Gone Camping With My Brother!
I am working on a brand new open life. I promised myself that from now on, I would say yes more often and open myself to new adventures. For about six months now, there has been a little voice in my head that keeps saying, "I need a camping trip, I need a camping trip". Well, I finally listened and went to Northern California for the Russian River Jazz and Blues Festival. (The photograph on the left is the view from the dock at our campgrounds. Just past the bridge on the beach is where the festival is held.) My brother, Ken loves music and we hadn't seen each other in about 5 years. (Here we are waiting to have breakfast together on the way out of town after the festival.) We've talked on the phone occasionally, but no face to face. I called him and asked if he was ready to have some fun together. Want to go to the RR Jazz & Blues Festival? Yes? We can camp just up the road. We grew up camping, so I knew he would love it. He said yes, I will meet you there on Thursday before the festival. Cool!!! He lives in Idaho, so his drive down would be about as far as my drive up. We had a wonderful reunion. I just loved spending time with my brother. He is a great person. Very knowledgeable about music, relaxed and easy going to hang out with. He brought his guitar and played a little while we sat around the campfire at night.
Originally, I had planned on leaving the Wednesday before the festival. Then my friend Rachel said, why don't you come up on Labor day and stay at my newly finished house in the Santa Cruz mountains on the way. (Look at the beautiful color of her place. Teal blue stain!) Why not, I said? I am the boss of this business. Ok! I will be up on Labor Day. Well, my car was all packed and ready to roll by Sunday at 10:00am. My other friend Nancy, whom I have known since 4th grade recently moved to Paso Robles. She wanted me to visit her on the way too. I called her and asked if I could spend Sunday night at her house. Of course she said yes, come on up, we're having a BBQ tonight. Wooo Hoooo! I rolled out the driveway by noon. A 10 day vacation is so much better than a 7 day vacation, don't you think? After all, I had promised myself I would be open to new adventures, new people and new inspirations. Nancy's boyfriend, Kevin, is a musician and Nancy plays dulcimer. In their living room were about 10 guitars and a couple of Ukuleles along with her lovely dulcimer sitting on stands, beautifully displayed. The neighbor, Bones is a poet and their friend Bill was there from Fresno. What a great evening we all had. Drinking wine, hanging around the kitchen cutting and chopping and cooking while Bones recited his wonderful poetry to us. Great people, new inspiration, good food and lots of laughing. My promise to myself was happening in a huge way. Cool! I wondered what would be next on this great adventure? In the morning, I headed out for Santa Cruz to have lunch with Rachel Nelson Smith and see her new studio. It is a tiny space but so cool! A great skylight keeps things bright along with her Chartreuse curtains hiding the shelves full of kit makings. I picked up her new book which I had pre-ordered and off we went to lunch in downtown Santa Cruz. (I am sorry I didn't get a good picture of her studio and us together.) Then to the other Rachel's to spend the rest of the day. She is in Felton, a mountain community above Santa Cruz. We walked in the redwood forest down the road from her place, then cooked dinner together and sat on the porch. That's Rachel sitting on the porch of her new home in the picture above. Inside her new home it is spacious and serene. Ahhhhh. Thanks Rachel!
I arrived at the Campgrounds Tuesday at 12:30 pm. There are only about 15 campsites at the private campground with a beautiful lodge out front. It is called The Guerneville Lodge. I had the entire place to myself and was able to choose the very best campsite in the place! Yes!!! A full view of the Russian River about 15' below my site, plenty of trees for shade and I am a
happy camper. I set up my tent, placed my chair and little table on the "Veranda" and sat beading for a while. Will, the caretaker came over and offered to loan me his kayak. Yes! I have never been kayaking before. Yet another new adventure awaits. Meanwhile, I got a new camping neighbor, Mike. I introduced myself to him and met his dog, River. I learned that he just happens to live in San Diego too! We had both borrowed kayaks from Will and rowed down the river together, chatting like old friends. When we got back, we had two new neighbors. I walked over, introduced myself and Mike to them. Cheryl and Laurel are great women to hang out with! Both creative and interesting women. I invited them and Mike to come over and "Verandize". This means we sit in our chairs at the edge of a drop off or ledge. Even a 4" ledge will do, and drink wine or beer and munch on cheeses, fruits, chips or whatever you have. They all said yes and we pooled our food and drinks and looked out over the river. Meanwhile, two new neighbors were moving in. Michael and Stanley. Come on over, we said. And the party got even better! For the rest of the week and into the weekend, any new campers were invited to Verandize. The campgrounds were full by Friday night. On Saturday night, we had a huge pot luck dinner at Michael and Stanley's campsite with almost all the other campers. Was my life opening up in a big way or what? The original 6 campers exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and vowed we would be back next year for the 2010 Festival.
Speaking of the Festival, it was amazing! Saturday, Jazz day, was warm and sunny. You bring your blanket, lawn chairs, ice chest and whatever else you want and stake out a spot on Johnson's Beach, where the stage is set up. Right there on the banks of the Russian River. How wonderful!
The music was great, our festival neighbors were so fun and about halfway through the day, I walked back to our campsite, about a 10 minute walk away, grabbed a blow up boat and paddled back down the river to the festival. I found Stanley and Michael floating on inner tubes. We visited a while and I left them with my float and swam to shore to join my brother on the beach again. Sunday was the Blues day of the festival. There was a light rain all day. No one minded. We had umbrellas or ponchos or just a piece of plastic tarp. Some just got wet. It was like Woodstock for old farts! Too fun. We danced in the rain, walked around the vendor booths, grabbed a bite to eat from the food vendors, my favorite had huge oysters on the grill. I mean huge! one oyster had to be cut into 3 or 4 pieces to be eaten. They were topped with salsa, garlic and lemon juice. I had them both days with a tall beer. Mmmmmm. Should have gotten a picture of that! I didn't take too many pictures at the festival. I was too busy having fun! I can't wait until next year. I AM going back. It is on my 2010 calendar.