Late morning, clear day. The sun is shining, the wind is whipping fast; I’m sitting in the bed of a moving truck on a little-trafficked backroad in Molalla, OR, thirty-and-some miles outside Portland. There’s a dog in my lap. A local couple had done me the favor of picking me up as I walked back into town from the campsite. This memory has a glowing haze around it; it’s burned into me because of the quiet reflection bought with that moment of silence.
I had a list of unfinished business to attend to with four days, one car, and one backpack at my disposal. I refuse to live over a year in California without having seen the mighty Redwoods. Driving from Los Angeles to Humboldt Redwoods State Park directly, without any detours, is something like ten hours and doesn’t sound particularly appealing for a marathon out-and-back drive in one weekend, but taking two days to get there and two days to get back? Stopping along the way to knock other things off the bucket list? Leaving space in between to wander off course and make new discoveries? A race against time, but it just might work.
Fresh off the boat portion of the jeep-boat-jeep from Monteverde, we were shuttled to La Fortuna where we scoured the local bus schedules for transportation out to the Tree Houses Hotel, about 30 minutes south. In true off-the-beaten-path fashion, our bus immediately broke down on the side of the road in the jungle in the middle of the night. After a long time of waiting for it to be repaired we finally de-bussed...and five minutes later it was fixed and on it’s way. We were now stranded. Typical.
I probably heard about Slab City the same way you did; either through the Chris McCandless story, or through reading Civil Disobedience and then Googling “is there anywhere in the world you can still live freely?” I’ve wanted to visit it for years, and since my <insert travel equivalent of biological clock here> has been ticking, I finally committed to making a day trip just to check it out. In the summer. In the punishing heat of Southern California. Sweet Jesus why do I hate myself.
Our tiny rental car shuttered along the narrow, rocky edge of mountains as we made our way east from Tamarindo to Monteverde. So far in Costa Rica we’d visited beach towns and waterfalls, and later we’d explore the volcano, tree houses, and hanging bridges of Arenal, but my favorite scenery would reveal itself here, in the area known for it’s Cloud Forests. Perched high above sea level, the towns of Monteverde and Santa Elena feel like a completely different world.