Drive along the blistering purgatory of central valley freeway until your brain burns, then turn east. Keep heading east as you rise above the dust and heat and up up up you go. The more trees and boulders you see, the narrower the road becomes. You’ll lose your breath on the mountain and gain your air back to gasp down a one lane rutted path with drop-offs, vistas, and pickups stuck in rocks. Continue this madness until almost the end of the road, but not quite. Arrive at your destination and wonder how on EARTH all these people in WHAT vehicles managed that route too?!?!
Set up camp to the sounds of the river and jam with the mandolin player next door. Hop into various hot springs and be unable to try them all. Hike to a ‘temperate’ lake, enjoy communing with nature and realize you’ve just skinny dipped with leeches.
Be amused to learn that the leeches do not latch onto you but much prefer your sexy partner instead. Be relieved they are teeny leeches and not huge gnarly bloodsuckers.
Pie has now been richly earned and you grab two house-made apple pie slices sold to you by a lass from halfway across the world and made by the man who karaokes in the kitchen. Marvel that each ingredient, tool, piece of wood, EVERYTHING has been hauled in via the white knuckle road.
Finish your days in hot springs by the river, and nights up a rock shelf at a secret camp playing dominos and jamming with two permanent residents and another stalwart from the far side of the globe. The eldest is a shoo-in for skinny Gandalf. They run errands and fix things in return for permanent camp rights, this includes stealth pot hole repair praise the gods.
Pie fed, leave late the last day because you sat in a hot spring that morning, ogled views on a hike at the breath-stealing peak, and sidetracked to a Sequoia grove. Arrive at your partner’s residence on a mountaintop observatory near midnight under the full moon.
Pack and arrange things for a day before heading home. Cry because while the ocean is beautiful, the harried civilization is far from civil and THAT is not home, any more.
You’re an adult, you have responsibilities, you feel trapped.
Dream of homemade apple pie, dominos by the fire, hot springs, fixing potholes, and a life well lived. Dream of finding home again.
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Surfing and Strolling near Mono River Rock Restaurant
SURFING: Not literally. But once you realize there’s leeches in the lake you can pick up enough speed to glide over the top of the water.
STROLLING: All directions of the compass!