Winter 2015 the American South West calls. I search for warmth and quiet time to ponder new paintings and stories.
We allot three weeks away to drive some of the spectacular California coast between Carmel and Santa Barbara, settle for ten days in Palm Desert for sun, swim, yoga and reading, then to slowly make our way back home to Salt Spring Island. It becomes a leisurely drive of deep conversation, spawned by thought provoking pod casts. An awesome drive for the natural beauty that evokes silence and wonder.
The Oregon countryside is green rolling lush with tucked in farms, grazing sheep and cattle. The vistas to Mount Shasta, its majesty clearly defined sends shivers of remembrances for previous dreams triggered by this energy vortex. This time is no exception as reverie swallows me, I travel into the snow capped mountain to visit the Crystal Cave with towers of milky calcite lite from an inner source. A resonance sends chills down my spine. Drip drip, liquid lime echoes past me down a black corridor. At the cave entrance Lake Shasta is many meters below. Steep sloped muddy bank meet a flattened lake a shadow of its former self. My lucid dream fades as our drive descends to the California valley past Redding, almond farms in blossom and miles of lined up trees a human made harmony neat as a pin. Traffic builds from outside Sacramento to craziness as we bypass San Fransisco to Monterey. Tired, we arrive at sand dunes near the seaside town and take the first budget motel and crash to the sound of rolling waves very close. Next morning thick salted fog reduces our visibility. An ebb tide the ocean sounds far away. Enthusiasm high for exploring the art town of Carmel we set off. Mood bright, fog dissipates as we swing into the charming cottage suburbs of this quirky art colony. Luck on our side we find a charming motel two blocks from the main walking street. Our room with private balcony is a sun catchment in the late afternoon. For two days I explore galleries and back alleys photographing yesteryear English style shops with fat chimneys, and flower boxes full. Rested from our drive thus far and with a packed lunch for the Big Sur Highway we shove off several days later to drive the most exciting stretch of road since the rugged Amalfi coast in southern Italy a few years ago.
Destination, the south western desert, the land of The Cahuilla people. It is now home to thriving golf, tennis and resort communities. Circles of green habitation dot arid landscape from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea.
Roadrunners flash past cactus, rabbits burrow under rocks, crows and hawks still inhabit the natural environment despite development. Life here is sustained by a huge underground water reservoir. Giant wind mills extend for miles along the highway from Los Angeles to The Salton Sea and whirl from heat resonating off desert floor and breezes from the San Bernardino Mountains.
My retreat time in the desert balances two worlds. By day, sun and heat nourish my body. By night, stars more brilliant awaken stories that become chapters in the book of my life. For several weeks days and nights blend as I capture the essence of dream wisdom in my writings. I deliberately feed myself lightly, fruit, vegetables, yoga, meditation and many swims a day. Our conversation is of the beauty around us, and our awareness of feeling soft.
Our return drive north is punctuated with side trips. We spend days exploring wonderful Joshua Tree National Park. A communion of erosion strewn rocks, strange cactus trees and a heart beat in the land. Tactile tapestry weave into my thoughts as abstract paintings dance in my consciousness. I have always loved rocks. I feel they are friends emitting ancient songs. I have several stone books I read every night as the rock tents in the desert are a destination.
Outside Quartzside, caravan round ups attract rock hounds. Crystals, semi precious stones, fashioned into jewelry or in the raw inspire me. I purchase what really speaks to me for my clients. Slim polished rock pendants attract together with my heartfelt connection to the rock hound who sells them to me, I am excited to put together a display in the gallery to offer the spirit warmth these stones imbue.
Driving north through The Mojave Desert to meet the I-5, I marvel at the expanse of arid land. Foreign to our moist northwest it is curiously endearing. The stretch of uninhabited vista a breathing space from human distraction. It is a wide open embracing energy that attracts me.
Northward we rendezvous at an exit near Redding and drive west through forest to the North California coast. Trinidad, a small coastal fishing community has a stunning beach. Rollers from far in the Pacific are interrupted by jagged rock islands. Zigzag coves along this shore give sanctuary for fishing boats. A lighthouse proud surveys a glimmering sea to wrinkled edge of land.
We come across a herd of Roosevelt Elk, a large buck in full antler guards his herd from the forest edge. They seem placid, and we understand this is a place they often come to rest in a meadow by the sea. We search out mini drives on our route north to get up close to the giant redwoods. Sunroof wide open, I lie back to view the world of giant conifers set again brilliant blue. It is special afternoon without rain or mist this northern forest usually is enveloped in.
We join up to the Oregon coast by Cannon Beach. Overnight we listen to distant thunder of water to sand. The town is sweet. Greyed shake siding, beachy themed buildings together with classy signs and well trimmed out streets. The beach a walkers paradise is my morning destination.
It has been three weeks. Our lazy driving days come to an end as home urges us onward. Our reservation on The Coho ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria is early morning. We make a push forward driving the final distance for our last night of a winter holiday.
The ferry ride only an hour and a half we sail over glassy calm sea across the Juan de Fuca. Victoria harbour is graceful, British and welcoming in the morning sun. I did have a laugh as I stood at the bow on our approach to our city, a young American girl urged her friend to come quick to the railing to view possible icebergs as we approached Canada.
As I think back on our road trip, it is with awareness of the diverse beauty of our north and south west. I love it all!