Friday, April 11, 2008

The Road to Asilomar

I love road trips. Yes, flying gets you there so much faster, but what would life be without the side trips - you know, the left turn that takes you to the world's biggest ball of twine or the half-man, half-alligator show. So I decided to drive from Portland to Asilomar. And what a perfect first day - the weather could not have been better - high 70's, clear blue skies and a light breeze to keep things just right. Driving is a meditation to me - a study of color, nature and staying in the moment. And I was not dissapointed.

I began on I-5, driving south through the pasture lands that surround Salem and Eugene. The hills were covered with sheep and newborn lambs, looking like fluffy pieces of lint cast off by a cotton gin. And every shade, tint and hue of green found in nature - so good to see after the drabber browns and grays of winter.

I left the freeway in Drain, Oregon - Oregon has some of the most unusual place names I have ever encountered - it always leaves me wondering how the name came to be. This was a small quaint town with several historical buildings.

I took Highway 38 and drove along the beautiful Umqua river that was such a deep and luscious color of green that I wanted to dip my paintbrush in the water and paint a pastoral scene. The crows and hawks along the way rode the thermals rising from the road and almost seemed to stand still in mid air with only a ruffle of wingtips to remind you they were flying.

When I reached Reedsport, I entered the sand dune world of the southern Oregon coast. Sand everywhere. The lower half of the fir trees are buried in the sand with only their Christmas tree tops peeking out, looking like kids playing in the sandbox.

After several twists and turns in the road, the ocean finally came into sight -a deep blue sea with huge breaking waves against the coastal sea stacks. I stopped in Gold Beach to comb the beach for beach pebbles for my class in Hampton and pieces of driftwood to share with friends. And for awhile, just laid back against the rocks and watched the seagulls wheel through the sky overhead.

I headed south again on Highway 101 and entered the Redwoods. I always feel like I am entering nature's cathedral when I enter this grove of ancient trees. They tower far above , forming a dense canopy that only a few rays of sunlight can penetrate. The hushed air and beams of light through trees that were alive before the first European set foot on this continent leave me in awe. I watched the sun set over the ocean through a stand of redwoods as the day came to a close, painting the sky and the ocean with a rainbow of color.

As I headed to Eureka for the night, I watched the first evening star appear and the twilight reflected in the Humboldt estuaries. Words seem so inadequate to describe the emotion of landscape that colors the heart. But when combined with art and music, the beauty of nature can heal the soul.


Judy Wise said...

What a lovely description of your journey. I too love a good road trip as it is the perfect time to be alone with your thoughts and to commune with nature. Love the southern Oregon coast; wish I were going to Asilomar this year. Have a wonderful time. xo

Pamela said...

What a wonderful description of your trip. I felt as if I was there.

Paula McNamee said...

Jan, I felt like I took your road trip with you and enjoyed every minute. It makes me want to get in the car and take off.

Suzanne Reynolds said...

I've made that trip many, many times. Loved hearing about your experience and seeing it through your eyes. Hope to see you at PAC soon.