26 Jun - 21 July, Aston PA
Notes on a month 'off': That June trip was LONG. Yes, it did cut my expenses from initial estimates, but it wore on me. Now, after spending 5½ of the last 9 weeks on the road, I had 26 days to catch up on posting blogs, prepare for California, and handle tasks that had backed up in my absence. Not exactly time 'off'.
Welcome home? I figured that after three weeks away, I would get major attitudes from the cats. Indeed, they met me with the standard studied indifference. Pepper - the jet-black cat Sue had rescued from a park six years ago - gave me a "Why are you invading my space?" look, mixed in with a "What have you done for me in the last ten seconds?" gaze. However, the second I put my foot on the steps leading upstairs, a black lightning bolt shot through my legs, around the corner, and into the guest bedroom - the room where I always tease Pepper with a ribbon. I can't tell whether I've got her trained, or vice versa.
Planning on planning: On trips 2 & 3, I struggled with organizing future trips while on the road. Given those difficulties, I ignored any plans for July/Aug while focusing on my June journeys. The downside: campsites in Crater Lake and Redwoods filled before I tried reserving a spot. Luckily, I did succeed elsewhere, including tent cabins in Yosemite and Pinnacles. (Surprisingly, they cost less than rooms in the gateway cities.)
Of course, Mother Nature loves to put her spin on things. Normally, Crater Lake is fully open by July 4: roads cleared and tours running. Due to heavy snows this past winter, the park website said that by 'early July' they hoped to git 'er done. The last stretch of Rim Road only opened around July 18, and boat tours had yet to begin by 7/21 - looks like we'll miss out on cruising the lake. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for Yosemite. For my second night in the park, I hold a reservation for the Wawona Motel - but Wawona was evacuated due to the Washburn Fire. Firefighters have kept it at bay - no damages! - but right now only residents are allowed back in. I've got ten days for them to re-open that part of the park.
Other items just take time to sort out. Bicycling around Crater Lake has been on my list for a long time - but renting a bike proved a challenge. I found only one reasonable option - renting it in Klamath Falls, an hour away. (The park does not rent them, and there is no town there.) Getting it to the park? a $240 delivery and pickup service from the bike shop. Unfortunately, rental cars do not include tow-hitches, so I couldn't rent a bike rack... and getting a larger rental car I could fit the bike in cost even more.
The heat is on. I keep hearing about the massive heat wave in California. A friend I'll see near Sacramento mentioned that Redding (where we'll stay a couple of nights) hit 117° this week; the forecast calls for temps above 100 all next week. Luckily we'll mostly miss it: we should see highs in the mid 70s at Crater Lake, around 60 on the coast in the Redwoods, and ~80° at Lassen.
At least I'm getting acclimated to any heat that lingers, since the Philly area has heated up to the 90s, with heat index over 100° on occasion. I try to get out early to exercise. Wednesday, as I prepared to launch my kayak, I saw that butterflies had turned turned a bush into a glittering marvel.
With the weather keeping us inside, we've turned our attention to kitten fostering. Sue will have her hands full with our latest trio while I'm gone.
Two is twice as nice. I'll have company again for my first three parks. I've known Ron and Joanne for over 40 years, since we all attended events sponsored by Outdoors Singles in southern California (before they married and got the heave-ho from the group). Among other things, Ron and Joanne joined us for a few days in Yellowstone/Grand Teton as we took a short break from our Litterwalk; I flew out for his surprise 60th birthday party in 2006; Ron and I bicycled across Iowa during RAGBRAI; and he and I toured Japan together in 2019. I look forward to spending time with him while we both can still get out there. Thank you, Joanne, for letting him join me!