we are all a work in progress

Before we moved to California, James and I had a lot of conversations about what life might be like once we got here–how much we’d miss our families and friends (a lot), whether we’d find a restaurant that serves queso (no), if we’d have extravagant utility bills (luckily, no), if our house would be big enough to hold all our stuff (no), if anyone would come visit (luckily, yes).

We also wondered how the move would impact who we are. Both being in our mid-40s, was it possible a change of scenery would equal a change of self? Or are you pretty much who you are once you reach middle age?

Since we were moving to a cool coastal climate with an abundance of natural beauty, I had high hopes the outdoorsy part of my nature might awaken. That the person I was on vacation in California–active, open and ready to adventure outside–would somehow become the person I was living in California. That I’d spend less time in front of the dim glow of the computer and more time in direct sunlight. My inner voice wasn’t so sure, but it can be an asshole sometimes.

I’ll be damned if the outdoorsy part of my soul didn’t find its way to the surface, putting my feet on the bare earth with as much regularity as possible while still meeting my work/life obligations. And instead of this being something that immediately burst forth with the newness of a change of latitude/longitude, it simmered for the first year then grew in intensity in the past six months, my hikes becoming longer and harder, my desire to be outside and unconfined stronger. A welcome surprise, to be sure.

I’m telling you this, not because I’m excited about my new relationship with the outdoors (though it’s fucking awesome and I even have a tan), but in case you have some ideas you’re chewing on and could use a boost. If my sedentary, internet-addicted, pale-as-a-vampire self could find its way into the sunlight, you can do yo thang too. Just tell that inner voice to simmer down for a bit while you find your footing. And be sure to give yourself time for a transition to happen. Change will come, but it may not come quickly.




catastrophe jackassery

bug-out bag: A portable bag that contains essential items to help you survive the first 72 hours of a disaster, whether you shelter in place or head for the hills. Typical items include water, dehydrated food, energy bars, fire-starting tools, first aid kit, hand-crank radio (ideally with a cellphone charger built in), duct tape, hatchet, poncho, etc.

Living in hurricane country most of my life, I usually had a small stockpile of bottled water, canned food, candles, crackers and granola bars. The only time I ever tapped into it (other than raiding supplies when there was no other food in the house) was during Hurricane Ike when we were without power for a week. Compared to the people who were flooded out of their homes and lost everything, our week without power was a slight inconvenience. A technology vacation that saw us getting together with neighbors each night to grill what was left of frozen steaks while we drank wine by candlelight and listened to night noises usually obscured by air conditioners and other comfort machinery. You don’t realize how much a city buzzes until it stops making noise.

Here in earthquake country, we have a shelf full of Mountain House dehydrated food, a propane stove and propane, water, candles, batteries and a few other items. Where the San Andreas fault runs right by San Francisco, it goes inland when it passes the central coast, and our house is a couple of blocks up the hill from the tsunami inundation zone. If we lived closer to the forest and had to worry about fires that drive you from your bed in the middle of the night barefoot and running to your car, I’d probably keep photos and other irreplaceables in an easy-access container near the door. But for now, I’m comfortable with the minor level of preparedness we have.

I think bug-out bags are an interesting concept, but I haven’t felt the need to actually put one together. In Houston, there’s no place to bug out to–the mass (and needless) evacuation for Hurricane Rita showed there’s no escape from the fourth largest city when everyone’s trying to leave at the same time. And here, there are a lot more wilderness options, but unless we also have a tent and other supplies too large to fit into a big backpack, I don’t think a bug-out bag’s going to do it. If we have to shelter in place, we’ll grab the stuff from the cabinet as we need it. Having it in one bag wouldn’t make a difference.

Which brings me around to this: the Prepster, a “luxury 3 day survival bag.” It comes with the usual bug-out bag items, only in “luxury” form. Like grapefruit face cleanser and cilantro hair conditioner. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve been driven from my home due to some horrible disaster, I’m not fucking around with split ends. And who wouldn’t want their hair to smell like cilantro, am I right?

You can even get the bag monogrammed, bringing your grand total to $420. I’d love to know who their target demographic is. All I can picture is a tanned woman with a yoga body and long fingernails crying as she tries to rip open the packaging around her dehydrated “astronaut” ice cream while her boyfriend is cranking the radio in hopes of charging his cellphone as they sit on the small spot of grass in front of their townhouse. Their manicured dog keeps inching further and further away, unnoticed, and their neighbors are watching through the curtains to take a break from their own drama. What are they going to do on day four when their bag is empty? Smell their cilantro hair and hope someone saves them?

A bug-out bag wouldn’t have helped clear our driveway of tree limbs, post Hurricane Ike. Beer and whiskey did that trick.

Treffen #17

Treffen is an annual caravan of vintage VWs that journeys down Highway 1 from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. This is their 17th trip, but it was the first time they had a “Show & Shine” in Pacific Grove. There were dozens of beautiful Buses, Bugs and (my beloved) Karmann Ghias.

They’re continuing southward today, and if I didn’t have to work I’d position myself on the Old Coast Road above Bixby Bridge to get some great video. You can follow their progress here.

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