Waking up among almond trees in Oakdale, Mark and I rode too small bikes with too flat tires into town to pick up our rental car.
It was sunny and bright and a little chilly but I can’t complain about riding bikes in California. We were early to pick up the car, so went around the corner to a diner and got fed a mountain of a farmer’s breakfast for $4.50. Dinner plate sized Mickey Mouse pancakes included.
We hit the road soon after and drove the couple hours straight down Highway 120 to Yosemite. I really have no idea how long the drive was, because windy, scenic roads have a tendency to distort time in a good way. We did 3 of the easiest “hikes” in the park, if you can even call them that, because they were halfway paved with asphalt. If we had the time to stay an extra day, a real switchbacky hike would’ve definitely been in order, but I think we made the most of our limited time there.
We got sprayed by mist from waterfalls and stared at mountains and got lost a couple times because we didn’t look at the actual trail maps and just hiked in whatever direction we felt like heading. We fashioned lunch out of the snacks in the trunk of our car and perfected the “opening a bottle of beer with another bottle of beer” technique.
We did our best to stay clear of the crowds, which wasn’t too hard considering it wasn’t the high season, but I can see how the valley could turn into a bit of a zoo in the summertime. On our way out of the park, we pulled over to the side of the road, cracked open a couple beers, and just sat on the ground next to the river, across the valley from a waterfall, watching water flow in perpendicular directions. Shadows slowly filled the valley as the sun disappeared behind mountains, and for a few moments, everything was in its right place. Fog rolled in over the peaks that were still snow capped and we jumped in the car once more before darkness came over us.
But! the adventures of the day were not done. Not even close. It was getting dark, and we were due to meet a friend of Adam’s who lived in the middle of nowhere as an organic farmer about an hour outside the park. The directions we were given were along the lines of “you’ll get to a ‘Y’ in the road and you’ll know which way to go”. Which I guess was technically true, because we took the wrong fork at first and pretty soon after “knew” it was the wrong one.
Somehow we met up with our host at the “market”, which we flew past at first, and then made the “1 beer drive” to her house up some winding country/mountainous road that probably would have been impossible to find on our own and met a few of her other friends. And what great hosts we had. There was beer aplenty, and meat of every variety being grilled for a feast of a dinner. Adam was supposed to meet all of us and join in dinner, but he took back roads and ended up getting stuck. Keep in mind he drives a Subaru. One search party was sent out. No word. Another search party was sent out. 3 hours later, we were all chowing down and laughing about the whole situation. Adam had to leave because he still had to work the next morning, meanwhile Mark and I retired to our beds for the evening, which were in this:
And all I could do was smile. There’s a certain renewal that comes about after being off the grid and hours away from any cell phone coverage and never even seeing a TV that I’d forgotten about. Being completely disconnected from “normal life” and reconnecting with the little details of the physical world around us.