Mark Johnson
3 min readMay 4, 2022

They say hindsight is 50/50, and I agree. In my dreams about this trip, I saw it as a nice overnight get out of town where everyone could return refreshed and glad they went. It would be the first trip out of my local area of Chico, Ca, in several years, like 6 or 7 years. As you can imagine, this trip was unique and had me excited, which I felt I had to conceal as I didn’t want anyone to talk me out of it. I also understood this would not be a trip where I could entirely cut loose; making sure to stay sober as much as possible was needed in case something went wrong.

We were headed up northwest to Willits, Ca, where my sister and her family reside. They were having their annual Willits Block Party. So you understand this is late September or early October of 2021. The pandemic and the whole scare had slowed somewhat, yet there was still a concern for events with large gatherings.

I knew the risk, yet my focus was on finding and securing accommodations. One was the wheelchair-accessible transport I rented, a white Dodge Caravan, and the other was booking a room with wheelchair access for our overnight stay. What is a trip if you go alone, so I invited my good friend Jose and his lady, Kara. I had my provider Christina with me as she was looking to get out of town, and I needed the help, so Bon Voyage.

The ride up was on one of those spectacular days. The weather was right, the sun was shining, and the views we amazing. Once I had taken the drive to visit and experience the Block Party in its earlier days in 2008, primed to see what it had become over the years. I had no idea what I would see as the sun was making its final exit behind the mountains and the temperature fell, and the crowd came out.

When we pulled up, there were already many party-goers out music playing with food and craft vendors up and down this lone block of real estate. I met up with my sister, niece, and nephews along with her Bo and celebrated us making it with a cold shot of Patron and began to take in the sights.

As much as I wasn’t ready for what I was going to see, we were not ready for the cold as it dipped down even lower as it grew dark. There was so much to draw your attention as the crowd continued to pour in fire throwers, dancers, and musicians; they had it all.

I also noticed that the crowd was very diverse as people came from all over, and they were speaking a variety of languages; it was impressive. I was incredibly impressed with my sister as she and her crew were the ones running the show as she was doing this within months of giving birth to her 4th child.

I was having a fantastic time, but as they say, all good things must end. The end was when the cold hit a point for us unprepared and not used to couldn’t hack it anymore. In that instant, like Salmon making it upstream to spawn, we fought through the crowd that was continuing to show off for this event.

The trip was well needed, and everyone had a good time. We made it back home safely the next day to another gorgeous ride home. Although that was the case, it would be a few weeks later that I would question going in the first place.

Thanks for reading this piece. Please keep a lookout for the continuation of this piece or pt. 2. AT LEAST IT WASN’T COVID.




Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is a University of Chico graduate, a lover of the creative arts, avid photographer, with an undying entrepreneurial spirit.