This weekend began as most great weekends do: getting off of work early on a Thursday. I really am a firm believer that the two day weekend is not enough time to really get a refresh on the next work week. There are few places within easy reach for a two day weekend… but a three day weekend; now that is something that I can work with! Anyway, I digress as per usual.
I got out of work early on Thursday and found myself home, scrambling to load up the Jeep for Rachel and my road trip to the Sequoia National Park. She had one more music lesson to do and I wanted to be ready when she arrived. Obviously I was not ready on time and so our 2 O’clock leave time became a 3 O’clock leave time and as we all know (at least people who live in Southern California) that is the exact wrong time to leave a house when you must make your way through the traffic of L.A.
I guess I could have started this story with a different saying: ‘This weekend began as most great weekends do: fighting your way through Southern California traffic to get to all of the cool natural places on the other side.
So Rachel and I sat in the new-to-us Jeep with our music playing and our alphabet road trip game in full swing creeping forward ever so slowly up the 5 Freeway. The Los Angeles Skyline was to our right, bathed in the ever present blanket of smog, before us were countless brake lights of the hustle and bustle of people trying to make their way home from work and behind us were headlights of those doing the same. We were different though, the traffic sucked but we were not going home, we had a weekend getaway planned and it was going to be spectacular.
Fast-forward a few hours and Rachel and I had climbed the Grapevine, rocketed down highway 99 and made our way into Bakersfield. Not a whole lot happened in those hours, just us relaxing in each other’s company.
In Bakersfield we found a little wing bar to stop for dinner. The original plan was to leave home by 2 and make it up the mountains before dark. After LA traffic that plan was shot all to hell so we decided that instead of fast-food we were going to try somewhere interesting. Thus we stumbled upon Rock & Wings.
At first approach this place seemed to be less than desirable as it was just an innocuous looking set of blacked out doors at the back of a grocery store strip mall. But upon entering my opinion of the place immediately changed… It had a dive bar style feel but with a theme of Rock and Roll. The tables were adorned with clippings of news articles, cd booklets and pictures of Rock bands and stars. A band was setting up in the corner and the atmosphere was friendly. We immediately found seats and looked at the menu. Like the atmosphere, like the menu did not disappoint either. It had classic bar food and of course wings. Everything was named with some kind of rock pun and it all looked good. A drink or two and two baskets of wings and we were right as rain and feeling as if we had made a particularly clever choice of roadway dinning.
By this point the sun was dipping really low on the horizon and we were approaching the hour that we had hoped to be arriving in our destination. So we paid up and scrambled out of there telling eachother that next time we are moving through Bakersfield, CA we are definitely hitting up Rock & Wings again.
As I mentioned the sun was low. We had about three more hours before we arrived at our destination. Some of which would be spent travelling up the ever-so-precarious mountain road: Highway 198. Bakersfield to Three Rivers, CA (where the treacherous climb begins and the entrance to Sequoia National Park is) was relatively uneventful. During daytime the ride along the western base of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range would have been scenic, but at night the road is relatively straight and flat.
But after Three Rivers we began the climb. This road twists and turns in ways that make the mind boggle and call up feelings of vertigo. Tight curves course around valleys with sheer drops of a hundred feet or more. Though we of course couldn’t see any of this as the sun had set long ago by this point.
We took our time, crawling up the mountains approaching ever closer to our goal: Dorst creek Campground.
Ears popped as we climbed and unbeknownst to our quiet little world inside the Jeep, the views around us were some of the most stunning in the world. We would find that out tomorrow…