Friday, April 3, 2015

Return to California Part 2: NorCal

Last week I touched on some of Greg's and my SoCal moments (not nearly enough). This week we're heading to NorCal. Getting on that plane in Ontario for Oakland was so exciting for me!!! Though sadly, I was seated on the right side of the plane, which means I couldn't actually see San Francisco as we approached and landed. I really should have thought that through before sitting down. Oh well.

(Pro Tip: Southwest pairs its NorCal and SoCal hubs for cheaps. LAX and SFO, BUR and SJC, ONT and OAK. It was $69 one-way when we went, but now it looks like $73. Still a great deal. Don't cross the streams! Also Alameda county subsidizes BART and San Mateo doesn't, so getting from OAK is cheaper than SFO via public transportation, not to mention it's a smaller airport, thus easier to navigate.) 

Our heading after departing the Oakland International Airport was North. I decided long before Greg and I decided to visit California together that on my next trip I was going to see some Redwoods! And not the little ones some nerd from Google told me grow in Golden Gate Park. The big ones. My friend Sherelle, who lives in Eureka (and makes the best chicken strips ever), recommended we drive the Avenue of the Giants

I am so glad we charted that course! So many places to pull off and enjoy the scenery and marvel at the circumference of the trees. There was one so big, Greg and I lost each other walking around it. It was kind of incredible. I just kept circling, never catching up to him. I couldn't hear him. It felt like I was alone in that forest. Sort of like in a Studio Ghibli movie, actually, where magical things happen and nature sprites pop out of trees. (That did not happen. Alas.) The Avenue of the Giants followed the freeway, so it really didn't take us out of our way at all.

We rolled into Eureka after dark, met up with Sherelle, and headed downtown to check out Arts Alive!, when the galleries and other businesses keep their doors open to the public. Kalamazoo has something similar, the Art Hop, which I grew up going to with my grandparents (because they're hip, artistic people). Snacks, live music, street performers. It's a big party! And I love it. I wish Ann Arbor had something like this. (Sad face.) We also learned about the Kinetic Race, which sounds like an awesome event to witness! And participate in if you are that kind of person. 

Later that night, went out to a place known as the Edge of the World. It's up in the mountains above the fog line. We looked down into the valley where civilization was only visible via a faint orange glow in the clouds that I was told was the casino. Living in Michigan, I don't get to experience mountains often (the Porcupines are all the way in the UP). We had grabbed two free wooden pallets earlier in the evening and dragged them to the Edge where we broke them up and had a bonfire. 

We also played Werewolf, a game I've heard a lot about, but never actually played until then. Greg and I were still half on Eastern time, so it seemed even later for us than it was. Near the end I was so tired I forgot which killed and which saved people, thumbs up or thumbs down. Oh well. No one actually died. It's fine. Breakfast the next morning at the Samoa Cookhouse was awesome.

From Eureka, the three of us (me, Greg, and Sherelle) drove to Sacramento to meet up with more friends and more gaming. We drove through some very beautiful land. My favorite was Clear Lake. I had no idea California had such a large reserve of natural fresh water. It gave me some hope for the place. Then, of course, right after I got back to Michigan, I read all about how California has only about a year of water left. (Hello, Great Lakes! Looking so nice and fresh... and hands off.)

From Sacramento we headed back south to the Bay Area, and I think I'll reserve those adventures for next week. Let's allow the beauty that is True NorCal stand on its own. The culture is unique, artsy, and all its own. I like it!

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