Spring Break, 2021
I don’t recall having a real Spring Break trip last year… If I’m remembering correctly, I did a short Spring Break trip down to Joshua Tree back in 2019, but 2020 didn’t quite lend itself to much traveling…
With that in mind, and looking at how much vacation time I’d accumulated over the last year or so, I realized that I really did need to take some time off to escape from work, from Wilsonville, and from getting stuck in my own head. Thankfully, most travel restrictions on the West Coast have been lifted, and my back’s been feeling a lot better… and I was able to finally make the long trek down to Sacramento to visit my friend Mike and finally meet his girlfriend Michelle!
It was a long drive, and a full week of stepping out of my usual little patch of world. I didn’t really go into it expecting anything specific, but I came out having even more appreciation for my friends, and feeling gloriously rested and recharged. I’m not quite back to my old self yet… but this trip was an amazing change to stretch back into myself, and just… explore.
Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday again – 01, 04, 05, and 08-May-2021
This trip involved quite a bit of driving – not only the long drives from Oregon to California and back, but also the drive from Sacramento out to Tahoe and back. This was absolutely perfect for me, since I’ve recently realized that long drives are one of the major ways that I recharge myself… Having my hands and subconscious mind occupied by the road ahead really helps me center myself, and listening to the music and the road noises is one of my favorite forms of meditation.
Back in New England, I’d get this regenerating experience fairly regularly, as I’d drive up to New Hampshire, or out to New York, but in recent years in Oregon I’d lost that opportunity. Now, I’m making more of a point to seek it out, and give myself the time that I need to reflect, relax, and center myself.
Instead of driving directly down to Sacramento, I took a coworkers advice and took a slight detour through central Oregon. I5 is definitely the fastest route down, but I wasn’t in a huge rush… I wanted to see Mike and Michelle, of course, but I was very okay with taking 10 hours instead of 9, if it meant that I got some extra scenery and enjoyable driving.
I drove, and the miles flew by under the car’s wheels. I passed beautiful mountain passes, such as Diamond Peak, and found new places that I’m very much looking forward to going back to, to hike and backpack. I passed a controlled burn, then a dust storm, then an uncontrolled burn by the highway.
I saw sights, and listened to music.
I’d even downloaded my first audiobook, and listened to that for quite a bit of the drive. Nothing particularly fancy, I’ll admit, but a lovely and fun fiction book that kept me entertained and positive with its over-the-top ridiculousness.
I didn’t drive non-stop, of course… I took a few breaks along the road, stopping to look at a few lakes, to appreciate Shasta, and do some calisthenics, as I felt restless and my legs had the need to move around a bit.
Mostly though, I drove. I drove and drove, listened and listened.
It was lovely, and soon enough I was back in civilization, pulling into the driveway…
The drive out to Lake Tahoe was gorgeous.
Similar to my drive to Sacramento itself, we didn’t take the most direct route… or, we sort of did, but our destination was on the far end of Lake Tahoe, so our route didn’t follow the major highways. Which sort of still hits the goal of staying off the main grinding roads, so I was quite happy with it.
We left in two cars – since we were bringing all of our bikes, a single car wasn’t really a viable option unfortunately… but that did mean that I was able to crank up the tunes and crank down the top, which I definitely wasn’t against. I was really enjoying the California vibe that I had going – long hair flapping in the breeze as I drove down the highways in my convertible…
You know, my life isn’t that bad, is it?
No, no it is not.
For the drive back to Sacramento, I took a different route than Mike and Michelle.
We’d spent the day hiking and skiing (I hiked, they skied) at Squaw Valley, which put us near the Northern end of Lake Tahoe itself… which meant that the closest highway was the main road leading directly back to Sacramento. Instead of following them down that route, though, I wanted to drive back the same way that we’d driven in – down the back roads, South of the lake itself.
Not that I didn’t want to get back to the house… but more I was looking forward to enjoying the lake a little bit more, and hopefully getting a short hike in as I drove through the mountains… Driving to Tahoe, I’d seen a ton of beautiful trailheads, and I wanted to explore every single one of them.
(Ed Note: Please see Ben’s post titled “A spring adventure – The Hikes” for Ben’s hike in toward Pyramid Creek)
The drive back was exactly as beautiful as I’d hoped that it would be. I enjoyed the lake views, stopped a few times to explore, and simply enjoyed myself immensely, being completely free and unfettered by any kind of timeline or need to be any specific place at any specific time.
The main drive back, after the sun had set and the temperatures had cooled off, was… interesting.
Something I’d noted in Sacramento was that it’s very aptly named “The City of Trees”… It’s beautiful, tons of shade, and I’m sure they help keep clean air and a lovely regular temperature. There is a downside though – Pollen. I don’t normally get allergies in the spring, but whoooo boy, were my eyes stinging and was my nose running. It was rough, and the drive back from the clear mountain air into the dusty pollen-filled city air was super noticeable.
I don’t want to think of what Mike and Michelle must have made of me, when I walked back into the house after parking outside their apartment… my eyes were stinging like I’d dropped hot sauce into them, and my nose wasn’t feeling much better. The first thing I did after getting inside was took out my contacts and rinsed my eyes for a solid 5min straight… just splashing and sloshing water at them, trying to dislodge as much of the demon-dust as I could…
Driving back to the land of Oregon was just as lovely as the drive down to the city of trees… thought it was definitely a little bit more melancholy than the drive down had been.
That didn’t stop me from enjoying my audiobook, of course, and I appreciated a change of pace brought on by driving straight up the main highway, taking the direct route for the first time on the whole trip. It was just as beautiful as the alternate option, I was surprised to find, as I-5 took a beautifully winding route through the Northern California mountains before joining into the rolling Southern Oregon hills.
I tried to get a few pictures… but I mostly just appreciated the scenery as appreciated the last chance I had to sit back and meditate on the rolling miles. It was beautiful, and I greatly enjoyed watching the landscape change as the sun arced across the sky as it set down in the West…
Then, I continued driving through the evening, ’till I finally made it back to my own apartment and my own bed… which, as anyone who takes long trips can remind you, is always a welcome comfort at the end of a trip.