Monday, May 08, 2006

My name is Sue. How do you do?

"I’d never sell the house to do this trip", I muttered to TH as we drove on from meeting fellow Kiwis on the road.
"Maybe it’s the only choice they had", replied TH.
"There’s always another way to skin a cat", I replied.

We had stopped at a viewing area for one last look at Yosemite National Park and had instantly spotted a kiwi sticker on one of the campervans (American’s call them RV’s) also parked there. The owners looked about our age and, when in New Zealand, they lived in Waitakere City. They were touring USA for 12 months.

This trip was a life goal fulfilled for them and they had sold the house to make the trip. It was a tempting prospect – a year in one country, when compared with one year to drive around the whole world like we were doing. Imagine staying in Yosemite for a week or more, instead of just a night? Wow. But, I’d never sell the house to do it. TH and I had taken the sponsorship/photojournalism route. (Refer blog entry for 18 July 2005 )

We sadly drove out of Yosemite and trundled along the back roads, aiming in the general direction of Fresno and LA. The paddocks were full of spring flowers in the lush, long grass. Orange poppies, the California State flower, swayed tall and bright amid the other white, yellow and purple flowers. With a warm wind riffling the grass the scene looked like a movie version of a Monet painting.

Later in the afternoon we stopped at dot of a place called Piedra. We were on the hunt for information about nearby accommodation or campsites. The place looked as sleepy and quiet as the old dog dozing in the spring sunshine outside the Post Office.

I was standing looking very lost, clutching my map, in the middle of the road , when a big woman in a uniform appeared from behind the building. She looked military and business-like as she bustled towards me. It could have been a scene from one of those films where a stranger asks for directions and then is swallowed up by aliens, the FBI, or something, and is never heard of again. However, I noted she had a kindly face and she smiled as she asked "Could I help you?"

For a deserted spot, she was the best person we could have bumped into. Her name was Sue and she was part of the US Corp of Army Engineers. They manage dams (among other things) and have developed campsites for the public on the lakeshores of these dams, all over America. Later in our trip we stayed at many of the US Corp of Army Engineers' campsites and always thanked ourselves that we had discovered them via our guardian angel Sue.

Sue told us there was a camp only 10 miles away. It was called Pine Flat Lake, was cheap and had hot showers. On arrival, we pitched our tents by the water’s edge. Dinner was a "fry-up" of sausages, eggs, potatoes and peas. Slouching with full bellies in our campchairs after dinner, we noted a number of fishermen’s camps dotted along the lakeside. They didn’t seem to be the partying sort of fishermen. We gratefully retired to our tent and sunk into a happy slumber.

At 5:45 am there was a great roar of outboard motors, as scores of fisherman roared off in their boats at dawn. Mercifully the dam was huge and the scream of the engines faded to a dull thump as they rode further away. Favourite fishing holes were found, the engines were finally cut and peace settled back into the still morning air. Our sleeping bags, which were lovely and cosy at Yosemite had been too hot last night. I had been restless in the heat, but in the cool (and now quiet) of the morning, I nodded off once more.

The fishermen were still all out there, doing their "male bonding", "fishing ritual" thing when we left at 9am to get on the road again.

As we drove along in USA I loved finding amusing and funny signs. Not far along the way that morning was one advertising a café near Piedra – "The Best Food by a Dam Site".

© Eventful Woman, 2006
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