When we stopped to change drivers in Tonopah, Nevada, we were besieged by friendly people who were no doubt desperate to see a new face. “Come to my family’s restaurant – it’s just down the road apiece” said a man with two mohawked boys in tow. We looked where he beckoned – back the way we had come – and wrinkled our brows trying to remember if we had passed any building that looked remotely like a restaurant.
We were all a bit freaked out by the Clown Motel, semi-shuttered and painted clown faces fading into evil semi-grimaces, and the two abandoned motels on the other side of the road. These abandoned buildings gave Tonopah an eerie tint, and Rob sped up as we eagerly looked toward the west end of town. The friendly policeman who pulled us over merely gave us a warning; he understood the impulse to get the hell out of Dodge.
At Yosemite’s western edge in early afternoon, we gave thanks for tall trees, granite mountains, and crowds of people. Rob and I indulged in “do you remembers” and we laughed at the kids’ pronunciation of Hetch-Hetchy, Tuolomne Meadows, and Wawona. The drive on Tioga Road into Yosemite Valley was suitably awesome, as recent rains had filled the rivers and allowed waterfalls to flow in all their beauty.
Rock climbers on the face of El Capitan amazed the kids, who craned their necks and pointed shaky fingers at the ant-like figures on the fearsome face. Heading back to the car, we ran into a group of young people from Colorado, in Yosemite for the first time. When I mentioned that Rob and I used to hike here, they asked for recommendations. I promoted the Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point hikes, noting that I trekked the last one in winter. The twenty-something young man who blurted “You’re a badass!!” made my week, especially since the kids were watching.
As we walked away, I demurely told the kids, "that was a long time ago," and Aden said wisely, "Once you've attained bad-assery, it stays with you forever." So true. It's good to be on a road-trip :-).