Saturday I drove up to Bass Lake, about 14 miles south of Yosemite.
Sunday I drove home.
I did this because my friend Trish turned 50 and I absolutely had to be there to celebrate her.
This past Spring Trish almost died when a horseback ride went horribly wrong and she ended up in a Medivac helicopter with a crushed chest.
But that's not why I had to celebrate her.
I had to be there because we've known each other for the past 20 years, we have witnessed all the ups and downs and we're both damn glad to be here together.
My plan was to rent a car, a comfy full sized something or other and drive up very early. With no traffic it's about a four hour drive through what I think is a really beautiful part of California. You go up the 5 to the 99, drive to Fresno and make a right. You see farms and cows and barns and fields filled with grapes and cotton and beans and orchards of pitted fruit and apples. It's the part of California where life seems to be lived more simply.
At least that's how it looks from the highway.
So back to the renting of the car. I walked across the street to Enterprise and they gave me a Buick which had sofa sized front seats and a burl wood console. It was silver and reminded me of something that a recently divorced grandmother named Sylvia might buy herself. It had a "cushioned" ride and I felt safe in it.
I put in a homemade CD from back in the day when I used to take long road trips to San Francisco to see the Dead and turned the volume up to just below bass blowing out the speakers level and began to roll up the 101. I became aware of a sound that I at first thought was the rattling walls of the semi in the next lane, but I passed him and the sound, something like metal being dragged on asphalt got louder.
The sound was coming from Sylvia's Buick.
I pulled off the freeway somewhere in the valley and found myself in the middle of BF Egypt with not a gas station in sight. I didn't pull over to see what was going on because the idea of the car not starting on the side of the road in this wherever I was spot did not appeal. Plus the fuel light had come on because they'd given me the car on empty and I was thinking that gas would be cheaper further away from LA proper.
I was wrong.
I was also screwed because when I got to the gas station the bottom of the car, the undercarriage? was dragging on the ground. This was not my fault. I swear. I called the people at Enterprise and gave them the cross streets and asked them to find me another car. Turns out I was just down the road from another location but they were all out of full size cruise mobiles so I ended up in a Kia Optima. A 4-cylinder Kia Optima.
And then I got lost.
And then I got stuck in traffic.
I really wanted to whine. I was feeling so put upon and pissy. But I had no audience so instead I put in the CD and turned up the volume and headed over the Grapevine... in the slow lane with trucks. It's amazing what singing Ramble On at the top of my lungs can do as far as an attitude adjustment.
The Kia got amazing gas mileage. You gotta find the good where you can.
I finally got up to Bass Lake about 5pm. There were 13 of us and baby Cole, Skye's 5 month old son who got to come along because he's nursing. He's a pass around kid who enjoys snuggling. Trish had made us all gift bags and she was taking us all out to dinner.
Good times! How could I be tired?
Dinner was hilarious, how can it not be when you have all those women together. My favorite line of the night... "I had to marry him. I felt so guilty. I'd never had a one night stand before."
After dinner we decided not to go to the casino but rather to go home and watch a movie. Welcome to our 40s. In previous years we would have at least swung by the Pines Lounge for shots and at least a cursory perusal of the local boys. Instead we were home in our pajamas watching "The Land of Women" and debating what in the world Meg Ryan has done to her face. Lips and eyes? She doesn't look like herself.
One by one people started passing out and my God they were snoring soooo loud! Who knew that those sounds could come out of girls?
The morning brought fog over the lake and very strong coffee and more conversation. There was a storm coming in, so less than 24 hours after arriving I got back in the Kia and headed home.
I was a little freaked because by weather on the way home. I had fog and light rain until I reached the Grapevine and just as I started going up mountain the skies went completely dark and it began to pour!
I've never driven the Grapevine in weather like that. I've only seen news coverage of the multi-fatality car crashes and ensuing traffic snarls that occur in these kinds of conditions.
The visibility was about 20 feet and it was raining so hard that water was pooling in the fast lane and cars were throwing huge sheets up onto the windshield completely obliterating it. Everyone drove about 45, which was really effortfull for Kia and we were surrounded by lots of big ass trucks.
I had the music on and was singing at the top of my lungs for encouragement. Moving my hands from their clenched positions at 2 and 10 on the steering wheel was not an option so I decided to make the best of it.
(I was also thinking how sad it would be if my last meal turned out to be Jack in the Box instead of In'n'Out!)
It was an endless and ominous march up the mountain. I was aware that my whole body was clenched and I'd broken out in a cold sweat. I was getting completely wrapped around my own axle, mindfucking myself into a panic and just then I crested the top of the mountain...
... the rain let up and the sun was shining through a hole in the darkness and it created the biggest and most intense rainbow I've ever seen, the end of which spread across all four lanes of highway 5 ahead of me.
The song that was playing at that moment was Avalon by Roxy Music...
Now the party´s overI´m so tired
Then I see you comingOut of nowhere
Much communication in a motion
Without conversation or a notion
I really like this song, but at that moment I LOVED it.
I was so grateful to be in that moment right then. And everything was perfect and exactly as it should be.
I drove out of the rain and through the end of the rainbow.