She deserved an upgrade. A window seat, not an aisle. Poached eggs, not scrambled. Homemade, not packaged. And so we endured the long hours behind the wheel and many bumps under our butts. Almost nine hours on the road but we made it from the hard-pack asphalt of San Francisco to the fern-laced sod of Hiouchi in a little over eight hours.
My dad would have captured the route like this: “Leavenworth Street to Bay, will ya? Then it’s north at the Golden Gate, buddy boy. Then a straight shot north to Crescent City and the lights of Hiouchi. And don’t stop driving till you get there.”
And so we didn’t.
Meg and I had closed shop for the weekend and headed south, intent on checking in with Rhoda after she’d been laid low by the flu. Nothing dire. But at 92, well, worry comes pretty easy.
We’d planned the trip a week or so earlier but hadn’t thought beyond bed checks and some of the old gal’s bourbon (we knew where she stashed it). When we arrived, though, she looked down. Woozy. Too much distance in her eyes. Like she’d given up. Like maybe it was time to show her the Smith, try a new recipe on family not guests, and gather round a table not a TV.
So we bundled her up, stacked the walker and wheel-chair in the back seat and pointed the car north. That she never looked back was probably as much a function of the arthritis in her joints as it was a sign. But she didn’t.
There were a few naps, some wonderment at the ocean and trees, and too many tacos at a food stand at the halfway point in Garberville. There was discomfort but no regrets.
And today, on a brilliant, breezy, unexpected day of sun when there should have been rain, the mother of the innkeeper and mother-in-law of Meg played cards into the night, read the paper by glorious sunlight, sat on the riverside deck of the bnb and just took it all in. The tallest trees on earth. Maybe the cleanest river. A perfectly placed bridge over a creek, itself too perfect to be real.
Seventy-two hours ago and 400 miles to the south, none of us could have imagined it.