Over Thanksgiving I experienced the pure majesty of having six paid days off for a total of 10 calendar days away from the office, a.k.a. my kitchen table. The fruit stand that I work for shuts down for the full week of Thanksgiving, and we were gifted Monday 11/30 off as a thank you from our team’s leadership. Last year for the holidays I was a contractor, so actually getting paid time off was a really big deal.
Since I’d been holed up in my 400 square foot San Francisco apartment since March, I decided to book some travel. A much needed and long overdue trip up the California coast to see one of my ride-or-die homies in Mendocino, and a flight out to Utah to visit my aunt for Thanksgiving. Certainly some huge risks I was taking, but I weighed it, and decided that I needed to just bite the bullet and see my people. Plus I did a solo Thanksgiving the year I’d just gotten back from my Eurotrip, and it was the pits. My pets and I ended up eating a lot of turkey.
The Mendocino trip was definitely a #TreatYoSelf situation. Since I sold my car this time last year, I had to book a rental for the drive up. Normally I’d just book whatever the cheapest car was, which would typically end up being a Kia Soulpatch or a Nissan Versa, which is essentially a roller skate with a steering wheel. But this time I scrolled down a bit and found myself lingering over the Dodge Challenger. Since it always says “or similar,” you never really know what you’re going to get when you get to the lot, but sure as shit, when I walked onto the Mission Enterprise lot, I saw two gleaming Challengers sitting right next to each other just waiting. A few years back I toyed with actually buying a Challenger (my brother bought me an SRT Hellcat hoodie for Christmas that year), so this was a bit of a dream coming to life.
The agent walked up, checked me in, and asked if I would like to rent the V6, or the V8 R/T Hemi for my roadtrip. Is that even a question? While I was waiting, another agent asked if I’d been helped yet. I told him “Yeah I’m waiting on the Challenger.” He asked which one. “The Hemi,” I replied casually. He paused, looked me up a down for a split second, and shrugged “Ok” as in “I see you.” Just hearing the throaty monster fire up with the push start was pure happiness.
After not having driven a car since my last rental six months ago, I was pretty nervous driving off the lot. Especially on the roads surrounding Enterprise, which strongly resemble an M.C. Escher drawing.
I briefly thought, Crap, this might be too much car for me. But that was a fleeting thought. This land yacht was disgustingly powerful — and perfect. Opening her up on the highway, listening to the gears shifting, changing lanes, it was intoxicating. I’d been warned by folks before about the Challenger’s blind spots and hot damn, were they right. But as my brother joked when I told him about the adventure, “I guess there’s no need to check blind spots when you’re doing 140 miles per hour.”
I was responsible, but I did have some fun driving on 128, the 70 mile long stretch of two-lane highway that carries you from 101 out to the coast. It was a breathtaking drive, you pass grapevines and vineyards, farms, cute country storefronts, then you pass through cool, dark, spooky redwood forests, and finally get spit out onto Highway 1 hugging the twisty coastal cliffs. I took about as many pictures of the car as I did of the trip itself, natch.
That first night I got in to the AirBnB, my friend came over and we drank some wine, smoked a spliff, solved the world’s problems, and soaked in the hot tub to this view.
The next day, we loaded up in my friend’s truck and set out for adventures. First stop was a little Mendocino headland hike and a visit to the tide pools and scenic cliffs. Stella was wound up, so getting her to stop and pose for a picture was damn impossible.Continue reading