Travel Northern California | Day 1
The last time I was in California it was the summer of 2003 and I was a college student conducting research to determine differences in aquatic insect drift patterns between island streams and mainland streams.
That was an incredible summer for me, probably keystone and most influential to my life. I spent a good chunk of the summer between Southern California, the Channel Islands, and the Pacific Northwest for field biology courses. It was intense, monumental, and soul-filling. A major part of who I am was formed that summer: living out of tents, sampling aquatic insects in the middle of streams at 4 in the morning, spending the night in a sleeping bag on the edge of a bluff overlooking Puget Sound under starry hosts, and being awoken in the morning by bald eagles chattering with one another overhead. It was from that very moment I knew I would forever have a yearning for wild places.
11 years later, I find myself returning to California, and in the days leading up to our departure, I can’t help but reflect and reminisce about my adventures as a 21 year old cut loose on the world with backpack, tent and bag of skittles. My worst fear is that I have over-romanticized my memories of that one summer on the west coast.
Fast forward to June 2014. Like most travel, it began with an early morning rush to the airport. Followed by lines of grumpy, zombie-eyed travelers. A sketchy landing in a storm for the connection in Minneapolis. A mad rush to baggage claim and the rental car pick up area. No, it wasn’t a quick pick up of the car– it was a long, tortured wait in maze-formed lines of people.
But we lucked out. Travel gods were on our side and we scored a brand new car with only 5 miles clocked in on the odometer. Enterprise probably regrets giving us that particular car now.
The first breath of fresh air, air being carried from the cool bay breeze, and we have arrived in San Francisco.
We meant to grab a quick burger at In-&-Out, which was supposed to be right outside of the airport. However, Betty (the GPS), lead us astray and to the one on famed Fisherman’s Warf. Let’s just say, what was meant to be a quick stop, ending up taking several hours. Yet, serendipitous all the same because we got the chance to see Alcatraz and LOTS of interesting folks.
After maxing out on enough crowds and congestion for one day, we continued our journey towards the edge of the Sierra’s. Ticking on another 136 miles to that brand new shiny rental car.
Originally, I had grand ambitions of sneaking in an evening hike at the outer, western fringe of Yosemite, thinking the time change from NY to CA would be in my favor.
Wrong. Between the air miles, road miles, and people-over stimulation– the time change and day’s travel worked heavily against us. We opted instead for sleep and ended our first day in California in the town of Angel’s Camp, who’s claim to fame is a jumping frog.
Don’t all frogs jump?? There must be some real finite differences** between leaping and jumping, I guess.
Too tired to even eat dinner or figure out the semantics between leaping and jumping frogs, we call it a night.
For the next day we conquer Yosemite.
**After getting my wits about me and doing a little digging, it’s not actually in reference to species of frog. Duh! It’s in reference to Mark Twain’s first successful book of short stories. Twain had lived in Angels Camp and worked as a miner at one point. The story he wrote was based on a conversation he had with a local bartender.
Stay tuned for more of the story of our exploration of California.