Archive for September, 2010

The Road North

September 20, 2010

I woke up at 5 AM in the dark.  Packed my camp and drove up to a turn-out to catch a sunrise.  Ate a peanut butter sandwich and drank an energy drink.  The sunrise was still 50 minutes off.  I left.  Later, another turn-off:

I had eleven hours of driving before I reached Crater Lake.  The drive reminded me a lot of my tour through west Texas.  I saw mystical places:

And hilarious towns:

And right-wing nuttery:

And a motherfucking bald eagle:

America.

Around 5 pm, I reached Crater Lake:

A better view, kind of:

The campground was just as wet.  Hardly anyone else was staying at it.  But I was feeling bold.  And I own rain pants.  So in a rush of rugged enthusiasm, I set up my tent on the highest ground I could find.  I then set to work collecting the driest wood around.  I found a few logs hidden beneath picnic tables left by previous campers.  I found a tree protecting a cache of pine needles.  And I pulled the Yosemite newspaper out of my car.  I then hung a tarp over one of the few non-submerged firepits in the camp.  I was never a boyscout, but  I did camp a lot growing up, and I pride myself in my fire-starting skills.  My first attempt was the strongest.  It burned for 15 minutes or so.  But the large pieces never caught: it had been raining for two days there and there was just too much moisture.  And now I was out of small twigs.  Still I pushed.  I tore more paper.  Threw on a handful of pine needles.  Burned threw a box of matches.  Grabbed more from the car.  Each subsequent flame lasted for less and less time.  If at first you don’t succeed try, try again until you’re bitter and cold and frustrated and wet and it’s dark and you’re still 5 hours from Portland.  The forecast had 100% chance of rain the next day.  I was done.  I tore down the tarp, collapsed my tent, and threw it all in a pile in the back seat of my car.  I changed my socks.  I then screeched out of the campground, probably terrifying the single group of campers remaining.

Later:

16 hours of driving that day. I listened to a This American Life episode on the road about some Iraqi young men living with daily bomb blasts and dying children.  I felt bad for feeling bad about my struggles.  Fortunately, I’m friends with a law student at Lewis & Clark, and she was up studying when I got into town at 1:30.  We split some beers.  Then I curled up on her couch, with warm blankets and cats, and fell asleep.

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OMG YOSEMITE

September 19, 2010

Then I started hiking.  Sweating.  Spitting out phlegm (I have a cold).  Reached Vernal Falls:

I swear that’s a real and actual place and not just a unicorn glade from your imagination.  See, I’m there:

Climbed higher.  Reached Nevada Falls:

And the top of Nevada:

There I sat, and surveyed, and ate peanuts.  Until this squirrel pestered me:

Yosemite squirrels are bold and persistent.  This one was trying to eat the nuts straight out my hand.  Such an asshole.  So I flashed it:

And then I made my way down.  And saw the sights:

And the Half Dome:

I don’t have a tripod or a travelling companion so it’s hard to take photos of myself with things.

OMG Yosemite.

Fuck Yosemite

September 19, 2010

I spent three hours driving to Yosemite and then three hours driving around the place in search of camping.  The place was booked.  I had arrived at 5 and thought I’d have a lovely evening, setting up camp, watching the sun set over the Half Dome, roasting potatoes on an open fire. I did catch the sunset, though through a car window, amidst bouts of frustrated rage as I toured the parks many campground entryways and viewed the beautiful “Campground Full” signs blocking each one.  So I left.  Went out to the national forest surrounding.  Found a dirt forest service road, drove until I reached a wooded and level turnout, parked and looked at the stars, ate some sourdough bread and went to sleep in my car nervous all along that a bear might smash my windows, hungry for my potatoes and sardines.  I was fine.

I woke up at 5 the next morning and realized that the sun didn’t rise for another hour and a half so I went back to sleep.  When I did finally get up, I drove back into the park, down to the Yosemite Valley, to Camp 4, and waited an hour for the place to open and then another hour in line before I finally got my $5 spot in a camp site shared by 5 other people.  I stashed my food in the bear canister and went off for coffee.

I’m trying to say that my first hours at Yosemite were not a whole lot more than frustrating.

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September 16, 2010

My have I let this blog lapse.  I left LA.  I left San Francisco.  I went to a cabin in the Sierras and I left that place too.  Then I went back to Oakland and now I’m leaving there.  I’m going to Yosemite and then to Crater Lake.  I’ve been caught up.  With work and with friends etc.  This ain’t one of those over-share-y blogs, so I won’t get into it.  But now I’m back on the road, bopping around, more-or-less homeless.

My birthday just passed.  Perhaps you, dear readers, can excuse my blogging lapse as a birthday present.  I went to a graveyard to celebrate.  Danced to the thizzle dance on Mac Dre’s grave.  And saw this stone:

Craig Mucks.  Born and died on the day of my birth.  Well, exactly 12 years before the day of my birth.  Is it appropriate to post such an image on the nets?  I hope so.  RIP.

May this gravestone mark this blog’s rebirth.  I’ll be back soon with photos from the parks.  Until then, tah!