Road Tales #2: Northwest to Southwest – Wet to Dry

Bored with the confines of Sauvie Island and eager for the open road, Rocinante Tres proudly reared her front tires and pawed the cool Pacific air. Flexing her horsepower and torque she lunged south down the verdant heart of Oregon hauling Hardscribble House II and the travelers George, Salli and Ella. The pace was a gentle lope. We were in no hurry, had no schedule, and we promised ourselves that unlike all previous road trips when we were too rushed and harried to stop and read the historical roadside markers, this time would be different.

We read or re-read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, a glorious little book that despite being half a century old remains as fresh, poignant and insightful today as it did when Kennedy debated Nixon. Steinbeck set out with his poodle - buddy to look for America, and what he found were the parents and grandparents of some of the same people we now meet along many of the same roads.

After San Francisco we scooted into Morro Bay for a few days, then to Malibu for a brief visit with yet more friends, more interviews, and an unexpected, delightful opportunity to see one daughter who dropped into LA for two days. Charged and renewed by the time we began our crazed dash over the LA highway-zoos and into the barren California deserts for yet more visits with yet more friends.

We have come to realize that we are blessed with dear friends all over the world, a network alive with magical memories and treasured laughter. We understand that the boundary line between family and friends is illusory, both are a meaningful part of our universe.

Of course, that promise was made before we actually hauled a 30-foot long, 12-foot tall, four-ton beast on the manic roads of America. Our promise of a leisurely journey was replaced with white knuckles and crazed eyes flitting between the rearview mirrors, dashboard, GPS and heart monitor.

When your rig is fifty feet long and you look like you are a Ralph Steadman illustration — ink splotched, wild-eyed, and screaming, you don’t willy-nilly pull off the road to read about where you are. You push ahead, shouting at anyone foolish enough to get in your way and cursing the three dimensions of chaos theory that define highways.

After a few days we packed and departed, aimed for San Francisco, more friends and dear family, and the place where Hardscribble would get its much needed roof repair. Roof repair, you ask? Yea, back at the very beginning of this adventure, a scant 23-minutes after taking possession of our yet unnamed RV, we parked beneath a tree that tore the roof and ladder and left us feeling mighty foolish about that damn third dimension.

For a few weeks we parked on the edge of the vast and violent expanse of the Pacific with its salty roar serenading our days and nights. It was a graceful time of catching up with both Salli and George’s families, and conducting a series of remarkable author interviews.

For a few weeks we camped alongside a desert reservoir, its rim framed by jagged peaks that one day showed hints of white as autumn turned to winter and snow caught up with us. George’s birthday was devoted to a full day’s drive through Joshua Tree National Park, a place that averages 4.57 inches of annual precipitation, and as we drove its length we saw most of that in the form of rain, sleet and snow.

Once again, Rocinante grew impatient and carried us farther east, out of California and into Salli’s birthplace, Arizona. The holidays were warmly spent in the company of her family, with a few days hiking hostile desert terrain made kind by a winter sun.

The New Year has brought a change of pace and travel style. We’ve stopped for the first time in over three months, parking Hardscribble and giving Rocinante a much needed pasturing. We’ve reached the Coronado Desert and a small and very delightful Arizona town, Patagonia, where we now make our headquarters for at least a month or two. We’re only a few miles from the Mexican border and surrounded by stunning views in every direction your head can turn. A few miles up the dirt road we live on is the San Rafael Valley, a place that swallows all sounds and makes your heart thump at a gentle rate, proud to live on a planet that can showcase such places.

We use our time here to hike, catch up on the editing of our movies and writing—and always in awe at the good fortune we’ve had to be here, to be on this journey, and to be alive, rich with friends and family.

The Authors Road is proving to be a Super Highway for our souls.

Crater Lake, OR

Looking at Pedro Point in Pacifica, CA where George grew up

Salli and Ella playing on the beach

Morro Rock in Morro Bay, CA

Cahuilla Lake, La Quinta CA

A Joshua Tree in Joshua Tree National Park, CA

A Yucca in the Colorado Desert, CA

Saguaros, Deem Hills Recreation Area, Phoenix, AZ

Salli walking the road in the San Rafael Valley, AZ

We begin to see trees in the San Rafael Valley as we climb into the Canelo Hills

A creek along the Arizona Trail in the Cornado National Forest

A glimpse into the Paulo Soleri studios

We stopped by architect and visionary Paolo Soleri's studio in Scottsdale after doing our only Phoenix interview. Still pumped and in awe what we had just experienced, we played with the bells made and sold here, and marveled at the buildings sculpted and formed to be at one with the desert.

So we cruised and cursed our way along I-5 to our first moorage at the home of dear friends near Crater Lake. Once Hardscribble was safely anchored we were free to explore and enjoy driving relieved of burden. One day the four of us, with Ella panting and shedding like a snowstorm in the backseat, drove the rim of Crater Lake, marveling at the raw and timeless beauty of America’s deepest lake, and a place that defines the color “blue.”