Now, this isn’t exaggeration. When I woke up on Tuesday the 12th of June in the year of our Lord 2019, excitement coursed through my body. Good sleep is so regenerating. I felt alive. I felt excited.
At 6am light was coming through the windows. There was no impulse to rush. Allowing myself to wake up slowly in a spacious bed, and let happy imaginings of the unknown path of today, was nice. It was sweet. Then, at 6:30, unable to contain enthusiasm, I jumped to my feet, and was out the door into Sierra foothill light making ponderosa tops golden.
Today, also, was to be a good day.
The morning was cool, but not that cool. Oakhurst’s elevation at 3,200’ is not high enough to prevent triple digits from sweltering the population in summer. It’s funny how so many people imagine California’s climate to be that of the coastal cities, when, in fact, most of the state gets freakin’ hot.
But not yet…
The first order was coffee. I wanted a latte. I don’t care how fruity some Boomers think lattes are. Espresso and frothed milk is delicious. It’s that their tastes aren’t so refined as mine – remember what I said about oilfield coffee.
Now, an espresso shop was in town. It was my objective to caffeinate there, and feel that a buzz while perusing the potential day’s routes on my California road atlas, before heading to Sonora, which is the gateway to the then-open pass over the Sierras north of the still-closed Tioga Pass. But, the whim of a happy heart to drive around nearby Bass Lake came upon me first.
Bass Lake isn’t epic. It’s an impoundment of a little endoheric creek. But the ripples of light off the surface was enough to keep me driving around its shore until, lo, I found a little local diner that probably wouldn’t have espresso, but certainly coffee.
And ambiance. It was all locals. No tourists. The smell of eggs, coffee, sausages and a musty kitchen floor welcomed my seat by the sunny windows of this old, wooden structure.
The lady behind the counter saw me thumbing through my road atlas, which aroused her curiosity. Such a map was foreign to her. She asked where I was going, and I replied, “Well, I’d like to go Hetch Hetchy today, but I have no idea how bad the traffic will be going through the entrance north of here.”
She recommended that I try getting into the park from Mariposa, which on a Tuesday, during the last week of school when kids were still not done, was likely not to be busy. She said that you may not have to wait at all.
This jolted me. I thought that in this 7 o’clock hour all Yosemite entrances would be hell. I’d given up on Hetch Hetchy because I didn’t want to wait hours. Apparently now the lines would start next week.
Thus, hearing this changed my mind. Hearing this made the morning better. I thanked her by saying, “Wow! I thought everyone in California was like unfriendly LA people.” That jolted her ‘cuz I knew – by her demeanor and words – that she hated liberal Commifornia, but, my smile betrayed my sarcasm.
Regardless, it’s not that I thought the lake would be more beautiful than the Yosemite Valley. It’s that, one, I think dams are neat. Two, it’s a part of the Yosemite park most don’t see, and I wanted to say I’d seen it. Three, John Muir said, “It is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the great Yosemite, not only in its crystal river and sublime rocks and waterfalls, but in the gardens, groves, and meadows of its flowery parklike floor.”
Obviously I wouldn’t be able to see what he saw. Hetch Hetchy Valley’s been flooded since the 1930’s. But, glowing rocks and waterfalls above the reservoir may fill in the blanks of imagining Muir’s words. It’d be neat to find out.
So, after finishing my coffee, and thanking the woman once again, Mariposa, California became my destination.