Wednesday, November 20, 2013

On the Road Again

Since my heightened state of anxiety and widespread wedding-planning-panic had prevented me from thoroughly documenting our very exciting summer of 2013 in real time, I will periodically interrupt the chronology of this blog to retrospectively reminisce.  This post chronologically follows the moving day post.

I will now take you back to day one of the road trip, August 17th, 2013.

We started this epic road trip with less than 4 hours of sleep and over 8 hours later than we originally anticipated.  This should come as no surprise to you if you know either one of us.  We are usually last minute and more likely than not, running late.  I often blame Trevor, but sadly when left to my own accord it is the same tardy story.  The convenient thing about road trips is that you can be late.  You are not going to miss a train and have to wait an hour for the next one, or miss a  flight and have to wait an extra day to get re-booked.  You can go at your own delayed pace.  However, when you actually make a few plans for where to stop and who to see, starting 8 hours late throws a a pretty significant monkey wrench into the whole schedule.  Two hours late is no big deal, but 8 hours late is a night and day difference.  Now you we going to hit all the national parks at night and will be driving through North Dakota in broad day light.  This is not the ideal road trip.

We drive as far as we can and make it to Bishop, CA around 1am.  We are completely exhausted.  We stop at the first vacancy.  We go to the vacancy.  Third one... is full.  Fourth... same story.  We drive around to every single hotel in Bishop, CA. The ones we could not physically find, we called.   They all had the same sad rooms available.  This is why it is advisable to plan vacations in advance and stick to said you do not strand yourself in the middle of no where in the middle of the night, tired, hungry, and cranky....  Too bad we never listen to our own advice.

We continue driving to the next town, which 45 miles north through the middle of no where.  Staring out the window half asleep appreciating the light of the full moon over the barren desert night and trying to make the best of things, something in the side view mirror catches my eye.  The car is on fire!  Pull over, Trevor!!!

Fortunately, the car was not really on fire, but the chain that was connecting the trailer to the car had come loose and was dragging on the road sprinkling trails of little fire balls which were zooming out from behind the car.  Oops.  We reattach the chain and check the area for any wildfires that we may have accidentally started.  All clear.  Back on the road.

We make it to Mammoth Lakes and check into our overpriced Shilo hotel room to sleep for about 6 hours.  We decide that we are gong to spend day 2 of the road trip in Yosemite National Park.  We have lived in California for 7 years and have somehow managed to never go there.  Not knowing what we are missing, I am on the fence about going.  We are already a day late, and I hate being late (even though we don't really have any where to be just yet).  Plus I am starting to regret attaching this bulky trailer to our poor old Corolla who is noticeably struggling and we haven't even gotten out of California yet....

We decide to be young and adventurous instead of old and boring.  We get back into our suicide caravan and start climbing the very steep, very windy Tioga Pass.  We are going about 15mph with our RPMs revving up towards the red zone.  The road to the park is very narrow.  Turning around is not an option.  Driving over the edge of the cliff is a very real option.  I am driving, white-knuckled and full of regret.  We should not be doing this. This is stupid.  This car is not going to make it. Trevor tries to reassure me everything is fine.  I try to smile.
This is Tioga Pass.  It is hard to see because it is super narrow.

I keep looking in the side view mirror and see more and more cars lined up behind us.  Trevor keeps telling me to pull over so we can switch drivers.    We pass a couple turn outs on the left side of the road (the side of the road where the cliff is). I wait for a turn out on the right side.  It never comes.  I eventually find a big enough pull out on the left side of the road and go for it.  It is not paved, it is gravel.  Trevor advises me to face the car uphill and park it.  He would later correct himself saying that by "uphill" he meant "downhill."

We get out of the death mobile and take some pictures of the lovely waterfall next to the massive ravine that we are perched atop.

Can you spot the waterfall?

I start to relax ever so slightly.  Trevor gets into the driver seat.  

He turns on the car and presses down on the pedal.  No movement.  He presses further down on the pedal..the tires spin furiously but the car goes no where.  He tries again.  The wheels spin and are kicking up dust and gravel as the car is now moving downward into the grave it is digging itself.  We are stuck, now half a foot down in loose gravel with about 5,000 pounds of goods on top.  If it had not been for the guardian angel in the form of a AAA service guy who showed up at that exact moment, this might have been the moment where we lost all our possessions including our lives because we drove the car and the trailer off the cliff.

Where we almost lost it all...
Luckily, after a few tries of going forward, now reverse, turn your wheel this way, now that way, we are back on the paved road and on our way.  Trevor is in the driver seat.  I am in the passenger seat fully convinced that our decision to go into this park in the first place was a very bad and stupid idea.  To go any further now is just pushing our luck.  New rule:  no more stopping on unpaved roads.  I might have even gone as far to say no more stopping, period!  Let's just get this road trip over with as fast as possible and get rid of this stupid trailer before we die!!!!

Meanwhile, Trevor still has the road-trip-rush and wants to stop at every interesting tree and rock face.  Too bad he has little Miss Debbie Downer as a side kick and I do not want to stop anywhere!

He eventually attempts to overcome my I-don't-want-to-stop, I-don't-care, I-just-want-to-go-home attitude and since he is in control of the wheel he pulls over at the next turn-out at a gloriously beautiful lake.  Did I mention the turn out is not paved?! It is gravel!!!

He happily gets out of the car to go explore, while I mope out of the car and sit on a rock by the lake and try to appreciate the beauty of this place while my heart and brain feel like they are going the explode with the fear that we just got stuck on the side of the road, AGAIN.  I look out on the water.  I try to be happy that we stopped at this fantastic scenery, but I am not.  Here is where I had my first road trip meltdown.
Cry Baby Lake (otherwise known as Tioga Lake)
 Trevor is in the distance jumping around on rocks and taking pictures of me sitting by the shoreline.  He is too far away to realize I am hysterically crying.  Which makes it all the more awkward when he gets close enough to realize there is something wrong with me.  We have a nice little chat and he realizes that I am actually fearful for both our lives and not just in a pissy mood.  We decide to move on and take it easy.  Luckily we have no issue getting back on the paved road and I start to calm down, realizing that not every gravel road leads to sudden death.

We stumble upon the old sequoia grove and decide it would be a good idea to get out of the car for a bit and go for a hike.

I just needed a little walk in the woods...

I just realized this is not Trevor.

Then we drove through the rest of the park, down to the famous El Capitan and Half Dome monoliths and then retraced our steps back out of the park via Tioga Pass.

Sun peaking through the clouds at Mono Lake
The rest of the day was peacefully uneventful, that is if you do not count the super steep now downhill portion of Tioga Pass when we were cruising downhill at 50-60mph in low gear, while the brakes are burning, and we are again at the very edge of a 300 foot cliff and a friggin' deer jumps in front of the car!!  The paralysis of fear that I felt at this exact moment was very similar to the time when I was convinced there was a bear in the bathroom in Montana.

Look!  A deer!  We are going to die!

 I can happily say we survived Day 1...


Post a Comment