I don’t really know where to start. Before my vacation last week I was at wit’s end. I was beside myself with stress and anxiety and exhaustion and feeling very lost, too. Now that I am back, a calmness has taken over. A certain clarity has shown me what matters most and what really doesn’t. Once again I find that folks in my life want to see me in a certain light, regardless of reality. I can do nothing to change that and so I let it go. Worrying about things I can have no control or influence over is pointless.
This past weekend was especially difficult and I think I was in denial about having to return to normal life again. The one thing that has kept me going is feeling loved. I feel very loved by the people in my life and I am so grateful for that. I don’t know what I have done to deserve these people’s presence in my life, nor their love and loyalty, but I shall never take it for granted.
I have not had a vacation in nearly six years until last week. I’ve done things and gone places, but none were truly a vacation. To feel the burden of adult life lifted from my shoulders for a few days was nothing less than fantastic. To spend five days and four nights with someone I love, respect, admire and okay, I’m a bit obsessed with, was wonderful. It all seemed too good to be true, quite honestly. But we had the best time.
Time is such a tricky thing, especially lately. Is it just me? It’s as though a day can feel both endless and fleeting at the same time. An hour can zip by in a blink and yet a minute can feel like a lifetime. It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was in Portland, Oregon for coffee school. Yes, I was there this past July for the NoLose conference, but if you’re a reader of this blog you know that was far from fun and was quite a harrowing experience for me. I did not get to see the city I love so much or enjoy it’s many sites and treasures.
This road trip was my Special Geek’s idea and I was so excited to go! It all seemed to good to be true, but it was and off we went! We’d planned out a bit of a zig zag for the first day’s stops and driving route. We love all things silly or hilarious or weird and we sought out sites that were a bit unexpected. This lead us to our first stop: Toad Hollow in Davis, California. This town has built a tunnel that runs under a very busy road/intersection just for its amphibious inhabitants. It’s actually on the side of the post office and if you didn’t know about it you’d be unlikely to find it. But we did and it was cute and fun and silly.
My guy is from the U.K. and spent the last several years in other countries. He’s been in the U.S. for a little over a year but has had no time to explore on his own and thus had never seen the more beautiful parts of California. I am a San Francisco bay area girl, through and through, but California, specifically Northern California, is the most beautiful place in the world (to me). The redwoods seem endless both in their height and vastness up there. I have always felt a kinship with redwoods, perhaps because of where I grew up or where my dad always took us camping each year, but I always feel at peace in a redwood forest. Driving through those woods, even in the dead and blackest of nights, was somehow therapeutic.
While it’s true we stopped other places, it is in the redwoods that I felt happiest. I say “in” because, well, we drove through one big redwood and then visited the “Trees of Mystery” shortly there after. The “tour through tree” is a big redwood with a big hole in it that you can walk or drive through. We first approached it with curiosity and wonder but were soon schooled by a couple of old timers who last visited the site thirty years ago. They were a hoot and a half! Hilarious faux-fighting between them on how and where to take the picture of the cute young couple they just met (me and my guy) and I was in stitches! They did take a couple of pics of us and guided us through the process of touring through that tree. Ha-ha!
The “Trees of Mystery” was my favorite stop. When you pull into the parking lot you see these giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox bff. We stopped there to ride the air tram thingy through the trees, but I may have enjoyed their trees of mystery a bit more. There were trees older than, well, most religions. Trees that were really several trees growing together or out of the same trunk. All manner of root structures and formations and mushrooms! I love mushrooms! They’re just, I dunno, cute! They invoke a sense of magic and wonder in me and will forever be associated with fairies.
We did finally ride the air tram through the trees and it was lovely. We literally whizzed by the tops of these great trees and I tell you the air was sweet up there! I am terrified of heights, or rather terrified of falling from heights, but the tram was enclosed and I didn’t feel so scared after all. I just felt sort of in awe of the trees and nature and the planet that we live on and how lucky I am to live where I do and see these things whenever I want. My tarot reading on my birthday last year instructed me to reconnect with redwoods. I finally got to fulfill that and I felt more complete after doing so. Silly? Perhaps, but I enjoyed every moment.
I had a small mission to accomplish before we got to Portland. I had to stop in Eugene to visit this special cat. I know, “A cat?!” but I got to spend some time with this cat and my bff “Q” nearly took him home when we were in Eugene in July. Known by some locals as “Denny” because he resides at the local Denny’s off Hwy 5, I had a can of Fancy Feast for the cat otherwise known as “Eugene” by me and “Q” and was determined to find him again. When we arrived at the Denny’s it was freezing cold out and I was uncertain if an independent cat like Eugene would still be around in such low temps. We looked around and nearly gave up but decided to have a piece of pie before we left. And while I was eating the worst piece of frozen pumpkin pie I’ve ever had (which is to say, it was still edible), I looked out the window and who did I see? None other than that lovely orange tabby, Eugene! I was elated! I text “Q” to let her know. After our pie we headed outside to find and feed that little bugger. But lo and behold, he had a whole set up for the winter! A kitty igloo and towels and food and water. Why, this cat had a pretty great life. Not only that, he looked fatter than he was in the summer! I fed him and then pet him and he was so soft and fluffy. This is no typical stray cat. This is a special cat! He said his thanks for the fancy tuna after gobbling it down and I said my goodbyes. It was a really special moment. I was touched and moved and so happy that this little creature has the life that he does and that I know he’s happy there.
Then it was on to Portland for fun and enjoyment. First stop? Fat Fancy! Even before we found or checked into a hotel or even stopped for a bite to eat or gorgeous espresso to drink, we stopped at Fat Fancy first! I’d heard about Fat Fancy for ages but never had the opportunity to go. Now that they have their own storefront I was giddy as we found ourselves downtown and then parked the car nearby. I won’t lie, part of me envisioned it as the fatty clothing store in the original Hairspray movie with cupcakes and doting salespeople and whatnot. But in many ways it was better than that. The store owner/s are fabulous and friendly and just great people. The selection was eclectic and fun and the service very personal. Not only did I get a fitting room set up for me, but she also picked out some items for me to try, too!
I tried things I never would have picked for myself but also some funky pieces that I did pick specifically because they “are so not my style” ha-ha! I ended up with a cute sweater with birds on it (it is Portland, after all! Ha!) and this gorgeously soft, leather, cream Ashley Stewart motorcycle vest that I have no idea what to wear with but I had to have anyway. I got a peach sheer flawy Torrid top that isn’t my style, but I will give it a whirl and see what happens. Then I got a bunch of necklaces, pins and I bought a barrette worn by Beth Ditto!!! OMZ! I would have bought everything that previously belonged to her but that gorgeous lady must have some tiny wrists and a deep love of bracelets! Ha-ha! I’m quite pleased with my barrette.
Since we got to PDX the evening before Thanksgiving, our options were limited a bit. I wasn’t concerned, though. I was in a gorgeous city that I love, with this gorgeous fella that I love and was just pleased as punch! We found and checked into the hotel (we had no reservations for this trip, just winged it) and hit up Gustav’s for my required German food intake. Ha-ha! It just so happens that they had only changed the menu two weeks prior to our visit. Sad times. No blackberry margarita, no farmer’s schnitzel. Substitutions were had and were good, but not loved as the previous dishes and drinks were. Oh well.
That first night we also hit up a local arcade called Ground Kontrol. Basically? After 5pm it’s $5 for 21+ adults to get their classic game on and it is the best thing ever! My guy and I are into pinball and classic arcade games so this place was paradise! Plus they had three kinds of hard cider, so my bases were covered! Ha! We played several pinball tables as well as have a massive duel on Pac Man and Q-Bert…So fun! It was super sad the following day when the place was closed and the streets deserted, but you could still hear all of those lovely machines and their songs and sound effects echoing into the cold misty air.
Thanksgiving morning we got to eat at Mother’s and while waiting for a table when you’re hungry is never fun, Mother’s texts you when your table is ready and so we got to walk around the neighborhood a bit until they did. The food was marvelous! The decor was inspiring (for me anyway) and the company was perfection! Since most everything was closed we simply explored the city in our rental car and stopped for a couple of photo ops. That night we watched “The Heat” in the hotel room (hilarious movie) and I had most of a bottle of Malbec (red, Argentinian wine, lovely).
My return to reality and my life and my house, while not seamless, hasn’t been horrible. I still need to unpack and tidy up my room, but I am planning on doing a little bit each night this week and hopefully reconfigure my room, as I mentioned in a previous post, very soon. I did hit up Torrid on Sunday and snagged some killer deals which only reminded me that I need to clean out my wardrobe and keep only what I know I will wear. I’m not sure what the future, immediate or distant, will bring or hold for me. I don’t know how much writing I will be able to do this month. Fatty Affair has been postponed until I can find a new and suitable venue for it. There is so much that I want to do and see and experience, but time and access, as always, are the issue. I am taking things day by day and moment to moment right now. Keeping all the goodness in the world in my heart and wishing you all so much love and goodness in your lives, too.
Rad Fatty Love to ALL!