Two Lanes Lead to Fabulous

This week, Rayman and I drove to North Fork, which is reputed to be the exact center of California.  That is what the sign says as you enter the small, “don’t blink” town on the way to the house we rented for two nights.  North Fork is a throw back of sorts in the foothills of this state in that there are very poor, rural folks that inhabit the hills around The Fork.  I’m taking it that the fork is in reference to a split in the river that cuts the valley in half.  Huge hills rise up from the river and it is sad to see because most of the trees in this place are pine and are dying from the affects of the Pine Beetle.  You know instantly that they are sick because they are yellow, rather than verdant green that pines habitually are when healthy.

When approaching this town of North Fork, we come across a young mother sitting in her huge truck in the parking lot of the local elementary school, a baby in her lap.  But that isn’t really what catches our eye.  It’s the huge, confederate flag flying from a pole stuck in the back of the truck.  Somehow.  Here in the center of CA is a confederacy lover.  And proud of it.  Rayman and I look at each other in dismay.  How do you suppose this woman decided that flying a confederate flag was a good idea?  Was it her or her dearly beloved that engaged in such in-your-face behavior?  It apparently is an advocation on their part.   As an aside, we did not see any black people as we drove through town.

Then there were all the fringe churches we saw along the road.  This place was different.   And every yard seems to have a bucket of bolts or two or three.  Mostly old trucks.  Which begs the question, why didn’t they sell the old stuff?  Depreciating assets depreciating assets.

But I digress.

Rayman and I were on our way to North Fork and I asked him if he knew how to text by talking into his iPhone.  No he did not.  Because I was behind the wheel, I could only tell him how to do it.  I just learned how to do it, myself, on Monday.  And so he tried by sending a text message to his son.  It was a scream.  Somehow he selected the wrong microphone icon and the message read as follows:

“I does that mean that sad that text on this one eating a text unless you’re trying to say in a text on this actually it’s missing are the words that I’m saying.”

When he read what was transmitted, he howled.  Admittedly, he needs some work.

Okay.  So back to the story.

The Wisdom House beckoned.  It was a house I found on the internet several years ago.  It’s a great place off the main road.  Completely modern, up-to-the-minute.  Just two bedrooms and baths.  Perfect for us and my cousin, Sue, her husband, Larry, and their granddaughter, Leyla.  We all met up in North Fork for two nights.  And the reason was that Yosemite is located about 25 miles away.  Here’s the link if you have any interest.

Yosemite.  What a place.   Is there a grander place on earth?  It’s one of the best.  And it was free getting in because all week there is no admission as it’s the National Park Service one-hundredth anniversary celebration.  Yes, we have the senior card for free admission.  But it was a nice gesture anyway.

This time of the year, the park is in bloom.  Dogwood, mustard, lupine.  And the falls are spectacular.  Adding to the drama is the long ride on twisting and turning two lane roads.  Then you pop out of a long tunnel and there it is.  It leaves a lump in the throat and a song in your heart.  It also makes you feel like a speck.


My cousin’s family

For those that believe the earth is really old, you are struck by the amount of time it took for the valley to evolve into what you see today.  If you believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, I think you need to do some more reading.  Perhaps you could return to college and study geology.  Just saying.

Let me back up.  We went to the park with my cousin, Susie, husband, Larry, and granddaughter of theirs, Leyla.  They arrived on Wednesday afternoon as did we.  And Susie had a cold.  A horrible cold.  But she was bound and determined to make the trip because Leyla wanted to see those waterfalls.  Before they arrived, I hastily frosted a cake that I made for Leyla’s birthday which had been April 15.  The best birthday cake I know that isn’t chocolate.  Here’s the recipe:

And here’s a pic of the finished product.  Yummy.  And Leyla, of course.


So, the next day we got up early and headed to the park.  The weather was perfect.  The rains from the winter provided snow that is still melting thereby providing waterfalls, the best in years.  Thank you el nino.  And we just had to see them.  That was the reason for the trip.  The pictures speak for themselves….except for one thing.  The velocity of the water raging down the side of the cliffs creates it’s own weather system.  In the parking lot, it was a pleasant 60+ degrees.  A short walk up a path to a viewing platform, the temperature must have been about 50 degrees and it was “raining”.  We brought our umbrellas and still managed to get wet.  And cold.  What a great adventure.  And this happened at Bridalveil Falls and Yosemite Falls, both.  All other falls were too far away to enjoy in such a manner.

Bridalvail Falls

Bridalveil Falls

We packed a picnic and ate on the banks of the Merced River.  The crows that stood watch over the picnic tables were about as big as cessna airplanes.  And they protected their turf with great enthusiasm.

The park was not that busy which was a blessing because we brought two cars so that the Rayman and I could escape the coughing and hacking that was on display.  Even so, we were able to follow each other, and park near each other.  A true miracle.  So, next year, if you go…go in April.  It’s a great time, mid-week that is.  Coming home today, the highway of two lanes was packed with vehicles heading up the mountain.  Leave the weekends for the working folks, is my advice.

The other thing we did in the park was to drive up to Glacier Point.  I had never been there.  Rayman had been there many times.  What a view to behold.  Looking down from on high, the cars below looked about the size of ants.  If you wanted to do yourself in, this might be the place.  Just jump.  You will die.  There are no fences to keep you from it.  And that’s the beauty.  Who wants to look at this miracle of nature through a chain-linked fence?  If you’re afraid of heights, you may want to skip it.  But I wouldn’t.  It is just too intimidatingly beautiful.  Too overwhelmingly grand.  And people have been enjoying it since the late 1800s.


Yosemite Falls and Leyla in the foreground.


View from Glacier Point and the Nevada Falls.

Finally, a shout-out to Theodore Roosevelt, my favorite Republican president.  He camped at Yosemite in 1903 when President with John Muir.  Three nights.  Just the two of them.  All others were ordered away.  No spin doctors.  No entourage.  Just them.  And that led to Yosemite becoming a national park, along with other parks.  Teddy is a hero as is John Muir.  Giants.  If I were President, I would want a legacy like that.  Not wars.  National Parks.  They are remarkable and we are so lucky to have them.

A few other observations.

The farmers in the dell are getting on our nerves.  Between Loomis, CA and Interstate 5 freeway, there are a myriad of “homemade” signs offering arguments favorable to the farmers.

No Water.  No Food.

Build tunnels not trains.

Those are two of the signs that we remember because they get repeated over and over as the miles melt into the rear view mirror.  And as you zoom along highway 41, you can’t help but notice the open ditches of water.  So, the Rayman asks, why don’t the farmers pay for upgrading the irrigation canals with huge pipelines.  Evaporation would be reduced to almost nothing.  What are they waiting for?  Oh, they want the taxpayers to pick up the tab, perhaps?  or maybe they have never thought of it?  Who knows?  But as casual observers not prone to researching this vexing problem at this time, we stop and think about their offensive.  Why can’t we have both water tunnels and high speed rail?  We are the 8th largest economy on earth.  Why can’t we have both?  Maybe we should pass a law restricting trade of food to only other states in the U.S.  Why should we use our water to grow food that get shipped out of the country?  Could we put a tariff on our food to pay for the tunnels?  Of course, it is understood that farmers want everyone else to pay for their infrastructure.  How much do they pay for water?  So many questions, so few answers.  Just food for thought, if you will pardon the pun.  Want to know more about water in California?  Read Cadillac Desert by Marc Reiser.  Simply the best book I’ve read on the subject.  Here’s a link.

After you pass under the great Interstate 5 highway just west of Kettleman City, you come to a spot in the road…an intersection.  And under construction on this dusty parcel of land is a four way stop with stoplights being installed.  Why are they putting in a stoplight?  What’s wrong with putting in a roundabout?  So much more efficient.  Probably a heck of lot cheaper since electricity would not be required.  Why, we ask.  Why?  It is disheartening in a way.  More land needed for the roundabout?  No problemo.  There is nothing but lifeless looking land out there.  Except where they have started irrigating.  Yes, irrigating an arid parcel of land miles from anything.  Who made that decision?  To allow that in the middle of a huge drought that probably is not over.  Oh, so many questions without answers.  On top of all that Prince died.

Well, we are back home.  A great trip to a great park.


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