49: Yosemite, The Road Trip Home

As I was packing my bags and scrambling to get my car ready for the 14 hour drive to Denver on seven hours of sleep it still hadn’t dawned on me that today, this morning would be my last time living in Chicago. I didn’t have that final cry as I expected, nor did I get a chance to say goodbye to the loves that made the last two years worth it but it did feel weird. My apartment didn’t quite feel like my apartment anymore. Driving out of the city didn’t look the same and it hadn’t fully set in that this was it, what I’ve been waiting for for over two years, to finally relocate to Los Angeles.

Andie showed up with two coffees and a fresh face as we packed my car and began to drive to Denver. Originally Andie thought she could get her wisdom teeth out and then drive with me but eventually came to her senses and realized that was a terrible idea. She’d be doped on medicatoins, I’d be driving alone, it just would’ve been bad. So like the gem she is she cancelled it to ensure she’d be ready for the cross country road trip. Dear Andie, I like you.

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Nora, a Chicago friend whom I’d met less than a year prior, was my original copilot but due to some bomb ass Cirque tickets, she was going to have to fly and meet us in Denver. Now I know I’ve blogged about Denver before so I won’t go into detail about what we did there but once we arrived we stayed with my darling friend Tanya. Tanya showed me around when I first went to Denver so it was only natural that she be more than included on this trip. We got to her apartment in the middle of the night with a sign that said “welcome Marlie and Andie” hanging in her window and a full list of what to do, what is where, and keys to her house. How’d I ever get so lucky to have friends this amazing is beyond me, but I’m not complaining. After sleeping in beautifully we got some grub and drove to pick Nora up from the Denver airport thanking god for her because we still had a 18 hour drive to Yosemite and another four hours from there to Los Angeles. Fast forward past the beer, the food, and the ice cream and here we were trying to fit Nora’s stuff into my car and around the plethora of pillows and 122 hangers I deemed necessary for our road trip.

Fun fact: I have a lot of clothes. And no, not the “omg your closet is so full” type of a lot more like the “holy shit there is no way in hell you wear all this” a lot. That said, buying hangers is my nightmare and since I hang all my clothes I didn’t want to have re-purchase 732 hangers. Therefore, I packed as much as I could, and damn was it a lot.

Second fun fact: I sleep with 8 pillows. I also packed all of those.

Hangers crept into every orifice of our bodies and dusty pillows blasted Andie and Nora in the face when they took turns in the back seat. The good thing about us driving through the mountains at night was that the traffic was non existent and we couldn’t see just how close to a thousand feet drop we were driving next to.

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Without planning it, this meant when we drove through the endless deserts of Nevada and California, it was daylight. Sometimes we even filled up our tank regardless of being ¾ full because some of the gas stations were spaced about 45-70 miles apart. The road ran in the middle of towns populated with no more than 2000 people and a fair share of casinos. We had absolutely no reception half the time leaving our entertainment to each other and the music. We recorded snap chat videos of delusion as we passed through the desert that first week of August in its ungodly heat. Once we crossed the state line to California, there was an agriculture check and next thing we knew, we were driving in the mountains. The climb was gradually giving us hints of greenery as we dipped along the two lane road.

Lesson 88: the road coming to Yosemite had “dips”. Not being from a mountainous area, I’d never encountered these but basically, it turns you car into a rollercoaster as you climb several feet only to fly down the other side.

Being that this was an empty road, nora and I opened all the windows holding our hands up as we laughed and hollered as if on a rollercoaster while insanely shocked that Andie could sleep through any of this. Sorry Andie.

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Once our infatuation with the dips was over (I figured due to the excess weight of my trunk we should probably take it slow) the green began to peak. We were so high in the mountains that we could actually see and feel the clouds. Although it was daylight the air was so thick and opaque it felt as if the sun could set in any minute. Slowly but surely, we began to descend allowing us to see the greenery that started to lead us to Yosemite.

The first section we hit was a road filled with perfectly green, vibrant trees. Mostly pine and a few Sequoia trees, as if we’d approached this beautifully hydrated oasis. However once they were gone, it was all dessert again.

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A desert leading to this secluded, almost private, spring that sat about a quarter mile away from the road and within this crater. The pictures, though we tried, don’t do this justice as it was hard to capture its milky blue color while trees sat separately scattered gently around it. Usually I’m really good at pin pointing the location but due to my sleep deprived and slightly delirious self, I don’t quite know what it was called. I’m almost sure it was Mono Lake, but I could be wrong. Sorry kids.

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Our initial plan was to camp out in Yosemite and once we got there we bought pizza and beer and a few things we’d need for the stay. We entered the park not quite realizing what to expect and being thoroughly impressed by how exceptionally large it was. It took us an hour to drive halfway around to one side of the park allowing us to see the sunset over Mirror Lake. To our misfortune however, it was pretty chilly.

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Not only was it chilly and we weren’t properly prepared to rough it in the cool 50 degree weather over night, but the campsites within the park were full. Don’t worry, we still toured around, did some light hiking and drank our beer but once the sun finished setting and the park was pitch black we concluded that pitching a tent this late was out of the question.

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This meant that we were going to finish our four hour drive to Los Angeles that evening insuring that we’d all spend the most time in a vehicle that any of us ever had; 26hours. Yikes! If that’s not a testament that these two lovely beings are lifelong friends considering we didn’t kill each other, get slightly annoyed, AND managed to have a great time, I don’t know what is. The drive was long and hopefully it will be my last of the sort for at least five years but in my first post I said I wouldn’t stay in Chicago for more than a year and look where that turned out. I’m fortunate to have met Andie and Nora and even more fortunate that they have remained constant parts of my life when I deemed Chicago as a temporary fix. Regardless of the hand that life deals you, it’s always meant to be. Even if you don’t know or realize it, just trust it.

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