Leaving the Comforts of Home
Saturday, July 28th, 2018
I took a shower and now it’s time to put on my clothes that I will wear for the next 3 weeks. Excitement fills me up.
Oh wait, change of plans. Rachel’s bringing a small bag to leave clothes in our rental car. When we reach the car we can exchange the soiled stinky clothes for clean and fresh. Good idea. It will be nice to have clean clothes awaiting us at the end of our adventure.
Our house smells like smoked salmon, mango and veggies from the food we’ve dehydrated over the last several days, then stuffed into our backpacks. Our 16 lb chiweenie, Toby, has watched us all week long, in quiet anticipation. Where were we going? When would we leave? Would he be coming with?
Leaving our little friend is the hardest step to start each trip. But, now the time has come to leave our nook, for a plane that will not wait.
We drive Toby to his friend Amber’s where he’ll sunbathe in the open air, play with his fellow dog friends, and have a vacation of his own. We enjoy the short drive, all together, and embrace our friend once more tightly.
On Our Way to California
Waiting at the airport. Ready to board a flight. We’ll soon leave Spokane, take a pit stop in Portland and finally touch down in Fresno. Then the hike begins.
So far, it’s like an average start to a day. Woke up early, slept not so good due to anxiety about the days ahead… and most of all remembering everything we need to do and bring before we leave. We’ll drop Toby off with his favorite dog sitter. Then a rush to the airport.
Or maybe not so much. I’m still not sure where I put my glasses.
I swear they were on my head, but now they are gone. They’re not with Toby. Didn’t see them in the house after we frantically screeched the car around. Well, contacts it is for 13 days. Convenience be damned, I need to see every tree in the highest definition.
Oh… missed a turn to the airport… it’s all good. It’ll be okay.
Two Flights and a Restless Mind
Our flights are stitched together seamlessly, Spokane to Portland to Fresno. A familiar face was found in a flight attendant who escorted us along for each leg of our journey.
Flying into Fresno, we could see the smoke was thick as bramble. Yosemite was burning. It wasn’t long since we had been there. We stood below Yosemite falls, in the cool damp mist of morning, as my older brother and his fiance made vows unto each other. We took pictures in the meadow, laying in the long grass, as the blue skies welcomed climbers cresting over El Cap.
Yosemite has been part of the fabric of my adulthood, a crucial landmark to my family. It’s a place we built new traditions, joining yearly for Thanksgiving. A place that’s offered comfort when escape from life was needed. When my soul needed guidance, I had hit the trail with my brother here, for the space so justly needed.
From forty-thousand feet I think of these memories I’ve made, the impact of the nature, the comradery along the way. And I have to wonder… what will the future bring? Will the youth have parks like these? Will drought and flame consume the trees? I’m afraid I don’t have the answer. I ponder out the window, my love is at my side.
I hope the air is good in Seqouia.
Fresno, the Gateway to Giants
Upon touchdown in Fresno, our adventure has just begun. Still ahead, for today, we must pick up our rental car and drive several hours to Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park.
The temperature is above 100. And, there’s a daunting realization.
To pick up our rental car, we will need to leave the airport. The rental company at the airport won’t honor our reservation, and tells us we need to go to the rental office in the nearby town, about 15 minutes drive away. It’s an inconvenience presumably remedied quickly with a taxi.
We hop to the curb and find a thick accented European man, happy to drive us anywhere. He smells of smoke, but so does the air, and he’s all together friendly. He tells us he’s lived in Fresno twenty years, and tells us of it’s virtues… affordable living in an expensive state… that’s all I can recall. We pull into the rental lot, and thank him for the ride, tossing backpacks over our shoulders.
The office doors are locked. There’s no one there. Saturday hours, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm. Right now it is 2:20.
The taxi driver stops, seeing there is a problem. The rental company won’t answer. We call the office at the airport “Why did you send us to a closed office miles away, in 100 degree heat?” Typical of a corporate chain guided only by their profits, our problems don’t concern them. We’re just people on which to profit. They offer to rent us a car from the airport for twice the price we reserved.
The taxi driver lights up a smoke, “You need a ride? I’ll drive you. You rent a car you’ll only use it one day. I’ll drive you to the park”.
The thought seems ludicrous but tempting. I think he’s well intentioned, and yes, looking for a profit. We pay him to drive us back to Fresno Airport.
We rent a car from a better company, for a better deal, from kinder people. I’m pissed off at the situation, but I relax and let it go. The wilderness is soon and closer now. I melt into the blistering hot upholstery, grip the wheel and check my mirrors. Let’s get the hell out of here.
We Made it to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
After a long day, and several unexpected surprises we finally make it to the park gates. The Ranger at the booth provides us with a map, and helps point us to our destination for the night. We planned to stay at a campground on the other side of the park, still 2 hours away.
As we drive into the park, a comfort comes over me. We’re not done with our driving. We’re not done for the night. But, we’re in the safety of the park. Our cell signals begin to drop off. The air begins to slowly cool, as the world turns to face the moon, and we drive to higher elevation.
A spot in the road. What could that be? It moves?
A tarantula runs across the roadway. A short while later we spot our first bear, running up a hillside, she looks back down at the cars below.
We pull our rental aside to a viewpoint. Smoke still fills the air as far as the eye can see, as Yosemite burns many miles away. Despite the chaos clear as day, it still feels good to be here. The visibility may be diminished, but the landscape is still beautiful. Nature is still spectacular.
We hop back in he car. We still have miles to go. Darkness is soon to come. And, tomorrow we have hills to climb.
Down winding roads in darkness, above canyons we can’t see, we eventually arrive to our campground… our home for just tonight. All of a sudden I feel like a grumpy old man.
A dance beat carries across the campground “unt unt unt”.
“Chug chug chug”, goes a chant from the campers at the group site.
Why are these people here? Why did they travel so far to be in nature to be ignorant of what it provides? Can we not tolerate the quiet, to such an extent that we must travel into the forest to fill it with noise as well?
Why must we feel the need to topple the quiet and fill the space? Maybe a need to connect. Maybe a need to be heard. I’m not sure.
Our society could do with more quiet. It’s strange to me it’s not here. For tonight, ear plugs will have to do.
The back country can’t come soon enough.