(Here are all the streams and rivers I fished in the last two days, making the most of my 22 dollar fishing license. I got one strike and no fish. Mike caught two. This is par for the course)
Off the deck and into the wild–Yosemite travel day.
Day Four- Evening
Mike wanted more sunset photos and I was frankly tired of all the to-ing and fro-ing, and opted for an evening alone doing domestic chores. Surprising how these little routines put me back into myself, and provide a calmness I was craving.
The Laundromat in the camp was pretty entertaining. A young guy with giant gauged ears and an “I’m too cool for this Laundromat attendant job” attitude was explaining to an upset German guy that the reason his clothes weren’t dry yet was that he’d run them through a WASHER (I stifled a smile. Poor dude probably always had his mother do his clothes.) Also, there were Mennonite ladies there, surprisingly lovely in their long plain gowns and gauzy caps, and they guarded their washers and never left them alone for a minute… Did they think we’d run off with their long skirts and caps?
I took another shower in the steamy bathhouse, realized it was approximately the same time as yesterday, and lo and behold! A thunderclap. This time I just grinned. I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to get the fire going with damp wood and watching the lustruous plume of Yosemite Falls. I fished the river up and down in front of camp, to no avail. I made myself hot chocolate on the little stove, and literally watched the water boil.
I felt my heart rate slow, and my breathing, and my busy brain.
I can’t remember when such simple things felt so luxurious, and beautiful in themselves, and when I was totally present to watch the tiny formation of pearly microbubbles in the pan, watch them coalesce and partner, watch them swell, watch them lift off the bottom of the pan in the beginning of a concert of chemical reaction so commonplace I’d forgotten the beauty of its dance. I sat beside the fire and fanned the sluggish, smoking wood and felt utterly content.
Mike returned, alight with conquest of his desired shot of the meadow with Half Dome lit and planning to take me to dinner—but was happily surprised that I’d fixed him a melted cheese sandwich and kept it hot on the stove. “I think I like you domestic,” he said, biting in.
“Don’t get used to it,” I said, and gave him a kiss.
Day Five 5/11/13 Travel Day
We’ve fetched up, hot and grubby, in a bend in the road outside of Yosemite and 250 miles from LA called Lone Pine. Turns out, we can’t go to Sequoia National Forest from that pass out of the park 395—its on the other side of the Sierras. I was just happy to have Pandora back, playing smooth jazz, the wide open silky ribbon of the deserted highway before us, and stunning snow-covered mountains all around the stretch of high desert we traversed.
But let me first tell you, that Mike got the shot he’d been craving last night—the Milky Way over Half Dome. He got up at 2:30 a.m, went out and said the sky was amazing. I woke up at the rustlings and bustlings—he was making coffee and going to the top of the Valley at Glacier Point. I told him to have fun and he gave me a kiss, and was gone.
Later, when he met me walking alongside the road, he babbled with excitement—while he was setting up his “sunrise at the rim of the world” shot, two BASE jumpers came up beside him, “fluffed their squirrelsuits” and, wordless and matter of fact, jumped off into the depths of Yosemite Valley . He and one of other photographer were there, almost hysterical and looking for the chutes, the bodies, anything—but they had vanished, and so quickly Mike said it made him dizzy to look down where they’d gone—7214 feet down into the darkness of pre-dawn.
“Is that legal?” My eyes were bugging out.
“Of course not. How do you train for something like that? There’s no room for error. It makes surfing Jaws look like kid stuff!” Actually witnessing it was quite something, and they’d moved too fast for him to take any pictures.
He showed me where they jumped from below, and a tremendous ledge protrudes right above the Curry Village. Apparently the “squirrel suits” enable to the jumpers to glide out far enough to pass the ledge. Those are some hard-core adrenaline junkies. We also pulled over in midmorning on our way out of the Park and ogled the sheer, dazzling face of El Capitan, and Mike was able to shoot some climbers close to the top, tiny as mites on the rock face. It scared me just to look at them.
We were glad to be leaving—by Saturday, the park was filling and there seemed to be four kinds of people: foreign tourists of every tongue and shade, oblivious families with milling and kids on bikes, elderly paunchy middle Americans with black knee socks and binoculars, and hard-core fitness/hiking/climbing freaks in their zip-off-leg Columbia pants.
I’m not sure what category Mike and I fit into—middle-aged, semi-fit artists who hate crowds? Anyway we couldn’t get out of there fast enough, and spent today exploring the mountains and Tuolumne Meadows the way to Tioga Pass and fishing our way out of the park into the desert beyond, eating Jelly Bellies and discussing a totally mobile lifestyle. (We'll let you know when we figure it out!)
One further note of advice to anyone traveling this route: bring a big state map. Don’t rely on your GPS. And go to Yosemite in early spring, before the weekend, with a LOT of gas, and music actually stored on your mp3 player or CDs. Also, extra patience if you have the misfortune to be driving through the Valley floor on the weekend.