[caption id="attachment_932" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I've never seen this before![/caption]
"The Party" has officially begun! All of our driving has finally paid off, we have reached a big goal... California!
We drove through some country where there is vineyards, farms and more cows galore. I saw my first almond tree farm! We stopped about an hour in to the state to take showers at the Flying J. Gotta love a good shower, plus they let us share one so it's only $10 for the both of us.
After showers and gassing up, our next stop for the night was Fresno...or so we had planned. We exited off the Interstate into Downtown Fresno. It was strange, it was Saturday night and not a single soul in sight. Every store, apartment and/or building had bars on the windows or barbed wire fences.
[caption id="attachment_937" align="aligncenter" width="300"] I did like the art on the trains though![/caption]
We drove around just a bit and after seeing the police were the only ones out and an overwhelming anxiety attack from yours truly, we drove up to the next big town. The next town, Clovis, was like night and day from Downtown Fresno. I don't really know what was going on with me but every 10 minutes or so I was having major anxiety/panic attacks (& Downtown Fresno did not help my situation). I think my brain finally caught up with what we are doing and it sent a little shock to my system. This is the farthest I've been from everything I've ever known, so I think I really needed to get out some tears, anxiety, emotional stress and give some relief to myself. J' is so great though and gave me full reassurance that no matter what, I have him and he will take care of me. I think us girls need to hear that from time to time, and I'm lucky that I get to hear and feel this ALL the time. Alright, enough with the mush-mush. We parked at a Wal-mart in Clovis, they had these great 'umbrella' trees, great for parking under. We would meet up with Bob (that guy) in the morning. It was nice and cool so we had a pretty good nights rest. We ran some errands for ice, food, sunglasses (J's broke and mine were on the verge) and propane~ oh and we bought two chairs and a table, all around good camping items! We were on our way up to the Sierra Nevada Mountains to meet up with Bob, it was about 50 miles from where we left Clovis. As we drove, we drove into a few small towns in the middle of the mountains then rounded a corner to a beautiful lake...I mean gorgeous.
I think everything in California is more beautiful than anything else I've ever seen...okay minus D.T. Fresno! The mountains are bigger, the water is bluer, the air is fresher...it's amazing. We pulled over to take some pictures and we were also going to start organizing the van. *When we switched out the propane everything had to go in the middle of the van for us to be able to get the tank out of the cabinet, so it was a sea of clutter.*
Before we started organizing and making something to eat, J' got on his computer to see if Bob had given us coordinates to the site...nothing...uh-oh! haha As J' was doing some footwork to find us a spot (until we heard from Bob), an instant message came through. Alas, it was Bob!!! He told us where he was so we drove to meet him...the long way. We (well J') thought we could just go around the lake (I wanted to go back the way we came), but his way took us miles away from the lake, circled a huge forest and put us right back where we started! Oh well, we went down the mountain into the downtown area and found him at the local market. What a super nice guy. We talked for a bit while one of the other 'members' finished up on the internet. *See, where they are camping for the next week or so doesn't have signal for phones, internet or T.V. so they just happened to be in town for an hour checking all of their stuff while we were trying to connect with them. Talk about perfect timing. They said that was the first time they had been in town in 3-4 days!* After they were done, we followed them to the camp. He is holding the R.T.R. ~ Rubber Tramp Rendezvous, that we didn't even know about, so when we got to camp there was a whole group of people sitting on chairs talking and laughing. As soon as we got out of Joon Van they were yelling to us, "Bring your chairs" and doting over Savannah. We went over and met everyone, about 10 people and then I just had to go organize everything, it's the "C.D.O." in me (OCD...only certain people will get that). What seemed like an afternoon later we were at a stopping point with the van so we rejoined our new group. The group consisted of 4 'single' men, 4 single women and another married couple.
For the rest of the afternoon into the evening, we sat around and talked, getting to know everyone and listened intently for tons of learning. These people have been doing this (mostly) full-time for years so it's awesome to sit and hear every kind of story and adventure they have had thus far. I was pretty surprised at the big dogs also along for the travel. One guy even drives a motorcycle with a sidecar for his pup to sit (and sleep) in! Totally rad man!
I think in total there are 6 dogs here, so hopefully after all of this Savannah will learn how to be a good camping dog. So far, she's been trying to bully everyone around, but I'm sure one of these pups is bound to put her in her place! In the evening we took a walk with Bob and his dog Homer~ a gorgeous black and tan coon hound. At first, I was very leery to let 'the bug' off her leash but J' reassured me this is where she is going to learn and that it will be okay. I am a mama, so I worry...she's just so small, ya know! I guess I'm going to have to let go of some stresses with that so I gave in. She was so so excited, she went a million miles a minute the whole time, running, jumping on and over things~ she was crazy.
[caption id="attachment_945" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Lil bug in a big forest[/caption]
We came up on a bunch of huge boulders and as we came over them I saw ripples in the water that lay down below. My heart started beating so hard (I thought I was going to throw up). I knew Nana had run over this boulder, not knowing it dropped off into water on the other side. I saw J' running to the other side and as I peeked over the edge, there she was swimming, trying to find a place to climb out. Luckily, Daddy wedged in between the two boulders, reached down and was able to fish her out of the water. As soon as he put her down she took off running like a crazy woman and barking barking barking like a crackhead~ I swear nothing phases her but I'm sure she learned a big lesson today or at least I hope so...for my sake! I thought I was going to fall apart when I saw her looking up at me trying to find a spot to get out.
[caption id="attachment_946" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Homer is very concerned[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_949" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Hooray for Daddy's long arms[/caption]
Good thing she can swim, phew. It took me longer to recover than her! Crazy girl. We finished our walk through the beautiful forest and Bob said this isn't even the pretty part of this area~ well I think it's amazing. When we got back the circle was starting to move over to the campfire, when the temperature drops out here, it's no joke!
We learned the hard way that night, it gets f*in' cold~ like 25 degrees cold...in the heat of the summer. Crazy, man. Bob had even offered us a nice cozy blanket that we turned down because we thought we would be warm enough...haha silly kids. Fortunately, I asked J' if he would get our Big Buddy heater out and hooked up...just in case~ we used that thing (off & on) all night. *Our blankets are not made for extreme cold temperatures* After a not so restful night, we woke up to beautiful weather, the bluest of skies and the songs of birds. One of the ladies, Miss Cherry, (I nicknamed her this because she makes everything seem so wonderful, like a cherry on top) offered us a nice big, clean quilt for the next few nights sleep (we would be together for a few days and she wasn't using it).
Bob also gave us a beautiful wool blanket he said he only paid $3.00 for and never uses. Needless to say we will be going into town to buy our own very soon, but it's so nice to have people around that care...and have extra stuff they are willing to lend...haha. The day was full of cooking, eating, talking, sharing, learning, walking, reading and even a birthday celebration with a cake made from solar~ Sunoven and we had ice cream! Who says there aren't ice cream "socials" in the woods? Not this group. We know how to par-tay, baby!
Savannah is doing much better with the dogs today and all of the people. I think this IS exactly what she needed. She has not been on a leash for 48 hours now, she is such a good girl. Bob says, "A tired dog is a good dog." And I believe him!
Some people are leaving and going separate ways today, but we are sure to meet up again soon one day...probably at the R.T.R. in Quarzite. I never knew hanging out with complete strangers could be so fun...and comforting!