Monday, June 23, 2014
Good Vibrations - Yosemite Drive part 1 (preparation)
"I love the colorful clothes [California] wears, and the way the sunlight plays upon her hair. I hear the sound of a gentle word on the wind that lifts her perfume through the air."
There is something alluring about California. I am not sure how many of you readers are still out there but here is the continuing rebirth of my blog. I don't think I have ever openly stated, astute readers could guess, I was born and raised in Hawai`i. The islands are every bit as exciting and beautiful as people have come to believe. The state is not a flawless oasis however, as many people believe it is. There are problems like everywhere else: homelessness, poverty, sadness. They all mix in with the tropical beauty, the beach front cottages, and the euphoria.
I digress (Hawai`i should be set aside for a post to itself) this post is about California. Growing up two of my favorite TV shows were "Full House" and "Nash Bridges". The first was set in San Francisco (filmed elsewhere) and the second was filmed on location in the city. I loved the music of the 1970s Laurel Canyon artists (CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds) and the 1960s San Francisco Bands (Santana, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jefferson Airplane). I have spent many hours reading about those bands. Movies and books recall California's beauty and mystery. I'm not sure what it is that makes California so alluring. Hawai`i (like California) has magical coastal highways, transcendent beaches, mountains right outside your window, and farmlands. Maybe it's the bridges, Hawai`i does not have bridges like the ones in California. Maybe it is the fact that almost the entire west coast is a single state. I am not sure what it is about California but I'm hoping to figure it out by the end of my journey. Go West Young Man.
About a year ago, I decided to move from Hawai`i to the Bay Area to pursue what my being has always felt I should be doing, writing. As of this post I have finished my first year of graduate school in creative writing. I am finding the gentle words on the wind that lift my spirits through the air. I love every minute of it. During my first semester I met some great people, thoroughly enjoyed my time, but felt very isolated in this new environment. I spent the entire Christmas break back in Hawai`i, swimming through coral reefs and hiking through tropical forests. In the spring semester I made more connections with my writing community and peers, finding my space in this bay area. A handful of special people reminded me I was a part of the world and not a loner; a fact I had forgotten. The world that I am a part of is bigger than my tiny studio apartment.
A few weeks after the end of the semester my Uncle, Aunt, and Cousin from Hawai`i contacted me because they would be driving through California on a road trip south to Texas. Don't worry they flew from Hawai`i to California. They had some stops planned out, Yosemite National Park being one of them. Yosemite is where I decided to meet up with them. This would be my first road trip on my own. I had driven across Washington State, through Oregon, and in my childhood across parts of California. On these drives I was always with family or friends, this would be my first drive all on my own. I have gone on solo road trips around Hawai`i, but there is something different when you know the road will eventually loop around in a circle. Also driving in a place I had lived all my life as opposed to the new wilderness of California is another difference.
My relatives plans were loose at best. They were trying to schedule out stops seeing how long it would take to drive. I was a little anxious because I was excited to see them and explore Yosemite. A tension was building in me that they may have to change their plans at the last minute and this Yosemite trip would be canceled. I got a text message one Friday afternoon saying "on Saturday around 11am they would be at the Yosemite Village Visitors Center. If I was still interested in meeting." I replied "YES! see you tomorrow." Checking the driving directions it would take about four hours from the Bay.
I stayed up late the night before, even though I had to wake up early to make the drive. Excited for my California adventure, I wanted to make a soundtrack for my drive. For my travel across part of the golden state I filled my playlist with California music. The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, CSN(Y), Santana, etc. Nine hours of music (which turned out to be not quite enough but why carp?) to take me through the land of Steinbeck, John Muir, and Good Vibrations.
Unsure of what the next day would bring I packed a heavy duffel bag with change of clothes, swim attire, things for camping, a book to read, and my little green journal. I wished I had packed my fancy camera but I had to use my iPhone instead (not a huge loss but possibly lower quality pictures). A snack bag with bananas, chocolate chip cookies, a cherry coke, and water for the ride.
In my time in California one of the people I have met is a Pastor named Jim. He has given me some good questions and topics to think about. But there was a seemingly joking question that fits this post's narrative. He said it more eloquently but it was basically: People always talk about island fever, I wonder if there is big land fever for people moving off of an island?
I wondered if endless land instead of endless water would have an effect on me for my first road trip. The last thing I thought about before drifting off to sleep was the excitations that California was giving me. My road trip would be happening tomorrow. "Close my eyes, she's somehow closer now, I know she must be kind, she goes with me to a blossom world. Gotta keep those lovin' good vibrations happening with her."
To be continued.