redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for ADVENTURES Category

A Reflection on Japanese American Incarceration : Tule Lake Pilgrimage

The real talk aspect of this blog is about to get REALLY REAL – this is not a happy fun post, but a post that must be written. Thank you in advanced for reading this post, my reflection on Japanese American incarceration. 

On Tuesday, I woke up from a 4 day trip up to Tule Lake, the site of one of the ten Japanese Concentration Camps, and wondered “how do I do life?”

The pilgrimage to Tule Lake was a Christmas present from my mother. Her mother, my Bachan, was incarcerated at Tule Lake and my mom and aunt had attended the pilgrimage a few years ago. She had asked me a little before Christmas of 2015, if I wanted my fiancé and I’s Christmas present to be the Tule Lake pilgrimage and we both gave a resounding yes. On Tuesday when I woke up in my own bed, in my own home, I had this moment of confusion about how to go through my day. The pilgrimage is an intensive workshop of history and community, from the time we boarded the bus at 10:00am on Friday, July 1st.  Upon returning home, I forgot my routine and was filled with reflective thoughts. My eyes new with a changed perspective on life as a whole. If this is what I was experiencing after 4 days, I can only wrap my mind around how the innocent Japanese Americans felt when released, the same way I can wrap my mind around the concept of infinity. It’s feeble and lacking, false by all measure.

Everything was taken from them in an instant, and then 4 years later in a flash they are let back into the world with nothing.  Except for a country that betrayed them and a society manipulated to reject them.

We were surrounded by people who understood the history of Japanese American incarceration during WWII, from the moment we stepped on our respective buses. But maybe not the atrocities that took place at Tule Lake, nor the divide Tule Lake caused with in the Japanese community. And this is what we would learn over the next two days.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

In Japanese culture, you don’t make waves. You don’t speak out against authority, and you respect the establishment to the utmost degree.  So when the American government presented the Japanese American people with a distasteful and deceiving “loyalty agreement”, after already being incarcerated for over a year, those who rebelled against it were sent to Tule Lake. In turn they were seen as “disloyal” to America within the Japanese American community. When in reality, these “disloyals” were really men and women who believed in their civil rights or were infuriated with the country who just incarcerated them when innocent. Basically, flipping them the bird. I come from a lineage of the latter, and I don’t blame my Great Grandfather for his decision to mark No, No.

Tule Lake around 1943 was turned into a segregation camp, sending all those who refused to sign the “loyalty agreement” from the other Japanese American concentration camps to Tule Lake. What I found interesting and heart breaking, was that after the war when the Japanese American community began to rebuild, those who were incarcerated in Tule Lake never shared that information. They didn’t want to be judged by their community and seen as troublemakers or disloyal, so this fraction of the community couldn’t even bond or connect with fellow Japanese Americans about their experience, because they were shamed into silence.

Many of the people who were incarcerated at the Japanese Concentration Camps never talked about their experience there. And everyone on the pilgrimage seemed to be desperate for pieces of the puzzle in order to create a full picture of the Tule Lake experience. The adults who were incarcerated have already passed on, and now we scrape at the memories of those who were teens or children at camp to collect their stories and perspective on the time. Our elders have died with their stories locked behind the doors of trauma, and their children search their own memories for what stories might have slipped.

As I write this I’m conflicted with what I can share and what is left behind closed doors. It is not easy for people to share their trauma and pain, and it is not right for me to exploit those stories for my own readers without their permission. All I can do is paint a picture. Imagine you are told you can only take what you can carry, heirlooms and family pets are left behind. You are trying to figure out what you can sell off for the best price, because you don’t know when you’ll return home, and your customer knows the desperate situation you’re in and does not have a compassionate heart. The plans you had for the future were stolen from you. The family dynamic is dissolved, and you end up living in a barrack with 10 other families. Your bed is merely a cot with a mattress cover you stuff with straw. The holes in the walls bring in dirt and dust from the outside. You’re never clean. You’re never comfortable. You don’t have a home. You’re innocent. You were born in America and have pledge the allegiance during school, “with liberty and justice for all.” But you have yellow skin, almond eyes, and black hair; apparently that excluded you. So you had to board a train to destination unknown and live in a prison for an undetermined amount of time.

On Saturday, the pilgrimage collected in front of the jail that is currently undergoing a restoration at Tule Lake, and held a memorial service for all those who had died and lived through the Japanese Concentration Camp. The pilgrimage hosted a Christian and Buddhist service and the attendees were able to lay down flowers and cranes for our family and fallen. It was a moving service. Later in the day my fiancé and I took a bus tour of the camp, which was massive, and my heart broke for the lack of preservation. An airport runway now runs through Block 25 where my Bachan lived at Tule Lake. The Tule Lake cemetery was turned into a landfill. All but 10 bodies which were unidentified have been returned to the families. And as I sat on the bus with our guide vaguely pointing out where certain buildings of the camp would have been, I looked out onto a neighborhood and a grassy field confused as to what was where, and then just in awe of the size of this camp that held up to 18,000 people. It’s the closest thing to walking a mile in my Bachan’s shoes I could ever get.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

A few of the ‘super seniors’, those who were teens while at Tule Lake shared their stories.  One explained the process of building the jail (can you imagine building a jail to house your own people?) and then the abuse that took place to those who were put behind bars, inside the fence they were already trapped behind. These people further incarcerated, not because of legitimate crimes, but because they were brave enough to talk back and express their freedom of speech or were labeled a “troublemaker”. Another ‘super senior’ shared his story of refusing to answer the loyalty agreement and in turn was sent to a department of justice camp. In the middle of the night he was thrown on his knees in front of a firing squad verbally abused until the guard wanted to let him and his fellow rebels go.

What were the questions he refused to answer that led to this kind of psychological torture.

Question #27 asked:

“Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty wherever ordered?”

-Question #28 asked:

“Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”

This same gentlemen had tried to enlist after Pearl Harbor to defend his country, America, but was denied and told he was an enemy alien. Now, he was asked to draft himself again after a year of imprisonment! And how can you forswear allegiance to a country you were never aligned with in the first place? Disgusting.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Both Friday and Saturday night I listened to those who were incarcerated tell their story, and I was moved. I listened to their memories like they were water and I had been thirsty in a desert. Sunday morning, the 450 attendees were divided into smaller groups to reflect on their experience and ask questions to try piece together the past. In the afternoon I watched a talk by Nancy Ukai, Dr. Satsuki Ina, and Dr. Junko Kobayashi on Camp Artifacts: Giving Voice and Bearing Witness. There were 6 other amazing talks going on concurrently, but I had met Nancy in our morning discussion group and was intrigued by the story objects can invoke. Nancy was an integral part in stopping the sale of 450 concentration camp artifacts at a Rago art auction. I wasn’t aware of this when it occurred, but it was announced in the New York Times and quickly there after the Japanese American community did a “hell no!” and a petition circulated effectively stopping the auction. Nancy shared the stories behind three different pieces from the collection that would have been sold, and their connection to Tule Lake. The piece that was most moving was the propaganda photo that was taken to shed a positive light on the Japanese American incarceration of an adorable Japanese boy in a cereal box flower crown. Nancy was able to track down the boy, now a 70 year old man, who shared he did not even remember the photo nor the fabricated fairy tale attached to the photo – that the class was putting on a cheerful Labor Day performance. She opened the discussion with this powerful poem that I think should be kept in mind when viewing any of the photos from that time.

Because my mouth

Is wide with laughter

And my throat

Is deep with song,

You do not think

I suffer after

I have held my pain

So long?

Because my mouth

Is wide with laughter,

You do not hear

My inner cry?

Because my feet

Are gay with dancing,

You do not know

I die?

“Minstrel Man”, Langston Hughes

tule lake pilgrimage

The pilgrimage ended on July 4th, my Bachan’s birthday, and we boarded our buses back to our respective airports or pick up points and said good bye to this moving experience. While headed back to the Sacramento Airport, we shared out thoughts on the pilgrimage and as I shared my feelings I broke into tears. The night before I had sobbed thinking of my Bachan, missing her. On the bus, my tears were for her pain and the anger she held inside. I commented about how my dirty and draining days in the sun at Coachella for two weeks inspires a deep desire for comfort. After the festival I immediately book a shiatsu appointment, manicure, give myself a face mask, and sink into my comfortable bed like a heavenly cloud. This is only after a few days of the elements, and my Bachan experienced the same sun and dirt relentlessly for 4 years. No comfortable bed. No spa like shower. No privacy.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

Airport runway now runs between where my Bachan barrack would have been.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

The foundation of the 73rd block latrine.

Tule Lake Pilgrimage

An example of what the camp barracks looked like on view at the Tule Lake museum

What I haven’t talked about are the riots, the Marshall Law, the guard abuse, the deaths, the torture, the renouncing of citizenship under collusion, and the endless examples of total civil rights violation. I hope my sharing of the pilgrimage inspires you to search out that information independently. I also hop e my story inspired people to educate themselves and stand up against the fear induced hatred toward any community of innocent people. The people who experienced this are still alive, this is not ancient history, THIS is living history. We must hold onto our stories and history in order to keep it from ever happening again. Refuse to become complacent.

When I think of my Bachan and what she endured, I am humbled. My troubles become trivial, and I tell myself I come from good stock. I was born with a strength inside of me to persevere, to move forward and thrive. If my Bachan can live in a concentration camp for 4 years and go on to see me born, love me, and make me feel like I am supremely special – then I will not disrespect her belief in me by not believing in myself.

Thank you for reading my story and following my journey to #knowbachan

Bachan - June Ritsu Murakami

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A Stop in Spectre

The movie Big Fish is my favorite Tim Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands being my second favorite, and when I was first planning our road trip across the south I had come across the fact you could visit Spectre. The magical town in Big Fish where Ewan McGregors’s character Edward Bloom stops in for just awhile, until he remembers the life he needs to return to.    I had forgotten about Spectre until we were driving through Alabama on our way to New Orleans and Dan was looking at Roadtrippers. It’s a fantastic app for those that love detours. It tells you anything from points of interests to places to eat along your route, if you’re planning a road trip you must download the app.

Anyways,  Dan had said there is this place called Spectre we could visit, and I lit up! I started to tell him all the things I had learned about the place beforehand and that we had to ask a little old lady for the passcode to get through the gate.  He was up for the adventure and off we went to explore Spectre. It’s a solid 15 mins from the major highway and very secluded. We had no idea what to expect and after crossing over some train tracks we were in this little area with a few houses and a gate that clearly separated us from Spectre. Since the direction on Roadtrippers also confirmed the need to talk to a little old lady, we searched for one and found a woman who was muttering to her dog and picking up her mail. I walked up to her kindly and said that there is a rumor that she was the one who had a code to see Spectre. She asked me, “what?” and I explained to her what the app said and she confirmed she could give us the code. She told us the town was really run down since it’s just a movie set, and that they had to demolish a few buildings. That the church was still standing, but mostly everything else was sad looking. We didn’t care, we wanted to see Spectre.

After a friendly chat, we got the code and followed the one dirt road to Spectre. As we followed the road for a sign of the old set, we saw other trucks and people there fishing and enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Spectre is in the center of this private peninsula and once we spotted the church steeple,  Dan and I pulled over and got out to walk around the dilapidated set. We didn’t go inside any of the building as there was a lot of overgrown plants and honestly, I was chicken, afraid of getting hurt. But still I was just thrilled to say I had made a stop in Spectre.  I went to YouTube to find a clip of Spectre in all it’s glory and saw a few recent vlogs of people visiting the set, it seems like it has been cleaned up a little since we went 2 years ago. Makes me wonder if you still have to talk to a little old lady to get the code.

Spectre Big Fish Road Trip

Spectre Big Fish Road Trip

more photos after the jump…

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Mystic and Wild Mushrooms of the PNW

I find mushrooms to be so magical! I remember being fascinated by their sudden appearance in our front lawn and learning about the unique bio-makeup of fungus in school. One of my earlier memories was my dad making sure I knew NOT to eat wild mushrooms on our front lawn and only mushrooms from grocery stores. I love the various formations mushrooms grow in, and I think their spectrum of toxicity is so mystical. Mushrooms are so witchy wonderful and when we were on our Pacific Northwest road trip I had the opportunity to see so many unique mushrooms growing in the wild. I don’t know the names of any of the mushrooms I found, and Bowerbird did try to identify a few although I wouldn’t dare try to eat any without proper mushroom education. If I ever moved to the PNW or Northern California where wild mushrooms flourish, I think I’d become a mushroom hunter, spending my weekends hiking around to see what new fungi I could discover.

The following photos were taken while on a hike up Mt. Ellinor in Washington and a trail in the Redwoods National Forrest.

wild mushroom in the sun

Redwoods Wild Mushrooms

hidden wild mushrooms

Wild Mushrooms Redwoods

nibble mushrooms

redwood mushrooms

redwoods wild mushrooms fungus

flying saucer mushroom

 

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The Unique Characters of the LA Marathon 2016

Being a “Yes!” person can become exhausting, but it’s also incredibly rewarding. One of the things I said yes to last month was volunteering with Students Run LA at the LA Marathon. I was a shutterbug for their team and snapped a lot of great photos of the kids running the marathon. Students Run LA is non-profit organization that helps to train Middle School and High School kids to run the LA Marathon and instill a great sense of accomplishment in them at a really young age. I was seriously impressed by those kids. I wonder what I’d be like now if I had participated in an after-school program like Students Run LA.

LA Marathon 2016 (5)

When I was a teenager I acted out of fear and tended to say “no” to a lot of things. Sadly, missing out on awesome opportunites because I felt I already knew what it would be like. Thankfully as an adult and now being a “yes” person, I know that when you say “yes” you invite so much more greatness into your life. While at the marathon I ended up running into a grade school friend of mine, I felt the buzzing energy of the runners all around me, I learned that runners use trash bags to stay warm, and The Fairmont Hotel in Santa Monica is a great staycation destination.

Also, since I did have my camera in hand, I couldn’t help but take photos of the unique charaters of the LA Marathon. This was the first marathon I’ve ever witnessed but it was in Los Angeles, so although not surprised that people were in costume, I was still wildly ammused by them. Unique characters I can now share with you!

LA Marathon Fairy and Elvis

Jesus La Marathon

Jesus LA Marathon

BArefoot La Marathon

What’s more shocking to you, a barefoot man or Jesus? I say the barefoot man. 

 

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Road Trip Adventure from Nor Cal to Oregon : River Trail & Camping Romance

October 18, 2015 | Day 4 of #OntheRoad1015 ( previous day )

We woke up before the sun and filled our bellies with the slim pickings at our motel’s continental breakfast. On this trip I started putting Cheerios in my Yoplait yogurt to make it more filling and fuel me for our adventure. Plus one can never go wrong with a little extra fiber. The Northern California coastline is like no other, especially in the morning when the low clouds and mist of the waves combine to create an ethereal landscape. The soft pastel colors of the sun rise is accented by a pearlescent lining above the sea foam.

Seeing deer signs are not uncommon while on a road trip, but seeing a deer grazing by the road can be unique. When we came upon an Elk sign we figured it was the same thing, until we noticed dozens of Elk all around us, munching on their breakfast right along the road. My car was rolling along at a snail’s pace as we tried to take pictures and not explode with cuteness overwhelm. Then about 20 miles after the Elk party, we saw a perfect “Back to the Future” DeLorean drive past us. Sadly, I couldn’t snap a picture of the car but talk about an insanely cool morning drive!!

Northern California - Blanket Fort Adventures

Salmon in a Heart - Blanket Fort Adventures

Golden Bear in Nor Cal - Blanket Fort Adventures

Paul and Babe - Blanket Fort Adventures

We arrived to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park around 9:00am and aside from the park ranger cleaning out the bathrooms, we were first on site. I’ve expressed this on the blog before, but I LOVE being the only couple or person at a place. I enjoy the feeling of privacy and it makes the moment extra special. Even just arriving to an event before everyone else, so I can take in the silence, the electric hum before the world starts up. We took the river trail in Stout Memorial Grove and lost ourselves in nature; looking up at the tall trees, finding wild mushrooms, and letting the birds and river be the soundtrack. After walking along the marked river trail and ending up at the side of the road, we turned around and upon inspecting some interesting moss found an unmarked trail that led right out onto the river. Inside the trail the tall trees created a shadowed canopy and walking out onto the river bed was like opening up the blinds to let the sun shine in; white rocks made the sun brighter and the sky appear bluer. We played along the river for a while and if we weren’t pressed for time, I could have seen us lay down a blanket and read beside the rushing water.

As we walked back to the parking lot, the trail started to fill up with other tourists. We really had the Redwoods all to ourselves.

Redwoods Hike - Blanket Fort Adventures

River Trail Hike - Blanket Fort Adventures

It was 11am by the time we returned to the car and our next stop was Grants Pass, Oregon to grab lunch before heading to our campsite in Bend, Oregon – four and half hours away. The rest of our drive was beautiful and fun, filled with singing and naptime. We were starved by the time we reached Grants Pass. Bowerbird had looked up a cute organic restaurant on Yelp called Ma Mosa’s. The coffee was self-serve and we ate a delicious brown rice bowl filled with black beans, blackened salmon, avocado, tomatoes, corn and some other yummy real food. It’s funny because the bowl is totally something we could make at home but of course, would never taste as good.

Once again, we were trying to beat the sun and get to our campsite before dark, so we made very little stops or detours. I had to be the grump and tell Bowerbird we couldn’t make a 2-hour detour to Crater Lake. When you’re used to packing adventure into every hour while on the road, a 2-hour detour doesn’t seem like that much but it makes a huge difference if you’ll be setting up a tent while there is still light outside. The one stop we made was at a little café at the end of the highway, a mountain range in front of us and the merging freeway running North and South. We darted across the empty highway to the Diamond Lake Junction café in order to use the restroom. I have no idea who would go to this restaurant as there wasn’t a city or town close by, it was basically made for travelers. We went inside and I ordered a muffin and coffee to be able to use the restroom. I went first but as Bowerbird was relieving himself, I talked to the owner/cook/waiter about Time Life magazines and almanacs. The owner was a sponge for knowledge and loved knowing about different decades and history. He looked like he could easily be a member of the Sons of Anarchy and that café might moonlight as a clubhouse.

PNW Road Trip - Blanket Fort Adventures

As we reached our Tumalo State Park campsite the sun was starting to set. This was a very posh campsite and not very far from the bustling city of Bend. We were slightly bummed that the campsite wasn’t as removed from civilization as we had hoped, but while I was setting up our air mattress in the tent, Bowerbird went to Trader Joes to get us dinner and find some fire wood.

This was my favorite night of the entire road trip, aside from the day we got engaged. We sat by the fire drinking red wine and eating French bread with brie. Bowerbird and I talked about our future together, our plans, hopes and fears. We had fun adding wood to the fire and shifting where we sat on the bench depending on where the wind was deciding to blow. I put away my phone and computer, I unplugged for the night and was present in that moment. Sleeping on the air mattress bundled under multiple blankets and sleeping bags I fell asleep instantly in Bowerbird’s arms and we let our bio-clock wake us up instead of our phones. It was perfect, pure bliss.

Campfire at Tumalo Park - Blanket Fort Adventures

Romantic Camping Spread - Blanket Fort Adventures

Camping with Bowerbird - Blanket Fort Adventures

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GA: A Half Day in Athens

Athens, GA – October 19, 2014 / DAY 20 of #ontheroad1014

Our road trip had already been steeped in music history, having gone to the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville and Muscle Shoals in Alabama, so it’s to be expected we hit up Athens, GA as well (or at least that’s what Bowerbird felt). The day we visited Athens, we grabbed an awesome breakfast in Atlanta at the Rosebud café. When we picked the restaurant it was unbeknownst to us that the owner, Ron Eyester, was a contestant on Top Chef Season 12.  After our yummy breakfast I dropped off a few of my postcards, that invited people to tweet me while we were on the road, by the door and Ron was one of the awesome people that said hello!

Rosebud Breakfas

From Rosebud we drove over to the Martin Luther King Memorial Center also in Atlanta, it was extremely important to me that we explore the history of the civil rights movement while on our trip. We were going to go to Montgomery, AL before we went to New Orleans but my Atlanta friends told me it was better to experience the Martin Luther King historical sites instead. I’m glad they had suggested the memorial center; I was filled with sadness, joy and humility as I walked through the center seeing relics of segregation and reading Dr. Kings story. Next to the memorial center is Ebenezer Church, the spiritual home to Martin Luther King where he was baptized and was a minister till his passing. Inside the church, they play his speeches and sermons, Bowerbird and I sat for a while in a pew listening to his powerful words until it was time for us to head to Athens.

MLK Memorial Center

Now, I was completely oblivious to the Athens roots many of my favorite musical acts had come from, like the B-52’s, REM, Of Montreal, and Drive by Truckers. But Bowerbird knew about that Athens’ sound and wanted to see the city that gave birth to it. I made my own Athens artists playlist that’s below and there is definitely a common note. Seeing Drive by Truckers or Lucero while in the South was another goal of the trip, but their tour schedule never synched with our road scheduled. To add insult to injury, when we drove into Downtown Athens and found a parking spot, it happened to be right across a music venue advertising Drive by Truckers would be playing October 31.

Georgia Theater Athens GA

Athens is about an hour and a half away from Atlanta. We arrived just around the same time our breakfast was wearing off, 1:00 pm. We didn’t know where we were going, only that we wanted to explore, so we just started walking in a general direction down one of the streets. In our aimless wandering I spotted a sign saying “This Is It”, since at the moment I needed a restroom in my life, I took the sign as a sign that this was the place to go. Eventually, we came across an interesting area on Washington, where Low Yo Yo Record store and Clocked diner are located. First we grabbed a quick snack at Clocked, a colorful retro dinner that looks like it could be the post-party destination for a Love Shack rager. Then it was on to crate digging at Low Yo Yo, Bowerbird found a lot of records he wanted to purchase but because we were on a road trip we were afraid of buying vinyl and then leaving it in the car. The potential damage of goods just left in the car to be warmed up by the sun prevented us from many wine and vinyl purchases.

Clocked Cafe and Diner

Bowerbird and the shop owner geeked out over a few obscure bands. I picked up a silly bookmarker at the worlds tiniest art gallery located in a closet at the back of the store. We bought a few CDs as we didn’t bring any of our own music on the road; a bad idea for one’s data plan. And after about an hour and a half worth of record window shopping, we continued on to wander the streets of downtown Athens.

Low Yo Yo records in Athens, GA

We hopped into a few other vintage and record stores before settling into a pub/coffee shop that was located across from the college. There were a lot of students in there and since I had my backpack on me, I felt like blending in with the locals and busting out my laptop. While on the road I had every intention of blogging on a regular basis, little did I know that isn’t exactly easy when one’s sleeping arrangements doesn’t have wifi or my only downtime is right before bed at midnight (brain dead). So with our bit of downtime, I ordered a hard cider and wrote a blog post, TN:  Johnny Cash & Nashville.

Shopping in Athens GA

We headed back to Atlanta around 6:00pm and had every intention of grabbing dinner in the city, until an accident caused the highway to shut down and our hour and half drive turned into three and half hours. I felt terrible as our ETA kept changing and we had friends waiting for us in Atlanta. We got to our friends place around 10:00pm where they fed us Trader Joes quinoa stir-fry, we watched The Walking Dead, and went to bed.

If you’re visiting Atlanta, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Athens. It has a small town feel but a lot of unique shops and character. If it wasn’t a Sunday, Bowerbird and I might have tried to find a college rager to crash.

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Road Trip Adventure from SF to REDWOODS / Drive Thru Tree & Rainbows!

October 17, 2015 | Pt. 2 of  Day 3 of #ontheroad1015 ( previous post )

When we left San Francisco for the Redwoods it was noon and gloomy. Our goal that day was to get to the Redwoods, to a specific camping spot Bowerbird had picked out, and spend the night in our tent. Unfortunately, time and weather were not on our side. By the end of the day, as the sun was setting, we were still 45 minutes away from the campsite. Slightly defeated, we decided to stop in Arcata and book a hotel. Fun fact, Arcata has a pretty decent Pho restaurant. We filled our bellies with warm bowls of Pho and were asleep in our hotel room by 10:00 pm.  Although Arcata is a sweet little city, its lights were still consumed by the night. Once we realized how dark it can be up north, we were incredibly happy to have booked a hotel room instead of committing to camping. Growing up in the city it’s easy to forget what true darkness looks like; the kind of darkness where a flashlight only illuminates your feet.

Although October 17th was mostly a driving day, we ended up having a lot of fun in the car. We stopped in a little town called Hopland to get lunch, but nothing looked appetizing, so we just enjoyed it’s old creepy architecture and were on our way. During a portion of the drive, we picked up a Mary Jane radio station that played folk songs singing about good ole’ bud and green thumbs. We also drove through a tree! The best part of the day was all the rainbows we saw, because of the sprinkling weather it seemed around every bend was a brilliant rainbow.  We counted eleven rainbows in all and since I’m a numerology nerd, eleven is the doubled meaning of one that symbolizes new beginnings and purity. As we only got engaged a few days before the rainbow phenomena; I’m totally reading into the meaning of eleven.

hopland Old Barn _ Hopsland

The best rainbow photo I took that day was when we pulled over for gas. This rainbow had a complete arch over the mountain tops across from us.

Rainbow Arch Redwood California

This is one of the few times my vlog covers more of the day than my photos or story telling could. A day in the car with me is a mixture of karaoke, dancing, dream casting, and spiritual discussion on the meaning of life. In this vlog you’ll mostly witness dancing.

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Road Trip Adventure in Northern California : Mission to the San Francisco’s Ferry Building

October 17, 2015 | Pt. 1 of  Day 3 of #ontheroad1015 ( previous post )

After an amazing night out with Bowerbird’s pal drinking and eating at Cavalier, I had to wake up early the next morning to do some work. While Bowerbird slept, I got ready for the day and followed up on emails and scheduled content for my clients. After Bowerbird woke up he decided to be a sweetheart and walk over to Blue Bottle coffee down the street and pick us up some good black brew, he left and I continued to work. Twenty minutes later, he returned to the hotel room frustrated as he couldn’t find the coffee shop. We both hate google maps and how it decides to change directions on a whim or decide to say you’ve arrived when you’re still 500 feet away from your destination. So I understood his frustration and pulled out my phone in order to get a better sense of where the coffee shop was on the map. Staring out our hotel window, together we finally figured out where Blue Bottle was located. So he went down for round two of mission “Blue Bottle Coffee”. I continued to work.

Twenty minutes later, Bowerbird returns even more aggravated and stressed. He had waited in the long line at Blue Bottle, only to discover his wallet was missing at the crash register. When he got back to the hotel room, the wallet was fortunately left on the bed and obviously our blue bottle experience was not going well. Bowerbird ate a Luna bar as we both sipped on crappy hotel room coffee, waiting for me to finish working and we could grab a bite at Cowgirl Creamery. One of the most delicious cheese makers EVER!

On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco StorySpam spotted on our walk to Blue Bottle Coffee

Our friend had told us that the Blue Bottle location next to our hotel was the absolute best, so hoping third times the charm, after I was done working we walked to Blue Bottle together. The line was ridiculously long and as time was running out, we decided to give up and just walk to Cowgirl Creamery inside the Ferry Building. It’s important for me to note that there is no parking in San Francisco. It’s not a very street parking friendly city, so we decided to walk everywhere in order to save money. We had decided to leave our car parked at the hotel and just be charged for hotel overnight parking. And since I didn’t want to pay for any additional hours outside of our hotel stay, it was really important we left the parking structure by check-out time (noon).

On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco Story

On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco Story
On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco Story

The Ferry Building was a 25 to 30-minute walk from our hotel. I love the architecture in San Francisco. I feel like the city was built for me! The entire city was interesting and captivating, the wires and cranes. I could wander around that city for days. The Ferry Building was AWESOME!! I have yet to visit Grand Central Market in Downtown LA, but I have a feeling it might be like the Ferry Building. Vendors were pushing large carts filled with fresh produce. I snapped a blurry photo of a man holding two ginormous heads of lettuce up to his ears as he moved through the crowd. There was an entire section devoted to mushrooms. I was completely awe-struck and falling in mad foodie love.

We found Cowgirl Creamery and order a grilled cheese and cheese platter. While I waited for the food, Bowerbird hopped on over to Blue Bottle to stand in line for coffee. At this point, there was no way we were leaving San Francisco, let alone go on in our day, with our proper *caffeination from flipping Blue Bottle. I found him in line and we devoured our warm grilled cheese. I honestly don’t remember what it tasted like, but I’ll assume good. Then I abandoned Bowerbird to explore the Ferry Building more and drop off my fun postcards.  I fell in love with this adorable cake and sweets shop called Miette, where I picked up my nieces and nephew gummy brains and pumpkins for Halloween. By the way, I’m terrible at buying souvenirs and feel I’m failing as an aunt, but more on that later.

Dan and the mushrooms at the Ferry Building

Cowgirl Creamery Cheese Plate

New friend at the Ferry BuildingAfter Bowerbird had our coffees we headed outside to scarf down the rest of our cheese platter, because as I looked at the clock we only had 30 minutes before check out. Oh and our hotel is a 30 minute walk away!! I feel like Bowerbird and I are pro-sightseers, we try to absorb as much of our atmosphere as possible, like dry thirsty sponges that found a puddle in the desert. So we walked back through the Ferry Building making mental notes of our surrounding and snapped a few photos of it from across the street, then we walked as fast as our legs could carry us. We only stopped if the intersection was red, throwing caution to the wind if only the hand was red. Checking my phone periodically to see what our estimated time of arrival was, just as we gained time we lost it because we stopped to take pictures of the architecture. We managed to get to our hotel, out of breath, ten minutes before check out. Running up to our hotel room, I grabbed my client’s products to shoot in the lobby and Bowerbird took our bags down to the car.  We were back on the road by 12:15pm.

On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco Story

On the walk to the Ferry Building - San Francisco Story

Please check out the vlog I made of our adventure to the Ferry Building. I still dream of that hall of wonders.

*caffienation – is not a real word, but it is today!

photoshopped together

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NO MORE VLOGS for #ONTHEROAD1014

When Bowerbird and I headed out for our month long road trip across the country in October of 2014, I had purchased a new camera and was all excited to start vlogging. Vlogging is a form of blogging, but using video. Basically, home movies for the whole internet to view. Unfortunately, after our first week on the road, I thought the camera was broken, although it wasn’t, and only recorded clips on my cell phone. But that’s the thing, they are just clips – there isn’t enough material for me to create actual vlogs/ video diaries of the day. Sadly, I will have to keep the odds and ends of footage just to myself and family. Since I really don’t know how else to share it, if you have any idea’s feel free to comment below.

But like all failures, it opened the door to a great learning experience. Vlogging for the first time, while going on one of the biggest adventures of my life, helped me to build up the courage to vlog more. Over this last year, I’ve filmed and edited 25 vlogs. I’ve become comfortable walking around and talking into a little handheld camera, it might seem strange, but then this is my life and vlogging is fun for me!

I love to share my life, my story, and selfishly (as long as the internet doesn’t crash) in the future I get to look back at all this documentation of my life and just smile! Dementia isn’t an urban legend, especially in my family, so how wonderful would it be to have a collection of stories for my brain to return too. Reference points to jog a lost thought back into place.

Here is the playlist of videos I’ve made thus far covering the October 2014 road trip. Don’t worry though! Lots of blog posts are still coming, I have tons of photos. I’m a total dork, because I only thought the video recording portion of my camera was broken.

 

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Road Trip Adventure in Northern California : All The Signs in San Francisco

October 16, 2015 | Day 2 of #OntheRoad1015 ( previous day )

In Monterey, I woke up early to finish work for a client and write a blog post from the road recapping our engagement story. When Bowerbird woke up we headed down for the complimentary breakfast that was delicious and can be seen in my vlog of the day. We tried to head up to San Francisco as quickly as possible so we’d get a decent amount of exploring time in, but swiftness was not on our side. My over documenting / trying to take pictures of a product for one of my clients was slowing us down.

Once we were on the road, stress levels dropped and we just listened to the radio. San Francisco is only a couple hours from Monterey, so we arrived around 1:00ish. I had never been to SF and had no idea what to expect but I instantly feel in love with the architecture and signs. I took a lot of picture of signs. We had Spoke Art, a gallery that is friends with Thinkspace Gallery, in our GPS and made them our first destination. When I drive into a city I like to just have a destination in mind to make my center point, everything else is relative to “this place”. Usually, that place is our hotel or Airbnb but if I haven’t booked it yet – it could just be any location.

San Francisco Road Trip

When we arrived to Spoke Art I was completely turned around, the rolling streets and tall buildings had me totally disoriented. The gallery was showing new work by Stella Im Hultberg, who I adore! It’s always nice when a good show is going on while you’re in town. Spoke’s gallery assistant gave us a lot of great tips on other shows around the area, but we really wanted to make sure to see city hall. Since we parked in an expensive and awkward garage, we decided to make our next ‘center point’ the hotel and back into the vehicle we went.

We stayed at the historic Pickwick hotel, the room booked through hotel.com aka my favorite app of all time. Coincidentally, the hotel was RIGHT NEXT to the restaurant Bowerbird’s friend had booked dinner reservations, so I knew it was meant to be. SF parking is a little intense, not as bad as Seattle, but we knew this was a city made for walking. Once throwing down are things, we had 3 hours to explore before meeting up for drinks and that meant shoving as much site seeing in as possible.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

First stop was Vacation an awesome store with reasonably priced vintage and a super cool vibe. We chatted with the Shop Girl and her friend (I think one of them was the owner / co-owner) about crazy musicians and for directions to our next destination, City Hall. The interesting thing I noticed about San Francisco or at least the part we were exploring, was this insane dichotomy of social classes. One street would feel totally safe, while the next one over Bowerbird and I would make a note to not walk down again.  We were right in the heart of San Francisco and in retrospect I guess it wasn’t much different than walking around Downtown LA and stumbling onto skid row.

San Francisco Road Trip

City Hall was stunning! I wouldn’t have thought to go there except a friend of mine showed me the beautiful architecture inside. We walked around the hall and observed newlyweds getting their pictures taken. If I were to get a court house wedding, San Francisco City Hall is the one to get hitched in.

By the time we had shopped and visited City Hall we were a thirty-minute walk away from the bar we were to meet up with Bowerbird’s friend. Walking as fast as our legs could carry us, I spotted a Hearst H outside a very opulent looking building and it stopped me dead in my tracks. Another Hearst Building! We went inside very quickly and found out there was a bar underneath it called Local Edition. I was in love. Meeting up with Bowerbird’s pal Mr. M and being introduced to his girlfriend was such a warm way to spend our San Francisco evening. Mr. M was super excited about our engagement and “put it on my tab” was his new tagline. I feel blessed by the generosity of our friends. Anyways, he had told us initially he wanted to take us to Local Edition, but the line there for a drink is ridiculous. That didn’t stop my desire to see this place, so I politely insisted we go.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

Once down inside the bar and below the Hearst Building, I was in awe. Old newspapers were used as décor and vintage typewriters were affixed along the wall. I let Bowerbird and Mr. M stand in line for cocktails as I ogled typewriters and squeezed behind groups of people to get a closer look at the headlines on the wall. I had perma-smile taking it all in and wondering around the bar like a total tourist. By the time they finally got our cocktails we had to suck them down in 15 mins and walk on over to our dinner reservations at The Cavalier. Dinner was amazing and all my pictures from inside the restaurant suck due to the lighting. We ate and drank till we could go on no more.

It’s funny how all my photos of SF from this day are of signs or building. I was on a total typography high.

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

San Francisco Road Trip

Please check out my vlog of the day up on YouTube.

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