Camping, Off-Roading

The Expedition Draws To A Close

Day 19

Altitude: 2542  Stoke level: 9  Temperature: 100-75 degrees  Condtions: windy, sunny

I had already written about much of the day in my previous post, so I’ll start from mid-afternoon where I left off. Like I mentioned before, after my Zanax-assisted sleep and the good steak I ate for breakfast, I felt like a million bucks. I felt the most relaxed I had felt on this whole trip. I’m getting into the rhythm of this place, I think.

Later on when the lake and the wind died down, I planned on trying one last time to catch a catfish. Instead of fishing directly off of the shallow beach where I am at, I’m going to cast off some rocks over to the left of me a short distance. There, the water is deeper and has a better chance of being fishy. I have a big light-up cork for night work. I’m going to try and drift some nightcrawlers in the top part of the water column instead of fishing off the bottom like I usually do for catfish. There are a lot of weeds down there, and perhaps my rig had been getting lost in the underwater thicket.

Well, that was the plan anyway. I wound up getting so comfortable I passed out for the night. I absolutely hated to lose a whole evening, especially the last one I planned to spend there. I guess I needed the rest!

Day 20

Altitude: 2896  Stoke level: 1  Temperature: 99-81 degrees  Conditions: calm, partly cloudy

I woke up around 5:30 AM after a solid bit of sleeping. I could have slept in longer, but as I was going to leave this place today, I wanted to at least try my plan of drifting a nightcrawler under a float to see if I could get anything to bite. I rigged up and climbed up on the local rocky point to see if I could capture the interest of any fish. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours, there were no takers. I did get a close look of the mystery fish and they were indeed carp. I could have tried to catch them with bread balls, but I just didn’t feel like bothering with them.

After this fruitless exercise, I returned to The Beast and started getting everything stowed away to break camp. I wanted to go into town and get one last bit of ice before heading north along the Kern River. There were free dispersed camp sites up that way, which was the direction I was going to go in anyway. The idea was that I was going to spend one more night on the river before I returned back to Santa Cruz. Maybe, just maybe, I could finally catch a trout, or at the very least get in some fly rod practice in.

As I headed up Kern Canyon, I noticed that every single free place to camp was just loaded with people. I figured that in the middle of the week most folks would be at home but I was wrong. I was feeling exasperated and craving a decent meal, so when I passed McNally’s burger stand advertising their “World Famous Burgers” I had to stop. The burger, fries and a large coke set me back 15 precious dollars, but it was worth it. The burger was the tastiest I had eaten in a long time. It was perfect. The fries were awesome as well. That cheeseburger was the only reason that this day scored a 1 today or it would have been a flat 0 on the stoke scale!

I made my way back to a halfway decent open campsite back at the beginning of the canyon I’d skipped over in the search for something better. A short walk led me down to the river and it was really beautiful. I got out my fishing rod and tried to do a bit of bait dunking but there were tons of weeds in the water that kept snagging me up. As my frustration levels kept rising, I remembered that there were a couple of gold spots left that I hadn’t checked out! As it was getting on the afternoon, I should have stayed put, but the gold fever took ahold of me and I took off in search of color.

I should have stayed where I was at. I went on a 3 hour, 60 mile wild goose chase. Both sites were, you guessed it, closed due to coronavirus. I was pissed that I wasted some 20 bucks in gas on this spontaneous jaunt. I rushed back to my original site in low spirits, hoping that it was still unoccupied. Amazingly, it was! I sat down, opened a beer and just stewed in my own failure. When I opened up my camper to get something, I smelled wine. Horrified, I looked and an almost full big bottle of Pinot Noir had fell over and lost its cork. The whole contents had dumped themselves all over my dirty clothes basket and all my clothes were soaked in wine.

Flying into an unholy rage, I bagged up all my white clothes and threw them away. There was no amount of bleach that was going to get rid of those stains. This happening was the final straw, I just snapped. This is what it all came down to at the end, squandered wine and ruined clothes. I was done with this trip. No matter what I did, it allways turned out to be a waste of time and resources. It was time to head back before something else went completely to shit. I’m down to my last 170 bucks and 3/4 of a tank of gas. I dread the misery I’ll be in back in the Cruz, but hardly anything on this expedition has gone right. It was time to get back to where there is hopefully some work waiting for me so I won’t starve.

Goodbye road, goodbye freedom. Hopefully I can return and do this trip proper when the corona restrictions are finally lifted. What I really hope is that I get the go-ahead to head up to Alaska here soon. I’m tired of living my desperate Santa Cruz existence, but right now it’s the only existence I’ve got. I’m hoping I’m not returning to a nightmare, maybe things have stabilized in the last three weeks since I have left. I’ve got no choice but to see for myself.

Day 21

Altitude: 1827 ft.  Stoke level: 5   Temperature: 107-63 degrees  Conditions: calm, partly cloudy

My last wakeup of the expediton. Goodbye road, it was an adventure.

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart. It was time to return to Santa Cruz to face whatever lay in wait for me there. As I prepared everything to get ready to go, I found this huge spider that had been hanging out on the curtain over my head all night. Glad he didn’t mess with me. As I said before, spiders don’t really bother me that much when they aren’t in my living space.

Since my camper is far from airtight, I get a lot of spiders in my cab. Ninety-eight percent of the time they are the tiny little ones I don’t mind hanging out with. You’ve got that two percent of big ones that I do not like to have in there with me however! I like and try to catch and relocate them when I can. This one got his ass crushed for being all up in my personal space though!

I don’t think he was venomous or anything. It would have not been a good thing if it fell on my face while I was sleeping!

When I had gathered up everything and was ready to go, I took off. My route took me through Kernsville and I bid farewell to that sweet little town. I can’t wait to return someday a bit better prepared. I took the highway down Kern River Canyon towards Bakersfield. It was a nice drive following the river down the mountain. There were a bunch of pull-offs where people had stopped to fish. I checked out a couple of places and was tempted to cast a line to see if I could catch anything. I was just in a mood to get on down the road and decided not to stop however.

The trip back was uneventful. The main difference was seeing how life changed as I drove further north and west. Everyone was back to wearing masks everywhere, and there was a real sense of doom that I hadn’t experienced the last 3 weeks over on the far side of the Sierra. I could almost pretend that The Great Ruiner wasn’t a problem anymore where I had been operating out of. People seemed free and happy in places like Bishop and Kernville. Usually I am glad to return to Santa Cruz after a time away, but the closer I got to the sea, the gloomier my mood became. I felt like I was returning to prison after a temporary furlough.

When I got back to town, the first thing I did was drop off my firearms and most of my excess camping & fishing gear at my storage unit. I held on to my favorite pole and tackle box, because now that I have my licence I’m going to be hitting up some beaches for perch! Being down to my last hundred bucks, I’m likely to be fishing more for food than for pleasure. I returned to where I had been staying and was greeted warmly by my buddy and his wonderful dog. It was good to see them both. My friend had been having some bad health problems while I was gone but he seemed to be doing ok now.

Unfortunately, it seemed that he and my other friend that owned the property were still having serious problems and it looks like he won’t be around much longer. I had hoped things would have calmed down the three weeks I was gone but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I’m most definitely going to have to find a new place to stay really soon. I do have another friend who has offered to let me stay with him so tomorrow I’m going to hit him up.

As for work, my buddy has relinquished his supervisory role to my other friend, so he couldn’t tell me what was going on with that. Being very nearly broke, there better be something happening on that front or The Beast and I are going to be facing some empty bellies real fast.

I took a much-needed shower and set about washing the enormous amount of dirty clothes I had accumulated during my expediton. While my clothes were washing, I did some repairs to my curtains and did a deep cleaning of my living space. I found a slightly smaller version of the model of spider I had slain earlier actually!

Usually, I always feel better after cleaning, but it didn’t take away the dull empty ache I felt in my gut. Life feels so uncertain and precarious for me right now, no amount of organizing or cleaning can really rid me of the negative feelings I had upon my return.

I’m just reflecting on my expediton as a whole right now. Was it worth it or not? The majority of my trip was filled with misery and frustration. I could really use that 1200 dollars I blew right about now. On the other hand, I got to experience some new places, and did have some really good moments on the journey. Jawbone Camp was the best campsite I could have ever hoped to stumble into, and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest and Lake Isabella were excellent places to spend time.

The truth is that it was really hard to fully enjoy anything knowing that I was supposed to be in Alaska fulfilling my dreams. Nothing can fill that void in my heart. As much as I love Santa Cruz, I now know that there are other places in this state I feel more at home. I feel like I have moved on from this place, but I had nowhere else to go back to. There is an element of comfort being back here, but it is overshadowed by everything else that is going on.

I’ve got friends that are going through hell right now right along with me in different ways. It seems the taint of this wretched year is the gift that keeps on giving. I had thought that by now things would be getting back to normal, but they seem to be getting worse. I don’t know what in the hell to do. It seems that every decision that I make to try to improve my situation just blows up in my face. People I used to count on aren’t as warm as they used to be, while others are going above and beyond to offer whatever support that they have.

These are the times that try men’s (and women’s) souls. I’ve seen the best and worst in people come out these last few months of misery. I’ll tell ya’ll one thing though, The Beast has done one hell of a job getting me through all this wretched awfulness, even before The Great Ruiner had to piss all over everything. He sheltered me, transported me back and forth across the country, and delivered me from the sketchiest of situations. He is a true soldier, and has always had my back.

So this is my final entry of this expediton. I don’t know what else to say other than that it was one hell of a ride! For good or ill, this expediton did instill a love of doing this blog and reawakened my passion for writing. If it hadn’t been for this cursed virus, this trip would have been a lot higher on the stoke meter for certain.

I went to some cool places, but consistently couldn’t get access to the things I wanted to do there. I guess that made the trip unique in its own way. I tried to make the best of it. It did make for some entertaining things to write about though! The most interesting travel writing is about when things go wrong, in my opinion.

Now that I’m reflecting on this whole experience, I feel like a completely different person. The best way to describe it is that I feel shell-shocked, but way more confident than I was pre-expedition. I just feel more resilient in general. Tough expeditions tend to deplete, but also fortify one’s being. I’ll be thinking about it for a long time, that’s for sure.

Even though this trip is done, I’m going to keep this up for sure. I’ll do my best to keep it from being boring. It does certainly help keep me sane! No matter what happens, this Dogfish will continue to keep the fires lit and the light on here. It’s therapy for me, and I hope it continues to be entertaining for all my readers. Hope ya’ll enjoyed the ride so far, stay tuned!


2 thoughts on “The Expedition Draws To A Close

  1. Nona Mills says:

    I have really enjoyed and was also traumatized by your adventures. Glad you are back safe! Take care! Your writing has been par excellent!!!! Love, your favorite fan! NJM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!!! If only I could always be on an expedition I’d never want for material to write about.

      It’s been a fun ride so far. I’m really enjoying being part of the blog-o-sphere!


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