16 May 2016

May 16 - Dunes, Redwoods, and the Recipe for Happiness

Every place we go on this trip I think, "My parents would love this."  And though the thought of any more human flesh inside this RV makes me want to pull out my already thinning hair - I do wish they were here.  Honeyman State Park is no exception - they would love this place. It's all tall pine trees, blooming rhododendrons, soft moss, and prehistoric-looking ferns.  

The other treasure of the park is the dunes. This morning the four of us went on a walk to explore.  "Like a sandy moonscape," the guidebook said, and it's not wrong.  The horizontal distance of the walk was short, but there was some serious elevation change, all of it over shifting sand - quite the workout.  At the top of the great dune, a huge sand bowl spread out in front of us, crisscrossed with ATV tracks.  And beyond that, the ocean.

Back at the campsite we prepared the cabin for take takeoff (it's getting faster every time!) and got underway.  We stopped at Cape Arago State Park, where Pax and I explored a short path to an overlook where we could see - mostly a distant writhing brown mass that we were told was seals.  The visual was a bit of a strain, but the really cool part was hearing them, which we could actually do from the parking lot.  They made quite the racket!

They boys were napping in the RV, so Pax and I sat at a picnic table and played with our toes and wrote in our journals, respectively.  It was exactly that blissful beach feeling you hope for - the calm and the sound of the waves and the view of the ocean - without having to get in the pesky sand.

We stopped in Bandon, OR, which was underwhelming.  Bear purchased a plastic bucket and shovel that he is so wildly enthusiastic about that I wonder why we bothered taking him on this trip rather than leaving him at home in his cousin's sandbox.

After another beautiful vista stop, we were getting hungry for dinner, which is always evident by the level of screaming inside the RV reaching a crescendo.  After telling Bear for the 18th time that he needed to put on clothes to go inside the pizza place (he prefers to travel in underpants only), I had a stroke of genius and sent Benjamin inside to retrieve pizza and bring it back to the RV.  While we waited, I nursed Pax and plopped Bear in front of the iPad.  When Benjamin came back with the food, I was feeling significantly less homicidal.

As a result of our slow pace and many stops, it was getting late when we pulled into our campsite for the night.  It seemed even later than it was because the trees blocked out the light.  And by trees I mean giant redwoods.  Holy.  Cow.

Pictures can never do these trees justice.  The forest is verdant and soft - the light softened by filtering through the dense canopy, the ground carpeted with needles, and any remaining hard edges are padded with thick green moss.    In the guidebook I learned that this park (Jebediah Smith Redwood State Park) is where the Endor scenes from Star Wars were filmed - and it does indeed look like we could stumble upon an Ewok settlement at any time.  It would not be the least bit out of place.

 I have been struggling with my mood a fair amount on this trip.  Over the past couple of years my depression in general has been much more manageable (thanks, Prozac!).  But this trip the irritability has been often getting the best of me.  Though the triggers are equal parts my husband and my three year old, I spend more time than I would like just awash in a general sense of rage at everything. I mostly take this out on Benjamin, which I'm pretty sure is exactly what all those self-help relationship books tell you to do.  I often feel the overwhelming crankiness coming over me and feel like there is nothing I can do to stop it and it just feels awful.

I woke up in this kind of mood here at Jebediah Smith Redwood State Park despite being, you know, in the middle of a gorgeous redwood forest on an extended vacation with the people I love most in the world.

So I fought back. I got up, took my Prozac, made coffee, and went for a run.

I estimate the run was 2-3 miles, but I have no idea, I did not bring my phone or map a route.  I saw many beautiful things, but I didn't take any pictures because again, no phone.  But I saw the things with my own eyes and I smelled the thick forest smell and I felt my feet thump over the carpet of pine needles.  I ran first through the campground, watching everyone get up and start their stoves and their camp fires and come out of their tents stretching.  I watched a pair of sisters shuffle to the bathhouse in their pajamas, clutching their toothbrushes and already starting to giggle at each other.  I saw camping families with plastic tablecloths on their picnic tables making pancakes on their coleman stoves.  And then I turned onto a little nature trail that was completely deserted and for a few minutes I was alone in the forest with just my breath.  The path curved around back through the campground and along a ridge that ran above our campsite - I looked down at our camper to see if their were signs of life, to see if I should be heading back.  But all was quiet and I was struck by how this tiny little vehicle held our little family and how small we are in this big world, under these big trees.

It is not a mystery, what makes me happy.  It is coffee, prozac, endorphins, reading, and family.  This is not the most complicated recipe.  This is something I think I can manage to cook from scratch.


  1. <3 this. <3 you. So glad to be able to be a part of this experience through your beautiful writing. xoxoxoxo

  2. Ditto what Casey said. xo