Three weeks. Just the two of us. Just the two of us. Alone. In a car. For three weeks.
Oh, we knew this was coming. It's not like this had been thrust upon us: we'd been planning the road trip for months. Only now it was here, we'd made plans, we'd bought tickets to the music festival, we'd told everyone we were coming, we'd packed our bags and loaded up the car. It was too late to back out now.
So what if we got into a fight? We had a lot of driving to do; sitting in sullen silence in the passenger's seat of a car is hardly how I want to spend my vacation. We'd been going out for eight months at this point and not had any serious fights, but three weeks of long days of driving, camping, meeting new people -- that would tax anyone.
And then, of course, there was the judgment. I was meeting L's friends, L was meeting my friends and entire extended family (at once!). Of course, our friends and family are decent people and it would be silly to expect too much drama. But no matter what, that's a lot of time for both of us to keep our game face on.
So, with some trepidation, we started off our journey.
Our first few days were spent touring along the Pacific coast, courtesy of our good, slow, windy friend, the PCH. Starting off with a little bit of touristy camping seemed like a reasonable way to get things started.
L and I being us, of course, we decided to bypass the Hearst Castle for the somewhat less renowned Nitt Witt Ridge, a private residence constructed from the leavings of its more famous neighbor. It's a crazy, convoluted concoction of a house, with random knicknacks and gew-gaws slapped together in some semblance of order to construct a house. Sadly, we couldn't get a tour, and you'll have to make do with this picture taken from the roadside.
After a sadly poorly photo-documented couple of days exploring redwood forests and Berkeley, we found ourselves in the splendiferously cool Lassen Volcanic National Park. I don't really know what I was expecting out of a volcanic park. Lots of pumice, probably. But I got so much more than I was expecting.
Of course, there was just a lot of pretty scenery, like this delightful little waterfall we found after a short hike.
Mostly, I was happy to explore the magnificently named Bumpass Hell. A delightfully barren, ravaged piece of land, full of mudpits, sulfur plumes, and boiling lakes. The kind of place that has warning signs posted all around telling you that if you step off the walkways, you're pretty much guaranteed to die. Or at least lose your leg, as happened to poor Mr. Bumpass, the discoverer.
And, of course, when exploring strange forests, it's important to practice your tree impersonation so you can blend in with the natives. I've always found that candid photos work better than staged, and forests tend to be very suspicious and guarded if they know there are people around.
Our camouflage well-practiced, we headed down a hiking trail that felt like something out of Heidi. I damn well expected Shirley Temple to come traipsing down the path singing some godawful song about whatever-the-hell Heidi is actually about.
And then, finally, Crater Lake. Beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, blue Crater Lake.
And then, just like that, we were done with the easy part. A week in the car together, and L and I were still on speaking terms.
And then it was time to meet the family.