Friday, August 1, 2014

Up Around the Bend - Yosemite Drive pt 2 (Hitting the road)

Yosemite Drive pt 2 - On the road
to read part one click here

"Catch a ride to the end of the highway, and we'll meet by the big red tree. There's a place up ahead and I'm going come along, come along with me.
Come on the rising wind,
we're going up around the bend."
--Creedence Clearwater Revival

Quick side note: although Creedence is one of, if not, the best Swamp/Southern Rock bands they are actually from El Cerrito, California an area in the East Bay sort of near Berkeley and Oakland. Back to the travel journal.

My alarm rang at 5:30am.  I needed to get an early start if I wanted to reach Yosemite by 11am.  The sun was already starting to light up the sky, it was the beginning of summer.  I went through my usual morning routine, but a bit quicker than normal: I did my yoga stretches, fifty push ups, a bowl of cereal, mug of orange juice.  Brushed my teeth and washed my face.  My overnight bag was packed except for my toiletry bag which needed my tooth brush and retainers.  The bag was packed to the brim, I made sure my little green journal was stuffed in there so I could note my journey.

With a text message to my relatives (On the road see you soon!) I was off.  The first few hours were freeway with walls preventing me from seeing very much but eventually the road turned into an open highway. It was largely farmland and rows of crops. I think some were avocados, others were probably citrus trees.

California Crops 
I remember seeing only one person working in all the farmland I passed.  He looked to be of Mexican descent.  He was wearing blue jeans and a red plaid work short.  He was riding an all terrain little four wheeled cart through the rows of crops kicking up clouds of dust.  I thought that would be fun but after an hour or so it would get very tedious.  I wondered if he rode up and down those aisles all day.

There was so much open farm land on my drive it reminded me of driving to Oahu's North Shore where the tight spaces of the city open to rows of pineapple crops.

James E. Roberts Bridge pic doesn't do it justice

What I remember most about the drive from the bay to Yosemite was passing over the James E. Roberts Memorial Bridge. I was driving along a hill and I had glimpses of a ravine with a giant lake to my left and cliffs to my right. Then suddenly everything opened up and I saw the land and sky all around me, the blue green of the lake below.  The bridge is curved so I could see the giant columns that kept it above the water. I wanted to pull over and take a picture but there was no shoulder for quite a ways. I later learned that I was in Tuolumne County and the water way I drove over was an off shoot of Lake Don Pedro.  James E. Roberts was a noted engineer who was an expert at building structures to withstand seismic events, no wonder he is honored in California.

Several miles after the bridge I found myself climbing a seemingly endless road up and over a mountain. It was a narrow two lanes where if I went any faster than 25mph I felt in danger of rolling into the precipice. I wondered how many car accidents occurred on such an isolated road. There were a great many cars using this winding road and if there was any back up there was no where to go unless you ditched your car.  The view was beautiful (even better two days later on the way back as the sun was setting) and I made it over the hill.  Shortly thereafter my gps signal started to wane and my phone battery started to drop.

I was getting closer but from here on I was driving on faith and the occasional road sign that said I was heading in the right direction. A few things I learned on my drive thus far: I suspect that the time between the yellow and red stoplight signals is much faster in California. For instance in Hawai`i you have a good 5-9 seconds before a light turns red. California it is more like 3-5 seconds.  I'm not sure if it is because the intersections are bigger or if people are driving faster but that certainly seems like the case.

I also thought about Pastor Jim's question regarding "Big Land Fever" I am not sure if I felt it yet but I know the area was vast and seemingly endless and I wanted to keep driving.

To Be Continued