At this moment I find myself sitting propped up in bed, bathed in the cold blue-white glow of my laptop in the darkness of Lindsay and Bob’s guest room in Atascadero, California. Five months ago we embarked on day one of the Walkabout and made our first stop here. It simply blows my mind that we started our trip here on May 21st, and have since then lived a thousand lifetimes over 14,000 miles and 15 weeks. Over summer we explored the far reaches of the United States, delving into some of the most remote and the most populous locations it has to offer. Readers of this blog will note that I have not posted since August 21. At that point it became too much of a challenge to take in everything I was experiencing, process it, distill it down to words and then pump the text out into digital form while still living in the moment. Instead, I continued to only keep a written journal. By Montana I had filled one small leather-bound volume and started another. These books hold irreplaceable memories of a transcendent journey. It is from these pages that I intend to tell the tale of the rest of the Walkabout, from Michigan to New York City and all the way back to the Pacific Northwest.
We’ve been back in California for a month, today, and I’m still processing all that transpired. So much has happened since returning, mostly in the last week. Over the course of four days I celebrated my 28th birthday, got engaged to Tim, signed the lease on our new place in Oakland and ran my first 5K (for which I had been training all summer long). Our new life is beginning, and the Walkabout’s success had a direct role in crafting it. As we settle down, I shall begin transcribing.
During my last visit to Atascadero, I took a tour of Firestone Walker Brewing Company
. While it was fun just seeing the home of my favorite happy hour beer – the Firestone Walker Double Barrel Ale – I was disappointed by the conspicuous absence of any beer actually being brewed or even bottled, leaving much to be desired in the way of captivatingly detailed tour guide spiels. This time the tour was far from lackluster.
The brewery was in full swing, a-hum with boiling, fermenting, pouring, bottling and labeling. We traveled through the exciting life of their beers from raw hops to the delicious libation we all know and love. Firestone Walker uses only three different yeast strains to make a variety of ales, lagers, and barleywines. My beloved DBA is created using a double-barrel fermenting process. This means its fermentation time is split between the oak barrels of Firestone Walker’s union brewing system (one of only two in the world) and the towering stainless steel tanks behind them. The brewery’s packaging process is no joke either; these machines can bottle 300 bottles per minute and fill up to 60 kegs each hour. At the end I had the unique delight of enjoying a crisp pint of unfiltered DBA, which is only available in their tasting room.
Beer continued to be the theme well into the evening as we took in a showing of Star Trek: Into the Darkness at Galaxy Theatres in Atascadero. No, there was no brown-bagging involved. This was no ordinary movie theater. It had a separate 21+ VIP wing, complete with a bar and lounge area. I took the opportunity to try the Firestone Walker 805 here (pints were only $6.00!). Nachos, popcorn and glasses of beer firmly in hand, we settled into remarkably comfortable oversized seats for the much-anticipated J.J. Abrams sequel. I must say, I was quite impressed by the comfort and cleanliness of this theatre. The movie…well, you’ll have to see it for yourself to find out. Live long and prosper, readers. Live long and prosper.
“Your order number will be 42.”
After finishing a marathon cleaning of our house and packing a spectacular load of gear into the car, we made a quick stop on the way out of Davis at the good ol’ In-N-Out. That the cashier bestowed upon us such a significant number surely means exciting times lie on the road ahead. Douglas Adams would be proud of us starry-eyed travelers too – we didn’t forget to bring our towels.
A friend texted me as we left this afternoon. “Nervous?” he asked. I realized that for once I’m not nervous. I have zero anxiety or trepidation about turning in the keys to my house and hitting the open road for the summer without having it all planned out. Me – an often-times Grade A worrier. Instead, as we rolled out of Davis an incredible sense of relief washed over me. There’s no stress, no doubt – nothing but infinite possibility ahead of me now.
Leaving Davis at 5:18pm, we drove through the Bay Area and down 101-S through Steinbeck territory. (The pastoral beauty of the Salinas Valley’s fertile lands surrounded on both sides by majestic mountains cloaked in mist is uncanny. One day I’ll return to hike the Pinnacles.) Arriving in Atascsdero around 9:00pm, we were welcomed by Lindsay, Bob, and three crazy dogs to a relaxing night of homemade pizza and Game of Thrones.
And now it’s time to sleep for about a day and a half.