Today was my first full day in Redding, CA. Some people may elect to start such a day lightly. Maybe you go eat a nice breakfast somewhere or talk a walk through one of the many wildlife parks or maybe drive lazily on the roads, seeing what Redding has to offer.

Not me.

I decided to start the day by hopping into a little Cessna plane to take a visual birds eye view tour of the area from a couple thousand feet in the air. Go big or go home, right? Unless you die in a freak plane crash–then you aren’t going anywhere in this world anymore.

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Wow. I got morbid. Let’s move on, shall we? Spoiler alert: I did not die in a plane crash.

My adventure was to begin at 7:00 AM. I couldn’t believe I’d signed up to do this. What was I thinking? I probably wasn’t. I told myself that during Caliventure, I was going to force myself to step outside my comfort zone. This means doing things I may not normally do–like launch into the air and defy gravity.

I met my pilot Tex. Super awesome name and really cool guy. I’d guess he was in his early 70s, friendly aura, but he had a great sense of humor. He asked me why I came all the way to Redding. I explained to him that I’m writing a book and that I was doing a lot of research. On that note, I have to embrace being comfortable talking about my book. tenor-1I’m here for my  book so I shouldn’t be shy about it, right? That being said, I need to work on my presentation because whatever I told Tex was a mumbling diatribe of random things that kinda went like this: “I’m writing a book…..mumblemumblemumble…. superheroes and….. mumblemumblemumble…. Mt. Shasta summoned me….. mumbleuhwhydidIsaythat…. mumble mumble…”

Tex just smiled and nodded his head, but seemed genuinely excited about whatever he picked up from the words that exited my mouth. He locked onto Mt. Shasta, the geographic entity that drew me to Redding in the first place. As I had only paid for an hour flight, Tex told me that he could get me close to Mt. Shasta, but we wouldn’t be able to fly around it at all. I was happy just for the opportunity to see this beast, as well as the rest of the sights.

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Signing my life away, I climbed into this little plane, buckled up, and made sure my camera was ready, notebook in hand. I even got to wear a cool headset that would allow Tex and I to talk while in the air. I was nervous, excited, and a little terrified all at once.

Tex smiled at me and said, “Don’t worry. If there is an emergency while we are up there, I will try to stay calm and you may never know anything is wrong. More than likely what’ll happen is that I’ll lean over and tell you to kiss your ass goodbye and hope for the best.”

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I laughed because I was nervous and wanted to hide the fact that heart did exactly 459 cartwheels in my chest.

My fate was sealed.

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I’m totally relaxed. Totally.

Tex started the engine, communicated to the air towers (very official!), and up up and away we went.

I lost my breath. My heart stopped cartwheeling.

The view was nothing short of majestic.

Epic.

Absolutely breathtaking.

My tongue couldn’t even form words at first. Tex was talking to me about the area and all I could do was stare dumbly at the little trees thousands of feet below me. To gaze upon the rolling hills and mountains. To watch the rivers and lakes glisten like heavenly beings. There is really nothing quite like it. Is this what eagles and falcons and hawks see all the time when they are flying high in the sky? Is this what it feels like to be a bird? If so, I wouldn’t mind turning into one because it was so beautiful.

I could spend pages and pages detailing all the sights. Instead, enjoy this photo slideshow which includes:

  • Sacramento River
  • Trinity Lake
  • Shasta Lake
  • Turtle Bay
  • Whiskeytown
  • Castle Crags
  • Shasta Dam (602 feet high!)
  • Anything else I found beautiful or snapped pictures of because pretty

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The true theft of my heart came in the towering giant beast known as Mt. Shasta, the reason I am in Redding, CA to begin with. It’s set to serve as a key location in my Elementals novel. I have so many plans and ideas surrounding this mountain simply based on what I’ve read about it online. Seeing it? Well, now that’s something else entirely.

Tex told me that Mt. Shasta is revered by the Wintu Indian Tribe. It draws many people to it, tales of superstition and mystery provoking them. He explained that he and his pilot friends joke the clouds that kiss the top of the mountain are concealing UFOs, discreetly depositing aliens into the mountain. He said it’s because the shape of the clouds have a UFO look. I know he’s joking, but there are people who actually believe the clouds hide UFOs to deliver resources to the rumored crystal city Telos underneath the mountain–a place the last of the Lemurians are rumored to live. *cue dramatic music*

Tex even said that Mt. Shasta, due to is properties, tends to create its own weather. If you didn’t know, Mt. Shasta is a dormant volcano. Geologists conclude that one day Mt. Shasta will erupt. It’s just a matter of time. It doesn’t seem like something that’ll happen soon, but it’s crazy to think that this rocky beast is waiting to explode. The mountain offers trails, camping, skiing, and many other things. People have gone exploring on Mt. Shasta only to vanish, never to be found again. That should probably deter me from visiting Mt. Shasta. It won’t.

The best I can say about Mt. Shasta just from the view I beheld today is that it genuinely seems like its own character. It sits on the landscape like a king, lording over everything around it. Watching. Waiting. You can sense the mystery rippling off its jagged and elegant structure. If it had eyes, it would regard you with a regal gaze, consuming you and your soul in one fell swoop, piercing your very core.

Of course, I know I sound crazy talking about Mt. Shasta like that, but you don’t understand. You can’t understand until you gaze on this giant with your own eyes. While Mt. Shasta is home to mystery and intrigue, there is certainly no mystery as to why this beast holds the reputation it does. It is terrifying and beautiful and powerful. Pictures don’t do it justice, but here you go:

It will serve as a perfect element to my story; it’s something I will respect in my telling. It’s what Mt. Shasta deserves.

Call me crazy. Come. Visit the mountain. See for yourself. I promise you will not disagree with me about its majestic energy.

Keep in mind that I’m speaking from only gazing upon it from the air. I have yet to step foot on its surface. That’ll be a tale for another day.

I took tons of pictures. I took so many notes. Tex was a wonderful pilot and gave me all kinds of information. He even told pilots over the radio that he was showing a writer the views for a book. I’m not published by any means, but that made me feel good.

After my epic flight, Tex and I departed ways. I ventured into downtown Redding where I stopped at a local coffee shop called Brew.

I will visit it again. It was inviting and peaceful and great. It’s going to serve as inspiration for the coffee shop in my book–another setting that’ll play a big role in my plans. Perhaps the coolest thing about my time in the coffee shop was that I overheard a customer talking to the barista about writing and his adventures creating and writing characters.

Normally, I’d probably keep to myself. However, I’m forcing myself to step outside my comfort zone on this trip. Therefore, I pulled the generic, “I couldn’t help but overhear that you’re a writer…” Yeah, I know. I need to work on my delivery. I’m still new at this!

Anyway, I talked to a nice guy named Jack who is actually working on a screenplay. Those of you who know me, know that screenwriting is something I want to dabble in at some point. I took a screenwriting course and loved it. I was excited that I met another writer. Of course, conversation allowed me to share why I was in Redding. I was less awkward on my delivery, but awkward nonetheless. Regardless, it’s always neat to connect with other writers.

After I asked the barista for some food suggestions (and he gave me a lot of great ones), I decided to eat at a place called Cafe Paradisio. Why there? Well, they had an elk burger. Legit elk meat. Flashback to George the Elk I saw yesterday… sorry, George. Hope I didn’t IMG_2121eat your cousin or something.

Not only was the Elk burger absolutely delicious, along with the local beer, but it was the first time that I sat alone in a sit down restaurant. Okay. To be fair, I elected to sit at the bar to feel less awkward. However, it’s a step. Next time, I’ll force myself to sit at a table instead of the bar. Baby steps. Even though this whole trip is far from a baby step!

After my meal, I decided to visit the Sundial Bridge, something Redding is known for. You should know what led to the decision of me walking to this bridge. See, the barista told me all these wonderful places to eat. He mentioned that the Sundial Bridge was not far from where we were at all. Granted, that’s true.

If you’re driving…

I didn’t drive. I was under the impression that the bridge was in reasonable walking distance. Alas, I proudly began my journey. With a drawstring bag. In flip flops. Wearing a darker shirt and heavy cargo pants. You see where I’m going with this, right?

The walk was about a mile. Now, normally a mile walk isn’t bad. In fact, that’s feasible. However, throw in the fact that, oh I don’t know, it is literally 100 degrees out and the sun is merciless in its glory, then that mile is destructive. By the time I crossed various pedestrian walkways, marched down and up twisting hills, and found my way at the Turtle Bay Exploration Park (where the bridge is), I was nearly depleted in energy. My shirt was soaked. My feet throbbed because flip-flips, while cool, are not meant for longer walks like this. I already have a blister on one heel. The bottom of my feet hate me now too. Keep in mind that by the time I reached the park, I understood that I’d have to journey back. Life can be cruel.

Deciding I needed water, I popped into the air-conditioned welcome center and bought a Pear Peach Apricot smoothie (super delicious), a bottle of water, some souvenirs, and then collected touristy pamphlets. I felt a little more energized.

That didn’t last long.

The Sundial Bridge was stunning, but it radiated the heat of the day. It bridges the Sacramento River, sporting beautiful views. There are trails all around it, following the river. I think I read that one trail was 15 miles long. Had I been better prepared, I’d take that challenge.


Needles to say, after a few pictures, I journeyed back to my rental car. I was dripping with sweat, feeling like a melting wax figure. I threw my hat off and sweat splattered on the car dashboard. Gross. If you’re interested in more details on the beautiful Sundial Bridge, click here for some fun history and facts. There’s some really cool facts and info about it!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I retreated to my Airbnb and took a solid 2.5 hour nap. Did I want to nap? No. I’m on vacation and supposed to be researching. A nap is wasted time, but I was spent. Plus, I think my body is still trying to register the time difference.

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The rest of the day was nothing too crazy. After my nap, I went out to buy some essentials such as insect repellant, sunscreen, snacks, water, and then I went for the big guns.

A pocket-knife of which I tell myself it’ll save me if a bear or mountain lion or snake tries to get me.

Spoiler alert: It won’t. Maybe it’ll be a noble effort. My plan of attack would be to stab my attacker in the eyes, but let’s be honest. It’s my eye that’ll be destroyed if I’m attacked. Or my neck. Yeah. More morbidity.

I also bought a can of bear mace spray. It declares it’ll spray up to 35 feet. I figure that’ll be effective–if I can aim and shoot accurately while a bear charges me. Instead, I’ll be too busy soiling myself and in the confusion spray my own face. Maybe the bear will realize how pathetic I am and leave me alone to whimper as my eyes burn. Or he’ll enjoy the free snack my body will offer.

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Hey, perhaps the spray will work against rattlesnakes. I hope it does. However, with my luck this act will end up pissing off Satan and he’ll chase me through the mountains where, naturally, I’ll be screaming and flailing my limbs in desperation until Satan bites me in the buttocks.

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Essentially, if I encounter wildlife on this trip, I’ll be meeting Jesus sooner than expected. But, hey, at least I’m prepared to try to fight for survival.

I also bought a $20 hydration backpack. I blame my experiences today for that. This weather is no joke. Hydration is key. If this trip ends in tragedy, it better not be because of dehydration. That’s all I’m saying.

Now, I sit in my bed wide-awake because I drank a large blended coffee drink from this magical place called Dutch Bros Coffee. Do yourself a favor. Look at their menu. From tea to lattes to lemonades to sorcery… the possibilities are endless. So. Many. Options. Apparently, there’s even a secret menu. Be still my soul.

So, it’s decided that I will visit Dutch Bros Coffee three times daily. The plan? A coffee type drink in the morning, a tea type drink in the afternoon, and a lemonade at night. Take all my money, Dutch Bros. You’re totally rad and I have no idea how I’ll decide what to order during my time here. If you’re reading this, and you check out the menu, what do you think I should try? Let me know in the comments and I’ll make sure to order it. You’ll even get a shout-out! Tonight I had the blended version of the Kicker. Suggest anything besides that!

Okay. This post was a tad long. I hope you enjoyed sharing in my adventures today. Tomorrow promises to be even more exciting. I hope to see you back for another episode of Caliventure Chronicles tomorrow evening. Here’s what you can look forward to:

  • Hearing about my journey deep into the Lake Shasta Caverns. Will I vanish beneath the depths of the Earth? Meet a caveman or cavewoman or two?
  • Hike around Lake Shasta, probably get chased by some type of beast, maybe lose a limb. Who knows? Endless possibilities
  • An evening horseback ride through the wilderness of Northern California. I hope to be best friends with my horse. For. Life. That’s all I’m saying.
  • Share the Dutch Bros Coffee drinks I try!

See you next time!

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2 thoughts on “Caliventure Chronicles-Episode 4: Taking Flight

  1. I am *dying* to know what “Dragon Slayer” (the lemonade) tastes like. I mean, with a name like Dragon Slayer… What would that even taste like? What is it MADE of? The menu says raspberries and blackberries, but *I* think it’s made out of dragon blood. They’re just not allowed to list that in the ingredients. Whatever. Cowards.

    Also, hello! 😊👋 I’m genuinely glad that you’re enjoying yourself on this adventure, and that you haven’t fallen out of a plane or collapsed from heat stroke.

    Like

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