From K’s journal…
We enter California through Death Valley National Park. At 282 feet below sea level, this desert is home to the lowest point in the continental U.S. Ironically; the highest point in the lower 48 is less than 100 miles away. Death Valley is an American desert. Upon first glance, everything appears dead and brown, but closer examination reveals that what you see isn’t always what you get.
This land is not brown, nor dead. Life, texture, and stimulating colors flourish here. Unfortunately, it is easy to miss these delicate beauties when failing to look with a sensitive eye. For example: piles of stone look brown from afar, when the small but vivid colors blur together. However, within these mounds are pebbles of: deep ebony, fossilized white-sand, and a vast array of rich purples and reds. Stimulating gold and fluorescent green pop up in the form of daisies. The arms of each Joshua tree leads the way to safety, and salt encrusted ground appears as a fresh blanket of blinding snow.
This is not a valley of death, but a living masterpiece.
While walking along the Rodondo Pier, we happen to come across the filming of a TV series, called The O.C. One of the assistants takes us on set to watch each scene through a group of small monitors. I am amazed to learn that the entire day of setting up, and four hours of filming, only results in five minutes of airtime. Once again, I am reminded how quickly my perspective can change when I take the time to peak “behind the scenes.”
It doesn’t take long before our starry-eyed excitement is lost. Midway through this California experience, we “accidentally” find out that our dog was hit by a car last month and died, but no one told us. We had left him with family because we didn’t think it would be fair to make him live in a car with us for 13 months. I am 3,000 miles away and brought to my knees by grief mixed with anger about how we discovered he was gone. Every single element of our journey is met with magic and hardship. This, I’ve learned, is the way of any journey in life. The California sky cries with me. I am left to either look up into the sky and face the rain or cower from the clouds beneath an umbrella and risk missing the rainbow.
While I attempt to work through the strong feelings of pain and resentment, soggy San Francisco introduces us to our next gallery. We then wander off to discover 200-foot waterfalls and 200-foot trees. The world around us is enchanted. When the skies suddenly clear, roadsides bloom like royal gardens. Hills are speckled with jutting stone and grazing sheep, reminding me of the instability that lies within this west-coast-earth and the 810 mile San Andreas fault. When the earth is literally shifting beneath you, it is easy to see personal parallels evolve. Layers of beauty and success are built upon volatile ground. Despite appearance, it is only a matter of time before underlying foundational flaws overcome it all, and sorrow ensues. Salty water shifts upon these fractured foundations and I continue to fall victim to my own faulted psyche. I wonder if the rocky cliffs beneath our calm are what give us all passion and determination to go on. Like the California coastline, will we break and fall into the sea or rise up into the clouds?
Upon first glance, everything appears strong and alive, but closer examination reveals that what you see isn’t always what you get.