9:30a Morning Pages ~ Mendocino, CA
This walkabout/road trip is more difficult than I imagined. Trying to organize my day to accomplish what must be done leaves little time for extras. I thought I would do more hiking and exploring. I thought I would do more reading and writing. I even thought I would work through The Artist’s Way over these twelve weeks.
But by the time I figure out where I am going, drive there, and figure out where I will overnight, the day is spent. It does not help matters that the days are getting shorter. Unless I am in a legitimate campsite, I try not to draw attention to myself. That means no reading or writing after the sun goes down. Plus, with sunrise coming so late, I am getting a later start into my day.
I don’t say all of this with a complaining heart, though. I just need to reframe what this trip is about. I want to keep commitment to my morning pages, and I want to share my journey with my friends on social media. I want to be kind, to talk to people, and to be a blessing to everyone I meet. I want to enjoy the little things, like a hot cup of coffee in a ceramic mug.
I ordered said coffee this morning from Good Life Cafe, at the patio window. The server was a little short with me. I wanted to be irritated, but I caught myself. This is not about what I need or feel. Practice patience and extend kindness to all people in all situations.
The coffee was wonderful! I used a little milk this time, more for the extra calories than for the flavor. I sat in their cute outdoor nook and shared the beverage toast with Edward before he left for the airport. Justice was in my lap.
I adored Mendocino so much that I wanted to return this morning before heading to San Francisco. I met a travel writer yesterday named Robert W. Warner, who writes the site northofsf.com Gracious, older gentleman with kind eyes and a camera hanging around his neck. He features Mom and Pop shops on his site, a concept that is near and dear to my own heart.
He said hello to Justice, and she did not bark at him. He asked where I was from, and he told me I could download his travel guide for free. He covers California – north of San Francisco.
I wandered through town, teaming with local artists and hikers. There was a man painting the ocean at one of the picnic tables. Several galleries and artisan shops. I meandered through a network of trails and discovered a secluded beach. I really wanted to go walk that beach, but it was getting dark, and I needed to find my campsite. I stood on a tiny cliff in Tadasana. I felt a real sense of peace and renewal. I love this place. Thank you to Page Woodward for recommending it.
I thought I had a good campsite selected, but when I brought up the directions it was over an hour away. The road in was described as unpaved and nothing I would want to navigate in the dark. Plan B?
I searched my freecampsites.net to no avail. Then I just typed “boondocking near Mendocino, CA” into Google and found a blog that gave me exact GPS coordinates to a pullout not far from me, right on the coast with an ocean view.
I plugged the numbers into my phone and headed that way. Thirty-five minutes later, I was squared off in front on an amazing view! There was another vehicle and an RV parked in the same area, so I had company and felt safe. The description allowed eight hours again, but I parked around 6:30p and did not pull away until 8a. The other two campers were still there, and we had been joined by another RV. I had internet and cell service, and I stayed warm all night.
There was a downside, but not with the location. I was curled up in the back, snuggled down against the sleeping bags for a couple of hours. I positioned myself so I could enjoy the view as the sun disappeared. When I decided it was time to get my “bed” ready, I realized I had gotten my back out of whack.
I had significant pain as I tried to move around. I had to take every motion very slowly to avoid making it worse. Turning myself overnight was necessary but painful. Re-organizing the car this morning was the same. This really cramps my style! lol But slow is the name of the game right now, and I suppose this is just a little insurance policy from the Universe.
Time to move on, headed south.
7:30a Morning Pages ~ Arcata, CA
I had to cut my morning pages short yesterday. I tried to wait out the storm on Bastendorf Beach, but by 9a it became apparent that there were not going to be “periods of rain”, but that it was not going to stop anytime soon. I needed to make it to Arcata, and I wanted to visit Moonstone Crossing before close.
I stopped writing and decided to break camp in the storm. The rain did finally slack off some – just about the time I was finished loading up the car.
My wet tent is my biggest concern right now. The bottom has a tight weave – that’s what makes it waterproof. You aren’t supposed to need a ground cover. There was a puddle of water in my tent when I rolled it up. It stayed right there! lol I couldn’t believe it. I loaded the end into the bottom of the dog kennel so that if it let go it would not saturate the back of my car. And there it sits.
At least I am not worried about it. Peace of mind is terribly underrated.
I did make it to Moonstone Crossing. I met Don, the winemaker. (Last time we tasted with Sharon, his wife.) He was not open, just in briefly to wash glass. He was so gracious! He let me taste, and he allowed Justice to roam around off-leash. I love everything and made it worth his while.
Had I been minutes earlier or later, I would have missed him. How’s that for a treat from the Universe? 🙂
The point was to get a couple of bottles of our favorites to share with Edward on New Year’s Eve. I did, and then some. I ended up with six, thinking he might offer me a half-case discount. Instead, he treated me like industry. I also bought two t-shirts, one for Edward and one for myself. The total charge with tax was just over $200. Wow! How generous! I even got a picture of us with Justice.
I tried to figure out how to stage the overnight in that wet, muddy car. The only nearby free campsite was a rest area just north of town, where you could sleep up to eight hours. I went and checked it out. Dogs were only permitted in a small grassy stretch along the road. There was no way I could tie out Justice and let her eat while I layed out my wet belongings. It was cold and windy, and I was cold and wet, and the chance of rain was 100%.
I decided to call in a life line and book a motel using my Amex points. I have enough points left for three more “emergency” or “refreshment” nights. I am grateful for the option.
It took me an hour to unload my car and lay out my stuff. Surprisingly, and thankfully!, my bags of clothing were not that wet. It’s a good thing I decided to bail them out of the tent when I did. I probably saved myself ten bucks and several hours at the laundromat. The room looks funny, with my stuff hanging here, there and everywhere. I opened up the Malbec and enjoyed the night catching up with Edward and Facebook.
I made a mistake with my morning pages yesterday that I don’t want to make again. I tried to multi-task. I tried to craft my Instagram post using them. It was awkward, not the wonderful free-flow I get and enjoy when I am just simply writing. I learned that the morning pages are for me and me alone. They aren’t for combining with other writing exercises. It was a good lesson.
I also have to laugh at myself for the predicament I put myself in at Bastendorf Beach. I was pretty well organized. I just felt like I wasn’t. And I wanted to be more perfect. I didn’t need to lug all of those things into the tent. I could have left nearly all of them in the car. Perfectionism cost me. But I walked away with a great story.
I love this! I love the travel and the adventure. When I read about being whole as a person, the experts advise you to do what makes you come alive, do what brings you deep and overflowing joy. This is that for me. I have to figure out how to keep doing this. I have to figure out how to make money and support myself doing this.
I am enormously happy right now. And I am staying engaged with my friends on Facebook – something I am challenged to do so frequently. I am figuring out how to organize myself so I travel, take in nature, write, and socialize. It isn’t easy. It takes effort and commitment… and an internet connection! lol
But seriously – God, will you please show me how to support myself with writing and travel? Please and Thank You! 🙂
8:30a ~ Morning Pages ~ Bastendorf Beach, Coos Bay, OR
I’ve never seen a tent fold in half on itself before, let alone from the inside.
I thought I had scored this amazing campsite right on the beach. I had planned on just sleeping in my car until I met another set of campers with a tent pitched. I checked the forecast again – 55% change of periods of showers, 53* overnight low, feels like 43*. Eh, it’s a lot of work to put the tent up just for one night. So I decided to pass.
Justice and I walked along the beach, and I saw lots of places where fire rings had been thrown together, where it was obvious people had made camp. I became enamoured by the possibility. I’ve never camped on the beach before!
It started getting dark around 6p, so I headed inside. I enjoyed a brief conversation with Edward, a dinner of cheese, jerky and crackers, and the fatigue caught up with me. I was drifting off to sleep by 9p.
I woke to the sound of rain a couple of times during the night. I smiled, as I like the sound of rain, but I also realized the tent would be wet when I packed it up in the morning. Oh well, that’s part of camping, I said to myself. I woke a third time to heavier rain and the sound of wind, and I felt more alert. I had only just learned how to attach the rain fly, and I had neglected to velcro the fly to the tent rods. I listened to the rain and the wind kicking up. I wished I had secured the velcro when I had noticed it.
I clicked on my battery-powered lantern. Then I watched the west tent wall begin to bow. Uh-oh. Maybe I should secure the velcro now… Nah, it will hold.
[2019: What followed was both frightening and exciting. I knew I wasn’t in any real danger, but I had drug all of my belongings into the tent that night in order to re-organize them. I had my books, my laptop, and important legal documents, not to mention every stitch of clothing I owned and my bedding. The possibility of having all of this saturated was akin to a waking nightmare, and I sprang into action.
I wrote a full accounting of this experience in my first book, GO: Sacred Solo Travel for Women, which became an international bestseller on Amazon. Excerpt below… 🙂
The mess in the back of my car keeps messing with my head. I have been four days on the road, and it is clear that I needed a better system for organizing my supplies. I am tired of digging around every time I need something. Life on the road is all about efficiency of time and space. I have figured out what I use most, and I want those things at my fingertips. I want the rest of it neatly out of my way.
I arrive on day five at Bastendorf Beach, where tent camping is permitted right on the shore. The day is calm and beautiful, and the overnight forecast calls for periods of light rain (a 55 percent chance). I scope out a site just beyond the dunes to avoid high tide, and I make camp. It’s still early afternoon with plenty of daylight, feeling like a perfect opportunity to re-organize. I move all my belongings into the tent, including my laptop and my books. I spend three hours unpacking and re-packing, according to my new road wisdom. Like does not always belong with like. Frequency of use is the new codex. I’m delighted by my achievement and line my bags in a neat row around the perimeter of my tent. This is going to make my life soooo much easier.
My work behind me, Justice and I enjoy a barefoot walk on the beach at sunset. The scene is serene, the sky painted in pastels and the sun dipping behind the gently lapping waves. Victorian doctors used to prescribe sea air as a cure for all sorts of ailments. In traditional Chinese medicine, the water element is crucial to balancing the body and creating physical harmony. Modern research reveals that bodies of water can produce a mildly meditative state that can calm and connect us, increase innovation and insight, and even heal what’s broken.
Reading by lantern in my tent this evening, I notice I have neglected to Velcro the rainfly to my tent poles. Today is the first time I have installed the rainfly, and I just shrug it off, remembering the forecast and feeling proud that I had actually been able to toss the fly up and over the massive tent by myself. The rainfly is tied down to the stakes, I reason, and that will be sufficient.
I snuggle down with Justice in my bag, fill my gratitude rock with joy and fall asleep smiling. I wake once in the dark to a light pattering on the vinyl above. The light rain has arrived. The sound is so lovely, and I fall asleep smiling again, so thankful to be here.
A new sound wakes me next. I feel disoriented. What’s going on? It is still pitch black out, I can’t see a thing, and a new kind of howling fills the air. Recognition floods my mind as I come fully into consciousness. The sky has erupted into a downpour, and it is the wind that is howling at me. Oh no. I have never camped in a storm before, and I have no idea how my tent will hold up. Anxiety grips me. My battery-powered lantern is still hanging from the loop overhead, and I jump up immediately, flail my hand above my head in hopes of running into it, find it finally, and click it on.
The tent sides are shaking under the force of the wind, the west side of my tent is bowing inward, and the rainfly is flapping violently. I imagine the wind ripping it right off, leaving all my belongings exposed to the rain. Shoot! I have to Velcro that fly down!
I throw on my raincoat and zip out the door of my tent. Justice runs out with me into the dark. Shoot! There is no way to control her right now. I hope she stays close. I wipe my hair out of my face and tuck it behind my ears under the hood of my jacket.
I still can’t see a thing. I feel across my tent and run my hands along the guy-lines of my rainfly to the stakes below. The stakes are being tugged up slightly every time the wind catches the fly from below. I feel along the seams under the flapping fly and find a Velcro strip. I pull the fly down tight and wrap the Velcro strip around the tent pole. I move to the next and do the same, feeling my way to each one by one, around the tent body, until each strip of Velcro has been fastened down to its pole. Now deal with the loose stakes.
With the door zipped open, the wind is rushing into the tent and blowing out the body, lifting the roof up and sucking it back down. I feel for the guy-lines again, pull them taut, and shove the stakes back into the sand, one by one around the tent. I don’t know if they will hold in this wind. The ground must be saturated by now. What am I going to do? Think, Sonya. Think.
I have bungee cords! I fly back into the light of the tent and tear open the bag that I think holds the bungee cords. I am hoping to secure the tent to something sturdier, like, a tree? I rummage through the bag but cannot find the cords. I pull everything out of the bag, and still no cords appear. Where the hell are my bungees? What the hell am I going to do?
I look around to figure out which bag is actually holding my bungee cords. I notice the wind is now blowing the west side of the tent into itself, literally. From inside, it looks like the tent is collapsing in half. I didn’t know a tent could fold itself in half. I didn’t know they are designed to do so during a major wind event. All I know is that my stuff is under there. I dive to the rescue under the bowing tent body, and I drag everything out to the east side of the tent.
The lantern rocks and falls from its loop above. I reach for it and pull it into my lap. Light is my only ally right now. The ceiling of the tent bends low and kisses my face under the power of the wind. My eyes grow wide at the sight of it, and I lean backward in horror, turning my cheek against it. It is crazy surreal, like the tent is trying to kiss me goodbye. Justice noses herself into my lap and under my hand, and I pet her, eyes wide, heart pounding. It’s just wind and rain, Sonya. I try to calm myself so Justice will stay calm, too. I watch the heaving tent body, listen to the pouring rain, and wait for the storm to slow, praying.
The print version of my book will be available soon! To order a signed copy, simply send me an email with the subject line “GO Book, Signed” to Sequoia1011@gmail.com.
7:15a ~ Morning Pages ~ Boiler Bay, OR
I parked overnight at Boiler Bay Viewpoint / rest area. It was an “unofficial” campsite listed on FreeCampSites.net. It was good to get an “unofficial” site under my belt right away – to calm the nerves over it. There was a review as recent as September of this year, a boondocker who slept here and said they were not the only ones to take advantage of it.
I felt reasonably good about it, better than I did about spending the money for Beverly Beach State Park, about seven miles south of here. Snapped a gorgeous picture of a hotel on the cliffside with crashing waves beneath.
Bagged down in the back of the car, I continued to hear the crashing waves, and from time to time rain would pelt the roof of my car too. It made me smile. I was warm and comfortable.
Cathy is giving me grief, and I can hardly take it anymore. First she messages me, telling me that what I am doing is extremely dangerous. Then she tags me in a post about a missing hiker in Oregon. I became more angry than I needed to and realized that by doing wo I was only adding fuel to her fire. I talked myself closed on the subject, turned my mind to gratitude and drifted to sleep. I guess the angry was still awake in me.
I had the strangest dream. I was sleeping in my car, lying in the exact position and at the exact rest area. I heard little children calling my name. How could this be?
I figured there must be another Sonya parked here, and I tried to ignore it. But the voices were insistent, and they called louder and louder. I got butterflies in my stomach. Could they really be looking for me?
Then I heard little hands banging on my windows, on both sides of my car, calling my name! Finally I opened my eyes, concerned and a little afraid.
I saw Deanna, Tony’s sister. I reached around the driver’s seat and opened the front door. I stayed in the back of the car. She slid herself into the driver’s seat. She was holding a baby. She had three other children – a pale boy, a dark freckled boy, and the curly-haired girl I once knew and adored.
They piled in the back of the car somehow, as I saw them there later in the dream. Deanna says to me, “I need you to leave here.”
I tell her, “No.”
I get the idea that she knows where I am because of my posts on Facebook. She tells me, “You don’t understand. He might find you.”
She has grave concern in her voice.
I believe she is talking about Tony. I say, “But I never knew him to be an angry man.”
The word “angry” gets stuck in my throat, and I have to say it twice. She reiterates that she needs me to leave, that it isn’t safe. I play with the children for a little while as we talk.
It was weird, and the dream came in the early morning hours. I had woken at 3a and had a hard time getting back to sleep. I guess I finally did, since I had the dream. When I woke from it, it was almost 7a.
It was still dark enough to need a flashlight. I was like, wha??? If it is 6:48a, where is the sunrise? It came slowly over the next several minutes as I gathered my sleeping bag, re-situated things in the car, and walked Justice (and myself!). There were two RVs and another vehicle who stayed overnight nearby. Good company.
I am concerned about the lack of sunlight during this trip. There is not much time to explore during the daylight anymore. I need to figure out how to maximize my time. I can burn my lantern when I am legitimately camped, with my DIY window shades for privacy, but I don’t feel comfortable doing the same at an “unofficial” campsite. I don’t want to draw undue attention to myself.
I decided to skip Beverly Beach today. It seems the only access is through the State Park Campground, which I am not paying for. Instead, I will head a bit further south to Newport, after spending some time at Depoe Bay. I hope to actually see some whales, and enjoy the onion rings that Mary told me about. I wonder if they sell onion rings for breakfast? I wonder if they will cost me my ten bucks for the day! lol I would love a cup of coffee too.
I used a pee cup in the car for the first time last night. It was raining, I was ready for bed, and I didn’t want to get wet. Brenna had given me a new travel coffee mug, so I decided to use my old one. It had a wide enough mouth on it, and it worked like a charm.
5:30p ~ Morning Pages ~ Hillsboro, OR
Yes, I know it is a little late for morning pages, but I stayed overnight with Brenna last night, and Sally was up early this morning, and I kept company with her.
I am officially on Walkabout, and I decided to keep a new journal of morning pages so that my journey is recorded in one place. I will chronicle my days and nights here.
I departed Spokane on Thursday afternoon, with my first stop in Walla Walla to see Pop before I hit the road. He made shrimp bisque and paella for dinner! Then we watched Whiskey Foxtrot Tango, a movie about a journalist who ended up in Afghanistan. It was pretty funny, and we had a nice evening. He is worried about me, but supportive nonetheless.
Day 2 I drove to Hillsboro, just outside of Portland to visit Brenna. She moved there in August, and I wanted to wish her well. She made dinner for us – Surf & Turf – with steelhead, steaks, asparagus, quinoa and brussels sprouts. I picked up a bottle of Pinot Noir for us to share.
I know one of the points of this trip is a departure from alcohol, but it seemed right, since she had really splurged on dinner, offered me a place to stay, and I had contributed nothing. She is rooming with family friends, Sally and her son, Matthew, who were very kind. It was nice to see her, and the couch was very comfortable.
En route to Portland, I stopped at Beacon Rock, very near the Bridge of the Gods. Tom Brown had texted me that is was a beautiful, quick hike along the Columbia River Gorge, if I had the chance to take it, and if it was not too windy/rainy. It rained most of the way, but cleared up about thirty minutes from the hike, so I decided to give it a go, take in the sight and stretch our legs.
It was just more than a half mile up a walkway of switch backs to the top of the 848′ basalt rock that was once a small volcano. I felt a bit weak-legged about halfway up, due to the height and narrow path, and I was happy that the guard rails lined the entire route. The views of the Gorge were indeed beautiful, and I got a couple of cute shots of Justice.
As we made our decent, I made notice of the rock face, and I ran my hands along it. It was deeply carved, like the wise, pronounced wrinkles in the face of a great-grandfather, and I thought of the sacred observer. What stories could this wise, old rock share with us? How has the river changed over all of these years? How have we people changed?
Day 3 took me west to the Oregon Coast. I had several ideas recommended by friends, and I just wanted to allow the day to unfold. I started at Cannon Beach, arriving about 11:30a. I was told to check out Haystack Rock, which was majestic against the shoreline.
I took my shoes off and walked into the water, adoring the feel of the sand beneath my feet. A wave caught Justice in the water too, which made me laugh. She barked at the dogs chasing tennis balls, and I thought how wonderful that I could share this with her. It also dawned on me that she would get to accompany me to Myrtle Beach this year! I am so tickled at that realization!
I had lunch at Mo’s Seafood, as I was told by three friends that I would enjoy the best clam chowder evah. lol I also ordered the oyster shooter, as hey, I am on the Oregon Coast and these were fresh from the Yoquina Bay. I wondered which chowder would be served, the red or the white, and I was delighted with a New England chowder that was steaming with clams, chewy but far from rubbery. I squeezed the lemon into my shooter and used the plastic wrapper from a pack of saltines to reserve it to flavor a bottle of water later. I scooped the shredded cabbage garnish into the shot glass with what remained of the cocktail sauce and viola! Hearty and oh so yummy lunch for ten dollars.
I tried to find a hike nearby that Mary loves, but it turned out to be in a fee park, and I didn’t want to pay the five bucks to get in, seeing that I had already bought lunch. The idea is to minimize cost (I figure $10/day is reasonable) and take advantage of the free gems to be found. There was a small park nearby, so Justice and I took a short stroll. There was beach access, and I sat on a large piece of driftwood to contemplate my next move. It was already nearly 1:30p, and I had wanted to reach Depoe Bay and Beverly Beach, which were about two hours away.
This is when I found out that Victoria’s mother, Hazel, had passed away. 😦 I had offered to collect something from the coast for her and overnight it, as she had so badly wanted to take a dying trip here before her time was up.
[2019: Today was the day that I did it. In spite of all of my wavering, my angst and indecision, in the shadow of all of the doubt, fear and confusion, I did it. I loaded the last few pieces of my life into my car, and I drove into the unknown.
I thought my walkabout would last only a few weeks. I thought I would eventually return to Washington, get married, and get on with some new form of my life. I knew that I would be changed, but I had no idea just how dramatic and radical that change would be.
I would eventually write a book about my first ten weeks on the road. I called it GO: Sacred Solo Travel for Women. It became an international bestseller on Amazon. Below is an excerpt from that book, a recounting of that morning when I embarked on my own sacred solo adventure into wild and untamed places, including those that dwell within me.]
“You can do it! You’ve got this!”
I took a third solo jaunt, off-roading to a secluded mountain lake in northern Idaho. The campground was two hours from the nearest town and was my biggest challenge to date. I returned more in love with nature and ever more certain that I had to dive deeper into her. Armed with a surge in self-confidence and a deep resolve to embrace my inner Self, I approached my closest loved ones, namely my mom and Edward, with the idea of what I would call my Walkabout.
Walkabout is traditionally undertaken by Aboriginal youth, who will venture out alone into the bush for as long as six months or more to make the transition to adulthood. While I am neither Aboriginal nor an adolescent, I desperately needed transformation. I would take the nomadic path. My goal was to seek out wild and primal places, to unplug from all that threatened to thwart my growth. I would drive into the great unknown and offer my spirit in communion.
I have only the foggiest idea of how to prepare for an open-ended road trip of such epic proportions. My solo jaunts have taught me a lot, but this is so much bigger. How much clothing should I take? How will I handle extreme changes in weather? I take a few days for research and several more days of tedious preparation, but I know I’m still winging it. The urge to GO is nearly driving me mad. I give concerted effort to appreciating my time with Edward and Mom. I am nervous but anxious to finally get on the road. I have been working the car load like a Tetris champion, wanting everything just right, but impatience is starting to get the best of me. It’s time.
Or so I thought. I hug my mom goodbye, and a panic ensnares me. I’m not prepared for this. My stomach erupts in furious fluttering bats and my fingers drain into icy tips. My heart pounds. What if I get lost? What if I get hurt? I move about the house in a rush, seeing everything I am leaving behind, and suddenly I need it all. I start grabbing this and that, thinking, “Oh my gosh, I might need a cutting board!” and “Oh my gosh, I might want my tambourine!” and so on. I am tossing random items in grocery bags like a mad woman, throwing them in the car, and backtracking for more.
The episode finally passes, about 20 sacks later. I take a deep breath and hold my mother tightly to me. I take Justice by the leash and walk us down the stairs. I open the car door, and she jumps inside. I pour myself into the driver’s seat behind her. My heart is fluttering and my fingers are tingling. I manage to turn the key in the ignition. The engine roars. I take another deep breath, back out of the parking lot, and drive out of the neighborhood. I point my nose toward Portland and the Oregon Coast, an area my friends have raved about. I have never made time to visit myself. Until now. Now is my time. Time to see what I can do.
8a Waiting for Edward to call me. In the meantime, thought I would draft my Facebook post for my road trip.
Recent events have given me a unique opportunity to go on walkabout, a three-month road trip, taking a slow southern route to arrive in Florida for the birth of my first grandson, who is due on December 7th.
I will be camping and boondocking along the way with my trusty sidekick, Justice. I intend to spend the majority of my time communing with nature and working to unblock myself as a writer. My hope is to come out on the other side with clarity and a plan for my future. Maybe even a book deal? lol
Regardless, I will abandon myself to this adventure and see where it takes me. I’d love to hear your suggestions for must-see places along the way, particularly hikes, national parks and natural wonders. My route will take me through Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and many of the southern states.
I will try to post more often, even if it is just a photo of the day. Thank you for all of your love, and thank you for sharing my journey with such faith and acceptance.