The Beeline Home
“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
I love this quote from Steinbeck. Both Leslie and I read this book while we were on this trip. I first read it when I was in high school and perhaps something about reading it back then was part of the inspiration of our journey. At the start of our trip, we had plans for how it would work out. We also were very explicit that we would not plan how it would work out. That we would let it unfold organically and go where we felt like going and see what was there. Steinbeck set us straight that even our plan for being gone from 4 to 16 months was us trying to control the trip and that just doesn’t happen 🙂
After Big Sur, we spent a few days in Petaluma where we got to meet up with Kevin and Laura from Riveted, who we met (in person) for the first time on the first day of our trip back in January. They introduced us to David and Ann, fellow Airstreamers who live on a lovely little farm in Petaluma. We extended our stay in Petaluma for a few days so we could meet up with them and it was great fun to sit down to a delicious lunch and chat about trailers and David’s and Ann’s Airstream renovation project.
After Petaluma, I had a plan for the rest of our route up to Whidbey Island. We would slowly make our way up the Oregon Coast, stopping at a bunch of places that I wanted to see and a few places that Kevin and Laura recommend. Then we would go up the coast of Washington, across the Olympic Peninsula and finally take the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island and be home by Leslie’s birthday in mid April.
Alas, “…we find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”
The morning that we left Petaluma, the rains came. It was pouring as we hooked up the trailer and we were completely soaked as we got on (the) 101 North. Looking ahead at the forecast, we see nothing but rain for the next 10 days up along the Oregon coast and into Washington. We drove up the Benbow with the intention of staying two nights but then something happened.
Actually, a lot of little things happened. Just like at the end of Travels with Charley where Steinbeck realized that his trip was over hundreds of miles before he got home, we realized that this leg of our trip was over. Sure, we were still over 700 miles from our house, but we had accomplished what we set out to do and, for now, we were done. We also had a couple of interesting opportunities come up (more on that later) but they required that we be back in Seattle much sooner than we had planned. Also, the forecast of heavy rain for the next week or more made staying a lots of coastal campgrounds sound much less pleasant, Tiki is running low on her medicines, our MiFi devices were running out of internet, we were running out of clean laundry, Game of Thrones starts on Sunday and, perhaps most importantly, we are out of Item #101! So it was time to head home and we needed to get there much quicker than expected. Operation Beeline to Whidbey was underway.
We cut our stay at Benbow to just one night and drove straight through from Garberville, CA to Bandon, OR in one day. That 266 miles doesn’t seem that far, but when we’re towing the trailer along coastal 101 in heavy rain and wind, it makes for quite a long day. The next day, we made another long trek from Bandon up to Portland, again in driving rain and wind. After three long days of driving, I needed a bit of a break so we are spending two nights here in Portland but tomorrow we are driving the last leg of this first big trip in the Tardis.
We’re excited to be back in our house for a little while and to enjoy some of the things that we’ve missed on the road. Like a bigger kitchen, a shower that you can stand up in and not needing to “dump the tanks” every few days. Being able to walk around without tripping over Tiki and being able to not worry about leaving clothes in the dryer over night. I also expect, though, that after a few weeks we are going to miss living in the Tardis and we will start figuring out where the next trip will take us. I already have one scheduled for mid-June in the Palouse region of Washington and I bet other ones pop up before that. Tomorrow, though, we will be back home when we land on Whidbey Island and then we will start to figure out how to unpack from this journey.