Today, I walked from Loleta, California to The College of the Redwoods. I have been doing a lot of walks like this lately, for various reasons.
There is a lot I need to catch E2 up on. I finished writing my book, moved out of Chile, came back to the United States of America, got a job in Mexico, then rejected that same job because they didn't really know what an apostille was. Now I am in Eureka, California, with no idea what happens next. And I am 40. How did this happen? I don't know. I do know how I got from Loleta to the College of the Redwoods, one of many tenuous little treks I have made around Humboldt County since coming back.
Humboldt County has several different bus systems, that are all part of one bus system. I think. I haven't really figured out the jurisdictional issues. The main bus line goes between Arcata and Eureka every 30 minutes during weekdays. Every other bus, meaning once an hour, there is a bus that goes north to the airport, and south to Fortuna. And then, every three hours or so, there is a bus that calls all the way from Trinidad to Scotia. And then, at various times of the day, some of those buses leave the main north/south route to swing out a bit to smaller towns, passing through the Manila spit, or, in my case, leaving the highway to go to Loleta.
What is Loleta? Well, that is what I was going to find out today. It was about ten miles south of Eureka, and according to Google Maps, had a store, two churches, a park, and a cheese outlet. I went there, walked round town, noticed two nice Victorian churches, bought a soda pop and a candy bar at the somewhat depressing market, and then decided to leave town. There was a hiking trail, labelled as such, on some abandoned railroad tracks. I started following them, and immediately enchanted by the smell of fennel and the soft light filtering down through pine trees and later summer mist, I thought I had found adventure. Until the trail deadended at a wire fence. When I looked at the trail later, once again on google maps, I found that it was only a half mile long and curved around the town, and that when I ended my trek on the trial, I was only a few thousand linear feet from where I started. Which is often the case.
And so then I start my walk for real. It is a road parallel to Highway 101, so it is quiet, all the real long distance traffic is on the highway. Its shoulders are passably wide. In a few places I have to lean over, into the underbrush. But mostly it is just walking, up a hill. It is a cool, misty day. Not raining yet, but it will later. The scenery is nice at first. From the roadside, it is hard to compose if I want to take a picture: mostly a few trees and powerlines and scragginess covering the beautiful vista of the Eel River valley. And I think things, as the caffeine kicks in. And I enjoy the beauty around me. Maybe I will have an epiphany? It is apparently 5.1 miles from Loleta to the College of the Redwoods. I talk to two cyclists, cresting the hill. Other than that, there is no human contact on this walk. The only "public" building I pass will be the Swiss Club...which is closed, although immaculate. Is impersonating a Swiss person allowed? There are grazing cows, and tsunami zones that I enter and exit, and thick blackberry bushes. I notice a pine tree that is unfamiliar to me, with pine cones directly on the branches. I look at the time on my phone as the mist starts to fall on me and a Great Pyrenees runs up to bark at me under a disorientingly tall Eucalyptus tree. And then I am at the college, a big community college out in the swamps and woods, its parking lot sprawling out before the college buildings. There is a bus waiting for me: I get on it, scanning my card.
Another step taken. Another piece taken into the logic. Another step trying to understand the world around me. At 40, maybe I should be past the point of trying to understand, and instead be trying to do. Will the game of Qix be settled and this bewildering America be clear if I walk everywhere from Trinidad to Scotia? Maybe Orick to Scotia? Maybe 200 miles north, on city buses that go through National Forests, I can go back to the mall in Coos Bay. Maybe if I keep moving, step by step, things will make sense.
I've walked a lot, and it is cold, and raining, when I get back to the mall in Eureka. When I go to the Dollar Tree, I feel justified in getting chips and M&Ms, and two books that I won't have time to read. Rewarding myself for my effort.