Fifty five days ago I boarded a plane, tired, scared, and anxious for what I was doing, Traveling three thousand miles from one coast to another. I took only a one way ticket and thought that i would take three weeks to get sick of it, but instead; it absorbed me as well as I had absorbed it. California is an amazingly vast state, huge, and the changes in weather in the different regions is to reflect on that. I began in Oakland, the only thing I could think of when I thought of when I think of Oakland is that it was the home town of MR. Cooper, an old television show that I had watched as a child in the 90’s. when I reached the state the weather seemed moderate. I recall that it was supposed to rain, as an ever occurring joke would rise that I had brought rain(and eventually a touch of snow) to the Bay area.
The first night we went to the California academy of Science for their ” night life” I had never thought that they would be vending mixed drinks beer and wine in a place with a planetarium, an extensive aquarium as well as it’s own environment controlled- 4 story rain forest in the middle of it. from butterflies to fish to lizards to an albino alligator, I was astounded through and through. They had many living specimens and boastful amounts of dead ones, I was in awe with the seahorses, the queer way they would float along boasting their unique texture and shape. Coral would sway in the man made currents, it’s pastel and florescent array of colors only comparable to a kaleidoscopic of an alien planet. Only Yards away there would be a room with spiders well known for their hourglass markings and others that were beautiful as well as large and perhaps nerve wrecking making you swat at the faintest fibers of denim nipping at the hairs of your leg. Still further along, dart frogs, tiny and potent, vivid green reflecting the light off it’s moist skin as if they were lone candles in a dark room. We eventually headed home, tired from the excitement of the eyes, and myself from jet lag, quite a memorable first night in a land that I would come to know.
Within a week of my stay in Oakland I was to go to a place called Bishop, it is to be a popular climbing area eight hours away. We started off meeting at a friend’s house at 7P.M. packing tons of equipment, food, water and people( and a pair of dogs) in 4 cars. We all stopped at a taqueria after gathering more climbers and I met about a dozen strange faces to pair to names that I would eventually come to know along with some confusing nicknames given by perhaps some stranger faces. The “Dynos”, a group of climbers that traveled to gyms and climbing areas together, I had been “sold to them for a skimpy “two-fitty” by one Mafia. The transaction ended up as three dollars even, and I had been on my way about 500 miles to a camp site in lower California. The roads were dark and the weather irritable, I was in the back seat of the car with three strange faces and miles ahead. we were to drive in legs, sleeping initially and picking up legs of the drive later on. Halfway there at the mid point, Bakersfield we stopped at a gas station to refuel our caravan as well as ourselves. The gas station confused me, I had just woken up and found myself in a strange mini mart of sorts, selling not only gasoline but also Hard liquors, energy drinks, guns, beer, ammo, fireworks, lighters, ,more energy drinks, cigs, wine, jerky, knives… and… SWORDS? Where was I, the supply shop for a third world zombie army surplus store? Fully awake now and still slightly disorientated I purchased a coffee and jumped into the front passenger seat. The drive forward here was straight and narrow through farms and small towns on an at most 2 lane highway. The weather had seemed to with to make things interesting, breathing out a thick fog over the roads before us, the road disappearing into what seemed to be a dream. Sixty something miles per hour doesn’t seen fast until your traveling that speed, staring down the hood of the car at the short blacktop before you, knowing that there is no way to stop in time if anything were to happen. Face to the wheel we barreled down the freeway headlights reflecting the fog, that would cut in and out depending on it’s mood and our elevation. around the time that the fog decided to dissipate it was time to switch drivers, and I was to become in control of the beast. It was windy as I continued on, the open air now making visible the dark areas to the side of the road, that had turned out to be desert, where was I and where were they leading me? I never seen tumble weeds prior to that night and I felt like I was driving fast through ghost towns in an old western film. We were to go through three towns the speed of travel to be diminished to a snail paced 25 miles per hour, a speed that I conspire is enforced in order to bring attention to the establishment in the town along with potential business, all on a road that two miles before you had been traveling 80mph.
We eventually arrived at the town of bishop, yet continued on to a small area on the outskirts of the town, a camp site called “The Pit”, it was late, about 4 in the morning when we stopped at a pebble and sandy spot surrounded by more tumble weeds and rocks. I never had pitched a tent or camped prior to this and a driver from another car, (also the one who paid two fitty) helped me out in setting it up. the technology used in camping never ceases to amaze me, and it didn’t let me down on that first cold night at 4 in the morning. I found myself soon curled in a down sleeping bag, on a hand pumped air pad, in a thinner then paper yet waterproof tent, on an icy cold ground using my book bag as a pillow. When we woke, at about 9 in the morning, I got out of the tent to be in shock, I was surrounded by mountains with snow covered tops, the outline of the blue sky and the formations of the clouds against them was jaw dropping. we traveled all night in the dark and all along there were enormous mountains we were passing, hiding in the weather and star light.
We traveled to town to a large bakery with tons and tons of bread, I am still confused how they can make so much and sell it all in such a small town. After breakfast I was told that we were to be going to the happys that day, a bouldering area with volcanic rock( which meant nothing to me at the time, for it was my first outdoors trip). We left town and went some ways to a dirt road, that was almost like a bad path with rocks and pot holes everywhere until we stopped and began stuffing these portable landing pads with our stuff, and then wearing these pads as if they were portable book bag mattresses and continued on to hike up a small rocky trail. fifteen or so minutes later we began seeing gigantic boulders , that seemed to be in a valley stretched endlessly in the heavy sun. We all stopped at one particularly textured rock and were told by one that this was the warm up areas.