Humboldt, CA

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I came from San Francisco, up the 101, by way of Cloverdale, Hopland, Ukiah, Laughlin and other cities with names that I vaguely recognized from my childhood. I came by  way of vineyards framed by power lines and telephone poles. By way of towns with pit-stop diners and shops that sold wind chimes, tie-dyes, and tree trunks carved into bears. Through towns with only two traffic lights and towns that looked like abandoned movie sets with nothing but vacant land behind their main street. I came by way of the deer-crossing signs that emerged after the eucalyptus trees, oak trees, and luxury cars faded out and were replaced by a landscape thickened with redwood and pine.  I came in with the trucks and the SUVs and the dirt-coated vehicles that had earned their spot on the highway, all weighted down by the equipment strapped to their roofs and pressed against their back windows. And I drove until the towns were gone, and it seemed even the gas stations too; till the roadside attractions and campgrounds were all that were left of civilization, and I was in the Avenue of the Giants.

August 2013