redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for Northern California

Reflection on Time & Iselton, CA

Being behind on content, especially when it comes to travel is a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it forces me to revisit my adventures and look back fondly on them in a cloud of nostalgia. A curse, because as I edit photos and video footage I see the difference between my skill now versus then. A curse, cause I’m constantly dipping into the past and that’s not very healthy when it comes to being happy in the present. A curse, cause new memories are being layered on top of the old ones and distilling information into a new story.

Next up on my content calendar for YouTube and my blog was when I visited Iselton, the hometown of my Bachan. I was incredibly close with my Bachan, and was proposed to with her ring. Earlier this summer I went on a pilgrimage to Tule Lake concentration camp where she was detained during WWII for being Japanese. As I edited the footage from my 2015 Pacific Northwest road trip headed for Iselton, I ended up capturing Mt. Shasta on film. At that moment when filming the mountain and scolding Dan for trying to take a picture and drive at the same time, I had no emotional attachment to that mountain. Now, in 2016 after going on the pilgrimage, I see that mountain as a landmark for the hundreds of Japanese who were shipped off to Tule Lake, completely lost and confused as to what may lay ahead.

Iselton is a rundown small town that holds historical significance as one of the first thriving Japanese and Chinese communities pre-World War II. I found a fascinating paper on Iselton that I’ll link to here, as it will highlight the history of the town much better than I could. We went to Iselton looking for a building that could possibly be my O-Jichan’s (great grandfather’s) boarding house and soda shop. A few buildings were pointed out to us as potential sites, but nothing confirmed. On one side of main street was the formerly Chinese neighborhood and the other side was the Japanese side. Today the Japanese side is falling apart, while the Chinese side has a new museum and a few of the buildings are newly renovated. But mostly this little main street was a shadow of its former self, families now using the store fronts as housing.

We fortunately had the opportunity to walk around main street with a board member of the Iselton historical society, and she graciously answered as many of my questions to the best of her ability. Sadly, I didn’t film any footage of our tour. Honestly, I just felt too uncomfortable to film. Now, I’m disappointed with myself as all the details of our time there has now fallen through the cracks of my memory. I should have at least recorded audio – something to remember for next time.

Iselton 13 Iselton 14 Iselton 12 Iselton 11 Iselton 7 Iselton 9 

Also in my vlog I remark on how I found my Bachan’s records of being at Tule Lake. I had completely forgotten about that and I’m not entirely sure what records I found. But yesterday, my mother did send me my Bachan’s official Tule Lake records; documents that include medical history while at the camp and a letter of recommendation to her “Americaness” from a former employer.

The past can be painful but it’s powerful, it lays the foundation for who we are and who we will become. I’ve now seen the hometown of my Bachan and my Grandpa (my Dad’s father). I’ve seen how these once middle class vibrant towns have been beaten down by time. I’ve seen the metaphorical dirt in which the seeds of my story was planted and how my family has grown, following the line and realizing where I am on this tree is very far from where it originated.  As I dip into my own past adventures, seeing where I’ve been and who’ve I’ve met along the way, I’m reminded I am growing and living my best life. Day to day I can become restless, anxious, frustrated by the present. But if I’ve learned anything from my adventures it’s that time waits for no one. Time will pass anyways and it’s what we do with time that shapes our present and future. It’s how we experience every minute, every hour, every day that adds up to the sum of our life. It’s not just the roadside attractions and destinations that make up the memory, but the in between parts to and from places as well.

Iselton 8

Iselton 4

Iselton 6

I was going to do a separate post just outlining my thoughts about my plans from now till 2017, but I think it’s more fitting to put it here. Since I’m talking about time, the past and present etc. I obviously have trouble with past content versus posting in the present. Publishing a story that happened 2 weeks ago is completely acceptable, 2 months ago sure why not, but 2 years ago just seems lazy. And I have a lot of feelings when it comes to completely abandoning stories that I have every intention of sharing, even though it’s not even remotely current. So I post with a non-existent timeline that may be confusing. and press publish with an attitude of “Hey it’s me take it or leave it” (awkward smile). I want to be more present for my blog and in my life. So between now and the end of year. I will be finishing the stories for my 2014 road trip, completing all the 2015 PNW roadtrip blog posts and videos, and finally getting to a few other miscellaneous adventures that are taking up space on my hard drive. Then in 2017 I start fresh. I have a 7 day turn-around, no more than 14 depending on external circumstance. My adventures in “real time”, then I can stop dipping into the past and instead relish in the present.

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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 : 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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