Road Trip: Hello Again, Hello.

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June 1-15, 2023, Ann Linnea and I made our first long road trip in eight years. Our trusty 2011 RAV4, purchased to make a rite of passage camping trip when our grandson, Jaden, turned ten, is still the vehicle that carried us through the western coastal states of Washington, Oregon, and California, to Jaden’s high school graduation and back! There’s more mileage on the car, more years on the grandmas, and more to think about venturing out of our usual island routines into the ongoing story of “what is happening to/in America.”

What determined the route was the memorial in Sonoma County for our dear colleague, Deb Greene-Jacobi, the chance to visit long-time friends in the same area and end up in Culver City to support Jaden in his launch toward college, and his parents and sister reconfiguring to support Sasha through her teen years. Where there is good love, there is foundation for good life.  The lovely people stories are living in my heart. This blog is a reflection on what it meant to be on the road.

What replenished us: awe at Nature’s beauty and her resilience to keep working with/around/despite all human interference and interaction. We drove by all seven volcanoes that form the PNW link in the ring of fire. We

Sister Sequoias.

walked in Redwood groves with trees older than white presence on this land. We marveled at the massive presence of Sequoia. We walked alongside bubbling mud and melting snow in Lassen Volcanic NP. And because of the wet winter, everything was still green, blooming. Hundreds of miles of oleander growing on the median of the interstate—such generous plants to transmute exhaust fumes into blossoming beauty.

 

What we thought about: monoculture agriculture, the stress to the land of food production and our shock to find rice paddies, olive groves, almond orchards in the northern California

Rows of citrus orchard outside Fresno.

drylands. Seeing where foodstuffs I take for granted come from, and the scale of water use and production necessary to keep the grocery shelves stocked, changes how I handle everything in my kitchen.  Everything comes from something: life is chain-linked, cyclical, interconnected. All products, edible and not, represent a huge donation of resources, industry, and people laboring in the system. Workers bending over in the fields, truckers carrying boxes of goods mile after freeway mile, workers stocking stores, etc. etc. I know all this. I’m an educated person. I read books and articles. But to SEE it, to be immersed in the agricultural heart of California for days of driving, followed by the rangelands of dairy farms, cattle ranches, sheep on hillsides, and chicken barns is to be reawakened to what it takes to keep even my “simplified” modern life going.

What we noticed: America is not the same. The vibe has changed since we were last on the road. I fear this polarization in which ordinary people are manipulated into deeper and deeper divisions. To accomplish our

Bumpersticker that made me cringe.

Bumpersticker that made me think and smile.

heartful mission, we two grandmas traveled through a social field of increased aggression, intolerance, threat, and despair. There are fundamental signs that America is not okay: Gun toting in public. Drug use on street corners. Tents and tarps and people begging. Flags in which each star is a skull, each stripe an automatic weapon. Society is a fragile arrangement, and when people are in crisis, society is in crisis. The divides are more obvious—not just bumper stickers and flags, but who the system cares for and who it does not.

Now what:  We traveled 2838 miles (4567 kms).  We had incredible moments with people and nature, seeded conversations that are growing in ourselves and others. We come home even more aware of the vulnerability of all things. We come home determined to keep making a difference at any level of scale we can: how we tend our own garden, buy from local farmers, bicycle instead of drive, befriend the folks around us, stay social, engaged, grateful, humbled, determined to continue threading sense through these turbulent times. Grief and gratitude are two sides of a spinning coin. Perhaps they cannot exist without the other.

Whidbey sunset from the edge of our neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS: I know Ann is posting a blog about the graduation: check out www.annlinnea.com to read that part in depth.

35 replies
  1. Roslyn Duffy
    Roslyn Duffy says:

    Reading this was like retracing our own travels through those holy redwoods, the olive and almonds and rice paddies, and in and out of small town rural America. We were even in our own RAV4! The year we last went along that route T_ _ _ p for President signs waved in the fields and smeared across billboards. Signs that presaged the divisive realities of today.
    I’m grateful to have known the dear friend you honored and to have shared your travels as they merged with my memories. Thank you.

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Yes, such travel is always as full of memories as it is full of scenery. And weren’t we fortunate to have known Deb…

  2. Diana Smith
    Diana Smith says:

    There is so much wisdom- elder wisdom, grandmother wisdom to collectively engage. Our gardens, our simplified ways of living are the foundation…is there more we can do together?

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      As we collectively manage to act and speak as elders we create a web that helps to hold the generations… I find life in my 70s to be a constant learning process about what remains mine/ours to do and what to let go and encourage others to do.

  3. Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon
    Mary Lautzenhiser Bellon says:

    Insightful reflections. I, too, just returned from a road trip through the Southwest. The homeless camps in Phoenix with heat at 103 degrees was heartbreaking. Your analysis is spot on

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Isn’t it interesting to be on the road? So much life review happens… and the potential for empathy, for seeing into lives so different from our own.

  4. "B" Barbara Campbell
    "B" Barbara Campbell says:

    Oh Christina! I so enjoyed reading of your travels with Ann as I am now an armchair traveler. Your descriptions ignited many of my own memories and added some others. Grief and gratitude~let the coin spin; acceptance is the key for me. I have a small sticker on the back of my phone, “Attitude of Gratitude.” That covers all conditions. Thank you and happy travels.

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Take care of yourself from the chair of your life now, B. Sending you blessings for the day.

  5. Gretchen Staebler
    Gretchen Staebler says:

    Glorious travels, words, grandparenting, and wisdom keeping, my friend. I’m hoping to embark on a similar road trip in a few months; you inspire me to bring awareness along in the passenger seat. 💜

  6. Dianne Feltham
    Dianne Feltham says:

    Your travel and sharing of your experience is much appreciated. One can clearly see the difference between being awaken to woke. There is so much we can and need to do and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a little at a time, just do something. Thank you Christina, thank you❣️

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      There’s a marvelous waltz tune I used to sing… “If every man/woman/country child (etc) in the world and their mind set on freedom… there’d be no more war.” When I can’t do anything else, I can fill myself with singing and hold the vibe of that presence.

  7. Anne Stine
    Anne Stine says:

    always inspiring and enlightening, your unique and articulate perspective. Keeping us alert, questioning, reflecting, open and more. May you always keep writing, for the benefit of us all, human and otherwise. love. Anne

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      And what a beautiful first visit and deep dive conversation you provided us. Life review/laughter, death preparations/tears, hiking, good food, quiddler, tile rummy and ice cream! We did a lot in a day and a half… and at our ages! We rock.

  8. Shanin Williams
    Shanin Williams says:

    Hello Christina, I leave on Friday for a 2 1/2 month road trip. Some of it through country I know well, but 10 days will be through the northern states, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota I appreciate your reminder to look for the beauty. I see the divisiveness, but also the points of possible connection.

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Oh such big country! Yes beauty everywhere… and the possibility for connection. Our only bumpersticker says: I’m a grandma. What’s your superpower? It has opened conversational and story doors at gas stations and national park parking lots thoughout our trip. Traveling mercies to you, and time to write in your journal along the way.

  9. Melissa Bailey-Kirk
    Melissa Bailey-Kirk says:

    Ah, so lovely to imagine you and Ann traveling, and offering sacred presence to both the grief- and gratitude-evoking sights and sounds.

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      When is your book coming out, Judy? I read an advance copy of “When Your Heart Says Go”–a gentle and insightful tavelogue through Europe and soul searching. Watch for it, folks.

  10. Kim K Fenton
    Kim K Fenton says:

    I feel this. I feel the cycle, the release and returns. It is sobering, and magical all at the same time. I swim in the ocean almost everyday, year round, and to release my body to the water, feel the exchange, is a wonder every single swim. And I am really enjoying watching my own garden grow; my cucumbers once in the plant now on my plate, the raspberries buried in yogurt. It is all just wonderful. Be Well.

  11. Tenneson
    Tenneson says:

    Thank you. Your thoughtfulness inspires mine. Your love of journey awakens mine. “Where there is good love there is foundation for good life.” A bow.

  12. Jeanne Petrick
    Jeanne Petrick says:

    WELCOME HOME, Christina, (and Ann) – I bet you received a most excited Vivi greeting upon your return! Thanks for sharing your recent purpose-filled travels. What a gift along the way to make connections with the redwoods – those incredible trees providing, I am sure, great nourishment along the way, as 2838 miles is a whole lot of miles no matter ones age!
    “Grief and gratitude …. can not exist without the other.” Words to chew on and ponder and digest. Thanks. Also, I wonder if ever it wasn’t the case that “society is a fragile arrangement”? Perhaps it is only different today by its magnitude? I continue to think that we too are here at this specific time, equipped and up to the task of countering that energy with hope and joy and kindness thereby bringing balance? Thanks for sharing your thoughts – it really helps and informs and makes me pause to make sure I am traveling where I want to be going! xxx

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      I think you are right: society is always a fragile arrangement. And there are times when it veers toward cohesion and times it veers toward dissolution. Working to turn us back to a cohesive moment in history–the earth needs us united and thinking and changing our ways. love to you.

  13. Jeanne Guy
    Jeanne Guy says:

    You and Ann are good to and good for this earth, and good for our heads and hearts. You plant seeds everywhere you go, and we are better off for it.

  14. Linette Harriott
    Linette Harriott says:

    Thanks for these musings. I value your keen insights about the state of the world. I was reminded of my last road trip. I love a road trip! My friend, her dog, Maisie and I travelled to Kangaroo Island, off the coast of South Australia. We received the kindness of strangers repeatedly on our journey and wondered at the changes in landscape and the wildness and the beauty. After this reminiscing I reckon I am ready for a new adventure. Thanks for the inspiration. I will get planning! Linette XXX

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      I am so grateful that our business travel included several trips to Australia and the opportunity to meet you! Whether we ever see each other again, we did. We met. We support. Carry on.

  15. Bonnie Rae
    Bonnie Rae says:

    An epic spring trip! I so appreciate your always thoughtful posts. I think my favorite part of this one is how you lead with all the positives: people, places and your descriptions of what committment to those things look like. I know from my own adventures of late how very different it feels to be out in the world. And while the mention of it serves as a necessary cautionary tale, first and foremost I want to remember that my experience of it will always benefit from the reminder that mostly, this world is still full of goodness. It’s up to me to keep perspective in all things. We, collectively, have a lot of work to do and I’m determined to keep showing up with hope rather than fear ❤️

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Thank you for this reflection, Bonnie Rae. It is a delicate psychological/spiritual balance to look into the dark corners and remember how much light still holds me/us/the world together. I remember how my father in his 90s became more and more emotional (as well as remaining dedicated to informed and thoughtful) and often said what he had left to contribute to the nightly new was his tears. The last event he tracked as he entered his final illness (3 weeks of kidney failure) was the hearing in which Christine Blasey Ford stood in her truth and story about the character of Brett Kavanaugh. When we can’t do anything else… we can let our hearts break/break open/feel to heal.
      One of the places I go for healing, that constantly brings ease back to my heart is your incredible photography of nature, and the essays that rise in you as you wander. Thank you so much for http://www.insearchofthevery.com.

  16. Karin Wilson
    Karin Wilson says:

    It took me a long time to see the depth of the interconnectedness of “things”. Your eloquent post reminded me of that. Seeing oneness through humanity is feat enough, but when we can see oneness through the careful crafting and manufacturing of the table where we break bread together, or in the metal used in the plumbing that brings water through our taps, we have a greater understanding of the intricate web we live in. Sadly the holes in the web appear to be getting bigger. We live in a delicate, fragile world. Thank you for blessing us all, and continuing your work. 🙏♥️

    • Christina Baldwin
      Christina Baldwin says:

      Thanks for this reflection on interconnectedness. I remember as a 6 year old asking my mother where buttons come from… I think she knew then I was going to be a challenge! And later in our seminars, we sometimes asked people during lunch break to identify how many global issues were represented at the table with them… food distribution, labor, mining, etc. Always led to a vibrant conversation.

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