forgot, merely because what passes for my mind these days was still back in Middle Earth. If you are going to forget things, be sure to make it an odd number.

For, as luck would have it, here's the interesting thing I was not aware of: When that cabinet door is wide open, it contacts the front of the catalytic heater. The front of it was charred black, and the handle was hot, hot, hot. Another hour down the road, and I might have been towing a nascent conflagration. Maybe right about the time I was pulling into a gas station. Or parked next to a grassy hill.

BTID Luck again. Better Than I Deserve. The last thing I need is to be the cause of ANOTHER billion dollars worth of firestorm in California. Wonder if absent-mindedness is a legal defense against felony arson? Not if I was on the jury. I'd have to put myself away.

I wasn't stopped that far from Lompoc Prison. Hell of a place to spend my golden years.

I had been wanting to yank that dinette anyway, planning to put in a couple of chairs. Just moved the date up.

Dumb luck is better than wisdom, when you can get it.


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