After communing with the trees in Redwood Country, Ace and I rushed through the rest of northern California — high-tailing it through Marijuana Country, barreling through Wine Country and feeling a bit like the Joads as, being occupants of what was clearly the dirtiest car on the highway, we rolled through Rich Folk Country.
Humboldt, Mendocino and Marin Counties were but a blur as we hurried south — trying to get to the Monterey area in time for an appointment. We stopped in the San Francisco area only long enough to eat lunch and try to get a photograph of Ace at the Golden Gate Bridge.
It was a chicken salad sandwich that did me in — more specifically, the bread on which it was piled. My troublesome dental cap came off again — as it has every week or so, after which I put in in my pocket and, later, glue it back on.
This time, unless it’s somewhere in my duffel bag, I seem to have lost it.
There is a direct correlation between how much of a hurry you are in and how many things go wrong. Everybody knows this. Few do anything about it. One in a hurry is more likely to leave something behind, make a mistake, forget an important chore, or behave in a reckless manner. Eighty-seven percent of bad things that happen are a result of people being in too much of a hurry.
Maybe it’s not exactly 87 percent, but it’s a lot.
This is the kind of elementary, any-doofus-knows logic that self-help authors write books about — often speedily, and with errors. It’s nose-on-your-face obvious. And yet we — often at the encouragement of our employers — don’t slow down. Not a whit.
And definitely not on Highway 101, where, since we were southbound, we couldn’t get to the official scenic vista point — unless we were willing to cross the Golden Gate, and pay its tolls, three times.
Instead, we took the last exit before the bridge and drove up a hill that’s part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, then walked up a trail that takes one to the edge of a cliff overlooking the bridge.
Low hanging clouds obscured the arches, and a wispy cold white haze climbed the mountainside and drifted right through us. A foghorn bellowed up from somewhere below every minute or so, making Ace stop in his tracks and look around. After about 10 blasts, he got used to it.
We spent 30 minutes among the clouds, then hiked back down to the car, whizzed across the bridge and through San Francisco, seeing some familiar sights but only fleetingly and through dirty car windows. As we got back along the coast, on Highway 1, we were back in the clouds, winding along a cliffside highway past San Pedro Mountain. All the way to Half Moon Bay, almost into Santa Cruz, the fog clung to the coast like silver Spandex on a bicyclist’s behind.
I thought about all I was missing — partly because of the view-obscuring fog, partly because of my rush through San Francisco. I didn’t see a single seal. I didn’t get to mosey along Fisherman’s Wharf.
I realized if I hadn’t spent time there before, I wouldn’t be having the regrets. But I had, and they were good times, and now, just like my tongue kept reaching up to probe the gap in my grin, just as my hand kept searching my pocket for the missing cap, just as I rued that I no longer had the chops for sourdough rolls, I was focused on the void.
Voids aren’t a good thing to focus on.
So I turned on the radio, and “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead was playing, and it was the long version, and when I got to Monterey, I cleaned my car windows, ate some Vietnamese food and snuggled with Ace on the Motel 6 bedspread.
I was still on the lookout for my fake tooth, but my outlook was improved.