Exit Spring

This weekend, I threw off a long, dull two months that had hung heavily around my neck like dead weight. I pointed my car to the highway with a cooler full of bread and peanut butter and drove—south across the flats of Salem and Eugene, up and around through the winding trees of Grants Pass, down and out onto the parched plains past Redding and the gray-green olive groves north of Sacramento, all the way to the greasy blacktop of the Fresno Amtrak station. There, Lance stepped off the train, and next thing ya know, we were camping in Yosemite.

Mt. Shasta springs up suddenly, the second you cross the Oregon-California border. I've been jaded by my proximity to  Mt. Hood so I was only nominally impressed by this view.


Dusk in the Sierra Nevadas—so many shades of green.


This little view is what John Muir was on about. Minus the girl and the dog. Not bad, eh?


Beyond the tour busses and open-air people movers packed with butt whites, there were pristine meadows like this one.


Sleeping in the dirt. Barking at the wildlife. Chewing on the firewood. Lefty loves camping!


My first swim of the ’12 summer season was at this, the mother of all river spots—right at the base of El Capitan. Then we hit the road.


Now, no offense to anyone who lives there, but the section of California between Fresno and Sacramento is the worst. Driving through it filled me with dread. Shanty urban sprawl made from drab, depressing vistas of sun-parched America where, on the way down, I ate lunch by myself in a Motel 6 parking lot just because there was a little merciful patch of shade. Ugh. We drove as fast as possible to get this leg of the trip behind us, only stopping when Shasta Lake came into our view.


Four minutes off the highway, empty, crystal clear, complete with rope swing. So fucking good.


Sunset over Williams, California.