Flashback Friday is where I post some writing of a little snipet of my life as a younger me. Here’s another vacation story with a journal entry to match. I have to warn you, this is by far my most inaccurate memory to date. I only recently found out that my version of this story was way off. I’ll tell you at the end where reality and my memory differ.
If you’ve never seen a Sequoia tree in real life, pictures don’t do it justice. Pictures don’t give you that feeling of being utterly dwarfed and a little timid standing next to something so vast. I’ve never seen a tree that was so wide. After you’re done been amazed at how wide they are, look up and see how tall they are. They cut holes in these things that cars can drive through.
We came here on a vacation for a family reunion on my mom’s side of the family. Even though it was my mom’s family reunion, my aunt Karla and my uncle Kyle, who are my dad’s siblings, came as well. We drove here in our tiny Colt Vista and we hauled our tent trailer behind us. If you’ve never driven through northern Nevada, count your lucky stars. There’s not a landscape more desolate and dull.
We went on lots of hikes while we were there to see meadows and more of the awesome Sequoia trees. I found a stick along the way and used my new pocket knife to carve it a little and make it look nice. Though I have to say, a few of the Ranger’s lectures about leaving nature absolutely undisturbed made me feel a little guilty about taking a stick from the forest. Not enough to make me put my cool walking stick back, but it nagged at me enough and never quite went away. “What if everyone took a stick from the forest? There wouldn’t be any sticks left.” There’s nothing like a ranger to make you feel guilty for existing.
On these hikes my cousin, Brian, taught me how to speak Pig Latin and we practiced and practiced all through our hikes. I was fascinated by how fast he could use this language to the point that other people couldn’t understand him. My determined nature made me stick with it until I was as good as him. I’d like to brag now and say that years later I became so good at Pig Latin that people who were fluent in it couldn’t even understand me. When I say it like that, it doesn’t sound like an achievement, but it still feels like one.
In addition to hiking, we also went to Crystal Cave. I got the honor of holding the flashlight at the end of the group to tell the tour guide that everyone was in the room so no one would get lost. My dad and I didn’t realize someone was behind us when the guide was about to turn off the lights and show us how the formations glowed. We got lectured for that and I felt really dumb. There was one kid in our tour group that wouldn’t shut up through the whole tour even when his mouth was covered. My aunt Karla wanted to strangle him. At least I wasn’t as dumb as that kid.
The star of our vacation was definitely my uncle Kyle. He looks a lot like David Letterman with the curly hair and even a gap in his front teeth, but he’s goofier than David Letterman is. To this day, my mom’s family all talk about Kyle and the crazy stuff he did while we were camping at Yosemite, which is where we went after we spent a few days at Sequoia National Park.
Crazy incident number one was on a hike in Yosemite that took us above a waterfall to a swimming area. Most people swam in the pool area but my uncle Kyle thought that the shallow river going over solid rock looked a lot like a water slide and thought it would be fun to slide down it. It probably was fun until he realized that even though it was shallow, it was still a strong current and he banged up his legs on a rock. I, personally, wouldn’t have tried any more rocks as water-slides, but he also noticed an uncanny resemblance that the sloping rocks into the lake had of a pool slide and he got banged up some more.
The most infamous crazy that my uncle did on the vacation was later that night. We had a nice fire going and Kyle had been cooking some chicken on the grill over the flames. The grease dripped onto the flames, making them taller and burning his chicken. To fix this, he got a cup of water to help douse the flames but what he got instead was a nice mushroom cloud the likes of which I’ve never seen before or since – except on movies.
I would have left the fire alone after that. But not Kyle. He had stuck an abnormally long log on the fire and everyone was trying to figure out what to do about it. They didn’t want the fire burning outside the pit. The log had been burning for a while in the middle so it was thinner than the rest of the log and Kyle saw a solution that no one else would even think of. He jumped in the middle of the fire pit on the log to snap it in half. It would have worked, too, if the log hadn’t rolled and sent him flying into all the camping chairs that he knocked over like dominoes. My mom’s family was stunned that a rational person would willingly jump in a fire. Years later when we got together again they’d say, “Oh! Do you remember when Kyle jumped in the fire?! That was great! Are you sure he couldn’t come out to California again?”
By the end of the trip, our poor Colt Vista had been working hard towing our tent trailer around, but it was getting pooped out. We knew that our little car had reached the end of it’s line when smoke started coming out from under the hood. I didn’t see why smoke was a problem. Smoke comes out of the back of cars all the time. But based on the reaction of my parents, smoke coming out of the front of the car was a bad thing. My uncles and my grandpa tinkered around under the hood, but they couldn’t fix it. To get home, my mom, my sisters, and I rode with my aunt Cathy and my uncle Charlie. They lived in Colorado so Utah was kind of on the way home.
To save money, my dad tied the Colt Vista to a tow rope and my grandpa and my dad drove it across two states. They had to drive it very slowly, I assume, because my dad got back to Utah a lot later than we did. Getting the car fixed in California was much too expensive. My dad wanted to bring it back to Utah where we could get it fixed for a lot cheaper.*
It was vacations like these that had me thinking as I grew up: “It’s just not a vacation unless something blows up or breaks down.”
*Until 6 months ago, I was convinced that this is what happened. In my 10 year-old brain, I didn’t understand why we wouldn’t fix our car in California. My dad is frugal with his money, if you will, and since he had complained about how much everything else had cost in California, it didn’t seem a stretch to me that he didn’t want to fix it because it cost too much. In reality, he didn’t get it fixed in California because whatever was wrong with the car would’ve taken days to repair and my dad didn’t have any more time off. And they didn’t tie the car to a tow rope. They used a steel trailer that was completely safe. I guess the tow rope idea came from my previous theory of my dad wanting to save money. But my memory is a lot more entertaining, isn’t it? Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.
I didn’t have any pictures, but here’s a video montage of the trip.
If you can’t see the video, click here.
This is a transcription of some of my journal entries. I’ve bolded the interesting stuff if you don’t want to read it all. I like how I spell “Sequoia” different every time. And why is there no explanation for the rotten eggs? It’s so random.
July 31, 94
Today we went to the giant Forest and saw the biggest living thing on earth. The Gernal Serman. The Gernal Serman is a big Seqoia. That’s a tree. were’re still in Seqia Nat’l Park. We went to Moro Rock and saw a canyon. When we got Back we went and sat in a big fresh water stream. I found a stick and carved it. It looks nice.
Aug. 1st 94
Today we went to Crotle Cave. Its a little like a rock Formation its to hard to exspain. well the guide gave me a flashlite so I could shine it on the ceiling so he knew every one was the. we recorded it. then we went to “the trail for all People”. It was a hike around a Pretty Medow. I liked it. We saw a baby Sequia. It was small. and the seed is the size of an oat Flake.
Aug. 2nd 94
Today We traveled to Yosemite. Are car was too whimpy to take our trailer so Steve car pulled it. ALSO Grandpa made us pull over because he thought we went the wrong way, when we were 8 mile away from the campsite.
Aug. 4th ’94
Yesterday when we took showers my Dad left his Raiser in the plug and today he went there and it was gone. We also had some Rotten Eggs. We went on a hike up to Vernal Falls. There was a little lake there. the steps are like 11″ inches Down to the next one. it was Pretty.
Aug. 5th 94
Yesterday when we went to the lake Kyle slide Down a little stream that was on a side of a rock. he slide Down it and hit a rock. Today we hiked up to a lake, or it was because it all evaperated and all that was left was a little River. I swam in it. My uncle Kyle burned his ckicken, on the fire because it was a greece fire. He wanted it to stop so he Dumped a cup of water on it and made a Big Fire cloud. Today Brian tought me how to speak pig lateen. iBay (Bye)