Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 55: Taking Back Yosemite

This morning I took a shower in Camp Curry - a more civilized section of the park. This, after I have taken one 'shower' in the Merced River, three sink showers (in either the gas station or park bathroom) and one $12 shower at the Pilot truck stop over an hour away from the park (below, right). I drove down to Fresno two days to get an upgraded ATC for repelling (J said I needed) and a shower (and also to get/give space post the pink elephant's arrival).


That's the last time I listen to the information of a know-it-all someone else before finding the truth for myself. Turns out, I didn't need to do either of these things and wasted a half a tank of gas and a day out of the park on the advisement/information/bullshit of my 'friend.'  After the incident the other day, I grabbed all of my stuff out of his car and haven't seen him since. (I'll be returning that ATC.) And last night, I found showerhouses, headed over this morning with my shower stuff, hacked the keypads (which really was just a guess - and one guess at that) and I had a nice, warm, free shower - with soap to boot! My lesson on this day has been learned: I shall not simply trust the information of another person and should seek out the facts for myself. I'll be much cleaner - and happier - this way.

Leaving Yosemite is a much finer experience than the E-grade meat that was packed into the middle. It goes to show that traveling with a partner - eh hem - is certainly sometimes far lonelier than not; traveling alone has its wonderful merits. Instead of leaving the park after my lowest point, I decided to tent on the side of the road and reclaim the park for myself. Why let one fool person tarnish the my memories of an otherwise beautiful place? To do this, I camouflaged myself as a rock outside of the gate where I had been previously bunking in my 'friend's' SUV. 
I think I blended in well.

The following day, I took a look at the Yosemite paper as I entered the park (after my first night posing as a rock on the side of the road). Quickly, I turned around, realizing I had left my phone on the rock that was outside of my tent, but luckily it was still there. Whew. When I re-entered the park, I took a look at the paper for what to do and saw there were art classes for $10 run by the Yosemite Conservancy. While writing is nice, I had been finding myself envious of those who were painting and sketching around the park, so I was excited to partake. And as an extra bonus, the class was on water color - and travel sketch water color at that! Perfect. I have always had a serious curiosity about the medium (I was a studio arts minor in college, but watercolor wasn't a class offered) and what better place to learn?!

I got out my bike and road around a bit to soak up the morning sun around the Valley, bought a mug, and then headed over to the art center. The woman who ran it, Elaina, was lovely and we - and Clive, an art class regular from Fresno - entered into a long and random conversation about a multitude of things (including the various kinds of cows, both sterile and fertile). Clive left and I learned that Elaina taught a intro to watercolor class that day. I expressed had I know I would have loved to have taken it and she smirked and said, "well, I could be talked in to messing around instead of writing this recommendation letter." And so, I got a free intro to watercolor class from a new, fleeting friend. Then, back on my bike to catch the sunset.

So, I need quite a bit of practice. : )

In Ahwahnee Meadow

At nightfall, I headed back to my spot by the river and set up as a rock again next to the river. The night sound of it was amazing. What a lull to sleep. I treated myself to a Not Your Father's Root Beer ($1.96) from my shower gas station down the road and a movie on my computer I'd bought weeks  back for $3 - my dash, the entertainment stand; the driver's seat my couch. ("Rendition" is not a good movie, by the way, but if you're living out of your car and haven't see a television in weeks, it's a treat none the less. Sometimes, just to hear the voices in the dark of the night.)

That  is a TASTY beverage, folks.

I woke up, wrapped up my 'rock', and headed the 11 miles back into the park Valley. At this point, you may be asking yourself "why in the hell is she sleeping outside of the park by the river?" and the answer to that is simple: The campsites were full and it's illegal to sleep in the park without a permit. And even if the sites weren't full at that point, posing as a rock was free. And in that spot, I knew I had a spot I could hide beside the road (a few others were car camping there) and a toilet with running water a mile away. Besides, did I mention it was free? And free is my favorite price.

After a sink shower at the restroom - with no warm water to speak of - just inside the park gate, I took my watercolor class; first sketching outside around half dome and then inside to try painting. I had a few conversations with my classmates, exchanging our stories of how we ended up where we were (one a teacher with her students out on a hike and another a new employee to the park's youth nature program). I love hearing other people's stories (just not an hour about their job - ha.) During this, I learned more about BLM land and (legal) free camping. 

After, I walked around, visiting the museum and found the shower that I scouted to use this morning (while on the hunt for an outlet for a PC charge), I took some photos of the full moon that rose out of half dome last night (and the image on top) - a really beautiful thing to watch and then back just on the other side of the gate to pitch my rock for the night.

So here I am, sitting on a rock overlooking Sential Field and typing my words before I head east on 120. Apparently Tioga pass is not to miss and it's suppose to rain tonight. Probably not best to sleep by a river when a drought state is expecting rain (that's when I most expect monsoon like events) and Tioga pass snows when the Valley rains. So I'm off. Happy that I stayed as a rock for two extra days to reclaim this moment for myself. Yosemite is mine again and I'm very happy with my experience here now - despite the bruises in the apple, the rest is quite delicious. This is an incredibly important lesson for me to have learned, along with learning that 1. You can get brain freeze from the outside of your head (when washing your hair in glacial run off), 2. I can shower in a gas station sink to hold me over a day or two 3. California and Nevada let you camp off the road - in defined dirt road/BLM areas, and 4. that leading thought that I need to discover facts for myself and not just trust others' (mis)information.

Very important stuff here, Yosemite. Thanks for the bumpy, then beautiful. Time to go now before it fades into night before I find my night campsite...though I'm not sure where I'm going from here...

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