Friday, August 11, 2017

"A good practical sort of immortality"

Just a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles, you pass through the most incredible landscape of farms and hills and endless road. It's where most of your produce is grown, folks, and last I heard, a lot of California farmland is filled with rotting produce because of that goon in office and his henchmen, busy Making America Great. They've cracked down on brown immigrants who work the fields, and the Real Americans are not stepping up to do the work. You can read about that here.

That isn't fake news either. But this isn't a post about the Pussy Grabber in Chief or his racist Attorney General Keebler Elf, so let's move on.

We stopped in the town of Earlimart to get gas and victuals.

The gas station had the best moniker I've ever seen yet was in direct sight of the Earlimart Market for World Peace.

Doesn't she make you want to pile the Bud into the trunk of your car and drive backward to when America was truly great?

Bless her heart.

Cast my memory back there Lord, sometimes I'm overcome --

Despite the Goon in Chief and his Band of Billionaires, you can pass through a lot of California now and see only a few "white" faces. This evidently terrifies a lot of people.

I find it thrilling that boundaries are blurry.

You can drive approximately five hours from Los Angeles, the sprawling home to over 8 million humans of every color, creed and culture and reach the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. My friend Cara, her two girls and my two boys have been numerous times together, and this year we stayed in a little cabin in the woods inside the park in an area called Wawona. We largely avoid the crowds in the valley and stay up and around the secret places near the park entrance.

We don't do much of anything, really, but wander around and look up and down, float on the river and lay on our backs on sun-warmed rocks. We laugh a lot, mostly at Oliver who can imitate anything and anyone. We all have riotous senses of humor. The girls balance the boys, while Cara and I eschew exercise and adopt the life patterns of marmots for the most part. Oliver did not let us forget our general "cringiness." If you need a translation, let me know.

We do this kind of thing:

and a little of this kind of thing:

and some of this kind of thing:

We even had a roadside "adventure" this year. Cara's car had an electrical short, we think, so we were mysteriously locked out of her car in the middle of Nowhere just after finishing up a roadside picnic. Our purses and phones were locked inside the car, and the teenagers, despite their phone appendages, were not connected to the world wide webs or the vast cell satellites arcing overhead, so we basically did one of those survival kind of things and put our privileged heads together to try to figure out WHAT TO DO.

I can tell you that everyone has an idea or opinion on how to break into a car.

You know what? We city slickers now marvel at just how hard it is to break into a car. Given how many of ours have been broken into in the big shitty, who knew that the windows are virtually indestructible, the locks un-pickable, the whole American metal machine invulnerable?

A few tourists did try to help, offering hangers and various tools. I have actually quite successfully broken into several of my cars, during days of yore, but my tried and true techniques just didn't hack it. I'm a woman of twentieth century crime, I guess. Other tourists just stared at us and took videos. Stupide americaines.  Our favorite samaritans were two women with blue hair and heavy Eastern Europeanish/Russian accents (think female versions, just barely, of what you might imagine our goon-in-chief's best Russian buddy sounds like)who walked over with crow bars from their rental and said, in what became a sort of anthem that Oliver repeated, over and over for the rest of the trip: Let me help you break open car.

Henry, who had otherwise made the women, men and children of Yosemite swoon everywhere we went, had no luck with a rock and muscle, and neither did the rest of us. I thought, in my optimistic way, that a solution would come to us, eventually, that we wouldn't perish with so much cheese and crackers and cans of limonata in the cooler and surely two marmots and a passel of teenagers wouldn't be attacked by any animal or human should it get dark.

Eventually, though, a couple of rangers pulled up on the scene, hammered a few wedges in the doors and saved us. To be fair, it did take them at least twenty minutes, and they were armed. We secretly hoped they'd shoot the car open, but that didn't happen.

We also did some more of this:

Oh yeah, and this:

I know. I know. It's almost ridiculous, except it's not. It is respite and wildness, air and water and earth and fire. I honestly think Yosemite is one, if not the holiest places on the planet, and my gratitude both for its proximity and my privilege to visit it, over and over, is boundless.

Another glorious Sierra day in which one seems to be dissolved and absorbed and sent pulsing onward we know not where. Life seems neither long nor short, and we take no more heed to save time or make haste than do the trees and stars. This is true freedom, a good practical sort of immortality. 
John Muir,  My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911


  1. I love this. Every word. And all the glorious photos... you make me want to hop in the car and drive there. xxk

  2. Oh how Magnificent!!! And now I've got "Let me help you break open car" said in a thick Russian accent seared into my memory as a hilarious Anthem!

  3. Fell over laughing about the Russian ladies but this..."Doesn't she make you want to pile the Bud into the trunk of your car and drive backward to when America was truly great?" totally did me in.

  4. Seems pretty ideal as vacations go. Even the locked car episode will be a hoot to remember and relate. However, did you have to insult the Keebler elves?


  5. Lovely. I especially like the quote by John Muir.

  6. I especially like the directly facing the camera selfie. Not just one eye or sunglasses. You look really GOOD.

  7. Love every bit of this. I agree about the holiness of this place. You do it right Elizabeth. XXOO

  8. This might be my favorite post ever in the history of blogging.
    Thank you for the words and the pictures and your humor and your children and your spirituality and your beautiful, beautiful eyes.

  9. What a beautiful country we live in. In spite of ourselves it holds on.

  10. That scenery is insanely beautiful. I have to get myself there one of these days. So sorry about the car, but it makes a good story, right?!

  11. What a peaceful trek. Can't imagine it.

  12. The most beautiful photos. Respite, indeed. I've only waded in Yosemite's waters. To float there must be divine. My grandparents farm was in Dinuba, close to Pixley and Earlimart, names that always let us know we were almost there. If you, per chance, watch ORPHAN BLACK, I hear Helena's voice offering to break open car. She'd be hell with a crowbar. Your post restores some calm to our troubled land. xo

  13. i lock my keys in my 1997 car so often I have them hidden with one of those magnetic things.

    These pictures! If I ever make it to the US I will need to add Yosemite to my list. Are you doing anything during the full solar eclipse in 9 days? Full viewing is really close to where you live.

  14. Marmots lock themselves out of car. Sun themselves on rocks. Just the thought makes me happy.

  15. I, too, love that place. You've given me a great idea to stay in a cabin at Wawona. I got there to walk around sometimes, and it seems the epitome of relaxation. Thanks for all the great stories and photos. It occurs to me that Henry has a bit of that James Brolin thing going on. He is handsome, indeed.

  16. My beautiful beautiful California, thank you Elizabeth!

  17. "I honestly think Yosemite is one, if not the holiest places on the planet, and my gratitude both for its proximity and my privilege to visit it, over and over, is boundless."

    So true. A sacred place. Thank you for this opportunity to experience it again with you and your family and friends. I've only been in Yosemite Valley twice, once in the 1970s and once in October 2008. In September 2001, an old friend and I drove to Yosemite's gate on Highway 120 but were not able to enter Yosemite Valley due to the fact that my old friend suddenly felt too weak to go any further. After his death in April 2008, I went to alone to Yosemite Valley to fulfill his wish that we could spend time there. Yosemite Valley is never far from my thoughts. Because of that old friend who, incidentally, introduced me to the writings of John Muir in 1971, I changed my last name to Muir in 1997, at a turning point in my life. Hard to believe that was 20 years ago.



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