Sorry for the radio silence, we have been in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park and there is no service. We have traveled many miles since I last wrote and have seen some truly beautiful sites. Upon leaving Oregon we entered a world straight out of a J.R.R. Tolien novel. The redwoods loomed overhead, their sparse canopies allowing golden shafts of light to bathe the forest floor in a glowing splendor. It was truly magical. I felt like a child again, my imagination gone wild as I pictured myself running through the forest, feet falling lightly on the damp soft earth as the trees beckoned me deeper into their expansive home. I have felt a lot of nostalgia on this trip. I think the older we get the more we supress/lose our childhood wonder at the world. The marvels of playing in the dirt and the true magic of nature succumb to the “adult problems” that inundate us. The sparkle in our eye becomes dulled my the horrors we are exposed to on a daily basis. No longer are our minds filled with worlds of fairies and wizards, far off kingdoms and secret gardens. Instead we are subjected to death and destruction, hate, greed and gluttony, wars and darkness. These are the messages delivered to adults everyday, that we try to shield our kids from so they have the opportunity to be “kids”. That the notion of being a kid and all the joy that comes with it is just that. It is reserved for the young, to allow them to have some enjoyment to reflect upon when they must too soon enter the “real world” of pain and suffering. But I think there is so much folly in this. The very idea that being a “kid” is only a phase must be challenged. Being in these spaces shows me that you can enjoy the magic that seems to be reserved exclusively for kids well beyond those designated years. That the magic never dies, we just lose site of it and must overhaul the way we think about life.
The systems in place don’t allow for people to truly find wonder in the world their whole life. There is a time and a place and once you go beyond those years it is almost wrong to still live in that way. But why should anyone ever “grow up”? Why must we give up our natural wonder of the world around us in order to be adults? Why are they so mutually exclusive in our society? It isn’t to say we must forego the responsibilities of growing up, on the contrary it is more important than ever to take responsibilty for our actions and be proactive in our choices. But I think this should be done without losing site of the joys that life has to offer. You can see it in almost any kid, the pure wonder in the universe. The excitement over the smallest things. And this is what life is. We have been taught that we must strive to be the best. To outshine those around us. That succeeding in life is to have a great job where we make lots of money and have a great house and can go on many vacations. But I want to fight back against these notions. Security is an important essential to happiness, but that does not come with boatloads of money. The cliché saying of “very little is needed to make a happy life” (or however it goes) is not wrong. Yes it is important to be able to deal with the inevitable responsibilities of being an “adult” like paying the bills, putting food on the table, having a nest egg to retire. But we need not be greedy. We don’t need to make millions or beat out those around us to find happiness. Our happiness lies instead in the small things in life. Waking up to warm sunlight on your face, getting coffee with an old friend, talking to you mom or dad on the phone (or better yet getting to see and hug them in real life!) These small, everyday things that we now consider mundane are what make up 95% of our life and the bulk of our joy comes from these things. Striving to have the best job, the best house, the nicest vacation is so misleading to our happiness because they leave us always needing to have more. Nothing is satisfying when you are always trying to attain something because we then never enjoy our life in the moment. The little things that kids are so good at seeing and enjoying we are taught must be left behind once we grow up. But I don’t think that is the case and being on the road has taught me so much about this. Being an adult comes with many responsibilities, but never forgetting to enjoy the little things makes life all the more sweeter.
Whew, I really need to work on getting to the point sooner. All my professors in college lamented the fact that it took me five pages to say something. I try, but once I start writing I just feel so passionately that I think it would do my topic an injustice if I were to just sum it all up in a sentence or a paragraph. But there is something to be said about a simple to the point statement. Its poignancy strikes a chord so well that I may have to work on that for future writings. But back to the travel bit of this blog.
California, Northern Cali to be clear, is beautiful. The redwoods, the endless hillsides, the OCEAN!!!!! Wow, I forgot how much I missed being by the water. As soon as we got to the first beach I leapt from the car and ran down the sloping dunes to the surf. It was low tide and I relished in the feeling of the hard packed sanding slapping the soles of my feet. The foam of the icy waters licking my toes as the tide came crashing in and pushed its way up to the sand where I stood. Looking out into the expanse is a feeling that I don’t think can be found anywhere else on earth. There is nothing like gazing out onto the horizon and seeing nothing but water. The reminder of the vastness of the space we live in cannot be fathomed so well anywhere else as it is on the shore of the ocean. I love it.
I was giddy from it all. We went for a run along the beach, well JJ did because I had to keep stopping every two feet to bend down and peer at the treasures the ocean left behind. The shells and sand dollars, smoothed stones and seaweed. Everything was so fun to see and this was one of those moments of pure enjoyment where you feel like a kid again. And this is what really made me realize that we ought not phrase it as “being a kid again” but just as the continual enjoyment of the world. “Being a kid again” implies that we have lost the innate sense of pleasure from the natural world and I want to strive to change that, to have it be a part of us from birth until death, no discontinuation somewhere in the middle. The world is too beautful and life it too good to forget that.
I took a dip in the icy Pacific waters. One of my roommate’s from college is from Southern California and her and some friends of ours took a trip out there during our college years. I remember her teaching us how to dive into the waves to avoid being swept up in to the currents and get pummeled and shoved into the sandy bottom of the ocean. I dove into the waves just as she once taught be and was rewarded with the refreshing feeling of the frigid waters soaking me head to toe. It feels almost as if you are cheating the waves, like you know something they don’t when you dive right into them and surface on the other side unscathed. It is hard to describe the joy of it so I encourage you all to go out and experience it first hand, you won’t be disappointed! But my ocean “high” couldn’t sustain me for too long. The water is so cold that it is hard to be in for more then ten minutes or so without a wetsuit, so I finally succumbed to my lowering body temp and retreated from the surf covered in goosebumps and shivering like a maniac, but so so happy.
We continued on our journey and went through the Redwood Forest before settling down for the evening. I made us drive a bit out of the way so we could camp right on the shore but it was totally worth it. I wasn’t ready to give up the water yet and so we slept to the sound of the crashing waves and the whipping wind, snuggled in our little home and giggling at our fortune for having found such a great spot.
After spending a few hours the next day collecting little treasures (that was all me, JJ isn’t much for the seashore treasure collecting) we continued our journey south towards San Fransisco. We camped that night in a park right outside of San Fran and the next day ventured into the city. We hadn’t climbed for a few days so we stopped at the local climbing gym, Planet Granite, fora few hours of training and a hot shower. JJ was in his super training mode, A.K.A I won’t be done for a few hours so don’t bother interrupting me, and I was ready to move on so I decided to take my bike for a spin around the city. My goal was Tartine, a bakery that I have wanted to visit for some years. It was only six miles away so I figured it would be a piece of cake. No. It wasn’t. I totally forgot about what San Fran is famous for: Its hills. Biking up three giant hills in a row, seeing the top as if it were across an ocean and getting further and further with each pedal was demoralizing. I am proud to say I never had to get off and walk, but by the time I got to Tartine I called JJ and told him he would have to come get me. I would never make it back. I would perish somewhere in the San Fransisco area and his Tartine treats would be lost forever. He agreed that he would have to come get me. The tough ride was worth it ten times over, though. Tartine is famous for a reason. I got a morning bun and an almond croissant. JJ’s favorite was the croissant, which was delicious, but the morning bun is where it’s at. Dusted in sugar and with candied orange bits, this things melts in your mouth in a cascade of flaky, buttery goodness. Oh my god it was one of the best things I have ever had in my life! If I could have one everyday I would. It was unreal. Everyone reading this should drop everything, book a flight to San Fransisco and get one of these things. It was that good. I wanted to try everything but that would be unreasonable financially and stomach stretchingly.
After relishing in our Tartine high for a bit we decided to just bite the bullet and drive the rest of the way to Yosemite. It is about a five hour drive so by ten we were pretty tired and stopped just outside the valley in a camping area for the night. The next day we started driving and decided to head first to Tuolumne Meadows. This is in the National Park but you don’t go through the classic Yosemite Valley with El Cap and Half Dome. JJ is meeting up with a friend to climb there in a week so we figured we would go to Tuolumne first where the crowds are smaller and camping is easier before trying to fight for a spot in the valley proper. So far it has been great in terms of beauty, peace, and good rock climbing. The only bad thing is that JJ came down with some flu-like bug. He was running a fever of 100 last night and was suffering from horrible aches and chills. I gave him some medicine and he slept and is feeling better today but I told him no climbing for at least three days so he can get fully rested. He has been protesting but it is better for him to be fully recovered than to prolong his sickness for weeks. I’ll keep you posted on how he is doing. I don’t know when I will have service next so hang in there, I will post again as soon as I can!
Friends and food along the way