The Drive to Tahoe | Cali Road Trip #3

The view from the illustrious Blackjack Inn, South Lake Tahoe, California.

8:17am in the Blackjack Inn in Tahoe and the heater is blessedly on but will turn off in just a few moments. My room is small but nice and clean. The mattress is firmer than the one at the hotel in Sacramento. I look out on a beautiful hillside covered in snow. And as much as I’m scared I’ll freeze to death camping tomorrow in Bishop, that’s still the plan. The plan is to go to the Pit Campground at Bishop and, provided there are campsites, set up shop. I mean I guess this is the plan. The high tomorrow in Bishop is supposed to be 61. Which is perfect. But the low? Twenty-four. I have a sleeping bag I think is rated to around 40 degrees, and then I have a down comforter, and then of course I can just layer some clothes. Sweatpants, wool socks. Sounds pretty fun, right?

The sun has finally come out in Tahoe. The high today is JUST over freezing. What am I going to do today? I have no idea. Probably walk to a coffee shop at some point. I’m drinking a Guayaki Blackberry Mint right now. The grocery store here, Raley’s, has an insane collection of every weird beverage I like. They have all the low-calorie Guayaki options, including the 5 calorie powerhouse Lima Limon, which is (drumroll) unsweetened. They ALSO have every kind of Tejava variety you could imagine. They have the lemon variety, which until yesterday I didn’t know existed, and also an ORGANIC OOLONG VARIETY THAT OH MY GOD…I haven’t tried it but today could be the day. There’s so much to do around here. Is there anything to do around here? I could walk to the lake, walk into Nevada, maybe…go to some hot springs? Maybe….sit in my room all day and meditate? Maybe…sit in my room all day and mediate? Maybe…plan what’s coming next in my life after this road trip?

Highlights from yesterday include:

1) Buying a hat made in Canada that is 50% wool, 10% alpaca, and 40% other stuff.

2) Realizing the wool rim on the hat made my forehead itch, trying to return it, and getting shut down.

3) Getting to the chain control checkpoint just past Kyburz (what a cool name for a town), stressing that I’d have to turn around, buy chains, figure out how the hell to put them on, and then get back in line, but instead just getting waved through because I had a Subaru.

4) Finally getting into Tahoe and not having to drive in snow anymore.

5) Meeting a dude named Jake at the Rocklin Quarry Park and talking to him (the only in person conversation I’ve had on this trip longer than 30 seconds).

6) The beauty of the fresh snow near Tahoe adorning the trees and boulders.

7) Getting a grande peppermint mocha at Starbucks at like 6pm.

8) Walking to the Nevada state line, feeling a bit like I was entering the gates of hell.

9) Getting a guidebook to Bishop and gazing at all the beautiful problems that could become my first V4.

10) Walking to the lake and seeing the steam rise off it.

My mate is gone which has been me feeling a bit distressed. There’s a cafe called Free Bird that apparently serves mate but it’s three miles away and I don’t know if I’m down to walk that far. And I’m not going to drive because my car is currently frozen and the next time I get in my car will be to drive down to Bishop. I hope my surfboard is OK right now. I’m a little worried about it freezing and then thawing out. I’m just so glad the sun is out. And that I don’t have to drive back toward the pass tomorrow to go to Bishop, but rather into Nevada and then south. It’s probably time for me to put some clothes on and leave this hotel room. It’s probably time to get away from screens. It’s probably time to go for a walk and find even more mate.

 

Trying Too Hard (#8)

I think I might be trying a bit too hard on this blog. I say this because on my other blog, dedicated to American soccer phenom Christian Pulisic, I don’t try hard at all. I just have fun. But for some reason on this blog I feel compelled to make the writing good, which of course only makes it bad. There was a famous Sportscenter commercial where Kenny Mayne is hitting golf balls into the satellite dish behind the company offices. The guy helping him says, “Hold it like a bird. Not so hard that you crush it. Not so soft that it gets away.”

Ahhh, these metaphors for life.

The above picture was taken by my right arm outside Villa la Angostura about two years ago. The girl in the picture had some kind of exotic name with syllables where they shouldn’t have been, and as I usually do, I briefly fell in love with her on our walk. She had a boyfriend. She was very clear about that. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying a nice hike together and drinking mate in the mountains of Patagonia.

But what does this have to do with anything?

It has to with mate because the reason I’ve been trying hard on this damn blog is because I want it to be something. I have no idea what. I want recognition. The other day I heard that someone had said about me, “I got caught up on Mark’s blog. Sounds like he’s still traveling around, still drinking mate and talking about how much he loves the waitress. But, like, nothing’s really changed, has it?”

I was of course deeply hurt by this until I realized that the reason I was hurt was because it was completely true. That’s been the last 10 years of my life. Traveling around. Drinking yerba mate. Falling in love but now really. And then moving on the next day.

Which is actually completely fine.

But then I made a promise to an 80-year-old Chilean woman that I would stop doing that. So I moved back to Seattle. I bought a boat. And now I live on said boat, and it’s where I’m typing these very words, listening to the rain outside, wondering where I might be able to travel to next, and also wondering if it’s time to boil water and drink a little mate.

-W