I had not updated this post since I wrote it in 2013 until one of my readers photographed cemeteries as public art. My pictures looked bad. So I reprocessed the originals and reloaded them. It’s amazing how much I’ve learned about both photography and writing in nearly ten years.
The third-person writing in this post throws me off a bit but I don’t want to redo all ten episodes right now. My intention at the time was to model my writing after the Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. It fell far from the mark, but we had a great vacation – accidentally.
Chapter Seven Jumbled Vacation Journal
“I had no problem writing in my journal when I used a mechanical pencil,” Marsha grumbled to Vince. “So I couldn’t find my pencil, and I quit writing. I didn’t write anything yesterday, or maybe it was day three. What have we been doing since we got here? I remember the Trees of Mystery. I’ve lost track.”
Since he had nothing better to do for the moment, no lawn to mow, no sprinklers to fix, no chores of any kind, Vince sat down with Marsha and they started sorting through the hundreds of pictures in all of their cameras.
“OK, that’s enough for now,” he said ten minutes later, jumping off the kitchen bench seat across from Marsha. “You’d better hurry if you are going with me. Do you want to go? I want to leave here by 6:15 this morning so I can get to the car dealer by 6:45.” Vince took a breath.
“Yes, I want to go,” Marsha said.
Vince continued. “The dealer opens at 7:30, and maybe somebody will come to work early. I want to be the first one there. Then I’ll take you to Starbucks and you can use the internet there. You haven’t written anything in your journal for five days! What happened? You can stay here if you want to work on your journal.”
“No,” she replied. “It’s ok, I wrote some of it online. But now I’m mixed up. Is it Monday? I’m not used to being on vacation and being so out of touch!”
“You know it’s getting late. You’re burning daylight,” Vince already on the move, didn’t respond to her.
By 6:15, as planned, they were on the road in their red rental car, winding their way north on Highway 101 from Klamath, California twenty miles to Crescent City, California to see what might be wrong with the truck. While they waited in the parking lot of the GMC dealer, Vince alternated between pacing the lot and checking his emails on his cell phone. It was nice to have cellular service. He barked a few orders of who to call and email to Marsha. He wanted to make sure that things ran smoothly back home.
“Vince, it’s only 6:45 a.m. I’ll call them when the sun comes up. Why don’t you go walk around a bit?”
Anyone listening or looking at Vince would know he was a human pressure cooker. At five feet four inches tall, his 139-pound muscular build and tense shoulders told the tale that he never stopped moving. Business people loved him. He carried himself like a mover and a shaker. His demeanor stated, “I am here to get this done.”
By the time they checked on the truck, daylight was well on its way, and it was beautiful. The bright blue sky and 75-degree temperatures couldn’t have been lovelier. The truck was set up to get it’s new alternator in less than a week, they were off again. There was so much to see in Eureka.
Arriving in Eureka the first on the agenda was lunch. Vince had not eaten much since 5:00 a.m., and he wanted man food. That meant burgers. They chose Surfside Burgers on Highway 101, the main street, 5th Street, as it ran through downtown Eureka. They enjoyed eating their burgers stuffed with 1/2 inch chunks of bacon smothered with two kinds of cheeses, a tomato slice and lettuce on top. It was cool enough to eat at a bistro set on the sidewalk.
Next Stop – The Ferndale Cemetery
As they ate, Vince poured through the tourist map he had picked up at the Eureka KOA. Want to check out Ferndale Cemetery? It dates back to 1868, just after the Civil War ended.”
Blue sky and her camera around her neck, Marsha was on her way to the car.
“A cemetery? hmmm. Sure, sounds interesting.” As they drove south to Ferndale, she looked at the information on ther phone. “It says here that Ferndale was a glade of giant six-foot tall ferns before the first American settlers came in 1852.”
“That explains the name. I don’t see any now. This cemetery is supposed to be the most famous cemetery in California,” Vince said.
“Wow, this cemetery has huge plots. Unlike my journal, which has no plot,” Marsha joked. Look how big the markers are!”
“Look at the inscription on this one. Did you hear that woman over there that said she found someone here born in 1799? Almost all the markers around here are from the 1800s. Maybe they had filled it up with these gynormous crypts by 1900.”
Marsha was already in another world taking pictures of cracks in the walls, and lopsided headstones, dates, and moss on rocks. Vince took the dog and walked up the steep incline to the top of the cemetery.
Marsha found the stairs.
“The view is great. Just point your camera out this way. See how you can get the ocean in the view?” Vince was excited even though he wasn’t taking the pictures.
Marsha huffed a little as she hurried the rest of the way up the steep incline to the top of the hill overlooking Ferndale.
“It says in this brochure that the first industries were fishing for eels, salmon and sturgeon, while collecting shell fish and growing tobacco,” she said.
She turned to align herself to Vince’s body, pointed the camera exactly as he told her, and snapped the picture.
“That was a perfect shot, honey. Thanks.”
As they left the cemetery, Marsha struck up a conversation with a gentleman placing flowers. It didn’t take long until they were engaged in a heated conversation about whether or not Southern Oregon and Northern California should become the 52nd state of the Union.
“This area was all set to become the state of Jefferson before World War II,” he informed her. These trees need to be managed, and the government just won’t let us do it. Ferndale is dying. There’s no industry here,” his ranting continued.
“Marsha, sweetie, we need to be going.” Vince saved her.
“It was nice to talk to you,” Marsha smiled her lips grating across her clenched teeth. Vince and Marsha headed toward the rental car.
“Ferndale is amazing. I love this place! It looks like it is still 1852 around here. Let’s take our time and take some pictures of the buildings,” Marsha wheedled.
She hadn’t needed to try hard. Vince loved the architecture as well.
Although, architecture was his first love, and he knew he would have been good at it, other priorities had called louder than college. As a bright young man and good salesman, his hard work rapidly drove him to the top of the electronics company where he worked for many years. He and his wife both loved studying the style of buildings in Ferndale.
Quickly the day slipped by, and the couple headed back to their temporary home base in Klamath at the Golden Bear RV Park.
As they drove, Vince spotted a herd of elk bathing in the river and pulled over. Marsha jumped out of the car with about 20 other onlookers and captured the amazing views on her digital camera. Vince snapped a few shots with his cell phone.
“There is another herd about 10 miles up the road,” warned a driver coming from the south.
When they reached that spot, the elk crossed the highway as if it were a meadow in their private forest. Cars on both sides of the road stopped in the road, and everyone got out to take close-up pictures of the racked celebrities. The elk seemed used to it, stopping to pose as they crossed the street, or lay in the grass having a leafy picnic. The effect was magical. Drivers became instant friends as they marveled at the large herd of animals. Vince sat in the car worried that Marsha would be trampled.
Eventually, a few cars inched forward around the herd, and soon the spell was broken, and Vince and Marsha headed down the road. Both accidental travelers were ready for a nap, and they still had to figure out how Marsha was going to conduct her meeting the next night with no internet or cellular service.
Cotinued in The Accidental Vacation Chapter 8.