Sunday, 8/12/01 - Saturday, 8/25/01 - California Living
After leaving Monterey, I camped at a very expensive campground in Carmel Valley, up a long, narrow, winding road with a thick canopy of trees. On Sunday, I drove to Big Sur, intent on seeing very large redwoods.
I squeezed the RV into the last parking space in a tiny lot at a state park, then set off down a dirt path that led deep inside a shadowy, tree-dense grove. The giant trunks rose into the sky, blotting out the sun except for a yellow, powdery light dusting the ground. There was a fairy-tale feeling in this dark place, and the redwoods seemed to breathe, slowly and deeply.
At a fork in the path, I chose the shorter, less strenuous walk that ended at a small waterfall where a father and his daughters sat and talked. Right before the waterfall, a woman sat on a rock, her head swathed in a tight turban. As I watched the family return to the woman, I could tell that she was very sick. They surrounded her carefully and tried to lift her spirits. The redwoods were healing her somehow. I could tell by the way she looked at them and smiled.
Finally, I emerged from the darkness into the bright summer sun, returning to the RV to get the Berts and some lunch. We ate our lunch on a small patch of grass in the middle of the parking lot, then I put the Berts back into the RV and walked in the other direction to see another waterfall.
By late afternoon, I realized that I needed to find a place to camp for the night and drove south on the Pacific Coast Highway to Kirk Creek campground, part of Los Padres National Forest. After circling the campground once, I went back to one more time to find a single site still empty, backing into it and paying the $17 fee.
Out of the RV window, I could see the Pacific Ocean, spreading across the horizon like wet paint. The Berts and I wandered along the coast, a tiny footpath leading us to cliffs and rocks and crashing waves. The sun dropped steadily into the sea, splashing color into the air as it fell.
I am at the edge of the country, maybe the edge of the world. I'm at the edge of something in my life, hovering on an internal cliff of some kind. It is quiet up here, deceptively still. But if I lean over, there is chaos below, and a loud roar that sounds like fear and uncertainty. What is my life supposed to be? I love RVing, I'm struggling to write, and I am alone. Where do I go from here?
On Monday, I meandered up the Pacific Coast Highway back toward Rio del Mar, then decided to find a nearby campground so I could clean the RV, do a little vaccuming, organizing. The nearest one I could find was in Watsonville at a city park, two close rows of RV sites down a grass and gravel lot leading to a large lake.
RVing can be such a simple life. Why do I try to complicate it with my mind? It is easy and calm and open and mobile. I love campgrounds and sleeping in the RV and letting the Berts out in the early misty mornings, breathing in fresh air. I love the fluid time flow, the freedom, the space.
I love my RV.
On Tuesday, I tried to work on my book at the beautiful house in Rio del Mar. On Wednesday, I rented a Geo Metro and drove to Marin County to visit my dear friend from New York City Linda and her husband Tom, returning the following day through the fog of San Francisco, and opting to take the Pacific Coast Highway for the stretch from the city back through Santa Cruz.
On Thursday evening, Elizabeth held a writers group at her home for non-fiction writers. I nervously submitted twelve pages of my new manuscript to the other writers, looking for honest feedback. A few days later, they each emailed me with praise and excitement about what I had written. I couldn't believe it but was grateful for their encouragement.
By the weekend, I was ready to get away. My entrepreneurial friend Jenai drove to meet me at the house and we loaded our things into the RV and headed down to Big Sur, or more specifically, Ventana, a beautiful spa and redwood campground. We tried our hand at cooking vegetable shiskobob over a roaring campfire (tasted funky), sipped wine, and talked about life.
For sleeping arrangments, I gave Jenai the option to sleep in the RV or in my little tent and she opted for the tent experience. A few hours into the night, she came inside, shivering, and asked if she could have another blanket, so I gave her my feather comforter because the RV was so warm. The next morning, I stepped out of the RV to see her meditating on a rock overlooking a little brook. Jenai is so cool!
We walked through the redwoods to the spa to get a massage, then went out onto the patio overlooking the ocean for a delicious lunch. We drove to Nepenthe, the cafe and restaurant on overhanging cliffs mentioned in Brad Herzog's book "States of Mind" which I was reading at the time and had lattes as we enjoyed the view.
Then we made our way back up the coast, back to writing, back to work.
That following week, I drove back down to the Monterey area to meet author Brad Herzog. While I was in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I had found his book in the travel section called "States of Mind" about a man and his wife who road around the country in an RV looking for cities with names like Faith, Harmony, Justice and Love. I was only a quarter of the way through the book, but loved reading it and was impressed with Brad's writing.
So I did what a self-respecting Cybergrrl does - I went on the Internet to try to contact him. I found his website (BradHerzog.com) and emailed him, telling him about my new book project, my RV traveling and my interest in meeting him since I was so close by. He emailed me back and invited me to have lunch with him.
I arrived at his house, met his wife, baby and sister-in-law, then we walked to a nearby restaurant for lunch. We talked about our writing, our travels, our creative ideas, and our struggles to promote our books. He was lucky to get onto "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" and mentioned his book on the air, which shot the book sales through the roof and was followed with appearances on "Oprah" and the "Today Show."
Meeting another writer is always so gratifying but this time it was especially so because I really admired Brad's writing. I left feeling a lot more certain about my new book and my writing voice, but as I sat down to write again throughout the rest of the week, I found that I couldn't get that feeling back. I have never had such a difficult time writing anything. Suddenly, I had created a pressure-cooker situation but nothing was cooking.
I also met up with another wonderful writer, Debbie Gisonni, who self-published an empowering book called "Vita's Will" through iUniverse. We met for brunch at Brasil in Santa Cruz and talked about our book writing careers and promotional challenges, deciding to share marketing contacts with one another to help make it just a little easier.
That week, Elizabeth and I went to Capitola Book Cafe to see our friend Carla King and other women travel writers talk about their self-published book "Wild Women Writing: Stories of World Travel." Also went to see the indy movie "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" with Elizabeth and some friends. Elizabeth was like Julie the Cruise Director for my California stay and I was grateful for the diversions she organized for me and the support she gave me regarding my writing.