After taking enough of these trips, some patterns begin to emerge. The one that shows itself first is that Day One is all about feeling out how things are going to work for the rest of the trip. That’s when decisions are made, consciously or not, about things like how to organize bags and vehicles, how much travel companions will indulge each others’ special interests, and probably most importantly – what will be the tone for the rest of the trip. As far as Day Ones go, today fit the bill.
The day began well, with the three of us making our way to the airport way too early, with all getting the “There Was A Great Big Moose” song stuck in our heads in the process. After a 6-hour flight that provided what you’d expect from a 6-hour flight, we picked up my brother – who had arrived a couple of nights early – rounding out our quartet. Then we packed into a car for the 4-ish (read: 6) hour trip across the Central Valley to Sequoia National Park.
What followed was exactly what you’d expect from a family of 4
crammed into a mid-sized sedan for an afternoon. I believe MSNBC shows video of
such trips on weekends and calls it “Lockup: Extended Stay.” They say that when
you spend time with your parents you always regress a bit and act behave more
like younger children. That’s definitely true in the Sager family. Within
minutes, my brother and I were arguing, I was accusing my mother of taking
sides, and my sister (the youngest) was trying to figure out the most painless
way to end her own suffering among all of this.
This is the point in the dramatic narrative when something catastrophic is supposed to happen, causing the simmering cold war to suddenly turn hot. But fortunately, Sequoia intervened. First it provided a legendarily windy road in the Generals Highway that blocked all radio and phone reception, effectively ending the ongoing music impasse. Then it gave us the Wuksachi Lodge (great name, right) – our home base for the next couple of nights. Instead of deciding on beds and starting another argument, we all decided independently that the prudent course of action would be to drop our bags at the door and immediately tear into the cornucopia of snacks we had picked up down in the Fuzzy Hills.
Thanks in part to my constant pestering throughout the car trek (or maybe in spite of it) everyone agreed to indulge me in chasing a sunset, from a place I had overlooked on my last visit here – Beetle Rock. While I struggled to get a decent composition…
my brother went and explored the silent expanse devoid of humanity that spread out before us…
while my sister looked around…
and my mother tried not to fall of the mountain and roll into the Pacific Ocean.
By the time the sun dipped behind the hazed-shrouded coastal ranges visible only by the shape they lent to the sun as it set, each of us had had our own Sequoia sunset experience and walked away thoroughly satisfied.
Until we returned to the hotel and had to divide up the beds. The two beds. Among the four of us. I absolutely steadfastly refused to share a bed, even if it meant sleeping on a cot or the floor (although I did throw in a little Jewish guilt with the latter, saying I’d do it but probably complain vociferously about being uncomfortable for the next few days). That’s when my brother told us he had found an extra cot in the hallway downstairs. After mustering a sibling army, we set out to
steal acquire it. Acting as
covertly as possible in case it was already intended for another room, we
snatched it, sprinted to the end of the hall, and began the arduous process of
lifting and turning it up 3 flights of stairs (the lodge has no elevator). Just
when we felt home free as we reached our floor, we turned a corner and my
brother saw burst out laughing upon seeing these:
What’s my excuse for not seeing 3 cots arranged neatly just 2 doors from our room? The same excuse that I plan to use each of the numerous instances in which I will likely suffer brain palpitations this week – it’s because of the elevation.
So in the end, all’s well that ends well, right? Hopefully a good night’s sleep following a 21-hour 3,000 mile day will make all of us more agreeable and will help carry tonight’s “triumph” into a day that will include a visit to the some forest giants, the largest organism that’s ever lived, Moro Rock, maybe a cave or a canyon, all before an all-you-can-eat BBQ feast in the evening, In my book, there’s no way a day that ends with as much meat as you can stuff in your face can leave anything but positive feelings.
And maybe a meat coma.