I got up and logged to Priceline to book my room for Los Angeles. $35 at the Hilton, which meant that I was spending more for crappy hotels in the middle of nowhere than I was for nice hotels in big cities. Jay came home with my car, and told me that I not only needed to get a replacement gas cap (the car wasn’t the performance vehicle it normally was), but my headlight was burnt out. Dammit. He was heading out of town for the weekend, so we said goodbye. I drove over to the auto parts store and had both the gas cap and headlamp installed within 10 minutes, for a total of $25. From there, I got on the Bay Bridge and headed east.
Outside Oakland, it’s all rolling hills, dry grass, and wind farms. I loved all the windmills lined up along the tops of the hills. They were cool and menacing at the same time. The farther I got from the bay, the warmer it got. It had been 50 degrees and misty in SF. By the time I exited 520 in Manteca, it was in the mid-80s.
The route to Yosemite was pretty, but slow. It winds through little towns and produce farms. I stopped at a roadside farmer’s market and bought one of nearly everything. About 40 miles from Yosemite, the mountains start. On the steep parts, I had to turn off the air conditioning, and at that point it was over 100 degrees. With all the windows and the sunroof open, it didn’t feel that bad, but my back and the backs of my legs were soaking wet.
I stopped for gas outside Yosemite. I had to pee badly, so I locked the car and ran into the gas station first. Then I came back out and went to pump gas. When I pulled on the little fuel door, it wouldn’t open. It was stuck! I tugged some more, and it wouldn’t move. I thought maybe someone had bumped my car, and indented it or something. I yanked harder and harder, and finally it popped open. My car beeped and the doors unlocked, and I realized what had happened: the little door locks shut when you lock the car. I felt like an idiot. I looked up and saw a girl sitting in the car behind me, watching. I smiled and shrugged.
While the gas was pumping, I went to wash the windshield. The squeegee had the longest handle ever, probably for big trucks. I was hurrying, and paid the price for my reckless squeegeeing: I hit myself in the mouth with the handle. At that point, nothing stupid I could do could possibly surprise me, so I finished with the window, put the gas cap back on (at least I remembered that), and got back in the car. I looked in the mirror, and my lip was bleeding down my chin.
I got to Yosemite around 11am, and congratulated myself on the fact that my National Parks pass had already paid for itself. I drove up to about 6000 feet, then down into the valley. I stopped and hiked to Bridalveil Falls. The spray was a relief from the heat. There were lots of people there, wading around in the stream, trying to keep cool. The heat made visiting the pit-toilet restrooms an endurance test: how long can I hold my breath while peeing? How fast can I run away and find someplace to wash my hands? I noticed that all the tourists there were slow-moving, although maybe it was the heat. I felt bad barging my way through them to experience America’s natural wonders, but I had a schedule to keep.
I parked and walked to Yosemite Village. I shopped at the general store, which was annoyingly mobbed. I went to the deli and got the biggest, blandest veggie sandwich I had ever tasted. I picked it apart and drank my americano while writing postcards. While I was sitting outside at a picnic table, I looked up and a few tables over, a girl was sitting there with her sandwich, a notebook, and a stack of postcards, with a stuffed-full backpack by her side. My counterpart! All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so alone.
I finished lunch and took the rest of the drive through Yosemite valley, then headed back. The drive was slow and boring, and the heat wasn’t letting up as the sun went down. I distracted myself by talking on the phone, as usual. The view of SF coming back over the Bay Bridge was amazing. I was proud of myself for figuring out where to exit and how to get back to Jay’s without even looking at the map, and especially for getting a spot right out in front of his building. I walked to Whole Foods and got a tofu sandwich, which was just as bland as the veggie sandwich I had eaten for lunch. I did laundry, packed up my stuff, and loaded the car so I could get on the road as fast as possible the next morning.
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random notes from my travel journal:
that was a whole lot of pms yesterday. i hope that goes away quick. anyway.
my nose and forehead are peeling today. my scraped hand is killing me. the skin feels tight, and i keep bumping it. also, i left my sunscreen at jay’s. i am smart.
i’ve decided the strangest places to travel alone are the national parks. they’re all family-oriented. it’s weird to see a group of fewer than four people here.
i hope my car will see me through. i worry even more when it’s so hot. me and chico, we’ve been through a lot together.
i think i want to keep this up when i get back. probably not handwritten, although my handwriting would improve. it’s too slow, but tactile, which is nice. hmm. maybe someday it’ll develop into that journal-writing project.
tomorrow night, la. i consider sf the midpoint of my trip, so that means that everything from here on out is technically heading towards home.
my pants are too big. they need a belt. go figure.
ok. i think that’s it from sf. what a strange feeling.
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