Off the deck and into the wild- Yosemite.

Day Three, 5/9/2013 late afternoon


My maiden voyage driving the rental SUV to the one location in the park with Internet (you mean, this really is the wilderness?!) had just ended and I was enjoying my first shower in three days in the pay-per-stall shower house when a clap of thunder so directly overhead that I squealed and covered my nether parts, along with the three other ladies also in residence. We all burst into nervous giggles until that sound was drowned by the machine gun rattle of hailstones on the fiberglass roof.

I don’t remember the last time I saw a hailstone. In Michigan, fifteen years ago? Anyway, they look like little white frozen peas in case you Hawaii people were wondering, or up to the size of golf balls at times. These were pea-size, but combined with the blitzkrieg of thunder and lightning, I felt like being naked and wet was possibly not a good idea and hurried up to get out of what had had been a highlight of the day.

Back at camp, Mike was excited  as storms always make him, running around adjusting tarps and aiming his camera (covered, of course) at the top of Yosemite falls and chanting, “c’mon storm, just one good bolt over the falls, that’s all I need.”

The hail had turned to buckets of rain, and we dug a trench to keep it from rolling into the tent area and then made hot chocolate and sat on plastic garbage bags in our wet canvas chairs to watch the show—and what a show it was! Across from our camp, Yosemite Falls pumped so hard there was a constant sound like the surf on a big day near the beach. (If you are ever in Yosemite and make a reservation in the “Housekeeping” camp, ask for number D 162, which looks directly at Yosemite Falls and also #236 which sits on the sandbar of the Merced and looks at the Falls too.)

Later, when things had subsided into dark, soggy and very cold, we made a run to the store for gear we didn’t have—a hat for Mike (brown, with a skull on the front, and bobbles, a true “Jane hat” due to lack of selection) and gloves for me (fleece, black, and soon partly melted from moving burning sticks around in the fire.)

A young English couple took the space next to us, which we’d been spoiled by having empty for the last two nights, and needed help with their fire, and opening their wine, and later, definitively answered the question whether or not the bedsprings on the cots squeaked. (Yes, yes they do.)

In another freaky weather shift, the skies cleared right at sunset, and a dramatic sky show hit Half Dome. Mike and I drove and ran from spot to spot, filling our eyes and lenses with transcendent, iconic beauty. It’s really just so ridiculous here, like a green screen with a projection of Majestic Nature Views in Every Direction always playing. I feel like every picture I take looks fake, and I don’t know what to do about it.

We got our fire going by drying the wood on the propane stove and had steaks and S’mores, and prayed the rain hadn’t turned to snow to keep Tioga Pass closed. If it doesn’t open on Saturday, we will have a very long drive around the wild end of California to anything of interest at all.

Day Four Friday May 10, 2013

I caught my husband fishing, back in 1984 when I'd just graduated high school.

We were “just friends” but fishing brought us together. I knew I was attracted to him, but he fell in love with me when I kept up with him fishing. I think the day I broke the neck of a trout and gutted it myself, cooking it on a stick, was when he decided he was in love. He asked me to marry him on the banks of a little lake in California doing what? You guessed it. Fishing. I said yes standing in water up to my knees.

So today we were on a mission to get our licenses and get ourselves to Tuolumne Meadows for some stream casting, and at the Village we discovered we were out of gas.

“There’s no gas in the park,” the attendant selling the licenses told us. “Nearest gas is 17 miles outside the park, in El Capitan.”  This was not on the literature. Or on the blogs we read about Yosemite. Or, on any signs we had seen anywhere.


I lost the zen, “let it be what it is” that I'd been so far maintaining. There is pretty much nothing I dislike more than running out of gas, other than getting lost or possibly locked out of the car, and in the course of our 27 years of marriage, I think all of the above have happened to us more than the national average. When I began getting agitated, pacing around and glaring, Mike bought a map and asked the guy for the 100% guaranteed shortest route to a gas station. “All downhill, just coast” the guy said.  “Good luck!”

So we coasted for seventeen white knuckled, silent miles out of the park down an unknown road. I did my breathing and tried not to snarl by biting my own lips. Mike tried to jolly me out of it; I was having none of it.

“Thank you Jesus!” was my heartfelt exclamation when we coasted into the gas station (bearing a large placard declaring ‘No Gas in Yosemite!’ But we had come in a different way, in the dark.) Mike bought me an It’s It ice cream to celebrate.

Giddy with relief, sugar and carbs, we hit the Merced River and I enjoyed tromping off alone (this is a LOT of togetherness, after all) to cast into the deep, swirling jade-green pools, tangling my Panther Martin on the new-fledged leaves of river willows and generally loving every minute of it.

Wildlife has been abundant and while commonplace for California, I’m enjoying the tame deer wandering through the camp, chatty huge shiny black crows, curious Stellar’s jays and bold squirrels (one actually hopped into the car to grab a peanut off the floor when the door was open.) So far, still no bears. 🙂

Off for the evening’s fishing—right in front of our camp along the turn of the golden-pebbled, calm Merced. Across from where I'm sitting I can see a nice deep pool where the river carves under the roots of a leaning sequoia. I’ll be there, pole in hand.

Hopefully the hailstorm of yesterday didn’t close the pass, and we can leave on schedule tomorrow. But if not, we will happily spend another night here.

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