Never one to shy away from an opportunity to write and reflect, I figured what better place to do so than our picturesque wood panelled cabin.
Which is, quite frankly, in the middle of nowhere. And it is lovely! Some of the soft furnishings are questionable, and the fridge door seal is a little broken, but this simply adds to the charm!
We are severely jet lagged, as it’s not something we are immune to, unfortunately, even given our backgrounds. Brains are brains and time is time and the difference between here and there and where we think we are is no different to anybody else!Also the reason behind such crippling jet lag may be the fact that I have travelled 36hours straight to eventually to wind up in California, in the Yosemite Valley, for a week of nature appreciation and exploring.
My adventure was due to commence the day after my mum’s wedding, which went off without a hitch (they did get hitched, of course). My travel plans did not. Just as I was finishing off having my make up done, I received a message, from none other than work. An automated number, albeit.
“We’re sorry, your flight to Sydney has changed. Please check your booking”
My blood ran cold. I tried to outline all of the possible outcomes
1) My flight time had changed slightly- it was earlier, and maybe I would arrive to Sydney earlier in time for my connection to San Francisco and have more time which meant less stress.
2) My flight was leaving later- not the worst outcome, but not particularly the best. It meant that I would be even more rushed to catch my connecting flight, and possibly miss it. I tried to breathe deeply and not scream too much at my mum who was trying to coax me into doing up the buttons on her very lovely wedding dress.
3) My flight was cancelled, and it would certainly be the end of life as I knew it. I wouldn’t have enough time/funds/ patience to book another flight through staff travel, and I would be doomed to miss another much anticipated trip with my girlfriends (like Coachella) due to unforeseen circumstances.
I could practically feel my blood pressure rising as I dialled the number for the Lounge and attempted to sound breezy and professional. Like ripping off a bandaid, I knew something had to go wrong…my flight to Sydney was cancelled. Work had tried to rebook me onto the best available flight which left at midnight, on the day of my mums wedding. Not happening….
My dad came to the rescue, as often Dads do. Mine is pretty special 😉 I managed to book flights on Emirates, (my go-to, default carrier) going the extremely “scenic route” to San Francisco via Dubai to LAX from Perth. After about 36 hours of straight travel, and many panicked whatsapps later, I landed at LAX to catch a domestic flight to San Francisco.
As I am not a male, I a) have no sense of direction and b) have no problem with asking for directions, I hurriedly asked the nice man behind the information desk for the best way to Terminal 7. I was in Terminal 4, and convinced that it was aeons away. “About a 10 minute walk” replied Mr Friendly California. I could do that! No, no I could not. After not having eaten more than dry crackers (aircraft food is not the nicest/ best for your digestive system and/or waistline- and I had Macca’s at 1am after the wedding- which isn’t very good either,r but better than aircraft meals, still!) it was very hard to pull my suitcase, that felt like it weighed more than me, out onto the “sidewalk” and weave my way through busy commuters, staff and other passengers at around 10pm on a Monday night (where in Australia it was 2pm the following day) it took me around 45 minutes to do so, and I managed to check in with a standby boarding pass which I am used to by now, but I still don’t relax until the aircraft door has shut and we have taxied away. Because you just never know!
The staff travel gods were smiling upon me, because I didn’t get stuck in transit and I had a full row to myself to sleep on all 3 of my flights. Bliss! Except I was too wound up from the 5 litres of Pinot that I am sure I consumed, and the excitement of seeing two of my best friends from Dubai for more than a week, and the fact that I was about to go and get lost in the wilderness in California. In the Sierra Nevada region to be exact. We were soon to be on our way to Yosemite National Park! Before I continue, my very Aussie friends and I were under the impression that it was pronounced like “vegemite”, so, “Yos-e-mite”. It wasn’t until my friend Jane flew with an American girl that she was corrected. It is in fact “Yoh-sem-i-tee”.
So after a sold 36 hours of straight travel (at least it wasn’t work!!) I arrived in San Francisco and felt a familiar little flutter of excitement. I had been here before! With my friends! (Read about that HERE). Because my friends are like me and know me too well, they had 3 giant slices of pepperoni pizza, half a block of chocolate and a bottle of water waiting for me. After more than a day without solid food it was a dream come true! Of course, I couldn’t make it into our room because the door was stuck, Jane had to let me in, which ensued lots of shouting about outfits, backpacks, boots, food and general gossip when you have barely seen some of your closest friends for the best part of a year (Justine) or month (Jane!). I eventually fell asleep next to the pizza box with my phone in my hand, trying to suck up as much wifi and internet as possible before we were in the wilderness with no contact to the outside world by which to gloat about our amazing experience and “lunch spot goals” (you’ll see about that, later!).
After changing outfits 3 million times (who knew there were so many combinations of leggings and boots?!) we went to IHOP to have our streaky bacon/pancake/potato hash/fried egg fix. Our server was amazing and she even complimented our Timberlands!!
We then proceeded to get lost (the first time of many!) on the way to Wholefoods, where we stocked up on amazing fresh, organic produce for our whole trip! Including 2 giant packets of Clif Bars! We had done our research, and knew there wasn’t much in the way of fresh, affordable organic food within the park, so this food shop had to last us a week! So we packed the car up to the roof and I sat in the back as we cruised down the California 101 all the way to Yosemite National Park! What is meant to take 4 hours took us about 6 because we stopped to take photos of pumpkins, drink pumpkin spice lattes (me) and use the wifi. We also stopped to buy memory cards for the GoPros, so when my video is finished I’ll be sure to upload it here!
Eventually, after many winding roads and all of us almost throwing up our pancakes, we drove trough the Big Oak Flat entrance to Yosemite National Park. It would be another hour and a half before we reached our cabin, but we didn’t care! We were amazed at the scenery, big, blue open sky that felt as though we could reach out and touch it. The thousands of pine trees, scenting the air with the purest form of air freshener that there is! The colours of Fall were amazing. I never knew there could be so many shades of amber, gold and orange!
Once we reached our cabin, we made a roast dinner and toasted to our first night in the forrest!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t sleep, which is where this post originated from.
I will quickly glaze over Day 1, which included one of the most strenuous hikes in the entire park (aside from Half Dome and Nevada Falls) Upper Yosemite Falls. The day began for me at 2am due to jet lag, and the girls were up at 4 am and we all watched the sunrise together, which was so peaceful and blissful!
We set off after lots of stopping to eat, take photos, drink water and marvel at the scenery. We unintentionally parked as far away as possible (a good start to walking off all of our snacks) and set off for the Yosemite Falls trailhead. We found it, and decided to hike as far as we could to “see how we felt”.
We hiked the moderate part of the trail in order to test what moderate actually meant in our terms (it means moderate, but lots of switch backs, which I have realised I am not a fan of). After about 2 hours we reached Columbia rock and decided to keep going.
By this time, we were some 3,967 feet (1,347 meters) above sea level and I was feeling pretty woozy (Up since 2am thanks to jetlag, we hasn’t eaten much, I had blood thinning medication in my system and I think we all had altitude sickness slightly) but we thought we would press on. This didn’t last long, as we were only A THIRD of the way up to the top and it had taken us double the recommended hiking time. We decided to hike our delicate selves down and be better rested/prepared/mentally ready for the next hike.
On the way down, Jane slipped on the gravel and fell (head first) onto the trail. Luckily she caught herself, but we were quite far behind her (she’s a trail blazer!!) so we had to run to find her. All I could see was that her shoulders were shaking, and her head was literally between her legs. My adrenaline kicked into over drive and I was certain she had hurt her spine, or her neck. Upon closer inspection, she was shaking with laughter and completely fine, save a few grazes on her legs. I was MORE than happy to use my trusty first aid kit to disinfect the wounds, cover them and prescribed better walking shoes and rest. We had neither of those at our disposal so we continued down the mountain and eventually made it to the Village Store. I purchased a phone card to call James, and almost cried because it didn’t work 😦 I self medicated with wine and chocolate, and fell asleep on the couch, only to wake once more at 1am because of stupid jet lag. All in all, an eventful first day that turned out to be one of the hardest, but still lots of fun nonetheless!
Here is another little excerpt that I added in whilst drafting this at 35000 ft enroute DXB-PER, when all I wanted to do was sleep!
**Apparently my filmmaking skills are non existent (and do not come as naturally to me as writing. I’m so tired that I would rather get lost in a book, but the qualms of staff travel limited me to having just enough time to buy my dad a new hat and give myself a blood thinning injection before hurrying to my gate and onto the aircraft, where I am now residing between two men that are old enough to be my grandfathers, and snore as much as them, too.I don’t want to fall asleep in case I accidentally touch them… I have just dimmed my screen in the hope that they aren’t reading this, but the chorus of wheezing would suggest otherwise. Also I think glasses are needed after a certain age for close range? But really, who am I to talk? I am wearing glasses right now **