Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stories from the Road -- Moro Rock, CA

I recently wrote of my escapade to Kings Canyon National Park. Mom and I went there after a long two days in Yosemite. Lots of driving, including after dark, and tons of people showing up on Memorial Day weekend. (A ranger told us while we there that we were visiting on the busiest day of the year. Guess we should have figured.) Exhausted tensions were running high on the drive to Kings Canyon, coming to a boil at the wonderful Grizzly Falls. Mom had to whine about my driving again?

Well, nature has a way of healing all wounds. The beautiful waterfall eased tensions...temporarily. Our other stops in Kings Canyon were just as wonderful, particularly the lovely Roaring River Falls. We took a short hike, and that seemed to get rid of the "vehicle cramps" that certainly were contributing to the strain of the day.

After Kings Canyon, we drove southeast to Sequoia -- the sister national park. Sequoia is aptly named -- tons of the gargantuan trees are located here -- and a walk through the forest is simply mesmerizing. A few stops among the trees seemed to really be the ticket. We saw the General Sherman Tree, stunning volume-wise. The sun shone through the trees in natural slits, providing an eerie glow to the forest floor. The sun was beginning to set, and I had one last stop on the agenda.

That stop was Moro Rock. Unfortunately, the drive to Moro Rock is a little secluded. It tends to give the impression that you are losing yourself in the forest. Given that the sun was lowering in the sky, signs for Moro Rock were scarce, and Mom saw an intriguing museum in the interim, Mom was not having it.

"Chad! Turn around! Just stop. Stop!"

This continues unabated for a couple of minutes. Her voice kept getting louder and louder, and replies that the sign on the road said this was the way were not comforting. Calling Mom "hysterical" at this point would not be going far enough...

I interject the story here to point out that my track record of finding secluded locations is pretty impressive. Map reading isn't rocket science, and keeping track of where you are is common sense. Nonetheless, after 27 years building up this travel resume, I found Mom's lack of faith disturbing.

Finally, after another minute or so, Mom's incessant yelling was too much to take. I slammed on the brakes, saying nothing. Mom immediately stopped, allowing me to say:

"Mom, trust me. We're OK. Just...please stop."

I accelerated, and the complaining started right up again. Humorously, this was the last hill before our destination, in a sign brilliantly large and obvious: "MORO ROCK".

Without saying anything, I parked the car. Mom was, by this point, not talking. The temptation to say, "See? See?" was high, but fortunately, the angel on my shoulder was telling me to keep quiet. I opened the car door, got out, and began walking toward Moro Rock. No words, nothing. After a few seconds, Mom did too.

The number one rule of traveling is that nature heals all wounds. And the views of the Western Divide and the hazy forests below a setting sun were the much-needed antidote. Mom would not go all the way to the end -- too unnerved by the heights -- but she was smiling again. Mountain views will do that.

At the top of Moro Rock, I met someone from Fresno. I asked him how he liked living there. His reply was, "I need to de-haze a lot." Looking over the forest, it's not that difficult to understand why.

I also met a family from Ohio. They asked me if I was alone. I said no, my mother was with me. They asked me why she wasn't with me at the top of the rock.