Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Thousand Miles Later

We zoomed north up California Highway 101 on Saturday. Sometimes the speedometer said 85 mph. Could that be true? All the cars around us were going as fast. The flow of traffic is a crazy fast river of steering wheels and metal. There are places between San Luis Obispo and Salinas where the speed limit is 70 mph. We all know that's an invitation to go 90. Zoom zoom zoom. In our car the driver pays close attention to everything on the road, while the passenger sits and watches the world go by, a whirl of parched brown earth crying for rain. We take turns zooming and dreaming.

We remembered on this 300 mile leg of the journey to stop in Pismo Beach. It's a quick trip from the highway to the shoreline, and the sights there are always beautiful. This time we sat and watched the seals while we ate our homemade picnic lunch. The hypnotic hum of the highway disappears in the crashing waves, and we can actually relax and breathe in almost enough air to last us the rest of the trip to the beach house.

Sunday morning we packed the car for the 200 miles from the coast back to the foothills. We have a routine. We stop at Gayles to pick up some yummy breakfast biscuits and croissants for the road, and some unbelievably delicious enchiladas for dinner. Halfway between Capitola and Grass Valley we stop at the Lake Herman Vista Point and look out over Suisun Bay and the Reserve Navy Fleet that sits there rusting into the waters. We always call them the Ghost Ships. Here we sit and eat our brunch, sip our tea and enjoy the quiet before the final roar of highway home.

When we left the vista point, we were treated to a quick view of some White Pelicans flying high over the road. I tried to get a clear shot of them, but you know how it is with moving cars and cameras, always a blur of an image, but thrilling nonetheless. We thought that would be it. The highlight of the trip home.

We got home just before 1:00 pm, unpacked the car, the cooler, and the boxes. I went out to check on the hummingbird feeder. It was dry dry dry. Then I heard a sound amid the chorus of frogs. I almost didn't recognize it. I wondered what the neighbors might be doing to make a sound like this. I looked up. This only happens twice a year. Once when they are migrating south, and once when they are migrating north. The sky was filled with Sandhill Cranes. Hundreds of them. I ran to get to the camera which was still in the car. I ran out onto the deck to listen, to watch, to try and get a shot. They were gone in less than two minutes. Such timing. A thousand miles roundtrip and home to Sandhill Cranes.

So many times on the way home I would think we would be seeing Bonsai when we arrived. I had to remind myself over and over that wouldn't happen. So I sang Ringo's song, "Every time I see your face, it reminds me of the places we used to go. But all I got is a photograph, and I realize that you're not coming back anymore…" We miss that boy.

20 comments:

  1. Quite a trek! Wishing for some beach time...

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  2. What wonderful timing!! Perhaps the sight of the cranes was helpful in softening the sting of no Bonsai.

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  3. Sweet trip home, despite the roaring highways. Glad you made it safely. We're getting "chubby rain" up here, have made up the snowpack in a very short time. I wish it would bulge down into California.
    Yep, know how that goes; still missing our last cat since his demise in 2010. Haven't been able to rally to get another little spark...

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  4. Sometimes after a dear one dies, there is a notable appearance of a bird or birds. The timing of the Sandhill Cranes with your return to the foothills fits that pattern. Love your photos. Good to know you are safely home. That's a long long drive.

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  5. I love how nature has a special place in her heart for you and gifts you with such lovely things to catch your eye as she knows you are watching and you run for your camera to share it. Again I say thanks.

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  6. I love the migrating birds. And I hope you get a new cat. There is one who needs a loving home like yours. I know we always think nothing can replace what we lost, but Raven is showing me every day that they don't need to-- they make their own place. To me a home isn't a home without us and a pet.

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  7. Phil-- It is quite a trek! When we're doing it, we're fully immersed. When we get home, we are fully exhausted.

    Kenju-- I love that interpretation of the crane sighting. I had not thought of that. It's wonderful!

    Isabelita-- We're expecting the "storm door" to open some time mid week. It won't end the drought, but it will cut the fire danger. It's so interesting when Bonsai "shows up" for me. I think I hear him or see him, or wonder if he needs to come in. So much a part of our lives.

    am-- I had not made the connection at all about the cranes and Bonsai. It's a wonderful gift of coincidence to brighten our homecoming. I loved it.

    jsk-- I'm in love with the planet. It thrills me everyday. I have learned where and when to look, and still I am surprised by what I see. Thank you.

    Rain-- We're not ready for a new kitty cat. We're planning another move, and we wouldn't want to spring that on a little newcomer to the family. We're waiting.

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  8. I love that first photo. Just thinking about Pismo Beach makes me feel relaxed.

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  9. Nature is on the move again. And what journeys they have - sitting in a car for a few hours seems easy in comparison. And I say that as someone who hates being encased in noisy metal!

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  10. As I sat outside on another unseasonally warm February day - we don't know how to handle this weird weather pattern, should we just enjoy it? - a large flock of grey crane were hovering above, turning and shouting. We can follow their journey online on the website of the local nature reserve. People send in their pictures and counts. The patterns are amazing every years.
    Another really good site is this one: http://www.journeynorth.org/

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  11. The trip sounds like a grind but how nice you were able to take such a pleasant break. The thing I miss most of Florida besides family are the Sandhill cranes. Love the sound they make and they fly so high.
    I think Judy nailed it.

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  12. Really nice post, Robin Andrea. I like all the natural history observations, and your timing (with regard to the Sandhill Cranes) was amazing, of course. After our previous cat died, we kept expecting to see her for many weeks. Your longing for Bonsai will gradually disappear, but, once again, your account brought tears to my eyes. (I'm such a softie.)

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  13. I'm pretty sure Grass Valley is where we found a dalmation way, way back when I was living at Lake Tahoe. My friend Tom and I drove down to SFO and swung by Grass Valley, where we found a very pretty little female dalmation. Then we found a nice male dalmation at the pound in Oakland. That was a long time ago and I really don't remember much about it.

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  14. jo(e)-- We're always glad to take a rest stop there in Pismo Beach. A nice mellow little beach town.

    John-- We are expecting some storms this week. Nature on the move, and this time it will be rainy!

    Sabine-- I think there are probably websites that follow the Sandhill Cranes here as well. We feel lucky that one large flock of them fly right over our house. First time we saw them, in the fall of 2010, we thought they were weird geese! It never even occurred to us that we would be on a crane flyover. I didn't know the weather was warm in Germany this winter. Such a strange winter it has been.

    Arkansas Patti-- It is a long trip, and it gets longer the older we get! We did get to spend some time with my mom, the purpose of the southern part of the journey. It was great to spend time with her. Coming home to Sandhill Cranes was the most delightful event! And yes, I love Judy's interpretation of events!

    Scott-- I should have posted the contrail shadows I tried to photograph through the glaring sunny windshield. The world zips by, but it is still grand. I think we'll always get tears in our eyes when we think of the furry companions we have loved and lost over the years.

    Mark P-- Grass Valley is an interesting old mining town. We don't get into town much, but it does have a certain charm.

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  15. Love the sandhill cranes. How nice of them to welcome you home. I do know the emptiness when that favorite pet is not there to greet you.

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  16. NCmountainwoman-- It really was a treat to come home to the sight and sound of sandhill cranes. We loved it. I know you know the emptiness of such a loss. Your blog helped us fall in love with your beautiful Ellie.

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  17. California dreamin' with you!

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  18. I was going to say California Dreamin' ! Oh well, great minds think alike. I love road trips and it sounds like you had a good one. Very tiring, but good. The ending of your post got to me. Our pets really are members of our families and our lives are more full with them in it.

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  19. Pat-- We do miss our Bonsai. It is so interesting how often we think of him, think he's going to be at the back door wanting to come in. He will be a part of our lives always.

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