Wednesday, April 19, 2006

My mountain

When there was still no answer to my calls, I went over to see the defiant Rosie.

"I haven't called because I still haven't heard anything," she said as soon as I stepped through the door.

I took a seat. "What am I supposed to do?"

"I have 3 to 5 days, and I told you that!"

(My blood was boiling. "You also told me on Monday that you had what you needed!")

I tried to convey my need to get out of a motel and my annoyance at this situation. But it was useless to get upset. She was indifferent.

I told Rosie that I would like to speak to both the homeowner and to Paul.

"If they're concerned I won't be a reliable renter because I might be in the market for a home, I want to assure them..."

She said she'd pass on the message.

***

Depression is beginning to have an effect: I've fallen into a pattern of sleeping late, not wishing to face the day.

I've lost that feeling of inevitability, of being guided by a script. My journey taught me, among other things, to believe in myself (that all-too-common admonition). That leads to action and "inevitability". That confidence seems to be eroding by the day.

On the internet, I viewed Dillon Beach homes for rent. Speaking with an agent, I learned only a few are still available for Memorial Day Weekend. Prices are exorbitant, in the $1,000-2,000 range for a 3-day weekend!

Over to "Oliver's" to get some groceries and visit with Jess. She was fighting an illness since Sunday, but still working. I ordered a smoothie and sat at her counter, visiting.

I listened to seniors talking about the 10% discounts they receive here on Wednesdays. ("Ah! Another form of 'welfare' so prevalent in our society, yet it's regarded as a birthright. When we 'boomers' retire, these discounts will have quite an impact on the prices others have to pay!")

***

Returned to Sugarloaf Ridge for a hike. Today was a perfect day: sunny, blue and cool. A brisk wind out of the west.

Went up to Bald Mountain. Despite the recent lack of exercise, the hike was not particularly taxing (a negatively charged word these days!), which suggests I may be carrying a little less weight than a year ago.

It was a much-needed "time out" and infusion of natural impressions. The mind is invigorated by this energy, and a little physical exertion straightens out a body and gets it functioning in a more efficient way. The various parts interfere less with one another.

"What to do next?"

The thoughts rolled along:

- Leave and continue traveling around the World
- Get a van and move around the U.S. (Drew's suggestion)
- Travel "for hire"! (have readers help choose the next destination)
- Carry "gifts" and messages from one place to the next, connecting people
- Travel for particular causes ("Campion's Champions"!)

Relaxed atop Bald Mountain. "I should have brought my camera! It’s so perfect out here!"

I looked over Sonoma County and thought about the growth here. It is truly a beautiful land, but development and exploitation have been virtually unbridled for thirty years now.

There are too many seriously-congested areas and "they" just keep building. In Sonoma County, there's no room for developers and speculators any more. Their interests simply do not serve the public interest.

The "quality of life" diminishes for all. Developers build outrageously large homes now ("supersizing" just as the fast food industry has done), giving a customer what they want, while giving them more than they really want. There is no choice. (And we consumers always find a way to justify the purchase. "I guess we can use that for a game room...")

You simply cannot buy a new, small home. "There's no demand," they would have us believe. (What's the sense in building a small home when forcing consumers to over-extend a bit for a larger home on the same lot will generate greater profit?)

What ever happened to virtues such as humility and restraint (i.e. modest homes), and respect for the common good?

These hikes always stir up thoughts, some more hair-brained than others. (Pretty funny coming from a bald guy.)

Descending the trail, I looked off to a lone vineyard draping a nearby hill. That one little plot is still my dream.

It was a good, refreshing hike.

***

Coming out of the mountains, I stopped at the intersection of Highway 12 and Adobe Canyon and noticed many cars parked around the “Vineyards Inn”. I thought about stopping in to talk to the owners, and friends, Steve and Colleen about Dillon Beach rentals (they have a house there), but then turned toward Santa Rosa, uncomfortable about walking in after being away so long.

About a mile down the road, I turned around. “Discomfort is not going to be the decision-maker here.”

Went back, parked in the rear, then walked around to the front of the restaurant. The bar was crowded. I realized I had walked into some kind of special event. Colleen spotted me and said "hello". I asked what's going on. She said that (the bartender) Greg's mother had just passed away. They were having a gathering in her honor.

There were many familiar faces in the crowd, all a little older, yet full of life. Colleen and Steve welcomed me home, Colleen offering me a margarita. "You probably didn't have one of these on the road."

Steve, Colleen, Greg, Kathy and her husband Jim, Marlene and her husband, (later) Carol and Eddie, Christine (who I think started working here as a teenager), Jay Gamel and many others.

Talked with Kathy's husband, Jim Fletcher who does concrete work for the wine industry and rides motorcycles. He was happy to meet me after reading about me in the Kenwood Press. "You've got cajones!" he laughed.

Marlene's husband rides a Harley and is going to Sturgis this year. (Without Marlene!) He's been there many times, but never on a bike. (He lived in Montana, building grain elevators.)

I saw another familiar character as he was about to leave and called out to him. I hadn't seen Jeff McBride in over ten years. After years with “Kenwood Vineyards”, then “Dry Creek” (and teaching at SRJC), he's now Winemaker and General Manager at “Chateau St. Michelle’s Conn Creek” winery in Napa. He said he loves it and invited me to come visit.

What an unexpected and pleasant surprise to be among so many friends (though unfortunately marking such a sad event.)

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