somewhat visually awestruck and mentally overwhelmed by impressions.
We drove through mountains and desert:
and then drove the initially straight and then whacky southern coast of California, both metaphorically and geographically. From Julian, so American and apple pie that they proudly sponsored an unmanned drone, to Hippie Hill in San Francisco, where as long as you didn’t poop in public, everything seemed vaguely condoned:
None of it seems sustainable. But Hippie Hill sure felt like a better approach to tolerance, and even if one were a firm believer in American might making right, it doesn’t follow that you need to wrap yourself in a flag and hate potheads.
Sorry to suddenly be a downer, but the desert didn’t use to be a desert, excepting the high desert and the uniquely beautiful Joshua unfortunately wall to wall RV’s and no privacy despite the incredible vastness of it all Tree National Park, and you can feel it encroaching .. every new subdivision and mall world full of flushing toilets and washing dishes and North American fastidious showering … and the cars … we got to be HOVers, because there were 2 of us. Now for one, HOV is such a peculiar acronym that it must preclude half the population even understanding it. Not everyone speaks high occupancy vehicle decoding language, si señor, bon jour …. how about a graphic showing a head count? We seem to have a number on a car and also smarmly allow “green” vehicles, those electric cars powered by coal and nuclear as well as massive dams.
Apparently I am slagging Americans without full justification but according to the web I am not completely insane and we might have seen signs that just said HOV without a cute little graphic. And you also are moving to give special access to the rich and virtuous.
But lets skip over the accuracy part and stick with impressions. Much easier on the brain, and allows me to mention that when it was becoming clearly impossible to park anywhere near the beautiful Muir Woods, it being Valentine’s Day and free entry which we hadn’t remembered to notice, we turned back so kind hubby could drop me and my wounded leg at the entrance and drive for miles and then run back, while I started to explore. And while I took pictures of people on dates with their phones, he lucked out and found a close parking spot and noticed a VrtuCar parked illegally and getting a ticket. They actually had electric plug in parking spots with the handicapped spots, so why the more virtuous driver didn’t show off and displace the handicapped at the main entrance, but chose to park on some of the only remaining grass, will never be known. But it did remind me of a podcast about human behavioural economics and how people who bought and drove green cars would be more polluting in the rest of their lives than others. Like giving to United Way at the office …
Which brings me back to my HOV rant:
Because for two, it only takes 2 people to be counted as a HOVer and we could be on a four or five lane wide section of highway surrounded by LOVers. You could smell the ozone and it was only February. August must be insane. But where are all these single drivers going? Why aren’t there fewer cars with more people in them? Or what about designing worlds where people don’t live in house enclaves surrounded by highways leading to shopping enclaves and working enclaves? The entire automobile industry has been massively subsidized by the paving of North America. We started watching an almost good series on Netflix about how the states got their shapes, called How the States Got Their Shapes [it is online at the link [edit to add: maybe not but it is on Netflix] and it turns out it was a presidential grand idea to pave the states, odd numbers going north south and even numbers going east west. And here were we driving up highway 1, as much as possible. Taking advantage of what was a terrible idea, born of war time thinking when grandiose problems changed everything. It was the difficulty of getting troops across the country that started them all planning the grid and it is a sad fact we have to live with. It also turns out, according to the beginning of episode 4 or 5 [edit to add: it was episode 6, Living on the Edge] … sleep overtook us … that there are vast amounts of the west that the federal government owns, including most of Nevada. And Area 51 sounds like just a decoy …
And when it comes to where are all the trees, I married into ancestral guilt. Some of my hubby’s ancestors made a considerable amount of money logging the Georgian Bay in the late 1800’s and next door to the lovely little cottage that his parents still live in is a building we have always joking referred to as the bungalow, despite it being two stories tall. We actually stayed there for three days over Christmas many moons ago, the last year before the bungalow was sold out of the family, and it was unoccupied. My father-in-law pulled it off and much of the family made it. The family money has slowly dissipated, but the point still bears a family name, and one branch had a bundle in the 1920s and designed and build the 11 bedroom:
two living room, one upstairs:
and one downstairs, complete with a polar bear skin rug on the floor:
eight bathroom bungalow straight out of Gatsby.
The living room had/has enormous Rosewood beams that were shipped from California … I remember the story. The wallpaper had been hand-painted in France and only the 2nd last idiot owners finally took it all out because it was “so dark”. It was a plant motif, but full plants … magical and could have been cleaned. A player piano with its own nook with built in cubby holes for the music rolls. You can see it to the right of the Christmas tree, which looks surreal in the space bellow the open staircase, with the wallpaper gently swaying:
There was a table on the porch with a tile mosaic of tiny flowers, imported from Italy:
But it was all just the natural wealth of a new continent fuelling madness, and the current owner is actually (or maybe the title has finally been stolen) the losingest driver on Nascar and is a …. He has an enormous grey cigarette boat, and after taking out the pool the previous owners installed, has finally put a pool back in.
It is too much. And I know we were part of the problem, taking flights and driving vehicles. We kept thinking how beautiful the coast would be from the water, and today we are actually paying for the sailboat … next time maybe we can be less of the problem by being in the solution, if you get my drift.
But here am I, being part of the problem:
and so glad to be alive. Merci beaucoup and gracias, and truly, thanks for all the fish.