Week of August 17th

map of the US



jon had to work most of today, so I slept in and then headed down to Haight-Ashbury. Parking in this town could be worse than Boston.

despite the Ben & Jerry's and Gap on the corner of Haight-Ashbury, most people I met and saw seem blissfully ignorant that it's the 90's. Every other shop is a head shop, and the other other shops sell used records, anarchist books, tie-dye regalia and tattoos.

when Jon got off work at night we headed out to see Copland; thumbs up.

[Click on the "eye" icons to see the pictures.]

Jon & Me

[Jon & me]


i've been feeling like a slug lately; haven't been doing much except living the San Francisco life style, and I've been doing that for over a week now. I'm starting to get that traveling jones again, but I'm holding out for the Red Sox.

jon's been feeling the same so we grabbed our bikes and rode over the hills of SF to the Presidio, down to the beach and over to Fort Point which resides under the Golden Gate Bridge.

after discovering the Fort was closed we posed for a photo op and then headed over the bridge into Sausalito for lunch. By the time we finished it was already past 5 so we decided to take the ferry back.

Golden Gate Bridge
[Golden Gate Bridge]
The Rock
we met some interesting travelers after I had to correct them on some Simpson's trivia I overheard them misquoting, and talked with them on the way back. I may have secured a place or two to stay on my trip back east.  


finally, the day had arrived I'd been waiting for: I'd spent an unplanned, though enjoyable 48 hours in San Francisco to see the Red Sox beat the Oakland A's. An extra benefit: my very pregnant friend Cathy was going to be there; I hadn't seen her since her wedding about...well, it had been at least 9 months.

i woke up to the sound of rain against my window. I knew that I must be mistaken, because it doesn't rain in the Bay Area during the summer. Sure enough though, it was rain. Luckily it stopped. Then it started. Then it stopped again. You can see a trend here.

brian and I decided that it was worth the risk so we headed over to Oakland through the on again, off again drizzle.

i was supposed to hook up with Randy and Cathy at Will Call at 7:00. Does anybody know why it's called Will Call? Me either. We waited there til 7:30, when the rain delayed game started, and decided to head in. We ran into Randy, who told me the news that Cathy had had her baby. I was psyched for her, but then I heard she had actually had the baby that morning, so I wasn't exactly sure why she wasn't at the game. I know most HMO's would have sent her home by game time.

we saw all of 4 outs before the game was postponed. However, between me, Brian, Randy, Kim, April, John & Shaun, (sorry guys, the picture didn't come out,) we did manage to be the last people thrown out of the ball park.



the third leg of my trip started today: the road back home. I got out of San Francisco early and headed east towards Yosemite. I had already called for camping reservations, but since you are supposed to call five months early I had no luck.

pulled off the road about 5 miles short of Yosemite into a quiet family campground called Yosemite Lakes Resort where I found a site by the river.

after a nice steak dinner on the bbq with some fresh roasted garlic I got ready for my first night camping since Texas.



the drive into Yosemite was amazing. I almost swerved off the road to my death half a dozen times looking at the scenery like a rube just off the bus in New York City. The scale of the rocks and the valley are overwhelming.

had decided that the 6-8 hour hike to Upper Yosemite Falls was a little too much for a man who has only taken one hike in his adult life, so I decided to hike to Vernal Falls, which is about half the distance to Nevada Falls.

i took my cameras, a full water bottle, some breakfast bars and a plum, which promptly exploded in my bag. Mist Trail leads up to Vernal Falls and is rich with beautiful scenery.

Mist Trail
[View from Mist Trail]
Vernal Falls
[Vernal Falls]
when I finally got to Vernal Falls it blew me away. A digital image won't really do it justice, but I took one anyway. Click on the eye to your left to see the falls.

once I got there I felt that I could make it the rest of the way to Nevada Falls, which would also allow me to take a different switch back down to Yosemite Valley, where I had started. When I got home I was beat, but psyched that I made it all they way.

  now what's the deal with European men and their summer wear? I think they're taking the word "shorts" way too literally. Is there a fabric shortage in France? I'll be happy to send over any extra thread I have to prevent just one more Frenchman from having to wear those "Marilyn Monroe's".

when in Rome...

Columbia Point
[View of Yosemite Valley from Columbia Point]


my campsite neighbors had left their cooler out overnight and were visited by a big hungry bear overnight that had raided their goodies. The mother seemed unhappy about it, but I reminded her how lucky she was they hadn't moved the cooler inside the tent.

feeling empowered by my successful hike yesterday I decided to attempt Upper Yosemite Falls. According to my Trails of Yosemite Valley pamphlet the difficulty level of this hike was "Strenuous; 2,700' elevation gain. 6-8 hour round trip hike." On the valley floor I looked up and was amazed by how high the top of the falls seemed. I took a picture with the digital camera to show the height, and had to hold it diagonally to fit the whole image in.

i filled my water bottle and grabbed my camera. The hike was more difficult than the day before, and there were some steep sandy climbs.

i finished most of my water with intention of filling it when I got to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls. After about two and a half hours of uphill climbing I reached my goal: Upper Yosemite.

quickly shedding all but my shorts I dove into the falls and started scooping handfuls of cold, refreshing water into my mouth. Damn it was good. Unfortunately, minutes later one of my fellow bathers told me the water was riddled with bacteria and would lead to "massive diarrhea and vomiting and weight loss of approximately 50 lbs." I had been feeling a little pudgy anyway, I just hoped the diarrhea didn't start until I got to the valley floor. Not wanting to chance it, I started down.

evidently my mutant healing factor must have kicked in, because nothing did happen.

Upper Yosemite Fallls
[Upper Yosemite Falls]
  walking down I passed a friendly couple who had given advice on the way up. Being a confirmed car camper I was impressed with the big backpacks they wore as they headed down to the Valley Floor. We stopped and talked for a while, and they were so nice, I decided to give them a mention and a picture. Bryan & Crystal
[Bryan & Crystal]
  i drove south down 395 towards Death Valley. It's a beautiful drive with mountain ranges on either side of the road. I planned on pulling up somewhere along the road before Death Valley and get a hotel room: a little reward for reaching Upper Yosemite.

however, some bad planning on my part led me to the outskirts of Death Valley National Park with virtually no gas, and little chance of getting an affordable hotel room. Any ideas I had on pulling off the side of the road and guerrilla camping were squashed when I saw the coyote dash across the road in front of me. The bears of Yosemite I could deal with, but coyotes are just underfed dogs.

on my map was an intriguingly named town called Darwin, CA. I was hoping to get a hotel room or campsite before the sun completely set.

judging from my three minutes in Darwin, I made the following guesses: Population: 5. Population of old pickup trucks missing at least one piece of essential hardware: 472. Signs of life: one boy, his dog, a mule and 14 satellite dishes. Even the Post Office had been boarded up. I made a "U-ie" and took the other road to Penamint Springs, the orange warning light on my gas gauge holding my attention.

hen I finally did get to Penamint Springs I pulled up to the gas pump. $1.99 a gallon. I guess beggars can't be choosers. I made a promise to myself never to let the gauge get below half full again, for the 50th time in my life.

aying for the gas in the restaurant I saw that they had tent sites for $8. I paid the man and set up my tent while the furnace like breeze blew around me. It was 100 degrees with little chance of cooling off overnight.

the sign had advertised free hot showers with the campsites; however they didn't advertise cold showers, and for good reason. There was no cold water, just hot and scalding. My hair was dry by the time I got back to my truck.

going into the bar I asked the owners if it got too hot if I could sleep outside. They told me sure, as long as I slept on a cot at least one foot off the ground to avoid rattlers and scorpions. Were they pulling this Yankee's leg? We'll never know; I slept in the tent all night long.

 Death Valley


a lot of people wrote--and by the way, thank you all for your letters, I can't tell you how much they meant to me, really--asking if I was going to stay in California after going on and on about the scenery, how beautiful everything is, how great San Francisco is, etc.

the truth be told, as great as California is, (and I only saw the bottom half,) there's just not enough sarcasm there. No one understands me there, unless they came from the east coast, and even then they have to be reconditioned. As a test of how close to home I'm getting I'm going to try and use sarcasm across the U.S. with the locals until people start understanding me. Then I'll still use sarcasm, but it won't be as fun.

  i had no plans of going to Las Vegas, I'd already been there and I suck at gambling. My basic strategy with casinos is not to win money, but to lose slowly enough to get a few free rounds of watered-down gin and tonics. So basically three $4 drinks for about a hundred dollars. Good deal.

last time I was here, for the Grateful Dead, half of the strip was different. Today, they've built the N.Y.C. skyline with a roller coaster running through it.

hen I went into the casino tonight I found an open blackjack table and sat down. After a series of hands the dealer "corrected" when I elected not to hit. He then got a 21, which he wouldn't have gotten if I hadn't hit.

sorry about that, but at least you played the hand right," Mark said.


hanks, as long as I won your admiration, Mark, the money is only secondary."


he looked at me kind of quizzically and said, "I would think it would be the other way around.

must go east for more sarcasm.

Las Vegas
[Las Vegas Strip]

next week


[rules of the road | calendar | links | roadtrip awards | contact me | personal info]