It’s been almost two months since I left behind the warm red sands of the southwest for the cold grey granite of the Sierra’s. With my material goods (those not permanantly ensconced in the parents’ attic) carefully shoved into the back of my car I hit the open road. For forty miles. In the middle of nowhere between two somewheres my tire issued a final agonal breath before defecting into shredded rubber on the side of the road.
Good thing I have triple A, I thought to myself. I fished out the card, unearthed my phone, and then spent almost an hour trying to explain my location to a service representative. We established the fact that I was in Utah in a matter of seconds, but it proved remarkably difficult to convince her that I was not in Salt Lake City. I recited mileages from nearest intersections, closest towns, and major landmarks to no avail. I (loudly) cursed Subaru for putting the spare tire under the floor as I began excavating the trunk. Food, camping gear, ukulele, boxes of clothes made a disorganized heap on the side of the highway. The fuel for my stove rolled down the embankment into the dry ravine below. I had the spare tire out as the triple A lady asked me if I was near the salt lake city airport. I might have gone a little hysterical at this point because I found myself talking with the manager.
And that’s when the boy scouts arrived. A whole troop of them. The troop leaders had the spare tire on in minutes. I have a whole new respect for boy scouts and complete lack of faith in triple A. It’s funny how the world works.
On the road again, this time at 45 miles per hour, I headed for the nearest town (Green River). I pulled into the only open tire shop only to find that they only dealt in big rig tires. Another 50 miles to the next town. I borrowed the phone book and called all the tire shops. It wasn’t looking good. The few that were open don’t have the right tire size. I paced back and forth across the asphalt as I waited for the last shop on my list to call me back. I started thinking about the phone call I was going to have to make to my new boss. Sorry, can’t make it to the first week of work because I am stuck in the middle of nowhere with one tire short of a car. Finally they called me back. They had the tires and for the bargain price of 400 $ they will put them on my car. Great. I hit the road again at a brisk 45 miles per hour and infuriated every other driver on the road (hmmm, only thirty mph lower than the posted speed limit).
With my new pair of tires I rolled through western Utah into Nevada. The red desert dust on my car was replaced by grey. At a gas station somewhere in Nevada a trucker told me my windshield was dirty. A clean windshield is a clean driver, he says. I washed off 400 miles of splattered insect remains and then continued driving. On the 120 I crossed from Nevada into California. The first road sign I encounter proclaims this particular stretch of asphalt to be adopted by Rainbows and Butterflies. Yep, must be back in California.
I drive through Yosemite and marveled at the snow piled 6 feet deep on either side of the road. Tenaya Lake is an iceberg and Tuolomne Meadows is a snow field. I wondered if leaving the desert was the right decision.
I found myself asking that question a lot for the first month of my Yosemite tenure, I still ask it on occasion. I am not complaining, I swear, but sometimes you have to wonder what it would have been like to hike the other path.
So, I guess I need to put a disclaimer here. Apparently I signed some paperwork at the beginning of the season saying I would not talk about my federal government job with anyone in the outside world. Well, the federal government said I was going to have housing at my job and then made me live out of my car for a month and a half. Deal’s off. I will talk about what I want. Of course, I won’t reveal locations of sensitive species or similar information, but otherwise, I feel like I have right to share my experiences. If the government wants to read my blog and fire me for talking about wildflowers and alpine glow, go for it (and anyways, after this summer I don’t really want to work for the federal gov’t again).