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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Weather or Not

October 23, 2012

My first observations after leaving LA, at least as far as the environment is concerned, has been ‘everything is so clear’.  When you look at a distant mountain range or even the skyline of another city there is no smoggy haze in the way.  In Los Angeles there is a big chance of the white film diffusing the skyline or mountain ranges.  There used to be air warnings when they would publicize a day that was particularly smoggy.  They would recommend that kids and old people not spend too much time outside on those days.  That's one of many pleasant things about leaving LA.  
The next thing I noticed was Weather.  There is cold, and wind, and rain out there; it does exist!  Driving through Oregon, I was hit with sleet and hail.  My awesome Honda Civic has the best aerodynamics.  All the little ice particles were getting swept right over the windshield and only a small fraction actually made contact.  Today I woke up in the ice and snow.  It was a freezing cold morning in the Shasta National Forest.  It was a moment where my knowledge and preparation went out the window and pure experience laid in the way.  I cracked the ice shield from the tent’s walls and emerged to a snowy, fog-breath view of the wilderness.  Again, after living in LA for so long, any time the air and sky is clear it’s a shock to my reality.  Thankfully that feeling is subsiding as I become more accustomed to the clarity of the rest of the US. 
The sky was a perfect blue, and as the day went on, the cumulating nimbus clouds slowly chased it away.  Seeing snow for the first time in a long time is kind of magical.  I remember waking up as a child to see snow on the ground and in the trees.  Back then, it was masked by the desire to miss school, but the majesty was undeniable.  All the things that were supposed to be brown and green were all white and vibrant.  It’s as if the sun is shining from the ground.  Brightness and Light make no sense to the stubborn mind.  When I woke, it was all business.  I had to pack up and get moving before I wasted too much time.  I kept getting distracted by the scenery and the shock of a season I’ve missed for years.  That, and I was stalling getting to business.  If you’ve ever had to pack up a soaking wet tent I could have used a tip.  I stood there a while hoping it would just happen.  I just figured ‘do it fast before I have to dig a hole and crap in the snowy woods’. …

Nov 10
Looking back on that time seems so far away.  When I had “planned” the trip out, it was supposed to take about a month and half to cross the states completely.  So far it’s been almost two months and I basically just got to Colorado.  Since that time, I have unpacked, dried, and used the tent again.  Turns out, that it’s not a problem at all.  Just make sure you have enough time to set it up and let it dry.  It was all pretty quick. 
The day I chose to leave Yellowstone was the day they closed the roads.  I knew a couple of days in advance that I’d have to be out of the west or south entrance by 8 am.  I was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen as I don’t want to be rushed at any point  during this trip nor did the thought of waking up and packing up by 6:30 seem enticing.  I said my goodbyes that night and slept in the next morning.  Because the roads were closed at this point, I had no choice but to go back the way I came out of the north entrance and trace the perimeter from Bozeman, MT.  It was a surprising experience passing through that city.  I mean, there’s a college there and that attracts a lot of kids, so it was bigger than I had expected.  The college creates an atmosphere where the local establishment owners and bosses for seasonal employees develop a certain charm.
The whole time, throughout every city, the weather has been marvelous; bright sunny days and warm weather and solid clear skies.  It turns out this whole time a storm has been chasing me.  In just about every city I leave a storm is forecast to hit a day or two after.  Here I stay, waiting for it to come.  

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