SUN CHASERS: ALONE TIME

Inevitably with the departure of our traveling Manitoban friends would also come Alison’s eventual departure for Italy.  It was our plan to part ways in San Francisco, Alison would go to Italy to begin her third year as a cyclist competing for an Italian team and I would remain in the US.  With my return time to Canada being in late March that leaves me with a little under two months of solo travel.  It will be a time for exploration, introspection and meditation...probably no meditation.  Solo travel signifies to me more than just traveling by one’s self, it is a testing ground a relatively unexplored part of life that I have much to learn about.   Though I have traveled alone before, having done numerous trips across BC and Alberta alone, I admit that I’ve never been out this long by myself with no place to be and a victim to my own curiosity.  Nervousness doesn’t take a roll in my feelings towards being alone for such a time, I’m well aware that my solitude will not be total, as you travel there always those who you meet along the road; therefore, I have nothing to worry about in that regard.  I know that, with the right planning and communication, help will not be far off in the event of an emergency.  I have traveled enough in a country not my own to feel comfortable roaming alone and with today’s technology I’m rarely lost.  So, no, I am not nervous, I am not scared.  Am I apprehensive at times?  Perhaps. 

 The quintessential shot from Tunnel View, Yosemite Valley.  

The quintessential shot from Tunnel View, Yosemite Valley.  

What I have experienced thus far as being the sole planner for my travels is apprehension towards my route.  In my first week away from Alison I spent my days on a comfy couch inside a warm house located in Boulder Creek, CA, waiting out the rain.  At that time, the world seemed to be coming down around me, with an uncharacteristic amount of rain for the area, many of the roads were being either washed away or covered by mud slides.  This put a veil over my thoughts as I picked my way through locations to visit and routes to take.  Perhaps, if all this environmental carnage was occurring around me here, it would also be happening where I was going, I could get stuck out there alone by myself with all matter of uncomfortable events incurring afterwards.  These thoughts and many like them went through my head as I checked weather and temperatures throughout the areas that I would be visiting.  The winter of 2017 can be easily described as odd or different from the preceding years.  The Sierra’s host a snow pack rivalling record years, Northern Nevada is cold and the coast of California is being washed into the sea with torrential downpour.  It would seem that anywhere I go there is extensive damage from weather and impassable routes.  As the world crashes down around me and I attempt the plan a route around the falling pieces I begin to feel frozen.  And what I have discovered is that this is exactly the time at which you need to force yourself off the couch and just leave.  You’ve done your planning, you know your route, being apprehensive about leaving will serve you no other purpose than to keep you where you are. 

 Long exposure with moving cars and El Capitan in the back ground make for a somewhat surreal effect.

Long exposure with moving cars and El Capitan in the back ground make for a somewhat surreal effect.

I have since left my comfy cradle in Boulder Creek and made my way inland and South, in good time as well.  Shortly after I made my way over the mountains into the Palo Alto area, a large sink hole opened up tearing away with it a large section of secondary highway serving as a major route for residents living on the West side of the coastal mountains who work on the East side in the Bay Area; now as the traffic vein has been severed only a capillary size road is left to ferry commuters. 

 Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Valley, CA

Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Valley, CA

 El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, CA

El Capitan, Yosemite Valley, CA

Having narrowly dodged the semi-collapse of the coastal transportation system surrounding Boulder Creek I made my way first to a new friends place to do a well-needed fix to my truck.  As I said before, it’s inevitable that you’ll meet new people and make new friends when you travel, so in actuality you’re rarely completely alone.  From there I traveled to Oakdale, CA, to visit with the son, Carson, of friends Gary and Marian Miller, who we met at Zion National Park and camped overnight with on the side of Dalton Wash Rd.  Arriving around 9pm at the Miller’s house, Carson welcomed me into his parent’s home and we dove instantly into a conversation that would take us till almost 1am.  It’s always heart-warming when a couple of guys can bond over some beers, pulled pork sandwiches and conversation about travel, trucks, guns and planes (there are some women out there rolling their eyes I bet.).  The next morning as I prepared to leave to go explore Yosemite Valley, Carson informed to that the Northern (shorter) route had been opened.  We discussed the route a little then I asked him if he’d be interested in joining me. It turned out that he had nothing pressing to do that day, he agreed to join me and then we left for the valley.

 Grand Sentinel, Yosemite Valley, CA

Grand Sentinel, Yosemite Valley, CA

Our time in Yosemite Valley was short lived due to the fact that the road which had opened that morning had again been closed shortly before we arrived at the Northern entrance which was followed up by a subsequent hour and a bit of driving to get to the Southern entrance.  We arrived an hour and a half before sunset and spent our time hustling through the park to try and catch all the iconic views on camera.  I’m quite fine with the reality of that situation, it’s absolutely my intention to return to Yosemite as is Zion, Death Valley and many other briefly visited parks.  I tend to find myself in overload if I attempt to take in everything all at once, so if I get a quick glimpse and return later it’s all for the better.  Carson and I returned to Oakdale for beer and burgers (second burger of the day after Happy Burger in Mariposa, CA), then hit the sack. 

 Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, CA

Half Dome, Yosemite Valley, CA

I now sit here, inside the trailer writing this while parked on a concrete slab of unknown use, beside a spectacle called ‘Giant Rock.’  Much like ‘Big Dune’ in Nevada which I visited a few weeks ago, ‘Giant Rock’ is amply described simply by its name, it is in actual fact a giant rock.  I’d love to sit down with the people who named these places for a conversation, just to see where it goes.  Last night was my first night 100% alone, I arrived at Giant Rock, had a meal of clam chowder (out of a can, canned food FTW) with a delicious Deschutes, Mirror Pond Pale Ale then set in for the night.  I woke this morning to sunshine and dry ground, something I had forgotten all about during my time being rained on in Boulder Creek.  Casper is finally drying out and after I finish writing this I will clean up my dishes and proceed to pull everything fabric-based out of the trailer for a good soak in some top quality desert UV light.  I will press on from here to Joshua Tree and wherever my heart desires after that.

 A shot from the side of the 99 overlooking Bakersfield, CA

A shot from the side of the 99 overlooking Bakersfield, CA

 Rolling California foothills precede the Sierra's.

Rolling California foothills precede the Sierra's.