In September my husband Vere and I rented an RV and took a two-week trip around California. We went up the backside of the Sierras, crossed over and then came down the California coast. There were some places where the summer fires still burned, the smoke turned the sky dark, and some roads were closed due to the fires. Despite that, it was a good trip that allowed us to have a vacation without air travel, hotels, or being in close contact with any group of people. It also gave us the opportunity to enjoy this varied and beautiful state with its deserts, forests, and coastline. I wrote as we went along, noting the three changes of scenery and the following is the result. Enjoy.
Our rattle-roller coach cruised along the road
pushing past where a desert spectacle showed.
Scrub of burro-bush and rabbitbrush grew wide
along with creosote and mesquite all dried.
But the yucca stood tall and the sage showed green,
while buckwheat bloomed white in a rolling ravine.
How stubby the shrubs in their scrubby display.
How expansive each plant spanned wide in its way,
softening the scene in their drab olive gray.
More scenes scanned our sight as the road did rush by,
but were blighted by smoke without a blue sky.
For fires had raged in the few weeks just passed,
leaving places scarred and horizon brown cast.
Adding to bleakness, black lava rock was thrust,
rupturing the landscape as broken burned crust.
It rippled and jutted like fingers from hell,
reaching up to grasp light in its raging spell,
from earth’s darkest veins where red lava did dwell.
But all was not lost in this dismal wide plain,
for the scrub will soften and turn green with rain.
And crystal creeks that survive through the summer
bring a kind eye to the tourist newcomer.
With quenching trickles that keep live all that grows
from the short arid grasses to the rockrose.
And the stately saguaro with stickers bold
that flowers bright white with their centers of gold,
to the tan tumbleweeds that roll uncontrolled.
Then there’s the wildlife with burros brown and gray
that trod through dried mudflats and give a loud bray.
Soaring red-tailed hawks and running roadrunners,
red-headed sapsuckers that are true stunners,
tall-eared jackrabbits and bright blue Steller jays,
from black Angus steers, and swift mule deer that graze,
to antelope squirrel and large-eyed whipsnake.
Each shrub, stone, creature, and tree under sun’s bake
call this home in this place others would forsake.
Our crank along coach left the desert places,
heading north to forests and meadowed spaces.
Pines soared up with long brown legged, wrinkled barks,
all decked out in rich dark green robes, their hallmarks.
While branches displayed their fine purses of pine
with velvety mosses clung like wraps so fine.
And to meadows that opened where light could dance,
tall slender grass plumes waved gently in stance,
as autumn’s warm way might put one in trance.
Instead of burnt stone, boulders turned smooth and gray,
tumbling from mountains in grandiose display.
Then the forest became a National Park
where volcanic Mount Lassen stands tall and stark.
And Bumpass Hell bubbles and fumaroles howl,
although all amazing, it smells really foul.
But meadows abound with their creeks running free,
and peaks and summits abound with pine tree.
But the lakes are the jewels, the park would decree.
On further we traveled to more northern stops,
amazed at millions of trees and mountain tops.
Next day we went underground to Subway Cave,
all rough and vast of how lava can behave.
Then to Burney Falls for its cascading spills,
with fast flowing water that seeps through the hills.
Klamath River we followed and watched it go
where rapids hit rocks and splashed up in a show,
and its quick moving emerald waters did flow.
As the mountainous drives wound down to the coast,
redwood trees stood taller through their silent boast.
Draped by ferns, yellow meadows, and leaves falling,
stand the tallest of trees with autumn calling.
Their mysteries explored on path and sky rail,
each vista surpassed the last without fail.
Then rippling dunes stretched along the sandy floor
and churning waves did collide with the seashore,
while jagged tidal rocks produced a great roar.
Down the coast were roadside attractions for fun.
There’s the one-log house, and wood sculptures were done.
On Confusion Hill there’s the gravity house
to confuse any man and even a mouse.
There’s grandfather tree that escaped the wood mills,
and it’s said Big Foot once came down from those hills.
Then botanical gardens to sooth the eye,
give stretch to the legs and more, and here is why,
for flowers can heal with an in breath and sigh.
Highway One’s obsessive journey with its curves,
maintained well by crews that reserves and conserves.
Then fresh oyster snacks from local oyster shacks,
to Fremont Peak to rest that night in our tracks.
Another day of cliffs along Highway One,
dramatic scenes as we made our south coast run,
to see churning seas as they hit land with foam.
On past the missions and Henry Miller’s home,
enjoying views on our California roam.
Then in San Obispo, on our last night’s spree,
we can smile at each other and both agree.
Each habitat has charm from what’s dry to wet.
The desert, the woods, and the sea did beget
a sense of a gotten good feel for the state.
There’s no denying its nothing short of great,
giving majesty to artists to render.
For two travelers that just hoped to surrender
each had its lure, its richness, and splendor.