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Fortunately,  the only thing that tried to attack us in the middle of the night was a gang of kids with flashlights. We leisurely made breakfast and headed back into Yosemite.

This time we actually wanted to walk around a bit on the valley floor and decided on an easy paved loop up to Lower Yosemite Falls. It was probably not the best the park has to offer but, to be honest, weren’t in the mood for extreme hiking.

We then ate lunch up at tunnel point overlook. Highlights included were watching families with young uncooperative children try to get a good family photo and a kid puking in the parking lot. (I gave him a telepathic nod of solidarity though since I throw-up everywhere I go).

I did a watercolor sketch and tried to deflect the countless people approaching me. (For some reason you pull out a paint brush and everyone thinks it is an open invitation to talk).

At this point in the trip we were all hiked out, camped out, and in general really just wanted to get home. We went back to the campsite to hang loose.

Alejandro listened to music and drank beer. I ate about five S’mores and read my book.

Life was good.

I walked to the bathroom and saw a little tent themed like the vacuum cleaner from Teletubbies, life was even better.

The next day we were heading for San Francisco … I looked around for a flower to put in my hair.

The driving we did the day before gave us almost a full day in Yosemite. But first we got to our campsite and set up the tent. We were staying two nights so I thought it’d be nice to drive through the park and check out the sequoia grove on the other side.

We weren’t able to get reservations in time to camp inside the actual park like we did in the Grand Canyon so our KOA site was about a 30 minute drive from the entrance.

Yosemite is basically like the everything I’ve seen in the Northwest but on steroids. Worn out from Bright Angel we had no intention on doing a strenuous hike and decided to drive around the loop instead.

We sat in traffic for an hour.

The juxtaposition of idling cars and natural beauty was astounding. I turned my car off whenever we came to a dead stop in hopes of preventing too much damage.

Then we drove through winding, climbing forest, by large drop offs. It was beautiful but I was getting carsick driving.

Finally we reached the other end of the park and the Sequoia Grove. And here I think is an adequate time to tell you how convinced that Alejandro was that bears were going to attack us.

He had been worrying about this the whole trip and was upset that I did not purchase a bear bell in advance (why he couldn’t get one for himself, I don’t know).  But I have to admit he was right, we were in bear country.

I tried to convince him that bears are only attracted to food, which he responded with “yeah, we are food.”

The Giant Sequoia did what I could not: distract him from thoughts of bears.

We toured around them for a while and headed back to our campsite with the help of GLaDOS.

There is a certain point when you own a GPS that you wish you didn’t trust it to get you where you were going but you are so far lost in the middle of nowhere that you have to let it guide you.

The point for us was a gravel road supposedly on the way back to our campsite. The gravel road turned into the one-lane of “Triangle Rd” which a few miles later turned again into “Triangle Rd.”

An hour of trepidation in the dark finally led us back to a two-lane road and eventually our campsite.

We made curry in the dark, hoped the bears wouldn’t like the smell and went to bed.

(Just in case you were beginning to get confused this is a very extended recap of the road trip Alejandro and I went on to get back to Oregon from Savannah, Ga. I made a few posts during the drive, but most of the time I was too busy/exhausted/without internet. We took 12 days to drive across the country starting June 3.)

Waking as ice cubes once again, we decided to drive to the Bright Angel Trail head armed with water, salty snacks, sunscreen, lunch and layers.

They should really rename this elevation dropping, switch-backing trail into the canyon to Bright Angle Trail because it is steee … eeep, sorry I got out of breath just thinking about it.

People die on this trail every year because they simply just underestimate the trail, are unprepared and over-extend themselves. The park service strongly advises people to start hiking early and stop hiking between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. so you’re out of the sun during the hottest parts of the day.

And since the Grand Canyon is so X-treme not only are you supposed to drink a ton of water, but every time you drink you need to eat something salty. Basically you can either die of drinking too little or die of drinking too much and sweating out all your salt.

Despite the danger, we made it down to the 3 mile rest house intact and decided to rest until after 4. We ate our lunch while some very vicious outgoing squirrels attacked us. I got out my watercolors, Alejandro read some of his book and fell asleep. A terrifying friendly squirrel woke him up by jumping on his head.

We still had a long time to wait until 4 p.m. rolled around. And none of the other hikers were paying attention to the time. Even overnight campers with heavy gear were stopping for a few minutes and continuing up and down the trail.

So we made a rash decision: to hike back up before noon.

We soaked our shirts with water and hiked, slowly, up the canyon wall.  About a mile in, our clothes were dry again. We made it to the 1st rest house and ran into a lot of tourists that had woken up later than we did.

They were in flip-flops and tube tops. Some weren’t even carrying water.

The closer we got to the top the more unprepared hikers we ran into. One woman with a perfectly made-up face was wearing a mini skirt. I did not envy the park service that day.

Tried and hungry we reached the top. We feasted on victory bacon cheeseburgers and redemption cheesecake hoping we’d be able to move the next day.


(Just in case you were beginning to get confused this is a very extended recap of the road trip Alejandro and I went on to get back to Oregon from Savannah, Ga. I made a few posts during the drive, but most of the time I was too busy/exhausted/without internet. We took 12 days to drive across the country starting June 3.)

We woke up feeling like dry ice, lips chapped and freezing.  After putting on every semi-warm item of clothing with us, we awkwardly suavely moved our tent from site 117 to 177.

We headed toward the rim. Was I excited to see this monument I had driven 1800+ miles to see? Yes, but, I was also incredible cold.

Could a vast abyss warm my soul?

WHATWHATWHATWHATWHAT.

In the words of Tina Fey parodying Sarah Palin, “you betacha.”

We spent the day viewing vista after vista on the Hermit’s Rest bus route. And gazing down at the hike I wanted to go on the next day: Bright Angel Trail, a switch-backing elevation changing beast.

Unprepared professional athletes have died overdoing it on this trail so we weren’t convinced if it was a good idea. But on the bus ride back from the sunset that night a couple in their 60s told us they had hiked it in their 20s and it was unforgettable. They told us not to miss it.

I usually don’t trust strangers, but, I really love hiking. I hoped me+them would convince Alejandro to go.

All that was left was the unbearable coldness of sleeping.

Hoods up, sleeping bags zipped and over our heads. We had no trouble waking up at 5 a.m. the next day to get ready for our hike because it is quite possible that our brains were just frozen and we never went to sleep.

Introducing Satellite View.

(Just in case you were beginning to get confused this is a very extended recap of the road trip Alejandro and I went on to get back to Oregon from Savannah, Ga. I made a few posts during the drive, but most of the time I was too busy/exhausted/without internet. We took 12 days to drive across the country starting June 3.)

Around 3 a.m. thunder rumbled in the distance. I sat up in the tent and woke up Alejandro.

“Thunder,” I said.

He tried to go back to sleep but I convinced him to help me put the protective fly over the tent and move it away from the tree we were under. But to secure the fly we had to put a lot of stakes in the brittle hard ground. It was impossible.

The thunderstorm was getting closer and it was starting to rain hard. At least we had some sort of protection, we thought and dove back inside the tent. We sat by the lantern light and wondered what to do.

Are tent poles the type of metal that attract lightning?
Do you count from the thunder to the flash or the flash to the thunder to figure out how far away the storm is?
Would one thunderstorm cause a flash flood and if so what should one do if they were camping at the bottom of a canyon?
Would the ever-increasing wind roll the tent and everything, including us, inside it?

Thoughts like these were interrupted when Alejandro kicked a wolf* in the face.  It had come inside the fly and the tent less than 10 inches from Alejandro. I didn’t see it up close, but I did see some sort of small pack animal running around in the shadows.

It was around that time that we made the executive decision to leave the canyon before things got worse.

We packed up our sleeping gear and tent in record time. My flip-flops got lost in the move (we found them later, inside the tent) so I was running around the scorpion infested ground with no shoes on.

It was raining hard, the thunder was echoing loudly throughout the canyon. Our neighbors had either already left or were sitting in their cars waiting out the storm. I was cursing my nice secluded campsite because we were a couple of miles from the entrance to the canyon and had three flash flood river roads to cross.

Luckily we left soon enough in the storm that we were able to get out of the canyon. We stopped in Amarillo to get breakfast at 5 or 6 in the morning. We shared The Waffle House with a few otherwise normal looking men in cowboy hats.

We then drove in a haze of wonder. Before noon we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

We didn't really enjoy the lone star state.

*The wolf was probably a coyote since they actually live in the canyon, but don’t tell Alejandro that.

Part 2

Luckily in today’s modern times one does not have to rely on a police officer who thinks that your best bet for a new brake light is probably close to Little Rock. One can pull a GPS and let it calmly guide you toward redemption.

Before our trip Alejandro convinced me to buy one and although that is all the planning he helped with, it was a valuable contribution.

We bought the cheapest GPS we could find and named her GLaDOS.

GLaDOS not only directed us to an AutoZone 35 miles away, but it also gave us their phone number so we could call ahead and make sure they had the part we were looking for.

We love GLaDOS.

Eventually we got to Petit Jean State Park (Arkansas’s first state park!) acquired a camping site, set up our tent, ate some food and realized we had nothing to do.

It felt weird not driving and also not being in a state of emergency. Alejandro took it as an opportunity to finally sleep, I surveyed our neighbors.

To our right was a large family of boys, ages ranging from 7 to 14. I’m not sure if they just didn’t like walking to the bathroom or if they had an elaborate plan to get their parents to take them home so they could go back to playing X box, but all I heard the mother say was, “Stop peeing in your shorts!”

To our left was a lone man camping with a pick-up truck and a mountain bike.  He would periodically ride off on his bike and ride back through his campsite. He also kept compulsively spraying his car tires with something. Bug spray? polisher adhesive? I couldn’t figure him out.

Thankfully when the sun went down it was actually below 80 degrees and we were able to get some sleep. Tomorrow was Texas and we needed our rest.

From Georgia through Alabama, Mississippi, to Tennessee, to Arkansas, through Oklahoma to Texas, to New Mexico, and Arizona. We are now in California and officially in Pacific Standard time.

Woot.

So far we’ve been pulled over, almost eaten by coyotes, chased out of a canyon by a thunderstorm, frozen in the Grand Canyon and driven a lot.

I will elaborate later.

Yosemite tomorrow, San Francisco on monday  and Oregon sometime after that.

Roger roger.