So a guy walks into the bar… This isn’t a bad joke, I promise.
I’m sitting at the bar in a little town called Buck Meadows, California drinking a $3 frosty schooner of Sierra Nevada and ordering food. Population 50.
He asks the bartender if he can play his guitar. It’s either play the guitar on his hotel room deck 50 feet away or entertain the patrons in the bar. The conversation goes:
Him: I’m from the Bay Area and have consistent gigs and I have all my equipment with me.
Her: Are you any good?
Her: Okay, you can play. But if you’re terrible, I’m kicking you out.
In that moment, a man at one of the table recognizes the musician and they realize they were both just getting their hair cut a week before in San Francisco and had had lengthy conversation during their wait. Small, SMALL world. But I’m sure stranger things have happened in Buck Meadows.
The guy sits down next to me and starts playing. I know every song. He breaks out the harmonica and I instantly hope he knows some Neil Young.. and then bam. Heart of Gold. Then Jack Johnson, Sublime, the Eagles, Bob Dylan. You name it, he knows it.
I went on to play what was a game of shuffleboard on the worst table ever with a guy that I ended up seeing again on my hike the next day. Again, stranger things have happened… right?
This Friday night in Buck Meadows was the start of a weekend that I knew would be more than memorable. I was just ten miles outside of Yosemite and I couldn’t wait to see what the park had in store for me.
My landlord/housemate/coworker/now friend warned me that if I went to Yosemite I may just become hooked on California. Well, after 5 days in California I decided it was right to head south and check out the park.
She was right.
Day 1: Yosemite Valley: Half Dome, Vernal Falls, El Capitan, Glacier Point. An almost full moon. Meeting a hiking partner who was also adventuring in the park for the first time. Who I would find out has hiked the Appalachian Trail and has almost conquered the “4000’s” of the White Mountains in New Hampshire.
Seeing Half Dome for the first time in person was surreal. Hey, my tent is named after the mountain, I can choose to get sentimental here! Just kidding, but it really was. So shiny and perfect with its “glacial polish”. Thankfully Vernal Falls was flowing because in this California drought Yosemite Falls was dry. Looks like I’ll have to come back in the spring. Oh, “darn it”.
Day 2: Tuolumne Meadows. Upper and Lower Cathedral Lakes. I will, scratch that, MUST come back to this place. After going to the bar in Buck Meadows for the second time – seriously who can pass up $3 goblets of Sierra in a frosty mug after hiking 17 miles??- I gained some local intel about the meadows and their favorite hikes. Driving into this place I started passing the trailheads for these said “must do” hikes and I could see why. I slowly started making my Yosemite Bucket list. The hike to Cathedral Lakes was stunning. I also saw the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in the wild on the trail.
I’m choosing not to go into intense detail as I somewhat seem to do in my blog because it would be too much. All you need to know is that I had a shit-eating grin on my face the entire drive in, hike, and drive out. It is no surprise that people love Yosemite and the Sierras, which I had the pleasure of driving past/through again on my drive home.
Within one week of being in California, it has caught me. Hook, line, and sinker.
The severe drought has me conserving water like I never have before. Perhaps it’s giving me a little too much of an excuse to not shower…. but nonetheless I have come to value the fact that water isn’t readily available everywhere. This is undoubtedly the driest place I’ve ever lived that should normally be green.
Living in a new place is so wonderful. I love the adventure of knowing I have 8 weeks to do everything I could possibly want. Except going back to Yosemite 8 weekends in a row because I really want to do that and have to tell myself no. A vacation will be in order next year. For those of you who have followed me for awhile, it’s like New Mexico all over again!
I can’t wait to stick around this weekend and visit the well known local farmer’s market, hike the wilderness in my backyard, and shutdown the bluegrass concert in my temporary village of Twain Harte.
Stay tuned. In the meantime, go outside and locate the closest churro cupcake. Yes, that is a thing. Thank you Twain Harte.
Ps. if you didn’t make it out for National Public Lands Day last Saturday, do it this weekend, because hey! I’m not getting furloughed, which means the government isn’t shutting down, national parks, Forest Service campgrounds, and everything in the open space will be open so go! You never know when the snow is going to start falling. Oh and by the way… make everyday Public Lands Day. Just a thought.