(continued from Part 2: Yolla Bolly Wilderness, Ides Cove Area )
…But All I Get is Static
As soon as I drove away from the trailhead, one of those unaccountably weird and stupid coincidences occurred. I flipped on the radio (which I almost never even bother doing nowadays), but I heard nothing but static. After a few seconds though, I could start to hear faint traces of music rising and falling amid the sea of white noise. As I rounded one bend in the road after another, this ghost music went in and out, trying to fight its way through the cacophony to my ears- like that kid from Poltergeist, flying by the TV screen then fading, as that insidious, phantasmagoric current carried her around and around that nasty little spirit world vortex she got herself mixed up in. Man…kids. I’ll tell you what- they can find trouble anywhere.
It’s All About the Journey
I rounded a bend and the music suddenly came to the fore, emerging from the ether, static-free and clear as day. It was “Wheel in the Sky” by Journey. Even though I’ve heard the song six fazillion times, it still took me a second to positively identify it, since it busted in in the middle of the guitar solo. During the moment when my mind was trying to place the song, my primary thought was “Is that that song I can’t fucking stand?”; but then it clicked into place and I corrected myself: “Oh no, the one I can’t stand is ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’. I like this song.” So I left it on until the end of the song, at which point the airwaves plunged directly back into undecipherable static again. I hit “scan” to search for another station.
The radio looped the dial five or six times before landing on a station with a clear signal. I caught the last few words of the deejay, as he went ludicrously far over-the-top, as deejays always seem to do, in an attempt stir up excitement in his listeners over the rodeo in Redding that was coming up in a week and a half. Then he stopped talking; and what happened next?
The intro bass and drums of Journey’s “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.”
Now seriously- how the fuck can that ever even happen? It wasn’t like it was three-fer Thursday or anything like that; and anyway this was a completely different, random radio station than the one that had played “Wheel in the Sky” a couple minutes earlier. I remained dumbfounded for a few moments, then dug the iPod out of the center console. Time to take care of this music situation in a more active, hands-on manner.
The Long and Rutted Road
In an earlier post from this trip report, I described a series of insanely-frustrating, pervasive runoff channels with which I’d had to contend on my drive in to the trailhead two days earlier. Cutting diagonally across the road at obscenely short intervals, and several inches deep with raised edges of dried, rocky dirt, these ruts had chopped my driving speed down from 30 mph to 5-10 mph, and persisted for a good 8-10 miles.
Now my plan was to, rather than drive back over that 8-10 stupid miles of bumpy ruts on my way back out to the Sacramento Valley, instead cross the national forest from east to west, which would require more than 100 miles of off-road driving.
When I turned onto the road (M2) that would take me across the wilderness, I was instantly met by the same exact kind of cross-cutting ruts as those described above. “Fuck“, quoth I to self, “I don’t know how many miles of this shit I can tolerate- but whatever, the ruts will probably only last a few miles, right?” I proceeded onward.
I Scaled the Frozen Mountaintops of Western Lands Unknown…
Thank god for 110-song Rush shuffles, because as it turned out, these nasty ruts persisted for the next 35 miles. After awhile I decided to measure the interval between them: 60 yards. A rut every 60 yards for 35 miles. I’ll do the math for you: That’s over 1,000 of these goddamned things that I had to drive over, each one requiring an almost dead stop to get over without banging up the undercarriage of my Rav4.
I thought of that scene in “Meet the Parents” when Deniro and Ben Stiller are racing each other back to the house, and every time a traffic light turns green, they each gun their cars up to full speed and start flying down the road at 70 miles an hour, neck and neck, only to have to then almost immediately jam on their brakes 100-yards later as the next light turns red, sending the passengers in both vehicles lurching violently forward, to hilarious effect.
…Dog and Man Alone…
This was not the least bit hilarious, though- not to me, anyway.
So in this manner I lurched my way over that miserable 35 miles of profoundly lonely, entirely uninhabited, and rarely-traveled 4WD mountain road, wrestling these diagonal ruts in the road for control, edging along the brinks of sheer cliffs, swerving around boulders, downed trees, and other random road debris, and splashing across one rough-and-tumble creek crossing after another. The drive was aesthetically gorgeous, but it still fuckin’ sucked beyond belief. There are plenty of equally scenic roads around this state that aren’t infected with interruptive runoff channels like these every handful of yards; so it was hard to find and appreciate any kind of silver lining about this- it was just a trial of my sanity, and little else. And due to my impatient nature, I couldn’t bring myself to just drive slowly in between each rut, lest I spend the next day and a half on this road. So it was unmellow as hell, just like that scene from the movie- but as I mentioned above, entirely without any mitigating comic value.
That said, it wasn’t all bad- I did get to hear three different versions of Xanadu as I made my way across that shitty-ass road.
…Searching For the Lost Can of Booze
But then again, I could have listened to three versions of Xanadu anyway, wherever I was; so fuck it.
I needed a shot of whiskey; but I knew the bottle was buried deep in the bottom of my backpack; and I really didn’t feel like tearing the car apart to unpack it at the moment.
Next chapter: (Part 4: Attack of the Gozer Dogs)