Steve and I headed to Weed, to Dad’s. We’ll have just a few more days together before he continues north to Portland and then Seattle.
Archive for March, 2005
West of the Golden Gate Bridge, I threw a rose into the water, slipped my hand into a bag-lined box with Ferne’s ashes and tossed part of Ferne into the water. I was with Ferne’s closest friends, including her son, Justin, and daughter, Jessica, and a few of our mutual acquaintances from the Monterey Peninsula.
I didn’t know you were allowed to touch the ashes. It was what I wanted, and it was very comforting. I didn’t cry today.
We moved on to a lovely house in Larkspur for a larger memorial. I spoke of Ferne joining me at a Billy Club May Day gathering. I knew she was dying, but I expected her to last longer. I regret I didn’t arrange for her to meet Steve, and I feel a little guilty.
Steve picked me up at SFO. I’m back from work in Southern California to attend Ferne’s funeral. We are staying in the Upper Castro with Gary, Brad and their dog Stoli.
We drove a hundred miles west to Lone Pine and now had what was supposed to have been a Death Valley discovery day to find new adventures. To us hikers Lone Pine means one thing: Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48.
We set out up Whitney Portal Road only to reach a somewhat expected closed road. We just didn’t know it would be so low. We parked Gottago’s car with the Owens Valley spread before us.
Dark clouds up and to the west made a hike seem like a bad idea.
We’d have lots of climbing on a road before we could get anywhere, and we still wouldn’t even be close.
On our drive back to 395, we dreamed of owning a place in this harsh but lovely landscape. The Alabama Hills offered local rocks while the Sierra to the west and the Whites to the east offered nearby and scenic backdrops.
Our next stop was the California Poppy Reserve, again windy and rainy, in Antelope Valley.
The cold and wind soon convinced me I wanted to be back in the car. As we headed out, I figured out where the PCT was, and it was nearby. We still had time in the day, so we went in search of the PCT. This would be in the area of 3-Points Roadhouse and Jack Fair’s old place.
Before we got there, we spend a half hour photographing around some Joshua Trees.
The amount of damage from the recent heavy rains was amazing. Land had been turned to rivers. Silt and dirt had settled everywhere there was water. Yards were full of it. Fields were full of it. We never saw where, exactly, the PCT crossed this back road the damage was so bad. A fire that occurred after I hiked in 2002 had aggravated the waters’ assault. Nature always wins.
We drove back to Tarzana after hooking up with I-5 in the middle of the Grapevine.
It was windy, and the flowers were disappointing to this jaded hiker spoiled by the awesome displays I enjoyed on the PCT and CDT.
Although Death Valley has the fewest features per square mile of any National Park, we finally got some good light and discovered that we were in a great spot to get some images:
Those are people on the dunes.
We had the gear to camp, but the park was mobbed, even on a Monday, with flower-seekers, and the wind carried sand that promised to make being in a tent a gritty experience. We headed west to Lone Pine where we got a simple room just as the rain started again.
When I see the people crossing the street in front of Gottago’s Mercedes SUV, my thoughts quickly land on the American Dream
The street is wide. Six cars can fit the width of the street at this intersection. Someone outside a car, a pedestrain, is not to scale with this crossing. Cars flowing with the green light are going 45 mph. Some are slowing or stopped, their left turn impeded by the pedestrians in my mind.
I’m white and sitting high as the short, dark-skinned people come in sight in front of the silver box with new tires. From the hostile environment, they eye the predator. They eye the driver. Is this predator going to pounce?
I believe the people in the crosswalk are headed to the nearby bus stop on this major street. I’ve taken the bus in LA. It’s a major time drain. These people, now nervously eyeing the color of the traffic lights, spend some of the gift of life on getting aroun LA on public transit. Getting around in a car takes so much time as it is. The bus is even worse.
Yet I know the position of riding public transit even as I sit high on leather seats insulated from all but the visual the noise of the world.
Then I wonder if they are eyeing the car in a different way. Are they looking at this car that costs many times their anual income with contempt, or desire? Do the resent the gap they are peering across? They have to take the bus while I have the luxury of a luxury car. Or does the look at the car inspire and motivate the American Dream?
The I return to myself, to my thoughts. Where do I sit? I was born into a life and world that had American Dream written all over it. Yet I feel the people in the crosswalk are more likely to achieve the American Dream, to have the stuff and income for a comfortable life, including retirement. They have less, they were born with less, and the color of their skin creates obstacles. Is taking the bus a daily reminder to strive? Would I strive more if I had to take the bus?
I have taken the American Dream for granted. I did what I was supposed to do. I learned manners. I got a college degree. I’ve worked hard. I even went and got a Master’s degree when I sensed the American Dream was not yet mine, or within reach.
These days, I’m living other people’s American Dream.
Part of the reason I’m not there is that I’m not willing to rape. Some people make a living raping our natural resources. Some rape people’s souls to make a lot of money. As I find my values, and as they become non-negotiable, I’ve felt that the American Dream is not possible for me.
All I want is a comfortable life with a worry-free retirement. I don’t feel like I’m there yet.