Nestled in the depths of an ancient redwood forest, I found myself at an off the grid, river-side paradise I felt I dreamed into existence.
It had been two weeks since I’d set off on an indefinite solo road trip up the Pacific Coast, and this would be my first time enjoying the comforts of a cabin since then. As I approached the sprawling meadows of Otter Space, engulfed by steep canyon walls and lush vegetation on all sides, I knew I would find exactly what I needed here.
My solo trek into the mountains holding Otter Space weaned me off civilization gently, one step at at time:
First, there was the prehistoric experience of getting gas in the last foothill town of Orick – where there is only one pump, one price, and one fuel grade. Next, I lost all cell service, slowly leaving behind street signs, then paved roads, and eventually all life that exists outside the deafening silence of those staggering giants.
The healing oxygen of a forest this rugged almost demands one utilize their full lung capacity, as we city-dwellers so rarely tend to do. Each inhalation carries a unique combination of tantalizing earth scents, reminding me again and again to take in all of each breath, all of each moment.
During my stay at Otter Space, I was lucky enough to spend time with with a full-time resident and primary caretaker of the land, Wendy, who lives in a river-side yurt with her husband and three youngins.
She’s got that special glow of vitality about her, the type that makes you almost ask what the secret to being alive is…
I was surprised to learn that Wendy was once one of us city folk — a high-heeled wearing secretary rooted in Southern California, driving a car and traversing busy streets each day. Now, she says you couldn’t pay her $1 million to trade lives. Together, the family grows almost all of their own food, catches salmon and sources drinking water from nearby rivers, and gathers energy from the sun.
Wendy and I bonded over a shared concern that though my generation urgently feels we must live in closer harmony with nature, most of us are largely unsure of how to go about this in a truly impactful way. We are frozen, intimidated by the magnitude of the tasks begging humanity’s attention.
Meeting Wendy and her family was a surreal encounter with what is possible, a modern tribe preserving the wisdom of harmonious living for all who care to learn.
After a night spent in my cozy redwood-engulfed cabin, I wandered down to explore the mighty Klamath River.
A few days prior to my stay, I’d mentioned my upcoming adventure to a local sparkly-eyed astrologer I’d met at a farmers’ market in Arcata. He told me the story of a grey mother whale and her calf who spent months living in the Klamath. The calf eventually made it back to sea, while the mother died in the river. He felt that she’d left her body behind as a sacrifice to the land, and if I listened closely I would still feel the power of her residual energy echoing through the valley canyons.
Exploring the sweeping river banks framed by walls of redwoods, I was taken by the power of it all. Gusty warm winds blew at my face. Not a sign of humanity was to be found. It was the first time since I’d set off on the road that I felt a deep longing for immediate companionship, almost as if the immensity of it all was too much to take in alone. Almost too much, yet just enough to feel my heart opening, softening to the all the wild tender throws of the human experience – from the darkness to the light, and back again.
Experiences like this keep reminding me that immersing in nature is the secret to recharging my entire being. In fact I have a hunch that this is an innate truth for all humans. Out there in the raw being of nature, we are almost forced to dissolve our worldly problems and fears into her rugged scapes, if even for a moment. We are invited to play in the space beyond all societal validation, qualification, words, even thought – and rest for a moment in the mystery of what is.
Michaela went full nomad last month to head north on a solo trip surfing up the Pacific Coast. She’s now taken a turn Eastward and is on her way to stand with the Sioux Tribe water protectors in Standing Rock, North Dakota. Practicing yoga, holistic healing, and moving toward sustainable living is at the core of everything Michaela does. She is an artist of all mediums and is sharing her journey as she goes! Follow her on Instagram and her personal blog.
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