Yeah, camping in the mountains at 7,000 elevation – it’s cold!! I was bundled in a pair of long underwear, sweat pants, leg warmers (a throw-back to my University of Wyoming days, Theater & Dance, have had them since ‘83), two additional long underwear tops, wind-breaker and my Rocky towel around my neck and throat. I am a veritable Fashion Statement.
No electric, this campground, though modern facilities, so no space heater. Woke up middle of the night and my sinuses had liquefied, miserable and sneezing. Who was it once told me, you don’t catch cold from cold and damp, you catch cold from being exposed to germs. Well, either those germs were alive and well at 7,000 feet or, by Zeus, I caught cold from the cold and damp!
I break camp early, red-eyed and sneezing, fairly certain to have finally seen with my own eyes a Brown Recluse that was occupying the W.C. As I am packing, park ranger pulls up to me, inquires did I leave my camping fee? I say, got in late, the fellow at the gate told me, yeah, camping everywhere, use a designated spot. Misunderstanding. Still have to pay for a camping space I am told, here is an envelop, drop your fee in here and into the metal vault box on way out. Hm, another $18, bummer. But realize, of course, fees collected go toward maintenance of the park, so all good, of course.
Off I go back to Grant’s Tree to really see it this time and, heaven’s above, it is impressive! I take myriad photos. I begin heading out of the park, which will take me several hours, not something I anticipated. Winding and hairpin turns, but gosh, I am fairly blown away by the deep canyons and the towering sequoias. Never have I seen anything quite like it; it is big, it is vast, it is almost unfathomable in its reach. Unparalleled beauty, to be sure.
At one point, heading down the circuitous Hwy 198, I am spacing out a bit, and have a thought about seeing a black bear while on a fishing trip with my dad in Canada when I was twelve years old. Not ten minutes later, a big Black BEAR scampers in front of me, maybe thirty yards!! I reach for the camera but it is too quickly away. How incredibly cool is that! I also have seen many a deer (what is plural for deer?... um, deer), and wonder to myself if perhaps that might be my Animal Guide. I surmise that the deer (plural) might, too, be of the Water Sign as is my Aquarius-graced self. Musings.
Started into the park at approximately 1,000 feet elevation, camped at 6,000 feet and will climb to and descend from a summit of 7,000 feet. Now I get it that my Saline Solution bottle for my contacts is a squished mess in my Dopp Kit – the altitude. Same thing happened in the Rockies.
Have a bit of a concern. Stopping for a photo opportunity, the ignition does not fire right away. Might be the starter rather than battery, as everything else is working. This is the second time. Days earlier, while stopping in a remote town for fuel, same thing. I feel a need to perhaps have it checked when I get back to civilization, perhaps Phoenix. And the brakes have been given a thorough work-out in the mountains; check-brakes-light has flashed at me several times.
Have a thought that perhaps Chance and my Guardian Angel are grappling. Chance says, 'Time to make this a bit more interesting, maybe a car breakdown'; Guardian Angel says, 'Back off, Chance, or I will start throwing pennies at you! ' The reference is a personal one, inside joke. But I am guessing that the Guardian Angel is winning thus far.
Anyway, after what seems an eternity, albeit enjoyable, I exit the park and head for Visalia, then south through Bakersfield, and eastward toward Needles, hell-bent to reach Lake Havasu City by dark. Unsuccessful, I make it after 9pm, pitch black, and in search of the State Park there. But not before having passed through the Mojave Desert earlier. Man, that is a cool drive. I roll down my windows for a bit; I discover it to be HOT! Who would have thunk it; I truly need to get out of the house more often. Back on with the A/C.
I also find it infinitely interesting that I am now experiencing perhaps the best radio reception yet on the trip in the desolation of the Mojave Desert, figure that one out. Las Vegas influences, perhaps; far-reaching.
And here is a query for all of my karmically universal friends out there: how is it possible that the seemingly omni-present Historical Route 66 is forever the “Next Right”?! I have seen signs for it no less than a dozen times in the two hours’ drive on Hwy 40.
Arrive Lake Havasu City and set up tent like clock-work, a quick shower and abed by 10pm in order to attack a long day tomorrow.