A Drifter’s Birthday

Hello friends.

A few days ago I had to check in with Cody to see not only what day it was, but also where we were. Our life right now is a lot like being on tour. Another town, another hotel, another (baggage) load in, do the things, see the stuff, sleep in a strange bed in a strange room, another (baggage) load out. Don’t get me wrong we are having a hell of a time on our adventure. We are simply starting to feel the road weariness that comes with a lack of roots.

Soon enough (August 11 to be exact) we will be in our new place in Waldport and I am sure that before long we will be dreaming of the road and planning our next big outing. For today however, we are in Eureka, California and it is my 47th birthday.

It was a nice day today. Cool but nice. First thing this morning we went down to the hotel lobby for breakfast and I had a waffle. That probably sounds pretty basic. The key thing to note here is this particular birthday waffle was not prepared by me and I did not have to clean up after it. Those things combined could quite possibly make it the best damn waffle I have ever had.

After breakfast, we took our giant bag of dirty clothes to a laundromat. Again, this may not sound very much like a great way to spend a birthday morning, but it was AWESOME, because we dropped off that f*ing heap of laundry and paid someone else to wash, dry and fold it all up. Seriously – breakfast I did not make, have to clean up after or pay for (part of our hotel deal) followed by a tall stack of clean underpants that I did not have to wash – that is pretty close to birthday nirvana for me.


Our bellies full of waffle and our dirty clothes someone else’s problem, we headed off to the Sequoia Park Zoo. The zoo is small but well-kept and the animal enclosures are nice. The zoo had plenty of birds. Flamingoes, Bald Eagles, Parrots . . . and these weird screaming things. They are literally called Crested Screamers and when one of these birds let loose I freaked out, like haunted house punch Cody and jump freaked. I was so scared that when it was over Cody asked me if I’d peed. A question I will not be answering here.

Flamingoes at the Sequoia Park Zoo
Crested Screamer and her chicks

The highlights for us were the red pandas and the river otters. We were there at the perfect time – both the pandas and otters were being fed so they were super lively. Those otters put on a hell of a show. Three of them were wrestling in the water. The otters swimming and playing reminded me simultaneously of kids playing and experimental dance. They were spirit lifting for sure. The Red Pandas were adorable, somewhere between a kitten and a fox on the cute scale. They moved easily through the trees a waddled a little on the ground.

At the end of our tour we went into the room with the turtles, lizards and other forest critters that I won’t look at. The only reason that I went in at all was that they had Banana Slugs. I cannot tell you why, but for whatever reason I am fascinated by Banana Slugs. There is something so interesting about these gooey land eels. Today, on my 47th birthday, standing in the zoo having paid for an “adult” priced ticket,  I said the phrase “I think Banana Slugs are by third favorite forest creature that starts with B.” If you are curious Black Bears and Badgers are the first two.

That is not a poo it is a Banana Slug

After the zoo and after lunch at a great little Mediterranean place I was growing a little weary. We have been on the road since the end of June and among the things that have grown a little tired and ragged, is my hair. I had that horrible moment today when you know with absolute clarity that nothing but a haircut is going to fix how you feel about yourself as a person. This was terrible timing. I tried to get into no less than SIX shops in the Old Town section of Eureka and not a damn would see me. Being met with this obstacle I did what any rational adult would do on their birthday. . . I stood on the street corner and cried a little.

At this point I needed to go back to the hotel and regroup. On the way back we stopped at an Ulta. I had run out of hairspray and totally forgot that I asked Cody to run me by there this morning. As soon as we walked in I remembered that some Ulta’s have salons in the back. I checked in and they could take me in half an hour.

After meeting the stylist, Melissa Hornbeck, and seeing the magic she worked on my head, I would like to say “thank you” so much to those uppity ass shops in Old Town for not working me in. Melissa was a damn delight. We had a great time and she really listened to me about my general skank wave issues and how jacked my head looked. She was super down to earth and I left there feeling great. If you ever happen to find yourself in Eureka, California with a scraggly head of hair and super low self-esteem, march right over to the Ulta and have Melissa cut your hair, you will leave refreshed and feeling whole again.

Thanks to Melissa Hornbeck at ULTA in Eureka, CA


Our last stop of the birthday night was the Lost Coast Brewery and Pub. I had a tangy and delightful Tangerine Wheat ale and Cody had the Brown Stout. The food was good and the place was cool. Rather than a birthday cake I had a root beer float made with their house root beer. While I really enjoyed it, I am a little sad that for the first time in what must be more than thirty years, I did not have a Baskin Robbins Turtle Pie for my birthday.

I suppose this is a good thing. There are no Basin Robbins’ near Waldport so I certainly will not be having that Turtle Pie for any birthday in the foreseeable future. It is common to think “had I only known,” today I’m thinking that I wish I had any inkling last year that not only was it the last one in my house and in Missoula, but also possibly my last birthday Basin Robbins Turtle Pie. Even now as I sit here writing about a stupid ice cream pie the tears are coming faster than I’d like. I can’t say if it is road rash or just missing a home and the known. Either way every new beginning starts with at least a handful of goodbyes, I expect that this particular farewell just snuck up on me.

So the over under on this birthday is generally a good day. Red Pandas, otters and a great new haircut have been highlights. Someone else doing the laundry and making breakfast are excellent gifts and I am super grateful. We head out to Fort Bragg tomorrow and after that we are spending a week in San Francisco.

We will keep in touch and let you know how we are doing along the way. Thank you so much for the really nice birthday texts, messages and Facebook posts. You guys are the best! Happy Trails.


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