When was the last time you made your own fire? No matches, no lighters, just you, some wood, a flint stone and some dry stuff. Did it make you feel good (or manly)? This is BRILLIANT! I could make my own fires every day for the rest of my life and never get bored of it.
When and where I write this:
On a picnic bench on a campsite in Sequoia national park with nothing surrounding me but darkness. I’ve just thrown another log onto my self-made fire. It’s 8.16 pm.
You, me, and the truth.
After waking up and having a amazing view from my bed above the cabin the only thing left was to smile. Now seeing me smile in the morning is quite an unusual sight, as I’m pretty much at my grumpiest the first hour or so. A quick walk up to the shower building that had one shower and one toilet I had a nice and warm shower, rinsing off all the excess dirt from yesterday’s down and dirty hike.
I have to be honest with you, and I feel like I can. I don’t like writing that much. I don’t enjoy sitting down, staring at the blank page and hoping for inspiration to come. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. It’s hard work and when it’s done it’s great.. I LOVE having written, having created something, that’s a great feeling. I love it even more when people read it, comment on it or talk about it, that is the best –“I love your writing” are possibly my four favourite words in the English language. Wanna flatter me and make me feel good? Tell me those four words. So out here, having no distractions and nothing to do, really.. It is the best. Usually I’m about two days behind on my writing, but now I have some time to catch up! Very nice!
I sit down behind the metal picnic bench I watched the stars from the night before and start typing away while Annemiek gets ready. Like I wrote before, we’ve parked the camper in utter nothingness, there are mountains surrounding the camper, and a lake some 3 kilometres away, but that’s about it. No swimming pool, no wifi, not even any houses around. It’s a nice place to write, there are no distractions -I’m SUPER easily distracted- other than the odd squirrel that comes to have a look.
Annemiek sits down and start reading in her book about America while I type away. It’s a nice and relaxed morning. After we’re both done we pack up our stuff and head out. I’ve come to grips a bit with our ARRR VEEEEEE -which is ironically called Leprechaun-, I get behind the wheel and drive this old boy away, up north towards the Sequoia National Park. (A sequoia is a type of tree. They are very big, old, and impressive apparently.
Waking up, looking out of the window when getting out of bed I saw this. Wow.
Hands of the merchandise, please.
I had a bit of a hard time driving it the first day, where trucks passed me left right and center on a big old freeway, but driving on these B-roads it is no problem and I‘ve actually started to enjoy it. It’s not the fastest though and it doesn’t take long before a train of cars is caught up behind me, so every now and then I pull over to let them past.
Entering Sequoia National Park the lady at the front desk tells me after collecting her money that it might not be such a good idea to head up all the way with our ARRR VEEE. “It’s very narrow and twisty up there,” she says, “and you might not be able to get up there. The maximum vehicle length is 22 feet. How long is your.. ehm.. thing?” I giggle and now she does too. “My thing,” I whisper, “is 25 feet long (that’s about 8 meters in real world measurements).” “Alright, sir,” she says with a completely straight face, “well maybe you can take the shuttle up there.”
The shuttle? After just paying an entrance fee to enter the park? No way, Jose. At the visitor center I pull over and walk up to a lady behind the front desk. Her name tag says Dawn and Dawn is about 55 years old. “Hello, can I ask you someth-“ Before I can finish my sentence her hand goes over the counter and reaches for my -indeed very impressive, but still- Navajo necklace. Her eyes twinkle. “That is a very beautiful necklace you have there,” she says. “Hey hey hey, hands off the merchandise, Ma’am,” I joke. She laughs, I laugh and I continue asking her my question about getting up the hill with our ARR VEEE.
“Well,” she says, “It is narrow, and it is twisty, and it will take a lot from your truck.. You are going to be climbing 5000 feet in 6 miles, you can’t block any incoming traffic and you have to stay within the lines. Once you go up there, there is no turning around.” Her eyes pierce right through me. “If you’re a good driver though, it can be done.” I nod that I understood what she said. “But, I have full confidence in that you can do it,” she finishes while looking me dead in the eye. “Oh come on woman,” I think, “you base all your confidence in my driving on how much you like my necklace.” Yet I give it a try anyway..
Alright. That does look a bit twisty.
Bears! Show me the bears! (spoiler alert: no bears in Seqoia Nat. Park.)
One of the first Sequoias. They’re not only very big, they’re also impossible to spell.
Older than Mr. Jesus
Driving up to the big trees turns out to be a lot easier than everybody made me believe it would be. Yes, it is twisty, and yes, it is steep, but come on. I can do this with two fingers in the nose (dutch expression, go look it up).
Up at 7000 feet (a little over 2000 meters) I’m impressed by the trees: they’re pretty big. Tall, thick. Nice colour, too. We have a look at the visitors center and drive up to the General Sherman tree, or what people call the General Sherman tree, it can’t possibly know itself that is called that. According to a sign, the General Sherman is the *manly voice* Biggest Tree… in the wooooooorld.
Well, it has the biggest mass (isn’t that PIR2? Mathematicians here, help me out.) and therefore they call it the biggest tree in the world. This tree here is, wait for it.. 3000 years old. THREE THOUSAND years old. That is CRAZY. Imagine. 1000 years before Mr. Jesus -supposedly- made an appearance, this tree was already alive. This tree already stood here when the Greeks had their fifteen minutes of fame, was there when the Roman empire started -and ended. This tree was there in dark middle ages, when we forgot all about what we learned from the Romans, and when the Renaissance hit Italy and Michelango was lying on his back in Rome, painting the ceiling of the Sixteenth Chapel, this tree was having his 1600th birthday. CRAZY.
These things are quite big and really unpractical when they fall over. Good thing you can just cut your way through it and create a tunnel.
Classical tourist photo. It even includes the name of the thing that’s on there. Btw, who knew you could take a panorama shot also vertical?
Triplets. -God, these tree photos are even boring me. You gotta believe me they look really impressive in real life.
Hike and fire
We drive to a camp site at Lodgepole and park the ARR VEEE. Annemiek buys a lemon, a pear and tomato juice (has anyone ever seen a young person drink tomato juice? But really.) and I go for a hike. I like hiking, what it basically is, is walking. But in nature. So it’s called hiking, apparently. Anyway, I like it.
I take a shuttle to the mr Sherman tree and walk around the tall trees for a bit before taking the shuttle back and eat something outside before starting the fire I talked about earlier with a flint stone. First time for everything, and some things make you feel manlier than others.
Asked an Italian dude to take a photo of me and the biggest tree in the world. Result: me and at least 9 random, not-the-biggest-tree-in-the-world trees. Note to self: don’t ask Italian people to take pictures of you and millennia old trees.
Went for a hike and saw many pretty things. This little creek was one of them.
Last tree of the post, promise. But look how tall it is.
By now, after writing this, the fire has slowly gone down, the big logs have disappeared after giving some light and some well welcomed heat. It’s the first time it’s actually chilly in America, after all the days in the desert, and I’m wearing a jumper.
It’s 9.38, the fire is almost out, and so am I with this post. Will post it as soon as I have internet. Thanks for reading, guys, see you soon!
When you make a fire, you need to cook on it, too.
Proud like a kid for making a fire without a lighter or matches.
This little magical kit helped me out.
I’m a big nerd.
This is where I am right now (my mom said this would be a good idea):
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