Skyline to the Sea

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Draped in a young vine, a taut silver branch bows down over the trail forming an archway for our processional. White light plasters the sky, hunting for the artist to paint its canvas. The Nebraskan flowers, Marina and the golden rod, smile adoringly up, not bothered by the blinding luminosity. Along with some other relaxed shrubs, the perennial Nebraskan opens up to some spotted critters and leaping bugs. A sunken trunk, rouged with reds last spotted in the cosmetics aisle, sinks into the ground near the plant brothel and drips pitter-pattering rain drops.

Skyline to the Sea is a 32 mile gift. (It’s mostly downhill and only 3 days.) Although the trail is very well marked, it isn’t difficult to accidentally loop, which joyfully lengthens the time you get to spend in nature with a friend. And I’d recommend going with a friend. It’s not that the trail is physically exhausting: it’s just more fun to laugh in the rain, instead of being sad about it getting into your peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

You’ll have to book your campsites in advance, we stayed at Watermon Gap the first night and Sunset Camp the second. Typically people stay at Jay Camp the second night.  But I wouldn’t.  Sunset doesn’t have water but it does give you an extra hiking stretch peppered with waterfalls as well as it providing a cozy, tucked away spot to camp (Jay’s location is near headquarters and piping with people).

Here are the links we used to plan:
http://www.redwoodhikes.com/BigBasin/S-to-S.html
http://www.everytrail.com/guide/skyline-to-the-sea-trail

There isn’t any cell service after the first day (at least for AT&T) so plan in advance when you will be picked up from Waddell Beach. Also, I’d recommend mosquito repellent and some water purification mechanism.  The latter is more of necessity rather than a recommendation if you are planning on staying at Sunset Camp.

Lastly, if you go, look up!  Unless you are superman, you will get tired, cold, hungry, an ache in your lower back from where your backpack rests…but you just got to look up! You have the opportunity to see the wildest things. The skeletons of cars vomited from highway 1. Newts snuggling up next to your feet.  Your best friend silently laughing really hard at your ridiculous getup.

Australia!

The dock’s boney legs, skinned by peckish barnacles and constant tides, stick out at unnatural angles, like a corpse picked at by vultures. The sun’s golden belly rests in a milky white blanket. She beats down on Earth, bleaching the outline of marine crustaceans onto the ravished pillars. She is impartial and, in the water, sears the blue fabric and leaves orange scorch marks. Tic-toc goes the clock. She kisses the birds, the clouds, the planes, the satellites, the carbon dioxide good night. As she hides her yellow paunch, pink and purple light soften the air. And then we are mooned and she says good night.

Bushwick-Bushwhack

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Giant beaters churn the yolk of Bushwick into cement, a useful material.  A painted tiger guards the factory from his nearby ivory tower.  The hieroglyphics of a King’s grave, burnt into the brick wall, wait for Howard Carter and the Rosetta Stone.

Inscribed in the sidewalk next to the Jefferson Street subway stop is the following decree: “Don’t litter. It makes finding drugs on the street so much harder.”

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In the surrounding area, the decaying walls are newsprint where artists practice old, learned technique and new style. It’s an exploration of everything that could go wrong, making you understand the beauty of everything going right. Here, paint smacks the eyes, a sharp, hard, consistent punch.

In Bushwick, local authorities require shops and factories to maintain unmarked walls (cleaned on the businesses’s dime).  However, the neighborhood appreciates the lettering and applies for “gimme graffiti” permits from the city.  20 years ago nobody hoped to still be in this area in 20 years.

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The red stop sign sports a green, crotchet, Seussian thneed with 2 leaf-wings.  You really do need to stop and smell the flowers.

Our 30 or so group of camera wearers and bottled water drinkers play tourist in what is not Times Square.  The ice cream truck toots past in 5 minute intervals. The minstrel music mixed with jarring animations sends us in a confused Pavlovian frenzy for money for ice cream and for the nearest Miyazaki showing.

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The sun reflects off shards of glass and drained spray cans.  Latex gloves and fresh paint impregnate the dry air.  A stencil of a girl lays abandoned.  She patiently waits for the moon.

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Here is some (useful/not useful) info:

If you are interested in a wonderful (and did I mention FREE?) public art walking tour in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York, Tours By Foot offers this amazing journey (a tale recounted above).

The above pictures were taken by a friend and by myself on iPhones (hence the 8-megapixels quality) and then edited by me.

The Secret Recipe for Michael Rees’s Breakfast

The Eggs

  • 4 slices of sunflower seed loaf purchased at 6 am amongst bread brothers and that require passing a Banksy to get to the seller
  • 6 eggs beaten to fuel the body to boomerang from Hackney to Bear Market, the Tate, and Greenwich.
  • Just a touch of salt and pepper that spice the dish so that the non-Indian doesn’t end up sneezing and getting hiccups (a common occurrence accompanying a chili pepper)
  • A chunk of butter to fatten the skinny Londoner who spends too much time biking and not enough time eating
  • Splashes of milk making the eggs fluffy, creamy and cozy, much like the guest at the end of the meal

The Veggie

  • 3 garlic cloves to ward off the vampires and to test the strength of friendship
  • Portobello mushroom that adds volume and girth
  • A couple springs of rosemary freshly picked from the outback garden that is dominated by sunflowers and London clouds (Note picture 4 of the previous post)
  • 10 large leafs of spinach that put the veg in vegetarian
  • 10 vine tomatoes to color the painting of food
  • 1 leek shoot for what purpose I do not know but when in Stoke Newington due as they do
  • A couple of spoons of olive oil because once you start, you can never go back

The Salad

  • 1 boiled beetroot sliced from the garden of the cook’s father in the North who rents from the government a plot of land to grow magical food like these beets
  • A block of feta, the crumbly kind, that you can’t help eating as it’s cut into rectangular chunks
  • 15 halved black olives which double as eyes and help you see the culinary adventure from all angles

The Drink

  • A large kettle of Darjeeling tea, scents of the Himalayas, journeying us back to Kathmandu where we first met in the dowdy office where tea was always offered.  Then to the countryside of Chitwan where a squeeze of a bull’s tit provided the milk for chai and much entertainment as the non-farmer tried the udder.  And up the hills of the Khumbu where black tea shot the body with warmth and an unintended red.  A drink that turns strangers so easily into friends.

On the table, have a photo book of the world, where the cook is your cameraman.  Share “a Sunday smile” and perhaps whip out the yuke and strum along.  Skip’s allowed to sing as long as she doesn’t start blowing in the wind.  Dig in with Mush and enjoy enjoy enjoy.