An Interesting Journey

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Ethan Goldman
Eng 110 9/27/10 Prof. Courington

An Interesting Journey

I’m lying in bed thinking how much I sometimes hate my longtime friends Brandon and Steve. I hate them because it’s seven o’clock in the morning on a Saturday, my cell phone is ringing, and it’s them calling, and no one should ever call me at seven A.M. I push a button on my phone, sending them to the deepest darkest bowels of the Sprint voicemail system. My cold, cruel voicemail greeting. Monotone and unhappy, it’s definitely not an inviting voice to hear when you’re trying to get a hold of someone. I guess that was on purpose, because if I never get another voicemail message for the rest of my life, I’ll die a happy man.

It must be the five-day work week, and the part-time school that’s been getting me down lately. The routine of having the same schedule week in, and week out. Driving to school, driving to work, driving home. Even the light at the end of the tunnel, the weekends, seem to turn into work again, and free time spent at home is sitting on the couch, away from the heat, away from crowds. I feel like maybe the urban sprawl of Los Angeles may be gnawing at me a bit too much, penetrating and poisoning my core.

“Get in your car right now and drive the six hours to meet us in Yosemite!” I hear Brandon yelling enthusiastically from San Francisco when I reluctantly play back the voicemail message. “We’re gonna do some camping, and climbing, maybe Half Dome. Call me back!”

I haven’t visited Yosemite National Park since senior year of high school, but I’ve wanted to hike to the top of Half Dome ever since a girl, whom I secretly wanted to date after working with her in Los Angeles, described her Half Dome hike to me one day. When she then showed me stunning photos of her boyfriend’s on top of the Dome marriage proposal, I realized I had missed my chance with her. But her pictures of the enormous granite Dome captured my imagination. Later, when I read that early environmental crusader and Sierra Club founder John Muir described Half Dome as “the most beautiful and most sublime of all the wonderful Yosemite rocks,” it further cemented my desire to tackle it.

I call Brandon back, demand the he never call me at 7 A.M. ever, ever again, and then I tell him that I’m on my way. I grab my backpack, a tent, and some Clif Bars, jump into my Subaru Forester, and drive toward the park. As I drive through the Los Angeles traffic on Melrose Avenue, I think to myself, “Good riddance, urban sprawl.”

When I finally reach the edge of the park, I see a forest fire billowing smoke in front of a Yosemite sunset, and I realize that my friends have somehow tricked me into driving, randomly, into the heart of the National Park that’s literally on fire. The sight of striped red and orange bands of sunlight and smoke shooting across the sky, along with helicopters overhead dropping water on the fire, is quite depressing. But for some reason, in bumper to bumper traffic, I can’t peel my eyes away from watching. I can only hope that the fire department will have it contained soon. By now, any hatred I previously felt for getting woken up at seven in the morning had completely dissipated. I’m thinking I’m about to see some interesting sights over the next few days.

When I arrive in the evening at the Park’s North Pines campground, I have two almost dead bodies waiting for me. Okay, well not dead, exactly, but Brandon and Steve are exhausted from their drive to the park, and since their plan is for us to start hiking at 4 A.M. to avoid a crowded trail, we set a plan to eat, and sleep. Brandon fires up the Coleman grill, and we work as a team to cook a dinner of steak burritos. The cheese melts perfectly over the...
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