Take a Drive to Unwind Your Mind
● By Christy Milan
By Christy Milan
CAT CARSON WAS the official driver and I was her co-pilot. We journeyed up to Dunsmuir to take in the beauty of dogwoods and delight in one of our favorite little towns. We have taken this trip for years and look forward to the first road trip of our summer season. After gassing up and grabbing the essentials, we turned onto I-5, leaving the valley behind in the rearview mirror. Shasta Lake’s emerald blue waters sparkled in the sun like diamonds on a piece of dark velvet. The foothills were colorfully spotted with purple lupines and chaparral honeysuckle dripping with clusters of yellow buds. Taking a deep breath, I felt a feeling of relaxation and peacefulness settle into my spirit. The sun was bright and our moods improved as we rolled down the windows and cruised along.
As we drove, Mt. Shasta suddenly appeared like a proud eagle spreading its wings across the sky. The snow-covered peak’s dominant presence gives you the awareness of the power of nature. The great mountain has always been a source of wonder to many. Native Americans and early settlers reveal legends and tales of mystery, love and loss. Looking up at the tip of Mt. Shasta, I recalled a legend about a young maiden named Rippling Water. She was in love with the son of the Chief, Lakadowa. Another brave wanted her affection and when he heard of her love for Lakadowa, he killed her with an arrow piercing her heart. As she lay dying, Lakadowa vowed to avenge her death. He sought out her killer and the fierce battle began. Lakadowa was successful in his promise, but not without consequences. He was mortally wounded. His dying wish was that Rippling Water could spend eternity on Mt. Shasta, the home of the Great Spirit, and he could remain forever by her side admiring her beauty and protecting her from evil. They can be seen with the warrior overlooking Mt. Shasta and the peak becoming her nose as she lays back looking up at the sky with her hair streaming down the south side of Mt.Shasta. Once you see this, you never look at Mt. Shasta the same way.
The twists and turns continue as we wind up through the foothills. The stress melts away with each mile. Once again I am reminded that I need this. My mind needs this. I have always found a drive to be like a big sigh of relief to the soul. Reminiscing, I recall some of my favorite drives, like one that begins in Anderson at Dersch Road. Hawes Farm is on your right, with orchards and fertile fields just before you climb up out of the valley.
Cow Creek ebbs and flows under the bridge on its way to the Sacramento River. Just before the Cow Creek Bridge is a historical marker that represents Fort Reading, established in 1852 to keep miners safe from native tribes. The marker is the only declaration that anything significant was once along the banks of Cow Creek. Looking upstream along the rocky banks of the creek reminded me that not all stories of the past have been told. Following Dersch, we take a right onto Parksville Road, which leads to one of the oldest cemeteries in Shasta County. The Parksville Cemetery recalls a time when pioneers pushed forward in hopes of a better life. Watching the big oak trees tower over the gravestones gives you a sense of calm. They remind me of a sentinel, always protecting. Winding through the large oak trees, over rolling hills and small curves, the drive gives way to Ash Creek Road. My father and I would drive this road and watch the rock wall grow that lined up and down valley crevices for miles. As a child, I loved rolling down the window, taking my hand and following the wall all those miles. We would laugh and talk and make a memory I still cherish today. The rock wall is used as a natural fence for grazing cattle. Cows dot the landscape and give way to open fields.
Another drive I still enjoy today is Highway 299E. My family and I would visit my aunt and cousins who lived in Round Mountain. I would sit in the backseat and enjoy the lush green vegetation growing along the creek near the highway. The countryside eventually gave way to opened red brown banks with structures of gray, weathered wood and rusted metal – the remains of the Afterthought mine. My mind forms an image of miners, dressed in denim with dirt clinging to every strand of fiber as they continue to dig for copper.
The North State has numerous scenic drives. Any road you decide to travel will take you through diverse countryside with a unique landscape and historical value. Cares seem to disappear as we rediscover that winding through the roads and exploring is our own therapy. As my friend Cat declares, “A drive can bring an epiphany.”
Getting lost down a road while winding through the countryside is therapy that settles into the spirit. I have come to determine that troubles can be left behind in a cloud of dust or exhaust, depending on which trail or road you travel. The wheels turn and the radio powers on, and the road leads me to many places, both physically and mentally. A drive gives me an attitude adjustment. It can make time stand still or speed by. It provides a look into our past. It is a time when I can enjoy the scenery and decide then and there if a road looks worthy to adventure down. It’s an open-road therapy that I can enjoy alone, with others or even with my beloved dog, Bailey.
A curve in the road makes me smile… •