Traveling by way of California and Oregon listening to the music of Woody Guthrie on the event of the 100th anniversary or his delivery, July 12, 1912 was a very serendipitous occasion. I had no data of the date beforehand, however after I turned on the radio, and I heard Woody’s travelin’ music, I used to be elated and certain it was an indication that our journey can be rewarding. Woody had lived in each California the place he had a radio program and in Oregon, the place he wrote lots of his most well-known songs. Our journey started once we arrived by aircraft in San Francisco and had dinner at a Greek restaurant in San Mateo earlier than heading right down to Santa Cruz. Woody could not have associated to the upscale seashore condos in Santa Cruz however would have appreciated the boardwalk amusement park underneath the gory gaze of two Gargoyles. He additionally would have cherished the farmer’s market on a terraced hillside close to the University of California at Santa Cruz. On our travels we noticed farmer’s markets in virtually each metropolis we visited, a homegrown, floor up motion (no pun meant) to supply wholesome regionally grown meals.
The following day we loved a drive right down to Big Sur and all of the riches the California coast has to supply, stopping to go to the wharf in Monterey and a day reminiscing with John Steinbeck on Cannery Row. Woody was in a position to see the film the Grapes of Wrath, primarily based on Steinbeck’s novel, and he captured its essence in his music, The Ballad of Tom Joad. Guthrie, in his personal plain fashion, additionally wrote about seeing the movie in one in every of his columns for the People’s World, praising its directness: “… Shows the rattling bankers males that broke us and the mud that choked us, and comes proper out in plain outdated English and says what to do about it.” Guthrie urged his readers to go see the movie. “… You was the star in that image,” he wrote, that means his everyman readers. “Go and see your individual self and listen to your individual phrases… “1
Later Bruce Springsteen wrote the music, the Ghost of Tom Joad specializing in the lives of metal employees, immigrants and migrant employees within the late 20th century. Bruce stated of Woody, “To me, Woody Guthrie was that sense of idealism together with a way of realism that stated perhaps you possibly can’t save the world, however you possibly can change the world.” We had solely to activate the automotive radio and listen to in regards to the present financial state of affairs, supreme courtroom rulings on immigration, and complaints in regards to the banking trade to understand the timeless high quality of Woody’s phrases.
Next we traveled to Yosemite to benefit from the spectacular views and trek up the John Muir Trail. John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, writer, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness within the United States. His activism helped to save lots of the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and different wilderness areas. The Sierra Club, which he based, is now one of the necessary conservation organizations within the United States. One of essentially the most well-known climbing trails within the U.S., the 211-mile John Muir Trail, was named in his honor.2
In 1966 the United States Department of the Interior gave Woody Guthrie ‘The Conservation Service Award’ in recognition of his life-long efforts to make the American folks `conscious of their heritage and the land. While this and different songs could do exactly that, in addition they decry the ills of a Capitalistic society that handled “the folks”, be they migrants, farm laborers, or Mexican immigrants, unjustly. The granting of the Conservation Award, and even the recognition of This Land Is Your Land is testomony to Woody’s songwriting genius, however they’re additionally symptomatic of a gross over-simplification of the that means and significance of his work.” 3 Reading additional, I discovered that Woody was protesting a selected occasion of 1936 when he was saved out of Los Angeles together with different migrant employees. Those who establish him with Communism are mistaken as he was a chronicler of historic occasions on this nation’s historical past and particularly a people singer. As such he fought in opposition to cases of injustice and greed.
Back at Yosemite, we have been viewing the world from the again of a mule on the John Muir path at a top of a number of thousand toes. The Asian man behind me on the path wished to maneuver in entrance of me to be near his eleven yr outdated son. It was high quality with me however not my mule. He bit the mule that had usurped his place and was kicked in return. Feeling that this was not the place for petty bickering, and with my left foot hanging over the sting of the canyon, I attempted to induce him again towards the within of the path however to no avail. He appeared to desire the periphery. He additionally appeared to understand the view and would steadily stand on the sting and stare out. I could not blame him because it was breathtaking, however I did not understand till then that mule driving could possibly be an excessive sport. Three quarters of the best way down the son’s mule slipped, and the boy went flying off. His sudden departure from his saddle was a realization of all our worst fears. Fortunately he landed on the within of the path, and his father thanked me once more for having let his mule transfer forward of mine. We all breathed a sigh of aid when the child bought again on his mule with solely a sprained wrist and a few minor scratches.
Our journey plans took us to June Lake, appropriately named as a result of it’s normally impassable earlier than June on account of snow. Thanks to the short-term benefits of worldwide warming, the highway was clear, though the streams have been nonetheless cascading down the mountain sides fed by the melting snow on the mountain tops. Another stunning view awaited us as we drove into the city and noticed the clear mountain lake. We loved an exquisite dinner on the native tavern and determined to maneuver to June Lake as quickly as potential. The subsequent morning we traveled to Mono Lake and discovered about its geological historical past. I hoped the thirsty Californians would drink extra wine so the water stage of the lake could possibly be restored. Mark Twain had as soon as visited and known as it a lifeless lake. Roughing It, printed in 1872, gives a humorous and informative early description of Mono Lake in its pure situation within the 1860s. Twain discovered the lake to be a “lifeless, treeless, hideous desert… the loneliest place on earth.”4
He was lifeless mistaken because the lake was teaming with life within the type of brine shrimp, and migratory birds. The native Kutzadika’a folks, Kutzadika’a that means fly larva eaters, derived diet from the larvae of the alkaline flies that dwell within the lake. We considered a film of them panning for fly larvae with sieve like baskets, and have been grateful for our jar of peanuts. And with reference to subsistence, NASA just lately found arsenic-eating micro organism within the lake that will represent the primary life type able to changing one of many six important parts (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur and phosphorus) in its biomolecules. Discoveries similar to this present but one more reason to protect and shield our nationwide and state parks.
We spent a quick time in Bodie which Woody would in all probability not have cherished. Although some arduous ramblin’ and arduous gamblin’ was goin’ on through the gold rush days, the prospectors have been a grasping lot and Woody hated greed. In 1879 Bodie boasted a inhabitants of about 10,000 and was second to none for wickedness, badmen, and the “worst local weather out-of-doors.” Killings occurred typically each day. A few residents pulled out $90,000 in gold in ninety days. Now a ghost city, however stuffed with vacationers, Bodie is a superb historic cease.
On to Lassen Volcanic National Park, residence to smoking fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and quite a few volcanoes. The dominant function of the park is Lassen Peak, the biggest plug dome volcano on this planet and the southern-most volcano within the Cascade Range. The Lassen space was additionally a gathering level for not less than 4 American Indian teams: Atsugewi, Yana, Yahi, and Maidu. A Yahi Indian named Ishi turned up in Oroville, Calif. in 1911. He had by no means blended with whites earlier than, and his tribe was regarded as nonexistent. He lived out his days on the Anthropology Museum of the University of California Affiliated Colleges on Parnassus Heights in San Francisco (now the location of the University of California San Francisco), the place he was handled with respect and was a useful ethnological supply. Ishi was thought of at the moment because the final Stone Age survivor within the United States. He died in 1916 of tuberculosis. In the coffin have been positioned one in every of his bows, 5 items of dentalium, a field filled with shell bead cash which he had saved, a handbag filled with tobacco, three rings, and a few obsidian flakes, all of which we felt certain can be in accord with Ishi’s needs..5 We might really feel the presence of the previous Native Americans on this excessive place that they nonetheless use for ceremonial conferences. A number of snowfields on the mountain tops have survived the early sizzling climate.
We arrived in Portland, Oregon for a unique form of expertise. My stepson Tony, confirmed us round city by way of the microbreweries, and launched us to a number of new craft beers, ciders, and bitter beers, raspberry being my favourite. We rented a tandem and rode on the waterfront to the Saturday market which can also be on Sunday. The waterfront was full of cubicles promoting scrumptious meals and quite a lot of arts and crafts. We observed quite a few uncommon strategies of transportation along with our tandem bike similar to stilts, skate boards, and bounce footwear. Proponents of assorted causes from legalized hemp to Planned Parenthood and voter registration have been readily available to promote their ideological wares. The Japanese backyard, listed as a primary attraction within the tour books, lived as much as its billing. I believed it could be arduous to compete with the splendor of the pure panorama, nevertheless it was a microcosm of tranquil magnificence with each leaf and stone in its good place. A household of ducklings enhanced the picture alternatives.
Attending a Quaker un-programmed assembly on Sunday, and listening to folks converse in regards to the subject of worldwide warming in addition to God’s acceptance of us as flawed people topped off our expertise in Portland. I cherished the point out of course of theology which believes we have now a hand within the creation and that what we do issues. Woody’s philosophy that, “a people music is what’s mistaken and learn how to repair it” permeated his songs and his life. He was an inspiration for future writers and activists and for all of us. We could not miss the well-known Powell Book retailer the place I picked up The Alchemist, by Paul Coelho about discovering one’s private future and omens alongside the best way as one travels by way of the world. This was one other serendipitous discover and a very good omen for our journey. Last however not least we needed to see the Columbia River which Woody made so well-known in his music, Roll on Columbia, Roll On. The music turned well-known as an anthem about American public works tasks arising out of the New Deal within the Great Depression, and is among the hottest songs within the historical past of the United States. It is the official people music of the State of Washington.6
On our journey down the coast on US Route 101 and later California State Route 1, I found not just some details about some long-lost kinfolk, however a realization of the deeper that means or our journey. In Port Orford, a small creative fishing village on the coast of southern Oregon which has been little modified by time and the vacationer trade, we discovered proof of two of our kinfolk, bachelor brothers who owned a sawmill there and had lived into their 90’s. We weren’t certain in the event that they have been nonetheless alive, however searched round within the cemetery at nightfall, and at last discovered their grave stones close to the forest the place they’d apparently spent their lives. I considered Woody’s music, I ain’t bought no residence on this World Anymore which utilized to the mud bowl migrants, however might additionally apply to Vance and Hughes, a pair of outdated Paul Bunyuns in Oregon. A visit to the one late night time tavern turned up some details about the city historian. The subsequent morning we visited him in his restaurant on the sting of city and discovered that he had been a very good buddy of the 2 brothers. He gave us a photograph of 1 dancing along with his girlfriend and stated they have been actually nice guys though just a little eccentric. We went on our means down the coast feeling a brand new appreciation for the kindness of strangers. Woody would have appreciated Port Orford.
At Fort Ross Historic Park on the Sonoma Coast, we skilled North America’s southernmost Russian-American settlement. The Russians lived comparatively peacefully with the native Pomo folks, and loved their sojourn till they have been known as again to Russia. The village was multicultural for not less than thirty years together with not solely Russians however Siberians, Alaskans, Hawaiians, Californians, Europeans, and Native Americans. Industries included farming, looking, blacksmithing, tanning, brickmaking, barrel making and shipbuilding. Seeing the outdated cedar buildings with their onion domes on the windswept coast was fairly wonderful.
After tramping by way of the redwood forests with eyes to the heavens, we headed on down Route 1 late at night time with the profit a full moon. We drove a number of hours anticipating to cease at numerous cities on the map, however once we arrived, they have been closed for the night time. We lastly discovered a resort lit up prefer it could be in a horror film. Since we had already pushed a number of hours we determined to cease. Instead of an ax assassin we discovered a pleasant proprietor who invited us in and informed us to chill out just a little. He served us chocolate cake nonetheless heat from the oven, giving us one other dose of pleasant hospitality. The final night time of our journey was spent viewing the fireworks over the bay in San Francisco, a spectacular show and affirmation of our nation’s independence. The fantastic thing about the panorama and the kindness of strangers made our “arduous travelin” a lot simpler. Woody would have stated, “From the Red Wood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me”.
A people music is what’s mistaken and learn how to repair it or it could possibly be
who’s hungry and the place their mouth is or
who’s out of labor and the place the job is or
who’s broke and the place the cash is or who’s carrying a gun and the place the peace is. – WG
1 Jack Doyle, “Steinbeck to Springsteen, 1939-2006,”
PopHistoryDig.com, March 29, 2008.
2 Wenk, Elizabeth; Morey, Kathy (2007). John Muir Trail: The Essential Guide to Hiking America’s Most Famous Trail. Berkeley, CA: Wilderness Press
3 Edwin Cohen, Woody Guthrie And The American Folk Song (University of Southern California, 1971) 179.
4 Harris, S.L. (2005). Fire Mountains of the West: The Cascade and Mono Lake Volcanoes. Mountain Press.
6 Roll on Columbia: Woody Guthrie & the Bonneville Power Administration. VHS, University of Oregon.