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California, Modesto

road trip retrospect: Modesto, CA

I know, I know. The road trip has been over for awhile now, and perhaps talking about it more than a year later seems silly. However, there are a few things I want to document that I never got around to doing.

Like heading to Modesto, CA to meet @katiebeth:


This is her at her sister’s school’s playground. This is her doing the splits on a slackline:


I am forever impressed by her slackline skills. Katie is wonderful. She invited me to stay with her at her parent’s house and it was really a treat to meet her mom and dad, as well as her younger sister, Megan. And Tobias the Dog. Isabel and Toby enjoyed walking Megan to school:


Please note Toby’s ears folded back, in order to give him that streamlined edge for speed. Again, impressed.

I was really honored to stay with Katie’s family, and touched when they invited me to stay an extra night after Katie left (to go back to school) so that I could make the trek over to Yosemite (they live mere hours away). Overall, I loved meeting Katie and had an absolute blast with her. Other highlights I neglected catch photos of include watching the AscenDance Project in Berkeley, going to a climbing competition at a nearby gym, and somehow breaking my glasses — oh wait, I did get a photo of that:


And again, I was treated to wonderful service at Katie’s family eye doctor, who gave me a great deal on a new pair.

Now, if only Modesto was closer to Indy.


California, Yosemite

Yosemite National Park and other updates

Well, it’s been awhile, hasn’t it? First, let’s pick up where we left off. After organic farming, I drove back down to central California and stopped at Katiebeth‘s house (more on that later). On the way out, Isabel and I stopped at Yosemite National Park:

Get the flash player here:

Which was absolutely beautiful. The majesty of the landscape filled my heart and moved me such as to bring tears to my eyes. I’m sure that sounds like a bit much, come on, Lydia, it’s just some nature. I felt so grateful to be there — to breathe in the cool, pine-infused air, to witness El Capitan and Half Dome (if only from a distance). I had traveled so far, and being in Yosemite brought me closer to something, something I can’t quite name, something I think I was looking for when I set out on the trip.

I think Isabel loved Yosemite as well. She whined on the way in and on the way out of the park. We had a lovely and peaceful time wandering the trails, sniffing every last bit (her) and clearing the mind (me).


In other news, we’re coming up on one year since I embarked on this trip. While I’ve finished this leg of travel and back in one place, I’ll continue to post photos and info on what the end of the trip was like, as well as provide a follow-up of what the past four months have been like. (For those that don’t know, I’m back in Indianapolis and working my way back into the “real world,” whatever that means.)

Thanks for hanging around!

California, WWOOFing

like a cabbage patch, but for strawberries

I find gardening and yardwork very rewarding. There are some tasks that I dislike doing (like weeding), but I still manage to motivate myself to do because I understand and revel in the benefits (like not having weeds and getting the good stuff to grow). Other tasks, though, are right up my alley. One of which, I found out, is pruning strawberries. Behold, the strawberry patch:


Before my WWOOFing experience, I had not pruned one strawberry plant in my entire life. I’ve picked lots of strawberries and enjoyed the deliciousness that is strawberry pie, fresh strawberry ice cream, strawberry shortcake and my most favorite dessert of all time (aside from the birthday limoncello cake): chocolate-covered strawberries.

Pruning strawberries would round out my strawberry experience, I think, as it’s the work that must be done in order to encourage the plants to bear fruit, lots of it. Fruit that I like to eat, lots of it. What appeals to me about this process is rejuvenating the plants from carrying old, brown leaves and stems to looking lush, green and ready to thrive. Seeing a whole row this way is incredibly satisfying. However, getting a whole row to that point is backbreaking work, let me tell you. If my body would let me, I’d do the work day and night, but the body only lasts so long, so things get accomplished in smaller bits.

And this is where I learned very clearly the benefits of taking breaks (without guilt), stretching and taking a moment (or moments) to breathe, take a walk, move the bones, become aware of the day. This was as satisfying as doing the work, which then became a nice, peaceful balance. This is a lesson I’ve carried with me since, and something I seek to maintain in my daily life.

California, Isabel, WWOOFing

WWOOFing with the birds

After a long day of driving, we landed in northern California on an organic family homestead, tired and ready for a few weeks of organic farming. I found this place through WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and I highly recommend having a looksee if you are interested in growing your own food or learning more about organic farming practices in a hands-on approach sort of way.

Let’s talk about the first night there. First, this farm had chickens, which I knew about beforehand. But. It also had turkeys, which I did not know about beforehand. Now, have I mentioned that Isabel is a pointer mix? Pointer. Bird dog. Chickens and turkeys? Birds. Let me do the math for you:


So once Isabel found the chickens, in the dark, on our first night, not an hour into meeting the lovely family we’d be staying with, all hell broke loose for the next 20 minutes as Isabel darted around the chicken coop and I tried to keep my cool and not make a bad impression, while still getting her to chill the eff out (result: she did not chill out). This was perhaps my least favorite evening of the entire road trip.

Why did I go to a farm with birds? Because I figured we’d just figure it out, like we had done for most of the rest of the trip. And we did. After a few days, Isabel managed to take her obsession from level 500 to about level 4, and that was good enough for me. Luckily, it was good enough for the folks we stayed with as well, and thus I dove into the wonderfulness that is growing one’s own food. More on that in the next post.

California, Redwoods



After Napa Valley I headed to northern California to do some organic farming. On my way there, I drove through the Avenue of the Giants, which is just. absolutely. amazing. I’m pretty sure Redwood trees inspired the word “treehugger” because these are trees I felt compelled to hug. I ached to hug them (and I did, but Isabel was poor at snapping a picture of me doing that.) Grandfatherly, endearing… these trees took my breath away. They are so tall and towering that I drove through the Avenue of the Giants with my headlights on, as the trees block out a lot of light. This is an experience I would recommend to anyone, regardless of your feelings about trees. I can’t believe anyone would want to clear millions and millions of acres of these beautiful giants.