Tag Archives: redwoods

The Seventh Generation

Among the trees

As Labor Day and the celebration of the workings person’s achievements end, we need to recognize an even greater achievement of the everyday person: the legacy of our world to the children of the seventh generation yet to come. Whether that achievement becomes a positive or a negative is yet to be determined.

Among the ‘Haudenosaunee’–the Native Americans of the Mohawk, the Oneidas, the Onondagas, the Cayugas, the Senecas and the Tuscarora–called the Six Nations by the English and called the Iroquois by the French, is a teaching from The Peacemaker, their spiritual teacher from around a thousand years ago. This teaching says: ‘When you sit and you council for the welfare of the people, think not of yourself nor of your family nor even your generation. Make your decisions on behalf of the seventh generation coming….’ (Listen to the entire speech by Oren Lyons, Chief and Faith Keeper, Onondago Nation, from which this quote is taken at https://nnidatabase.org/video/oren-lyons-looking-toward-seventh-generation )

If we heed the words of The Peacemaker, we need to assess every action we take against how it will affect those children yet to be born in approximately 140 years (if each generation is born when the mother is 20 years old). One of the issues that we need to view critically is how we are safeguarding, or not safeguarding, the natural world.

Let’s look at the production of oxygen. According to Luis Villazon, a mature sycamore tree is roughly 12 m tall (one meter equals 3.2 feet) and weighs around two tons, including roots. Seven to eight mature trees are required to produce enough oxygen for one person for one year. (see entire article at http://www.sciencefocus.com/qa/how-many-trees-are-needed-provide-enough-oxygen-one-person )

Environment Canada, Canada’s national environmental agency says that “On average, one tree produces nearly 260 pounds of oxygen each year. Two mature (emphasis is mine) trees can provide enough oxygen for a family of four.” There are “millions of trees” in the world; surely we have plenty of trees to produce enough oxygen for everyone? Unfortunately, we need to factor in the reality there are 6 billion people on earth—give or take a billion. According to some estimates, only around 700 trees can be grown per acre. And, that is only if the land is healthy enough, if there is sufficient rainfall, and if pollution does not negatively impact the growth/health of those trees.

But production of oxygen is only one part of the equation. Water is another critical part. “A large redwood tree—a 200 foot redwood with a trunk 5 feet in diameter—holds 34,000 pounds of water and transpires (gives off water vapor) up to 200-500 gallons of water each day.” (see entire article at http://www.shannontech.com/ParkVision/Redwood/Redwood2.html ) A mature oak absorbs around 50 gallons of water in a day. Without mature trees the amount of water absorbed and then transpired is greatly lessened. This results in damaging runoffs during rainy seasons and in less water available over a dry period.

Whether we believe that life originates from the primordial ooze and has evolved over millions of years or if we believe that Creator created all of life, what we cannot escape is that all life is intrinsically linked.

Creators wild flower

We are bound to all of life–the plants and animals, the birds and insects, the reptiles and the fish–either due to dependencies that we have yet to discover because we evolved, not in a vacuum but with the rest of life, or we are bound together because we all belong to the same Great Tapestry of which we can only see a very small portion. Consequently, every time we destroy, or stand aside and allow others to destroy, a part of the natural world we are forever negatively impacting the quality of life not only for ourselves, but for those who are yet unborn. What type of world will we leave those of the seventh generation?

But why is a mystery writer, a writer of novels, talking about responsibilities to the seventh generation; about the science behind the production of oxygen and of water?

I am an optimist. It is one of the great motivations behind my writing. I believe that people can change, can grow, can become more than what they are. People can reach heights of compassion and generosity; of concern and of care beyond anything ever seen before.

I am an optimist. I believe we can change not only our own destiny, but the destiny of the world. I believe that if we choose, we can leave our world a better place, a more beautiful place, a more just place, a more compassionate place than the one in which we were born. This optimism is the message underlying all of my work. This optimism fuels every book I write. Every blog I write. Every sentence I write.

But all the optimism in the world cannot change a dead earth. An earth without oxygen. An earth without water. An earth without the beauty of the birds and the animals. All the optimism in the world cannot bring back those dozens of species that are becoming extinct nearly every day. And even an author cannot survive on a dead world.

But, I am an optimist. I speak about these harsh facts because I believe we can change the growing darkness on the horizon. I believe we can overcome that darkness with light, with hope, with a new reality. That optimism, that belief in the ability of people to change for the better, is why I write.

Journey you make
What kind of footprints will you leave behind?

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THE RETURN

THE RETURN

Time moves on, sometimes far too quickly. I left Hidden Springs Campground and meandered north on Highway 101. trees

I swung off my course long enough to visit Ferndale once again, enjoy the old buildings DSC01432and hit the Ferndale Pie Company. They advertised “Great homemade pies topped with Humboldt Creamery Ice Cream”. The mixed berry pie and vanilla ice cream lived up to the hype and I grabbed one of their “small brownies”–read large enough to feed half of Darrington!–and hit the road.

That evening I camped in a small campground a couple of miles south of Orick, California. When I rode in, it looked like the proverbial cheap sites place, probably with limited hot water that ran red from old pipes. Couldn’t have been more wrong about the showers, or the place. Within yards of my campsite, a Roosevelt Elk calf lay in the grass while mom grazed in the field. DSC01583 DSC01588

The next day dawned with clear skies and I hopped my bike, anxious to ride. Somewhere breakfast called my name. Just inside the southern boundaries of Orick an old motel and restaurant squatted beside Highway 101. Since the town was so small, choices were limited so I parked and walked into what appeared to be a run-of-the-mill greasy spoon–emphasis on greasy spoon.

I headed for the far corner and sank into the chair. The Palm Cafe served eggs done to perfection, the waffle browned and sporting luscious red strawberries, the bacon crisp, the sausage gravy and biscuit to die for. I washed it all down with coffee black, hot, and wonderful.1226 photos from new camera 706

The 88 year-old woman who owned the restaurant came in every morning to bake fresh pies from scratch. Being told that, I had to try a piece though I wondered how I’d move, much less get up on a horse! The strawberry cream pie melted in my mouth and made me forget all about how many calories it had.

I sucked down some more coffee then headed off for my horseback ride. The brochure of The Redwood Creek Buckarettes hooked me with the siren call of “ride among ancient redwoods”. As soon as I saw the big beasts, I recalled that a horsewoman I was not and  wandered if maybe I should’ve plugged my ears. 1226 photos from new camera 708

The woman guide grinned at me and pride wouldn’t let me walk away. She walked a red quarter horse over to the mounting block.  I dragged myself onto the saddle. Jade was so broad I felt like I was doing the splits. 1226 photos from new camera 736I’d never been that athletic!

Still, once we got moving–just me and the guide–the rocking motion of Jade put my mind at ease and let my eyes wander. The path ran straight beside a small river then began a gentle climb up the hill. Within minutes the climb steepened and the trees closed off the modern world.1226 photos from new camera 733

The trail meandered into the National Redwood Forest through a stand of old growth redwoods that had escaped mankind’s rapacious greed. Silence broken only by an occasional bird call wrapped around my soul. Two hours later, we emerged at the base of the hill and on back to the rodeo grounds from where we’d left.

I slid off Jade and walked bowlegged over to my bike.

That night as I listened to the lapping of the waves against the shore, I swallowed down Ibuprophen, yet couldn’t stop smiling at the memories of the horse’s rocking motion, the quiet, and the ancient trees. That night I dreamed of redwoods and horses.

I awoke to the chill of a Crescent City morning with harbor seals barking on a rock just offshore. 1226 photos from new camera 785I listened until the fog rolled the rest of the way off the water and the seals barking had died away. The Apple Peddler Restaurant lay a few miles south of my position, the opposite direction of my travel, but I remembered their mouthwatering food and strong hot coffee. What’s a few miles? After breakfast, I followed Highway 101 along the Pacific Ocean and on up to Oregon.1226 photos from new camera 808

 

That afternoon, I rode into Battle Rock, Oregon. The Battle Rock Wayside and City park on the left caught my eye. I drove in and shut down the bike. 1226 photos from new camera 856

The Redfish Restaurant , a small square building with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beach and situated on the edge of the park looked like the kind of place to be pricey with tiny portions and mediocre food, but I was hungry and too impatient to check out the other offerings in town. Besides, all the tables were tables had a view. 1226 photos from new camera 840I figured that was worth something.

The butternut squash soup was creamy and flavorful, nearly as good as the soup Falomi made at Mother Earth’s Bounty. The pulled pork sandwich was done right–tender, juicy, smoked pork without the smothering bottled sauces too often used. The salad was a nice mix of crisp, fresh spring greens.

It seemed like every time I had made a snap judgment based on appearances, I’d been proven wrong. My friend, Jaimie Wolfwalker, would’ve said Creator was trying to teach me to withhold judgment based on appearances and to learn to evaluate life on substance. Of course, Jaimie walked closer to the spiritual side of life than I ever had. Guess that went with being psychic and part Native American.

Late that afternoon, I crossed the highest bridge I’d ever ridden Coos Bay Bridge then the sand dunes in Oregon snuck up on me and I nearly ran off the road gawking. 1226 photos from new camera 877The sign for Spinreel Dune Buggy called to me, though I was by no means sure I should heed the call. I turned off and headed that way, just to check things out. Size wise, the rental place wasn’t that big. I wandered in, checked out the buggys and nearly left.

I’d walked to my bike, started it up and began backing out of the parking area when a vision that had never happened flashed across my mind: Alicia laughing as she raced a buggy down the face of a sand dune. I shut down the bike, took a deep breath and shook my head at myself. Alicia had been far more adventurous than I, and it appeared that her ghost had taken up challenging me to act beyond my doubts.

Being a conservative driver, I only raced down one cliff face of sand, holding my breath the entire distance. 1226 photos from new camera 870Of course, I wouldn’t have gone down it, but I’d already topped the dune and didn’t know how to go anywhere except straight down!

If you like roller coasters and the way they teeter at the pinnacle of drops, you’d love riding dune buggys. I hated roller coasters. Alicia had loved them. At the Puyallup Fair, she’d teased me into taking her on one–five times! Each time I got off, I swore I’d never do that again, yet I climbed back on because I loved hearing Alicia laugh.

More than anything else during my trip, the Spinreel Sand Dunes momentarily brought Alicia back to me. I left them feeling as if I had gained some great gift; and, I had.

Idling into Florence, Oregon, long after most people were home and vegging in front of television sets, I found BJ’s Ice Cream right on the main road, a dessert junkies dream. Ice cream made from scratch nestled among the baklava, cheesecake, tiramisu, tarts and cream horns.

Nick and Ron, the two young men behind the counter, gave me a brief rundown on BJ’s. Cole Brother’s Creamery started in 1917 in Slatter, Idaho, beginning a four-generation family tradition of making old-fashioned, batch ice cream. A three scoop ice cream sundae later, I groaned out the door carting a bag with a selection of tarts and cream horns.

That night I tossed my sleeping bag on the ground close enough to hear the coastal sunsetocean whisper and shush.   I awoke to sand and the chill of a coastal morning.DSC01517

Saturday afternoon found me drifting through DePoe Bay, Oregon. A sign bragged that it was the “World’s Smallest Harbor.”

Fifty miles north of the Oregon border, I rode through the small city of Raymond, Washington. Large steel sculptures popped up all over the town. Wildlife, people, pets, even an ox pulling logs through what was once a lumber town.

Once through Raymond, I stopped a few times during the rest of my ride home, but I was tired and eager to get home. I pushed hard. Around Aberdeen, Washington, I picked up Highway 12 East and caught Interstate 5 a few miles north of Olympia. A few minutes after midnight, I rode into my driveway.

I was home.

Some of the places Jaz talked about: (not in any particular order)

www.northwestplaces.com/trips002/Raymond001 (Raymond, Washington–a town of steel sculptures)

www.redwoodcreekbuckarettes.com (horseback tour among the ancient redwoods)

www.ridetheoregondunes.com (Spinreel Dune Buggy and ATV Rentals)

BJ’s Ice Cream, 2930 Hwy 101, Florence, Oregon

www.savetheredwoods.org/   (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park: the most old growth redwoods in California)

http://www.redwoodhikes.com/Humboldt/Founders (Coast redwoods once grew naturally in many places across the Northern Hemisphere. Due to manmade and climatic changes, Coast Redwoods now only grow naturally in a narrow 40 mile wide and 450 mile long coastal strip from southern Oregon to southern Monterey county in California. The Dyerville Giant which stood for approximately 1600 years fell on March 24, 1991.)

humboldtredwoods.org/hidden_springs (Hidden Springs Campground, California)

AvenueOfTheGiants.net   (Avenue of the Giants, California)

www.california-native-wood.com (Orick, Ca. very nice natural wood gifts and keepsakes)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Palm-Cafe-Motel/166106546757081 (Palm Motel and Café Orick, California)

To read more about Jaz Wheeler: http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

 

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The Rest of the Journey

The Rest of the Journey: Jaz Wheeler’s Places to Remember

For several more days, I awakened surrounded by redwoods, listening to the occasional bird call. Each day brought some new adventure, some place to eat that fixed delicious food, photo ops to freeze the moment and time to heal.

I’d never heard of Petrolia, California, the Lost Coast nor the Mattole Valley, so I got directions and took off. The topography reminded me of Hawk Hill and Hopewell Farm. road to petrolia top of hillFor a moment, guilt stabbed me because I hadn’t called Aretha since I left home. I pushed that feeling aside knowing how she’d laugh at such foolishness. I’d call when it was time to call.

Steep hills, rough road, sharp curves, and solitude.1226 photos from new camera 434 One car passed me, heading for the Lost Coast and a truck rumbled by coming from Mattole Valley.

At the top of the hill,  top of hill to petrolia

a lone steer wandered away from the few head of cattle bedded down, hard chill  winds blew up from the ocean that was merely a smudge of darker blue on the far horizon and one house squatted alone, on a far hilltop. Cattle and green grasslands fading to brown beneath the summer sun, and quiet. 1226 photos from new camera 439

The further down the hill, the rougher the road, but the ocean lapping the shores below me gave reward to the determined traveler. 1226 photos from new camera 466

Cool winds blew off the water and the rugged shoreline of the Lost Coast gave testimony to the hardy people whose ranch boundaries ran along the cracked roadway. 1226 photos from new camera 488

Smaller than the small town below Hopewell Farm, there wasn’t much to Petrolia.  It boasted a general store/post office/gas station–all-in-one and scattered houses. What people I encountered were friendly, but the little store was mostly surrounded by uninhabited land. 1226 photos from new camera 511

By the time I left the valley, the patterns of bright late afternoon sun and early evening shadows greeted me along the same road that I’d ridden down. 1226 photos from new camera 514

This time I stopped to gaze at what one resident of the valley said were the largest Madrone trees I had ever seen. Lines of them marched along both sides of the road. largest madrone

Back home on my little farm, one tall slender Madrone struggled to thrive. My place wasn’t unique. In the Seattle area, Madrones simply did not get as large as these. I wondered about the age of these majestic trees, what changes they’d seen, whether they mourned their fallen and dreamed of days gone by when groves of them stood shoulder-to-shoulder. A bittersweet moment.

Much later, I was told by Laura Cooskey of the Mattole Valley Historical Society that these are not Madrones, but Eucalyptus trees. She said, “Those trees are Eucalyptus trees. The huge one right next to the Petrolia Table Cemetery is in fact the world champion  (largest) Bluegum Eucalyptus. The trees were imported from Australia and planted around 1900 as windbreaks for the cattle. As it turns out, they’re very brittle and snap and throw branches readily in windstorms; furthermore, they are extremely flammable. However, they make excellent firewood.”

I left the windy road behind and headed to Ferndale, California. As evening drew close, an old and beautiful building caught my eye: The Victorian Inn. 1226 photos from new camera 622

Dinner was real chicken pot pie, nearly as tasty as Folami Winters had served at Mother Earth’s Bounty before she helped Aretha and I; before the attack that burned her restaurant to the ground. I shoved those thoughts aside, told myself it no longer matter, that was years ago. After dinner, I met the owners of the Victorian Inn, Lowell Daniels and Jenny Oaks. They told me the Inn had been built in 1890 of Humboldt County redwoods, that the walls were so thick no insulation was necessary.

Full and tired, I headed to the campground. Tomorrow I would be leaving, beginning the return trip home.

If you enjoyed Jaz’s travelogue, be sure to CLICK and FOLLOW so you won’t miss the ending!

To discover more about the magical Mattole Valley, go to the Mattole Valley Historical Society, founded in 1999 by Laura Cooskey at: http://www.mattolehistory.org

You can learn more about the beautiful and historic Victorian Inn and the “slice of the past” town of Ferndale, California by going to http://www.victorianvillageinn.com

To read about how Jaz wound up at Hopewell Farm and became friends with Aretha Hopewell and Folami Winters, read Run or Die, now available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

 

 

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AMONG THE SACRED ANCIENTS

AMONG THE SACRED ANCIENTS: Jaz Wheeler’s Journey Among the #California #Redwoods

Dark settled its shawl over the redwood forest as I drove into Hidden Springs Campground. My headlights picked out cars and tents and RVs as I wound my way along the curvy asphalt to my reserved spot.

Redwood sentinels stood guard at the entrance as I pulled onto the leveled area and shut off my bike. Quiet embraced me. Exhausted, I flipped out my bedroll and lay down. The next thing I knew, birds chirped in the bushes as the sun filtered through the trees. DSC01223

After a quick breakfast of granola bar and bottled water, I stuffed my bedroll in the bear proof box, snapped a small padlock on it then hopped on my bike.

Those years ago, after Alicia was lost and even after I left Hawk Hill and Hopewell Farm, playing tourist was far from my mind. The redwoods had started the healing of my wounded soul, but I hadn’t been ready to take side trips to places like the Drive-Thru Tree at Myers Flat. DSC01205

And, I’d never seen a two-story tree house! DSC01215

I learned a little more about the majestic redwoods.  Drive thru shrine water stats

When I entered the gift shop, this little guy greeted me. By the time I left, he’d worked so hard to make tourists feel welcome that he was simply exhausted. shop dog at drive thru tree

For the rest of the day, I wandered among the ancient giants, drifting from one grove to another, beginning with the Founder’s Grove then on up to the Rockefeller Forest where the Giant Tree and the Tall Tree resided. DSC01239 DSC01238

When I entered Rockefeller Forest, I entered a sacred time and place.

person among giants

Like my heart, the Forest held light and shadows and jagged memories.

DSC01292

Eventually, the passing of the hours forced me to return to my campsite.

evening comes in forest

 

For more photos from Jaz’s exploration of the Redwood Forest, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

Don’t miss the rest of Jaz’s journey. Enter your email address and FOLLOW!

To learn more about Jaz Wheeler, read Run or Die. http://www.amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

 

 

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Seals and Sea Lions, Oh My!

Entering Crescent City, multiple chain stores assaulted my vision. Progress had come to the quiet, unique seaside town, gobbled it up and spit out a bland ghost of what had been. The loss tugged at me until I reached the southern edge of the city and swung into The Apple Peddler Restaurant for breakfast.

The Denver omelette came with homemade fluffy biscuits and what Grandmother Pearl used to call ‘milk gravy’. The strawberry waffle topped with luscious red strawberries and homemade whipped cream topped off the huge breakfast. A pot of fresh coffee washed it all down and drowned any lingering sadness over Crescent City’s march to ‘ordinariness’.

Chatting with the young waitress moved her to recommend a visit to Ocean World right next door to the restaurant. IMG_0258 ocean world signNormally, I avoid wildlife shows on ethical grounds–objecting to their normal methods of obtaining and keeping wildlife–but replete with a wonderful breakfast, I decided to take a peek.

The show is housed in an old ship brought to land. I followed the young tour guide through the double doors and onto a concrete path through lush green growth. At the end of the room was a large pond. While the guide told us about the starfish whose stomachs “pop out” from their underside and engulf their prey, I picked one up and marveled at the rough exoskeleton. The sea anemones felt soft and slick. The guide demonstrated a great deal of respect for the living creatures she talked about.

Eventually, we left the pond room and moved downstairs to the aquarium exhibits. IMG_0199 fish eyes Each aquarium appeared to be spacious and to mimic a natural environment. The information about the various fish, eels, sharks and stingrays was entertaining and had me considering no more fish and chips, at least for a while. Two of the stingrays were housed at Ocean World due to the lack of a tail which would doom them in the wild. I was shocked that several of the aquatic creatures had lived for over a hundred years! A few of their resident fish could live to be 200 years old.

We climbed the stairs and followed the guide to go pet the sharks. It was my first encounter with a shark, and an eye-opener. Their rough skins and willingness to swim close to the pool edges so we could feel them brush up against our hands, went a long way to helping me appreciate them as sentient creatures that are due respect and protection.

After our shark petting time, we followed the guide to a covered area to watch the sea lions and harbor seals perform. The three sea lions slithered up on the concrete deck to slide to a stop in front of their trainer. She started by having them “wave” to the people. They took turns picking up a flipper and “waving” at us and were immediately rewarded for their friendliness with a fish. The trainer took them through several physical and verbal acts, but my favorite was the rendition of “zombie sea lions”. I’d never suspected sea lions could make such a wide variety of sounds! IMG_0239 sea lions

After the sea lions slid back into the poolIMG_0230 sea lion, the harbor seals skidded into the limelight. Harbor seals resembled young kids on sugar highs next to the more sedate sea lions.IMG_0245  Cora handstand The harbor seals performed a number of tricks, one being retrieval of a basketball from the pool then bringing it up on the concrete skirt and making a basket with it. IMG_0253 cora carrying ball

The trainer talked about the positive training methods used in teaching each animal, how each small increment of desired behavior was rewarded while each mistake was simply ignored. She said one of the seals could perform over a hundred tricks while another one could only do a small number. Each had their own specialties. When asked how they acquired the animals, we learned that two of her “crew” had been rescued, including one sea lion that underwent surgery to remove an eye. Other animals were obtained from facilities that had too many animals.

I felt pretty good when I walked out of Ocean World, leaving Cora and her performing kin behind, to head south on Highway 101. Nothing looked familiar, not even the windy road. Made it to my campsite at Hidden Springs on the Avenue of the Giants right before true darkness settled beneath the redwoods.

To see more photos of Cora and her friends at Sea World go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar

Don’t miss further adventures with Jaz Wheeler among the Ancient Forests of California,and other interesting posts, CLICK and FOLLOW.

 

 

 

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SOUTH TO ANCIENT FORESTS

I’m Jaz Wheeler and I’m a private investigator. The small town of Darrington, Washington lies five miles east from my land. When the Highway 530 Mudslide swept away the tiny community of Hazel/Steelhead Lane at a bit after ten o’clock on a Saturday morning, I was away from home. IMG_0051

When I returned to Darrington that evening, via the 85 mile roundabout way along Highway 20, I stepped off my V-Strom 650 and into chaos and fear and ten thousand other emotions all running in fifth and overdrive.

For the next few weeks, I did anything and everything. I inventoried donations, I bagged groceries, I handed out gas cards, I registered volunteers and did a multitude of other various tasks alongside of neighbors I hadn’t met in all the years that I had lived up here. Long days and short nights were the order for all of us with that certain knowledge that the only news we’d be getting from that mud and debris field would be of death and loss.

I watched the town cry and hug and support each other, and they gave just as freely to me as to those people they had known all their lives. Humbled and uplifted by the strength and courage I saw every day, I slogged on to the end.

All but one victim was finally found. The road reopened on a limited basis with one way traffic.road open one way

I packed my bags and headed south. I needed to get away from all the reminders of sorrow and loss and clear my head. The only place I knew to do that was the California Redwoods.

Friday the 13th, I idled slowly between the walls of pushed back mud slopes, down the roughed up asphalt of Highway 530 then kept on driving.IMG_0016

With single-minded determination, I rode Interstate 5, dodging kamikaze drivers and hardly stopping long enough for bathroom breaks. The cool wind blew cobwebs of sadness out of my mind. The first night I stayed in an easily accessible Motel 6. Nothing to shout about, but a shower and a bed for the night and a nearby restaurant for breakfast.

The next morning a gray sky greeted me as I hiked a leg over the V-Strom’s seat. I didn’t linger that day, either, preferring to push toward the redwood forests. I entered Gasquet, California that evening.

I’d first discovered the redwoods the spring after I lost Alicia. Grandmother Pearl sent me south along Highway 101 to Hopewell Farm and my destiny, though I didn’t know it at the time. I just knew I hurt so bad that even breathing without Alicia in the world seemed wrong and painful. Not really wanting to meet someone new, I camped out in Jedidiah Smith Park near Gasquet in northern California then spent several more days in various redwood forest campsites I found along the way. Sleeping on damp ground felt preferable to meeting Alicia’s Aunt Aretha.

Though I didn’t realize it, my healing started there, among those giant, silent Ancients.  If I hadn’t taken the time to linger among them, back then, I would never have stayed on Hopewell Farm. And…I would not be writing this journal.

So, on this June day, I again sought the healing of the Ancients as I shut down my bike and stepped onto the soft floor of the forest. Nearby a stream tumbled lazily over rocks, chuckling along its way. Filtered sunlight drifted through the green canopy far overhead. So far overhead that I had to bend nearly double backwards to glimpse the intertwining branches. That night I flipped my bedroll out and shut my eyes as the true darkness closed in.DSC01227

The next morning the chill dampness had me wishing for the warmth of a hotel room and a hot cup of coffee. I rolled up my sleeping bag and lashed it on my bike. Highway 199 from Gasquet to Crescent City is a winding, narrow ribbon with hairpin curves and uneven surface and trees that stuck their roots out to the edge of the road.Tree toes in road

It woke me up.

 

Wednesday Jaz’s journey continues. CLICK and FOLLOW so you don’t miss the rest of the journey.

To read about how Jaz became a private investigator, get your copy of Run or Die go to  http://amazon.com/Run-Die-Aya-Walksfar-ebook/dp/B00KV8BK5A

 

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MAKA INA (MOTHER EARTH)

I am going on a much needed vacation, but wanted to leave something for all of my wonderful readers. I will return in a couple of weeks. Until then, enjoy this story.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it.

Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.

All things are bound together. All things connect.

–Chief Seattle

MAKA INA (MOTHER EARTH)

June 25

I have to get back to the ranch. Grandmother is probably worried sick. Two weeks ago–it doesn’t seem that long–mom and grandmother sent me here to Bald Peak. “I have watched you,” grandmother said, “for many days. You’re here. You’re there. You can’t sit still. You don’t sleep well.”

When I looked at her, startled, she nodded. “Yes, I awakened a number of nights  when I heard something disturbing the horses. I watched from the window until you returned.”

“I don’t know what it is , grandmother. These dreams, I can’t recall except to feel there’s  something I have to do.” I glanced away from her black eyes, staring out towards the mountains  that rose up from the back of our pasture and towered above the small patch of woods.

Mom walked into the kitchen, poured herself a cup of coffee and sat down. She waited quietly to see if grandmother had anything to say. While the quiet stretched on, we all  sipped our coffee.

This was how I’d grown up. My friends thought we were weird. Whenever  their parents were quiet they were either mad or ignoring the kids. Only Angie, my Quaker  friend, understood the concept of waiting for the spirit to speak.

Finally mom spoke. “The  ancestor whose name you carry was very traditional. As a young person she spent many days in the mountains, fasting and praying, looking for her spirit help.”

Downing the last dregs of coffee, I studied the grounds at the bottom of the cup. My  heart pounded from excitement or fear or maybe a bit of both. “ I ‘ll be ready to leave in the  morning.”

The next morning as I finished cinching up Star Dancer’s saddle, grandmother handed me  her eagle prayer feather. “It is good you are following the path of our ancestors, but there is a sadness in me. Last night I dreamed.”

“What did you dream, Grandmother?”

“You called to me. I could see you and hear you, yet when I spoke to you, you did not  see me nor did you hear my voice. I wanted to reach out and let you know I was there, but  something was between us. I couldn’t touch you.” Grandmother shook her head as if to shake the dream from her mind. “Remember, little one, no matter where you are, I am with you.”

Putting my arms around her thin shoulders, I was poignantly aware of grandmother’s  eighty-five years. “I will remember.”

Mom hugged me. Holding my shoulders, she stared into my eyes. “We are proud of you. Your father, I am sure, smiles from the Other Side. Even though he was white, he understood the ways of our people and honored them.”

I nodded, unable to speak past the lump in my throat. Turning from them, I swung up into the saddle.

Ten days into the fast, my prayers were answered. I didn’t understand the vision, but then I didn’t expect to. Like the stories of our people, there were layers of understandings which could take years to realize. On the eleventh day, I rested and ate. On that night the quakes began.

***

Today is the fifth day from the start of the quakes and the first day that the only thing shaking is my hands. I am scribbling this all down in my dairy. Coming from an oral tradition, I wonder why I have such a compulsion to write. Grandmother said writing is just another canoe to carry important things forward into the future.

Star Dancer is saddled up. As soon as full daylight comes, I’ll douse this campfire and head home. I pray mom and grandmother are alright.

June 27

This is the second night I have been forced to make camp. Large sections of the trail have vanished beneath rock slides; chasms have opened up where once there was solid ground. Huge trees resemble a handful of toothpicks tossed down by some giant. .

I guess we were lucky to escape the chain of worldwide natural catastrophes for as long as we did. For the past year, seems like every time we turned on the news, there was another earthquake or volcano or tidal wave wiping out entire cities.

June 30

I almost wish Star Dancer and I had not made it home. It has taken all day to dig mom and grandmother from the ruins of the house. They must have been singing as they crossed over to the Other Side. Their hands still held their drums.

Tomorrow I will bury them beneath the arms of the old cedar. Grandmother told me Grandmother Cedar is over a thousand years old, according to the history handed down from her great-grandmother. How it managed to stay rooted amid all of this devastation is beyond my understanding. But then how the old cedar managed to evade the logger’s chainsaws that clear-cut so much of this area has always seemed a mystery and a miracle to me, too.

June 31

It is finished. I pray I did the ceremony right. Every time I faltered, I heard grandmother, “When you do ceremony with a good heart, the spirits can forgive mistakes.” They must because my Spirit Helper stayed with me from just before dawn when I began digging the graves until I placed the last shovelful of dirt on the mound above mom. Later this summer, I’ll ask one of our medicine people to come and make things right.

Lying here, staring up at that sky full of stars, I hear mom and grandmother singing their songs. It’s been there all day, at the edge of my hearing. Tonight, with a coyote’s song echoing from the hills every now and then, their drumming and their voices sound clearer.

July 1

The radio is smashed beyond use. Mom and grandmother’s songs have left. Even the wind has deserted this place.

Far Runner, grandmother’s Indian pony, returned early this morning. Except for a few scratches, she’s fine. With some tugging and sweating I cleared enough of the tack shop rubble to get to another saddle and some saddlebags. With enough salvageable supplies to last a couple of weeks, I’ll head out to the Rez. It’s only twenty miles, but who knows what condition the roads are in. Mom’s cousin Annie will want to know what’s happened.

Today, for the first time that I can ever recall, I found myself wishing we had some neighbors closer than the Rez. Everything I think seems to lead to thoughts of mom or grandmother. Like the neighbor thing: soon as I thought it’d be nice to have nearer ones, I remembered grandmother saying, “I’m glad the folks nearest us is our own people. I sure dread the day this land gets crowded and white folks are sitting on our doorstep. “ She’d shaken her head at her self. “ I try not to feel so. Meetin’ your father helped me to see white folks in a different way. But, them boardin’ school teachers poundin’ on us Indian children for speakin’ our own language…” Her voice had trailed off.

July 5

They’re gone! I can’t believe everyone on the Rez is gone. Granted it is–was a small reservation, but everyone, dead!   Their bodies look like they have lain out in the summer sun for months. My Spirit Helper led me to Cousin Annie. If I hadn’t known her so well, I would not have recognized her body.

I don’t get it. Oh, there seems to be logical explanations for everyone who is dead–trees and houses falling down; cars crumpled together, obviously thrown out of control by the quake; explosions from ruptured propane tanks; fires. But how can a whole place be wiped out like this?

Was this then the meaning behind the raging fires in my vision? In part of the vision, there was an emptiness on the land and fires everywhere. Was that great emptiness this loss of family and friends?

I buried Cousin Annie. The rest of them, I prayed for and left where they lay. I sang for Cousin Annie then I sang for the rest of the Rez. I can’t do any more. Perhaps their spirits will still be able to find rest.

My heart is so heavy I want to lay down with Cousin Annie, but my Spirit Helper is nipping at me, refusing to let me even stop here for the night.  The full moon casts a shimmering, magical light over the devastated land. As I mount up to leave, beauty and sorrow envelope me as fog envelopes the marshlands.

July 18

Been moving steadily since I left the Rez. Have yet to encounter another living two-legged though I have spotted a hawk, a pair of eagles and a wolf. The wolf  must have come down from Canada.

I feel so tired yet each time I consider lying down to let my soul wander away, my Spirit Helper nips me as a sheepdog might nip its’ charges to force them to keep moving. I’d think I was dreaming such attacks except for the red marks on the back of my legs and sometimes on my arms. Grandmother never warned me that spirit helpers could be so downright annoying.

August 1

Today I crossed what was left of Snoqualamie Pass on the remnants of I-90. I left Far Runner’s tack lying next to the remains of a farm house. She continues to follow as closely as if she were still tied to us. I don’t blame her. If it weren’t for my Spirit Helper, the aloneness would probably immobilize me. Towns, suburbs, houses out in the middle of farmland shaken into rubble. Roadways crumpled like discarded paper balls. Not a living two-legged in sight. Why was I spared?

I’ll head for Seattle. Surely out of all of those thousands, there will be living people there.

August 6

If anyone had told me last summer that it would take five days to make one day’s mileage from the summit of the Pass to Seattle, I would have laughed. Star Dancer and I have been known to easily make twice that distance in a day’s ride.

Last summer seems a century away. Craters, mud slides, rock avalanches, patches of forest still smoldering from fires. Now this. A huge wave must have come in and slapped Seattle like some monstrous hand, carelessly sweeping large parts of it out to sea. Is anyone alive besides me?

August 12

Scavenging has become a way of life and ignoring dead bodies, a habit. At last I know with certainty that it was not metaphorical fires of which my vision spoke. It was this. Seattle’s skyline is bright not with neon but with orange-red-blue flames shooting two to three stories high from busted gas lines. Safe up here on this hill looking down on the city from beneath a surviving magnolia and several short-needled pines, I feel a profound sense of loneliness.

Today would have been grandmother’s eighty-sixth birthday. Taking out my hand drum I couldn’t decide whether to sing sorrow or celebration. Surely, mom and grandmother are better off not seeing this. I sang both.

September 5

In some ways I dread continuing this journey. I don’t know exactly where I am going. Just a generally southern direction. I dread the full understanding of my vision that I fear awaits me further on this sojourn. Yet there is a part of me that can’t forget the memory of hope I felt during my vision. There was that terrible sorrow binding my heart as I first came back into myself up there on Bald Peak , my face awash with my tears; but, there was also a lifting of my heart, a sense of wonder and a –joy–for lack of a better word. I must go on. Even if I would stop, Spirit Helper would not allow it. To what tomorrow is she guiding me?

September 9

Seattle was a graveyard. Portland, or what was left of it, wasn’t any better. Fact is, this is the best I’ve seen since leaving Bald Peak. Southern Oregon has always been a beautiful place, except of course, for the highways and cities. Well, it doesn’t seem like human ugliness is going to be a problem for long.

I passed a Fred Meyers. Grass and dandelions have already pushed up through the asphalt of the parking lot. Part of the outside walls have tumbled down, not really noteworthy except for the amount of moss covering the bricks left standing and the sapling already twelve or more feet high and easily several inches in diameter growing on the inside of what had once been the bakery.

Brush and saplings seem to be sprouting up overnight, growing at an amazing pace. It’s like Mother Earth is in a hurry to reclaim her body. Farmlands have become semi-wilderness. I wonder what’s happened to the livestock and domestic animals? Come to think of it: I haven’t seen many animal corpses. Mostly dogs with their people or animals trapped in man-made structures.

September 15

Using the binoculars I scavenged from REI in Seattle, over the past few days I’ve spotted several horses, a couple of domestic cats near the rubble of an apartment complex, cougar sign, a glimpse of a black bear and some raccoons sleeping in a cedar tree. Funny, I don’t feel quite so alone now.

October 2

Hello world! This is the day of my birth nineteen years ago. I feel like I’m thirty! The weather is a bit warmer than usual for this time of year, but then maybe it’s just one of those years. The earth seems to have settled back down. Since Bald Peak, I have not encountered any more natural disasters.

Of course, I don’t know what’s happening anywhere else. None of the radios I’ve found work. As for humans, forget it. All the ones I’ve met look like they’ve been dead fifteen or twenty years. Bones in clothes or at best, mummified skin and rotted rags. Cities overrun by trees and brush; grass and weed shattered sidewalks.   I don’t get this. It feels like that old sci-fi show the “Twilight Zone”. If it wasn’t for this diary and my vision on Bald Peak, I would think I was crazy and all of this happened years instead of months ago.

November 1

Crescent City, California looks nothing like it did when mom brought me here for my fifteenth birthday. Back then we camped among the redwoods for two weeks. We stopped at the Safeway I’m sitting here looking at now.

***

Had to pull blackberry vines off the front so I could enter. Lined up on the shelves, canned food sported discolored labels. Some crumbled away as I touched them, like really old paper.

Found an intact mirror in what used to be an employee’s lounge. Now, I know. I don’t understand. But I know. Took the picture of mom I snapped on her thirty-second birthday from my wallet. It felt old, fragile. Holding it next to my face, I stared in the mirror. Everyone used to tell me I was the spitting image of mom. With crow’s feet around my eyes and that grey streak like mom had running down the middle of my head, I can clearly see mom in my face.

In a crazy way, it’s beginning to make sense. Mom used to always kid me about wearing clothes and shoes out overnight. Maybe that’s partly the reason it never occurred to me before now how often I’ve had to replace the man-made materials I’m wearing while the natural cotton and leather items are still okay.

Manmade–that seems to be the key.

December 30

I loved the redwoods from the moment I first saw them with mom. Grandmother said my great-great grandmother had some California Indian–Klamath–in her and that’s why I felt so at home among these giants.

I continue to age quickly. Star Dancer and Far Runner have matured to the five-year olds that they are. From all appearances, it is only humankind and their constructions that age rapidly in this new world. Even the trees and vines that are taking over the cities, though they grow very fast, they don’t seem old.

January 3

I’ve made my last camp here on this bluff overlooking the steel blue Pacific foaming against the black grained sands below. Redwoods tower above and around me, embracing me. The mild weather continues. I enjoy the seals barking from the island that stands out a bit from the shore. Seagulls glide and argue. Their raucous voices harmonize well with the ocean. Deer slip through the early evening shadows, barely cracking a twig. The birds keep the days from being silent.

My Spirit Helper has led me here to this place in my vision.

I don’t know if there are people anywhere any longer, but it’s nice to know that the wild ones and at least some of the domestic four-leggeds have survived. A semi-feral orange tabby followed me from the old camp near the remains of a ranger station to this camp. When I catch fish, I throw the heads back away from the fire. I sit quietly when she darts out and snatches them. I know it’s a she since I’ve seen a couple of half-grown kittens with her. When she gets the food far enough away, they come out and help her eat it.

Last night I returned to camp late. South of me is an area that has returned to lush grassland. Star Dancer and Far Runner run free in that grassland now. I had to let them go. The sunset of my life is upon me.

I carefully wrap my diary in oiled leather and stash it within a hole in  Grandmother Redwood. Settled with my back against the rough bark of the ancient Redwood, I pick up my hand drum, the one Grandmother helped me make. As I stroke it, I wonder if anyone else is alive, and if someone, someday, might find my words.

The End

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