The day started with Meg and I wondering what the hell had happened out there. Since going live on vrbo and airbnb a few weeks ago we’d been getting one or two inquiries a day. A chunk dropped off the radar after my initial reply (something we started getting used to), but most sputtered on for a few back and forths, and so far we’d had three paying guests. But for the past week, nothing. To be sure it wasn’t a short circuit or some other malfunction in the listing site’s software, I ended up sending a few test messages this morning. No glitches with vrbo, I discovered. Ditto airbnb. Everything working fine on their end. I’d just become very unpopular. :-/
We hunkered down after breakfast and fleshed out our Yelp page with a dozen more photos, added an entry on Flipkey, put up a page on Yahoo Travel and submitted information and a photo to be listed on Trip Advisor. We weren’t desperate or anything. Just wondering HOW THE HELL DO YOU TARGET TREE-HUGGERS AND NATURE FREAKS?! Biker forums, gay-lesbian travel groups, and other folks we consider appropriate for the bnb are all on our radar and worthy targets for promotion, and groups we are figuring out how to reach, but by 2 pm we’d had enough copying and pasting of artwork and the constant writing of captions and said to hell with it, let’s go for a hike!
We aimed for the Boy Scout Trail, an awesome zig zagging trail that starts on Howland Hill Road and moves from scrub to fields of fern to an awesome stretch of super huge redwoods but last minute opted for the closer-by Hiouchi Trail. We’d once started the Hiouchi trail at the Ruth Perry Hatton Grove trailhead further west but gave up three fourths of the way in. This time we parked at the Hiouchi bridge — the official start of the trail — and made a promise to go all the way to Mill Creek where the trail ends (with options to cross Mill Creek into Stout Grove or go south onto what morphs into the Mill Creek Trail).
Our goal was to leave the focus on fitted sheets, leaky faucets, and dry rot behind. The trail started out like a double shot of tequila. From the parking area you’ll need to scramble up about 60 steep steps join up with the existing feeder trail. That burst of energy helped us disengage from the mundane and pretty soon it was just us and the trees. Some kids were swimming in the river, hooting and hollering, and the sound of cars over the bridge was still present, but about a quarter mile in, the sound of the river shooting over a stretch of rocks drowned out all other sounds. And after those riffles, the only sound was the wind and occasional bird. The trail climbs to an overlook with a bench that invites rest and contemplation but we cruised on toward Mill Creek. I’d stopped before at the grove by Mill Creek, on a float down the Smith in April. The old growth grove there is similar to Stout Grove but without the people. With no road access, the grove is a secret only the locals and hikers know about. Meg and I made it to the end of the trail no problem — it’s one of the easier hikes around — spent a good while eying the tree tops and walked a bit further along Mill Creek before turning around and heading back to the car.
On the way back we heard a cracking sound, looked at each other in concern then walked ahead, soon coming on a red-headed woodpecker hard at work and totally disinterested in us human types. He was really throwing himself into the task of looking for food in the tree. (How he could operate without getting a migraine totally baffled us.)
The hike took all of an hour and a half but gave us a small vacation from the to-do list of the bnb. Walking on trails softened by needles and earth, balancing as crossed creeks on logs or rocks, and staring up massive trunks of redwoods and guessing the height of these 2,000 year old giants helped to put the days chores and goals of this crazy new life of ours in perspective. Win, lose or draw, it was truly a gamble. So when I heard Meg shout over the sound of the vacuum cleaner later that day that “every day is an experiment,” I knew exactly what she meant.