Off We Go!

Upon landing in San Diego, I discovered my luggage was a few hours behind me, so Nate and I took off to make a couple visits and get some food. I got to say hello to our friend, Tim (who moved out to San Diego with Nate four years ago), for an hour after four years, which was nice. He and his girlfriend Drea were lovely hosts. They fed me a couple beers and let me charge my phone, both of which were much needed after a day of travel. After that we got some drive-thru enchiladas and tostadas, stopped off at one of Nate’s friends to grab a sweet little device that uploads pics to the internet directly from the camera, picked up my luggage from the airport, and took off for Oceanside to stay with my cousin Kelly and her family.

We got into Oceanside late, but Kelly and Willy were up, as was their four year old son, Jagger. Kelly let me know that she’d told him I was coming and he was pretty excited about it. Not a bad way to be welcomed by an adorable toddler (does four still count as toddlerhood?) that certainly didn’t remember me as the last time I saw him he was six months old. We spent the night at their place, stopped in at Don’s Country kitchen in the morning for some delicious breakfast, and got onto Facebook for a moment so I could share the link to this blog. It was another short visit with Kelly and Willy in San Diego (the first was 6 years ago), but sweet nonetheless.

Willy, Kelly, Me, and Jagger in Oceanside

After we left Oceanside we made a pit stop in say hi to my friend Ashly, who I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a handful of times since we studied abroad in Barcelona in 2004. This visit was by far the shortest (already I can see this road trip being punctuated with short bursts of reconnection, and I like it) but we enjoyed a couple High Lifes (High Lives?) and some Mickey Avalon, so all in all a classy afternoon.

We left L.A. at 4:30 p.m., bound and determined to make it toYosemite to camp our pre-paid three nights. It was slated to be a six hour drive, plus a few stops we had to make along the way. Turned out to be closer to ten hours than six, after some time in 5 p.m. weekday freeway traffic, an hour or so spent gathering gear and sustenance in Bakersfield, and a few bathroom/stretch/slap ourselves awake breaks.

I volunteered to take the night shift driving after our time in Bakersfield which, on a side note, I can’t highly recommend – seemed like a serious mall town in the middle of the desert. Even the cashier at Target told us he wanted to get the hell out of there. So after we loaded up on the important items we were missing, we lived out Target guy’s dream and ditched town. I quickly remembered how difficult it is to get used to driving a car other than your own, especially when that car is a 1989 Ford CrownVictoria station wagon. If you’ve never seen one, it’s a very hearse-like vehicle. It takes up the majority of the lane and has pretty loose steering so whenever we go over 35 mph, especially around corners, I am gripped with the fear that we are going to careen off the road and over a cliff.  Come to think of it, I’d like to take this time to go into a bit more detail about our road trip ride.

 WARNING: This blog will be full of tangents, but I promise I’ll do my best to return to the topic at hand whenever I stray.

We are taking the hearse cross-country. She goes by the name of Rose and this will be her second time going coast to coast. Throughout my conversations with Nate in the months leading up to the trip, I noticed he was casually throwing in updates about Rose; how he had fixed this or that, how he was taking her on little test drives in the mountains, how if she broke down mid-trip his plan was to hitchhike…wait, what? The first time he mentioned that last one I didn’t take it too seriously, but the second and third time led me to believe this was something I needed to take into consideration. I asked Nate if he thought that this was a likely outcome of the trip, and he assured me “Nooooo, she’s fine”, but the tone of that “noooo” left me thinking it was more like a “maaaaybe”.

Rose's bling

When I got to California and said hello to Rose (we knew each other back in the day when Nate was still living in Amherst), she looked the same as I remembered, but a bit more worn. The purr of the engine had turned into more of a rumble, the glove compartment was rigged shut with wiring, and she required some regular maintenance to ensure she stayed healthy. Nate let me know that he had replaced the head gasket, the alternator, the windshield, and a whole host of other parts. He warned me, however, that there were still some issues with a few things. For example, there is a coolant leak, meaning we have to keep adding water, and we need to ride most of the trip with the heat on to keep the engine cool. I thanked Nate for waiting until I arrived to mention details of that nature. Over the course of the past few days, I’ve started to understand how much care Rose needs, as Nate is under the hood fiddling with something pretty much every time we stop. Each time this happens I get a brief flash of us standing on the side of the highway surrounded with luggage, thumb skyward. Despite a bit of nervousness, I mostly have faith that the hearse will not die. Note: I wrote most of this a couple days ago and since then Rose has driven all over Yosemite and made it to 9,940 feet without a problem. She’s also gotten several double-takes and compliments. Lookin’ good, Rose, lookin’ good. Take a look at her:

Rose at Yosemite in all her glory

So that’s the deal with Rose. I’ll keep you posted on her well-being. I’ll also return to the topic of arriving inYosemite, but we are leaving Yosemite as I write this, and I need to sit with my thoughts about this spectacular place so I can attempt to write about this experience in a manner that does it justice. Also, I’m writing this in the car, getting car-sick, and my battery is about dead because finding an outlet to charge the laptop has fallen as last priority during our time in Yosemite. Let’s just say there are a few other things to do here that are more worthy of our time. So, Yosemite is a blog for another day, but a day in the near future. I promise it’ll be worth checking out, if not only for the pictures, so don’t skip out on reading my blog just yet 🙂


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