Friday, February 8, 2013

Southern Cal and The Seqoia's

    I once read "a person must have a magnificent reason  in writing their life story and expecting anyone to read it"  I have at times, been bored to tears perusing thick, exhaustive un-intriguing autobiographies of historical legends; yet my idea of writing stems from a desire to expound upon simple thoughts and formulate those ideas into expressions of reality. For many times, only in writing can your thoughts flow freely; unencumbered by the repressive confines of  day to day living and society's norms; concealed idea's you were unaware you possess,  can begin to surface. I used to think unless your name is Mozart, Churchill, General Patton or Barack Obama you should probably spend your free time finger painting or playing shuffleboard, because nobody outside your Mother  will want to hear the particulars of your pitiable existence and it will end how it began--with a wheeze. Others hold back from loquacious reminiscing; because talking about their past would be like reopening  a wound that has hence scared over, not to be pricked or pried with; yet as humans, we all share failures together and openness about thoughts and perceptions is a rare virtue. The rigors of life with the exception of the past few years have been relatively undemanding for me and I found success easily attainable; yet I write about this trip, because this is the year it all un-stitched like that of a snagged sweater.  

         That being said, bear with me as I plow ahead with my flimsy recollections of an unexpected journey through the country. After my night of debaucheries in Las Vegas(not to be serious, rather- tourism of a point of interest). I parked the car about forty miles out at a forlorn gas station, whither it was in or out of business I had no idea. I was to drowsy to exert much energy at this point and  forwent the folding back the seat (legs protruding into the trunk) routine, cranked back the lever grabbed my velvet blanket and crashed. I was promptly roused  from sleep by a sharp rap on my window; thinking of nothing but safety, and unwilling to be drug out and shot like a helpless animal I groped for my keys. However, once I cleared the cobwebs and my jumbled thoughts arranged linearly again, I decided to take a gander and venture out. I found myself staring blankly at two strangers, they were profusely apologizing for the inconvenience, explaining their car broke down and if I could give them a lift. One of them appeared to have had a few hashes to many and was tweaking. At first I asked if they could find anyone else to give them a lift. Surely they know somebody,  maybe a sister will come out, anybody but me. They said they'd try. I crawled back in my car and passed out, shortly after I was awoken by another knock on the window, with a bewildered moan accompanying with something intelligent like ooga, I stumbled out again, my friends were back, they were both babbling so rapidly and incoherently about their desperate plight that at this point I was like what the hell, Ill take you guys to your car. I explained "One would have to dig a hole in the backseat to locate space". With some random hippie on my right and drugged out fellow in back I located the interstate and roared off, back in the direction of Vegas. The baked gentleman in back kept thanking me, asking if I was an angel, I reiterated no, I was in the flesh; the hippie offered a $20 bill for the trouble which I also said no to. About 10 miles down and no sight yet of their car, I said you know, Ill take the 20 actually. 5 miles later we found a dilapidated car on the roadside which happened to be theirs. A moment that stayed with me, was right before the hippie shut the door, he  grabbed my hand, rather to tightly I thought, thanking me, yet instead of apprehension somehow the words "do you know Jesus slipped out" He said yes, I said "get to know him better" He looked back with a smile and promised he would. I'm not sure what moved me to say those words, but it was a spiritual moment for sure.   

    Waking up later than usual that morning I found the freeway and sped west toward the California border. Western California offered great contrast of scenery.  The rain soaked terrain led to a green embellishing, permeated by large boulders throughout Riverside, CA. where I visited a my moms cousin. I decided not to go to L.A., the only ideal place of interest was Hollywood and through prior research, wasn't that motivated. The next destination was Sequoia Nat'l Park. I didn't make it; due to spending the day visiting and taking in the terrain around Riverside.  I slept outside the Park that night.

     At Daybreak I felt weary, bedraggled and strung out,from the road; yet Sequoia welcomed me with alluring splendor, upon gaining elevation I was overlooking mountainous topography; a swift flowing rocky stream underlined the base of a glaciated mountain range. The higher snow laden elevations were comprised of a thin layer of fog which added to the scenic appeal. A fresh blast of cool mountain air hit me and I thought; this is Great Success. Upon reaching the snow line however I read a sign warning tourists to 'chain up'. By now I was experienced in chain application, and slipped them on with lil trouble, however when circling my car I noticed my right rear wheel was sagging badly and had a puncture hole. I MacGyver'd up a quick solution spitting out my wad of gum and clogged the hole. IDK how but surprisingly it stayed attached for the duration of day and proved to be a temporary 'quick fix'. unfortunately as I climbed even further in elevation the fog cover thickened which made for obscured viewing. Yet the snow coating the giant sequoia tree's made for picturesque winter scenery.

      Upon breaching the summit, I asked a stranger if he could snap a pic of me attempting to hug a giant sequoia tree, I covered about a tenth of its circumference, after the shot of hugging earth mother, I mention how being in the east coast, they stereotyped us all as liberal tree huggers.  I found that perception unfair to everyone, he then responded "yeah I have a giant tree tattooed on my back so I love tree's."  baffled I replied "yeah that's cool,t tree's are great" and upon leaving  thought maybe everyone on the east having that  impression,   isn't that far off. 

      The snow level was about 6 feet at the first summit. The parking lot was full, from the visitor center; you had  shuttle over to the General Sherman tree. However, due to the snow level, half the park was shut down. The only way out was back down the mountain side; I decided to forgo the General Sherman tree and drive back to reach San Fran that night, having just found out my cousin Brent was going to be visiting  the Stanford and Berkeley campuses and was hoping to meet up. There was apparently to much need for speed; at the next bend as I rounded a corner I was  turning and just, kept turning. I was picking up speed  sliding down sideways, taking up both lanes of the road. I glanced right to find no guardrail. My heart rate was picking up speed as well at this point. I saw a snowy embankment on the left. and quickly wrenched  the steering all the way to the left crashing into the drift with some velocity. The impact jarred me, but I had no time to recover as I found I was in the wrong lane facing the wrong way. I saw a truck coming up in my rear view mirror and with chewed up snow spraying every direction, gunned the accelerator up and over the embankment, finally I was back on the road. I was more alert than ever now observing careful driving procedures the rest of the way down.
                                                                                         On reaching the bottom I focused on putting some distance in and sped toward San Fran. Once I passed what seemed like good million acres of wine country I went up over another mountain pass, when I went out to get gas the snow flakes were floating down, it was a refreshing experience. I must admit I was glad to see the snow again. I made it to San Fran around 8 that night. I actually met up with Brent on some dark street corner in Berkely, when he saw me his first question was "Kyle, what are you doing here" Well I'm traveling, up through the state etc. He just said "No really, what are you doing here?" I just said, you know that's a good question; we still laugh about that now. I found a place to sleep in Berkeley that night and after enjoying the luxury of a much needed hot shower, passed out for the night.

 (On the ascent I helped a man find his chains that apparently slipped off, he offered to take a  pic of me in  front of a great backdrop which I accepted)

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