Monday, January 22, 2007

Songs, Songs, and more Songs

My peer review group, Eyefetch, has a contest going currently to fit a photograph to a song title. Talk about finding a subject that’s just right for me. I used to be known as the man who had a song for every occasion, and boy did I come up with some great combinations. Then I reread the contest rules and found that even though the contest is running through February 4th, we’re only allowed to submit one entry. Having picked at least a dozen photos/songs, I was a bit taken aback, but came up with one that just does it for me. It matters not what the judges decide. I know mine’s a winner. And I’m modest too.

The song for this period in my life has to be Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again. (And you thought I was going to suggest his other hit, Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other.) As Gypsy and I set out yesterday morning (Sunday, the 21st), Willie was singing so loudly in my head that I had to stop at Crescent City’s best music store, WalMart (sad, isn’t it) and pick up a CD. The CD got put in the back with Gypsy’s box, her flea/tick ointment, her treats, and my new stick of deodorant and there they all are, a good 36 hours later. The CD that went into the player as we headed south was the Mamas and the Papas, and what a sobering thought that three of the four are now dead. What a loss.

In high school I went to a Mamas and Papas concert at the Berkeley Little Theatre. I loved them then, and I love them now. There’s real musicianship in those songs, and pretty much every one of them speaks to me. Ya know that in our Missoula Gay Men’s Chorus concerts I’ve channeled Cher, Peggy Lee, and the Merm. Well now I want to channel Mama Cass. Sing for your supper indeed! Dream a little dream of me!

California Dreamin'
Crescent City Harbor
Taken 1/22/07--such a winter's day!

For the second week in a row, Gyps and I set off for Shelter Cove. For the second week in a row, we didn’t get there. But oh the sights we saw. A beautiful, clear day, promising highs in the 50s, with blue sky, blue water, mirror like reflections in the water, and me with a camera! To get to Shelter Cove the “easy” way, you drive to Garberville on US 101, then turn west and cross the coastal range to reach the Pacific. This is still considered the “lost coast” as it is the only part of the California coastline not easily accessible by road. California Highway 1, repeatedly voted the most scenic highway in America, begins a few miles south, and US 101 which last saw the coast when it crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, doesn’t hit the coastline again until it reaches Eureka. So this one section of coastline in northern Mendocino and southern Humboldt counties lies in relative obscurity—the Lost Coast.

If you read my post concerning the trip to Petrolia last week, you’ve already been with me to part of the Lost Coast. The powers that be at Shelter Cove are trying to make up for the remote location with lots of advertising. If you do a Google Search on “Shelter Cove” you’ll come up with pages of web sites—which is exactly what I did before heading out. It was a bit disconcerting to see that one of the main features listed for the area are the number of realtors available to show and sell you property. Almost as disconcerting were the number of amenities listed that are within walking distance of the airport. Airport? Airport??? Apparently in an effort to make the Lost Coast a little less lost, the developers have put in an airstrip so that you can fly your private plane up for a round of golf, a visit to the tide pools, a stay at a B&B, and then fly back home again.

There was a link to sites for area artists, and one that caught my eye immediately was the link for Arcanum Ranch Pottery. Well, with a budding ceramic collection from my days at UM’s School of Fine Arts, I had to go visit these two men who had moved from Los Angeles in the late 70s to build kilns and fire clay in the woods of northern Mendocino County. So, figuring that I’d meet some interesting men, buy some beautiful pottery (I looked at every page in their web site—they make beautiful pottery), and get some good seascapes at Shelter Cove, Gyps and I headed south. As the Mamas and the Papas sang, “Since it was sunny and Sunday….”

The surfers were out on the south end of Crescent City, but I said, “No. They’ll be there some other time.” The view from the Vista Point was breathtaking, but I said “No, there will be other breathtaking days.” The waves at Wilson Creek Beach were awe inspiring, but I said, “No, dammit. You’ve got miles to go before you shoot.” Crescent City, in case you’ve forgotten, is fifteen miles south of where I’m living. Eureka is eighty miles south of Crescent City. Garberville, where I would leave US 101, is sixty miles south of Eureka, and Shelter Cove is twenty-three miles west of Garberville. This was to be a long day’s journey—and as it turned out, a long day’s journey into night.

On past Klamath, cross the river, climb the hill and down to Orick. The elk were out in force in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, but I drove on. I was on a mission. On past the beautiful long beach south of the Redwood National Park Visitors’ Center, and back into the roller coaster two lane/four lane/two lane/four lane that is US 101 in this part of the state. Heading down the last slope toward the Big Lagoon (yes, that’s what it’s called), I thought I caught sight of a kayaker near the shore. Well, how often do I get a chance to shoot a kayaker around here. So, with Gypsy protesting, I put her in her box, grabbed the camera, and headed toward the shore. Click—one shot, click –second shot and the kayaker is paddling like mad. You’d think I had a gun instead of a camera. I look for another vantage point, and find a trail that leads down to the shoreline. Once there, I spy the kayaker up ahead, and take off in pursuit. Click, click, click, and he’s paddling like mad again. Damn. You’d think he was doing something wrong. All I wanted to do was capture him in pixels. Long story short, none of my kayaker pictures are going to be prize winners, but it was so beautiful out that my camera caught several other images that please me.

Back to the car and on south and WHOA! I’ve often seen a crane or two where the causeway crosses the Big Lagoon, and since I’d already stopped once, well why not. I’m setting my own schedule aren’t I? There’s no one I need to account to. I have no appointments set up. So pull the car off on the shoulder, grab the camera, and stalk the wild crane. Who’s very camera shy. Just like all the cranes I tried to photograph up at Smith River. But wait, there’s a great blue heron, a GBH, just standing there trying to look inconspicuous. And since the sky is so blue, and the water is so blue, and the mirror-like surface is reflecting so beautifully, I got this shot, which I call Blue on Blue. (Bet you thought I was never going to get back to those song titles, didn’t you.)

This is the photo that I couldn't load last night.
Blue on Blue
Great Blue Heron hiding in the Big Lagoon
Humboldt County, California
Taken 1/21/07

On to Eureka, and wouldn’t you know it, the bit of Humboldt Bay that’s right behind Target was another mirror—with two bridges being reflected beautifully. So into the Target parking lot to grab some more pictures—this time of a bridge over (un)troubled water. Oh, and I stole a couple of red pickups while in the Target parking lot. Grabbed a few more car shots in downtown Eureka, and after a third stop in town—this time for gas at Costco, we continued on our way toward Garberville.

Bridge Over (Un)Troubled Water
US 101 Bridge, North end of Eureka, California
Taken 1/21/07

South of Eureka, 101 follows the Eel River. I love the Eel River. I have loved the Eel River ever since I first started driving 101 back in the early 70s. One of my “One of these days” things is to stop and swim the Eel River—although I’ve been told it’s too polluted for safe swimming. It’s so beautiful, and there were so many spots to stop and grab a shot or ten, but I was really beginning to feel a time crunch. Not to mention feeling hungry. My intention, remembering the restaurant shortage in Petrolia, was to stop in Garberville, fill up the tummy, then head west to the coast.

Lunch turned out to be a Black and Blue Burger (what a dish for a leather queen) with a side of cole slaw. I recommend the burger—blue cheese and Cajun seasonings—you know, blackened. I don’t recommend the overpriced and under seasoned cole slaw. But Deb’s in Redway, where I got the B&B B is a great fun place, with lots of pictures of James Dean on the wall, 50s rock on the sound system, a group of people in their Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes behind me, and in front of me the view of a rather large, odd shaped building across the street with what appears to be an enormous Christmas wreath in the shape of a Peace Symbol attached to the front of the building. This it turns out is the Matteel Community Center, of which nuff said at this point.

The road west from Redway (2 miles north of Garberville) is better than the road from Ferndale to Petrolia. The latter, you may remember is a twenty mile drive that will take you the better part of two hours. The road from Redway to Thorn Junction is fifteen miles that will take one hour. Much better. I stopped once, just outside of Redway, to snap a few pictures, including this one in my new series—The Volvo Gets Around. Note the size of the tree growing out of the top of the car. That’s not a particularly large redwood. These are big trees.

The Volvo Gets Around--Redway, California
Look at the size of them knockers, er Redwoods
Taken 1/21/07

Long story short, I eventually found my way to the Arcanum Ranch, saw beautiful pottery, admired the hand-built wood fired kilns that are no longer used. Got my hands black on the new propane fired kilns that are used. Met two wonderful men. Got invited to stay for supper—which I did, and drove home in the dark with Linda Ronstadt singing away. What I didn’t do was 1) get to Shelter Cove; 2) buy any pottery (forgot my checkbook and the guys just aren’t set up for plastic); 3) visit the Trappist sisters at the Redwood Monastery just down the road from the ranch, and a favorite of Thomas Merton who used to come and meditate in this area. I’ll write more about the men, their home and their pottery later. I’ll even put up some pictures of the place and the work—when I go back with my checkbook. Which I will do. Count on it.


Carl said...

Don't you dare go down there without me next time ;~)

RemyL said...

I'm working on compiling info on all live shows played by The Mamas & The Papas in 1966 and 1967.

The show that you mentioned seeing, do you have any more info on it (date, songs played, any other interesting info)?

Thank you for your time,
Chris Foote