Friday, May 9, 2008

The Great American Road Trip (Including Parts of Canada!) Part 2

I like cops.  I grew up on Chips for gosh sakes.  And who hasn't watched the show Cops and said a little thank you to whoever you do or do not pray to?  And um, hello?  Reno 911?  The. Best. Show. Ever.   But I've learned I don't like "Park Rangers," specifically Crater Lake's Park Rangers.  Meaning one of Crater Lake's Park Rangers is an ass.  

So the eight of us decided to take a road trip.  And back then we didn't have Mapquest or Google.  My analog cell phone weighed a good 2 pounds and had a battery pack the size of Kansas.  There may have been the Weather Channel, but we were too busy watching Friends and ER to pay attention.  So we didn't check the weather.  And on our first day?  We intended to leave Sacramento at at 8 a.m. but actually left at 5 p.m.  I had no idea how these two themes--delays and the weather--would plague us.

At 21, I considered myself a relatively responsible and prepared person.  I had a job at a bank, shared a house with friends and got good grades.  However, I think my level of preparation on this trip was:  Flannel shirt?  Check.   Pillow?  Check.  Books?  Check.  I'm ready!  There may have been a grocery store run for chips, candy and Top Ramen, but even that's debatable.  I think my "hiking" shoes were my Birkenstocks, which for the record were TOTALLY cool back then.  And I know it never occurred to me that maybe the cabin in Yosemite that I had been used to growing up, was not exactly what we were heading for.   I was 21!  I was going on a road trip with my friends!  It was summer!  Woo hoo!

The first "day" of our trip was supposed to be spent at Crater Lake--we'd wander around, camp and cook some delicious meal around a roaring camp fire with food and fire wood that ... I was sure someone else must have totally had covered.

The first "day" of our trip?  We ended up sleeping in a parking lot.  Literally in a parking lot.  On the cement.  With a tarp over us to keep the ICE off our sleeping bags.  Why you ask?

Because when you LEAVE Sacramento at 5 p.m. and stop at Lake Shasta for dinner in a yummy little Italian place because you're not going to make it to Crater Lake in time for dinner (wha? really?) you don't get to Crater Lake until 2 ... A.M.  And when you don't check the weather, you reach Crater Lake and realize that they've been snowed in.  Never mind the fact that' it's June.  This is Oregon, NOT California.  So the campsites you had reserved (and uh, did someone bring a tent SSG can use?) were under 6 feet of snow.  And so what else were 8 college kids supposed to do at 2 a.m?  We set up camp (but not the tents, because that would have been too warm or something) in a parking lot over looking the lake.  

And at dawn's early light?  We heard foot steps.  

And SSG squeezed her eyes shut tighter because 1) the sun was BRIGHT and 2) the foot steps were FOR SURE someone coming to murder all eight of them.

But it was a Ranger.  A Park Ranger.  And he had ZERO interest in why we were sleeping in the parking lot.  He didn't give a RAT'S ASS about the fact that "we had reservations!"  "Snow!"  Because apparently "you can't just do anything you please in a National Park."  We um, had to pack our shit and go.  We got kicked out of a National Park.

We packed sloooowly due to a mix of disbelief and fatigue.  There may have even been a little standoff when all 8 of us stood in protest and took in one long Grizwald like look at one of the most beautiful sites on a crystal clear morning--the sky's reflection in a still Crater Lake.  Or was that the lake reflected on the Ranger's sunglasses?  It has been a few years ...

Just to prove his point and let us know that he knew damn well what we were up to, the Ranger followed us all the way to the entrance of the park.  And because he was an ass, and wanted to prove it to us one more time, he gave us a speeding ticket on the way out.

Needless to say, it was an inauspicious start.  Little did I know what awaited us ahead ...

To be continued ...