Labor Day Road Trip

Over Labor Day weekend and the following week, Dave and I drove to Arizona and Yosemite. It was my first time to Yosemite. I’m already back in the busy routine of work and don’t have much time for blogging, so I want to at least get just the outline down. I’ve also got a bunch of pictures to put up.

Thursday, 9/3

We left Berkeley in the mid-afternoon with a rented SUV packed with our luggage, our camping equipment, and 13 boxes of books. Another 12 boxes had been shipped to my father’s house in a suburb of Phoenix. Our destination was DiscWorld in Tempe, Arizona, a science fiction convention focused on the books of Terry Pratchett. Dave’s bookstore, The Other Change of Hobbit, was going to have a table of books for sale.

The drive south on Interstate 5 was smooth and uneventful, and we reached the Grapevine at twilight. Then east to San Bernardino, where we spent the night at a Motel 6.

Friday, 9/4

We drove east into Arizona and reached the hotel in Tempe where the convention would be around 2:00 pm. We unloaded the books and set up the tables in the dealers’ room. I had a bit of a headache, not bad but persistent, lasting much of the afternoon. In the evening we headed over to my father’s house, where we’d be staying. We bought takeout Chinese food and had dinner.

Saturday, 9/5

Dave had arranged things so that he wouldn’t need to cover the tables on Saturday, so we were able to spend the day together seeing some of Phoenix. We took a hike in Papago Park, and visited the Arizona History Museum in the park. It was a free-admission day, but the museum was still a bit of a letdown — it looked rather as though a lot of money was spent to build the museum and then funding dried up to update and add to the exhibits. We were done in 90 minutes. Had we but known, we would have skipped the museum and spent the time instead in the Desert Botanical Garden on the north side of Papago Park.

Sunday, 9/6

Dave was selling books at the convention on Sunday. I spent much of the day with my father, taking his dog Max for a walk in the morning and then to a local dog park in the afternoon. My father also showed me some of his old papers that he’s been going through. He’s a mechanical engineer who worked in aerospace for many years, and has a lot of interesting old stuff. It helps that I’m a technical editor working on (among other things) engineering books, so that I can sometimes halfway understand what I’m looking at.

Spaghetti dinner at my brother and sister-in-law’s home. They’re both teachers (history and math respectively) and progressive Christians and always interesting to talk with.

Monday, 9/7

Dave and I got up early to spend an hour or so at the Desert Botanical Garden before the dealers’ room opened. The garden turned out to be quite large and very interesting, and we probably could have spent at least three or four hours there. Something to put on our list for another trip. Dinner at my brother’s again.

Tuesday, 9/8

We left in the morning, driving west back to San Bernardino, and then north along Interstate 395, coming up the east side of the Sierras. Once we got away from the cities, the drive was very pleasant. On a long drive I sometimes do a sort of “driving meditation”, keeping my focus on what’s happening around me right now, staying conscious of my breathing, especially when I notice my mind has wandered and I want to bring it back to the here and now. This was a very nice stretch of highway to do that on.

We got to the campsite at Twin Lakes a little before twilight. Dave had reserved us a campsite about 30 steps from the edge of a beautiful lake. After spending a few minutes oohing and aahing, we set up the tent and drove back into the town of Mammoth Lakes for dinner.

Wednesday, 9/9

I got up a little before dawn (force of habit — my alarm clock has been going off at 6:15 each weekday morning for long enough that my internal alarm clock seems to be set to go off shortly before that). I had a touch of a headache, not bad but enough that I wasn’t going to be able to get to sleep, so I put on some clothes, grabbed my camera, and left the tent to walk off the headache and get some pictures of the dawn.

As it happened, this headache turned out to be one of the ten-hour wonders I sometimes get. Hydrocodone lightened it but didn’t kill it completely, and made me queasy to boot. Fortunately the headaches I get now aren’t usually incapacitating like they used to be, but I was moving a bit slow till it went away.

In late morning we packed up camp at headed for Yosemite. Along the way we took a couple of scenic detours, first to look at the other nearby lakes and later to stop for a couple of hours at Mono Lake. Then a stop in the town of Lee Vining for lunch. Got to Tuolomne Meadows in the early evening and set up camp.

Thursday, 9/10

Morning was a hike to Lake Elizabeth. Just beautiful, very tranquil, both the lake and the hike to get there — the hike was a high point of the trip for me.

In the afternoon we took a side trip to the old mining town — and now ghost town — of Bodie. It’s an amazing piece of preserved history. I’ve already blogged about the faro table in the previous entry.

Dinner was a simple salad made from lettuce, tomatoes, and fruit purchased in the general store nearby.

Friday, 9/11

We got up and ate breakfast, then packed up the tent and equipment and drove out of the campground. We parked a little way down the main road and took a hike through Tuolumne Meadows. Then we stopped by the general store to pick up something to eat later for lunch. They weren’t making sandwiches yet — too early in the morning still — so we bought a loaf of bread, some sliced turkey, and a ripe avocado to make our own with.

We drove west and had lunch at a picnic table on the shore of Lake Tenaya, sandwiches and leftover salad. As we ate, several Stellar’s jays showed up and watched over us, clearly waiting for us to finish so they could look for dropped crumbs. Then we got back in the car and headed west out of the park and back to the Bay Area. As we drove, we passed an astonishing number of cars coming the other way, so I’m glad we went during the week and not on the weekend.

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