June 18, 2013
Rolling over, I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and looked out through the dust covered sliding window. The stars were gone from the predawn sky save for a handful of planets and the crescent moon. My bladder swelled against my jeans’ waist band, courtesy of a few Tecates the night before. There was no point in putting it off any more. Unzipping my sleeping bag I crawled out of the hinged door. The cold Dip-N-Dots-sized rocks of the high desert stuck to my clammy feet as I walked towards an outcropping. The splatter cut through the calm morning air; announcing my relief and the start of my day to a dozen or so slumbering lizards nestled away in cracks in the rocks.
The rest of our camp kept sleeping despite my yawns and the occasional groan when I stepped on a sharp rock with my bare feet. The last memories of the fire from the night before glowed in tiny embers in our makeshift fire ring. Pushing the coals together into a pile with one of the remaining logs, I sat down and watched the fire run its course. Slowly the log started smoking. Leaning forward, I took a breath of fresh air and blew on the coals. Smoke gave way to small flames. Other than the squeaking of a nearby Blue Jay, camp was dead quiet. I glanced at my watch. It was 5:51.
There’s a few week stretch each spring before the start of Day Light Saving time , when I feel like a morning person. By most accounts, I wake up early, between 6:00 and 7:00. Living in your car and spending the majority of your time outside shifts waking hours earlier. During those few weeks before the clocks jump forward, I wake up at times that would make 70-year old retired man proud. In high school I woke up early and go skateboard at Burnside. While living in New York, I’d go for runs during the quietest time of the day in my futile attempt to make it as a New Yorker. Regardless of the place, there’s something about being up long before everyone wakes up and for the two weeks, it stays novel. Part of you wants some company, but as soon as another person wakes up, the day starts, and that feeling of detached observation and introspection leaves.
Hot springs shrapnel.
Jeff having some coffee.
Dan starting his day.
View from the bedroom.
The search for a level place is an essential vanlife skill.
Hot springs walk way
Looking towards the east, the sun flirted with the hills, accentuating its rolling saddles. To the west, the summit of 14,000 foot Mt. Whitney was already coated in pink light. The sun tracked down the Sierras like a tractor tire on a runaway death course. Watching it accelerate, I sat by the fire, pocking at it with a hatchet. The shadows had now retreated to the valley floor. Any minute now, the sun would breach the hills, casting light on our camp and waking up the rest of the crew.
Jeff’s door slid up with a hiss courtisoy of nearly a decade of heavy mountain and beach use. “AAyyy Fosterrr,” Jeff whispered in a faux Australian accent. “Do you want some coffee?”
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