Saturday, 15 April 2006

Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ... Get your ass to Mars ...

10 April - Got up reasonably eary and tried to vacate the room as quietly as possible so as not to disturb the overtly romantic italian couple sharing the room with me and an English guy. Broke my fast with a so-so pancake and said my goodbyes to Dennis (who it seems may not actually be called dennis if his email initial is anything to go by but I've been through so many names this year that I’m not really phased if I get them wrong). Headed back into Yosemite determined to see some giant trees and was directed by the ranger to go back to near where I initially entered the park a few days previously. The roads were completely snowed under but I took it very slowly and eventually made it to Tuolhome Grove, home to a few of the giants of the woods. As warned the path was completely covered in snow - most of the way there were tracks which had already packed it in enough to walk on but I was up past my knees for a fair swathe of the way. The walk wasn’t too gruelling and I eventually made it to the grove where I was confronted with some giant sequioas. Unfortunately I was alone so there was no way to get a photograph with me in it to impress the scale of these beasts but plenty of photographers far more talented than me have done the job. Tramped back towards the car and as I reached the parking lot I found a tour group making their way down there - all of them on snowshoes, which would have assisted the journey somewhat but i'm obviously of sterner stuff than them. Had my second encounter with the long arm of US law when a sheriff coming the other way stopped me and told me to put m chains on my car. I don't have any. Well, you can buy them at the gas station around tcorner. Thank you officer. Considering I only had about two miles left of my journey in a situation that would actually require them I decided to ignore his orders. Some some deer on the side of the road a couple of times - something about seeing deer in nature just puts me in a good mood - unfortuantely I was moving both times and didn't get a chance for a happy snap. Another serious day of driving resulted out through Route 41 and down to bakersfield before heading east towards Death valley. Unfortunately Route 120 which would have taken me pretty directly to the valley was closed for the winter so I had to take the much longer route but I was determined to go through the environment which to me will always be associattd with our red neighbour. Although antarctica is probably the most similar environmet to Kasei every film that's ever been made that was set on mars was filmed in Death valley. There was no way I was going to make it there by daylight and I was a bit wary of another night in the car so I stopped in a dingy little motel in ridgecrest, a couple of hours away, but it should all work out with my next destination. There was some pretty trecherous roads today and more spectacular scenery, which I could certainly wax poetic about, but, others have already done so and far more poetically than i'm capable of so i'll save my lengthy descriptions for something else. There's a lot of driving on this journey and I have a limited collection of music to entertain me (all of it kindly donatetd for the journey by my housematt, ahu) and despite enjoying the cds immensely the fourth time that I hear Down to the wire by neil young or alison by the pixies, i'm starting to grit my teeth a bit so i've turned to that stalwart entertainer of any traveller, talkback radio - the national public radio is usually pretty good but the reception always dips in an out and for the past week they've had a donation drive weby they guilt trip all their listeners isnto donating money to support the shows they like, threaten,ing to cancel them if they don't get the money they need. There's nothing wrong with that but their methods are very irritating and its almost better to listen to the ads on the commercial networks rather than be asked for money every five minutes. The other alternative for listening, which is often the only station that gets decent reception once one is out of the cities, is Christian radio - whih i've found myself listening to a fair bit - most of it is pretty inoffensive and can actually be very entertaining at times (although probably not the way they intended) but sometimes it is bizarre - a lot of these preachers ar convinced that the end of times is upon us and they work in urrent events such as the ferry sinking in egypt to support their beliefs, they're convinced that the homosexuals ar trying to corrupt their children and Europe is a godless wasteground that america should have absolutely nothing to do with. I presume that this is the only thing that a fair amount of the local population listen to and it scares me.

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